Rookie Corner 444 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 444

A Puzzle by Cryptor

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

Thank you to Cryptor for a light and enjoyable crossword.  There were some minor points to mention but the fundamentals were there.  Comment has validly been made of the large number of anagrams in the crossword.  However, I think that the same could be said of double definitions as well where nine were used.  The grid was highly unbalanced between the number of across and down clues.  Whilst it is not as much of an issue where a crossword is solved online, the printed version would look very unbalanced.  The commentometer reads as 5/32 or 15.6%


1a  A French southern wine is macho yet ungentlemanly. (15)
UNSPORTSMANLIKE: The French masculine singular for “a” followed by the abbreviation for southern, a five letter word for fortified wines, the S at the end coming from the is (wine’s) and a seven-letter word meaning macho.   As a convention, setters do not include a full stop at the end of the clue.  A couple of comments on the comments – S for southern is in Chambers.  I think that yet is ok as a link word in the sense of “at the same time”.

9a  Crazy Lil, aka a salt, say. (6)
ALKALI: An anagram (crazy) of LIL AKA.  I am not enough of a chemist to confirm or deny whether a salt defines the solution.

10a  Trespass in space trainer has run. (8)
ENCROACH: A two-letter word for a printer’s space followed by a five-letter word for a training that includes (has) the abbreviation for run.  I think that has is too weak a word for a containment indicator.

11a  Thesaurus confuses bow with rod, OK? (8)
WORDBOOK: An anagram (confuses) BOW ROD OK.

14a  Some fantasy luminaries give sanctuary. (6)
ASYLUM: The answer is hidden (some) in the second and third words of the clue.

17a  Contents repress stuff. (7,6)
SUBJECT MATTER: A seven-letter word meaning repress followed by a six-letter word meaning matter.

20a  Superior Titus worked hidden (13)

23a  Dealer in common geraniums. (6)
MONGER: The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

25a  Tardises crash and stars die out. Tragedy! (8)
DISASTER: An anagram (crash) of TARDISES or (out) of STARS DIE.

28a  Commitment to worship. (8)
DEVOTION: Double definition.  Where you have a double definition, you should try to have degree of separation between the two definitions.

29a  Lively say? Yet dizzy. (6)
YEASTY: An anagram (dizzy) of SAY YET.

30a  I tell you, it’s true! (2,1,6,2,4)
AS A MATTER OF FACT: Double definition.  Try to avoid repeating words in the solutions.  


2d  Sailor in hold? (6)
NELSON: Double definition, the second by reference to wrestling.

3d  Check material returned in submedial polymer (5)
PLAID: The answer is hidden and reversed (returned in) in the final two words of the clue.  There is a repetition of “in” as a hidden word indicator.

4d  No hair? Not a hairy animal. (5)
RHINO: An anagram (hairy) of NO HAIR after removing the A.

5d  Stake out? Well done? (5)
STEAK: An anagram (out) of STAKE.  A few points here.  A five letter anagram where you only need to arrange the final three letters is not really much of a challenge.  Also, I think that the definition needs more precision as well done, even with a question mark does not define the solution but how the solution may be cooked. Finally, there is the duplication of “out” as an anagram indicator.  Try to avoid repeating indicators in the clues.

6d  Praise accountant over insurance demand (7)
ACCLAIM: A two-letter abbreviation for a chartered accountant reversed (over) followed by a five letter word for an insurance demand.

7d  Coiled, slightly crazy. (5)
LOOPY: Double definition.

8d  After fall, maple here shortlived. (9)
EPHEMERAL: An anagram (after fall) of MAPLE HERE.  I don’t think that fall is a valid anagram indicator.

12d  Chambers is to crossword lovers what this is to Christians (5)
BIBLE: Cryptic definition.

13d  Plain obvious! (5)
OVERT: Double definition.  Where you have a double definition, you should try to have degree of separation between the two definitions.

15d  Flower in position. (5)
LOTUS: Double definition, the second being a position in yoga.

16d  Communion elements on view? By all means. (4,5)
MASS MEDIA: Double definition, the first part cryptic and the second the multiple ways in which information can be published.

17d  Warning! Temptress. (5)
SIREN: Double definition.  Three double definitions in a row is too many.  Try to vary clue types between clues as well as across the clues as a whole.

18d  Everyone, with son for a time in tribe. (5)
TUTSI: The musical term for everyone playing with one of the T’s (time) replaced by the abbreviation for son.

19d  Hola! A translated greeting. (5)
ALOHA: An anagram (translated) of HOLA A.

21d  Soldier on, changing stripes. (7)
PERSIST: An anagram (changing) of STRIPES.

22d  Life twitch. It’s good for digestion. (6)
PEPTIC: A three-letter word meaning life or vigour followed by a three-letter word for a twitch.

24d  Despair as darkness approaches (5)
GLOOM: Double definition.

25d  Opposite directions in river? Stupid! (5)
DENSE: Opposing points of the compass in a three-letter name of a river.

26d  On good authority – soya’s weird. (3-2)
SAY-SO: An anagram (weird) of SOYAS.

27d  Stitched, cream and red fibres initially worn to keep us warm. (5)
SCARF: The initial letters of the first five words of the clue.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner 444

  1. Not too much of a challenge and probably a bit anagram heavy but fun to solve and a demonstration that Cryptor can come up with well constructed succinct clues.
    !a get our vote for favourite.
    Thanks Cryptor.

    1. Just a quick comment to say thanks for all the comments above and below. I’m on a work course this week and not going to be able to reply to every comment. Please be assured I’m very grateful to everyone and will take note of all helpful criticisms and encouragements for next time.

  2. A very enjoyable Sunday evening romp.

    Smiles for 1a, 10a, 6d, and 22d.

    Thanks Cryptor and welcome to Rookie Corner and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Congratulations, Cryptor, on making your second debut in a week after your maiden airing on MyC.

    I was taken by 23a, 2d, 4d, 6d, 8d and 21d.

    You will get plenty of helpful feedback from others and from Prolixic on the morrow. A couple of points from me: it’s best to avoid repetition in solutions and the same word pops up in 17a and 30a; the cluing and solution in 13d and 28a all seem a bit too similar and you are not quite there with your adjectival definition in 5d where an ‘It might be’ or similar would do the job. A minor stylistic point for next time which was also there in your RC debut – it’s conventional to avoid full stops in clues (but many of us put them in at the beginning before realising we’ve been solving cryptics for years and have never noted their absence!)

    Well done and I look forward to your next.


    1. PM, before posting I had a look at the full list of Rookie Corner puzzles but couldn’t find another one for Cryptor so I assumed this one was his debut here. Do I need to go to Specsavers or did he set one earlier under another pseudonym?

      1. You may not need the Specsavers trip for the Rookie Corner listings, BD, but possibly for the first line of my post.🧐 Cryptor had a debut puzzle on MyCrossword (MyC in my comment) on Tuesday last.

        1. I did see that but was led up the garden path by your later reference to “your RC debut”. :wink:

          1. Ah yes. Now it’s me needing the specs, BD. I hadn’t noticed that little RC hidden away in the text. As ever, you are one with an eye for detail. Thank Goodness I made no unindicated American reference in there too.

              1. And I have fat thumbs on a small keyboard and, you’ll have noticed, it’s when one’s occupied with the Shift button that things go wrong … How folk can concentrate on more than one thing at once, I shall never know 🤯

  4. This was light and good fun, Cryptor, with some interesting ideas on show. Your clueing was commendably brief but some of your surfaces read a little strangely. On an amusing note, I do wonder how 2d would have reacted to being called a sailor!

    PostMark has covered pretty much all the points that I was going to make. I will just add that in chemical terms a salt is not a 9a; it is a reaction product of a 9a with an acid; and I ask if “fall” is a valid anagram indicator in 8d?

    My top picks are 14a, 17a & 6d.

    Many thanks, Cryptor. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. I pondered ‘fall’, RD, and concluded it worked. Fall implies/means collapse and that’s certainly an accepted anagrind.

  5. As the Kiwis wrote, fun to solve. A very good accompaniment to breakfast. We can’t quite work out where the middle ‘s’ comes from in 1a. Lots to enjoy and we look forward to your next one and to Prolixic’s review.

  6. A friendly crossword – probably because of the eleven anagrams!

    Thanks to Cryptor – take note of the comments and Prolixic’s review and come back soon – and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Cryptor.

    A promising debut but the grid did you no favours, it’s very unbalanced between Across and Down clues (12 against 20) and it contains several double unches. It’s much better to choose a grid that has already appeared in the Telegraph, Times or Guardian etc, than to make up one’s own.

    When the anagram count reaches double figures, alarm bells start to ring for me and it’s clear that there were too many in evidence, with “out” used an indicator twice. The four five-letter solutions clued as anagrams would have probably been the best ones to benefit from alternative constructions. In addition, the two halves of 28a, 13d and 24d seemed too similar and I wondered whether 12d was really cryptic at all. I don’t like “has” a containment indicator (10a) and the cryptic grammar jarred in a couple of clues as well.

    Having said all that, I did actually enjoy solving the puzzle which is the acid test after all. So well done for creating a fun crossword, Cryptor.

    Many thanks.

  8. Hi Cryptor.
    Really, exactly what Silvanus said. As a Rookie setter myself, I treat anagrams almost as a last resort, not a “go to” option but obviously I’m no expert! I’d also limit lurkers to two a puzzle, you had “in” as an indicator here twice too.
    I did enjoy it a lot though, plenty of smiles throughout the grid and ironically (given my comment about the anagram count) the biggest was produced by 25a, a clue with two of them! Look forward to your next, thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  9. Welcome Cryptor and thanks for an enjoyable puzzle with some neat ideas.
    All the points I was going to make have already been made by commenters who get up earlier than I do so I’ll just say that my favourite clue was 1a.

  10. Many thanks Cryptor, a very enjoyable debut – good fun, which is surely the most important thing! As others have noted, some issues to address – e.g. more variety in clue types, stronger double defintions, friendlier grid design – but nothing really drastic as you clearly have the basics right. My favourites were those with (for me) the most convincing and/or humourous surfaces – 11a, 23a, 2d & 4d (I also enjoyed 16d – I don’t think it *quite* works, though I may well be misunderstanding, but I like what you’re aiming for!) Thanks again Cryptor, and in advance to Prolixic.

  11. Welcome to the Corner, Cryptor, with a puzzle that made for a fun solve – no mean feat for a Rookie on his debut.
    There were certainly a few issues that need addressing, most of them already mentioned by others, my personal beefs were with the surface read of 10a and the construction of 16d.
    Top clues for me were 1a plus 6&22d.
    Prolixic will give you excellent advice but I think you’re well on your way in the setting stakes.
    Many thanks for submitting your puzzle, hope we hear more from you in the future.

  12. I haven’t finished by quite a long way but I just had to call in to say how much I loved 7d – it really made me laugh.
    Thanks to Cryptor and in advance to Prolixic.

  13. Very much what Silvanus said about the grid and clues, and I too enjoyed solving it. One specific comment in that I thought 12dn was hardly cryptic. I’ll look forward,though, to your next appearance.

  14. A most enjoyable puzzle, thank you Cryotor. Yes, some odd surface reads and an over-generous proportion of anagrams, but if that’s the approximate limit of the criticism it’s a fine first showing in Rookie’s Corner.

    Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  15. Nothing to add to what’s already been said but on the whole a fun, quick & enjoyable solve that would make a nice Quiptic puzzle. 1a my favourite
    Thanks Cryptor

  16. As it is 23:10 and I have only just returned from a wonderful concert at the Royal Albert Hall, I will post the review tomorrow.

  17. Hi Cryptor, thanks for an entertaining challenge. For me 1a epitomised the nature of the whole piece – a good debut with some room for improvement, but nothing drastic. The surface is a bit weird, not sure southern = S (South, yes, but no doubt someone will correct me) or that yet is a valid link word but the solution is easily and satisfyingly reached. That pretty much continued throughout. So plenty to enjoy with a bit to work on. Good start!

  18. Thanks to Prolixic and everyone who has taken the trouble to comment. I’m very grateful and will try to implement all the advice in any future attempts at setting.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Sound advice as always and I do hope Cryptor brings us another puzzle.

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