Rookie Corner 448 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 448

Morning Stroll by Lamppost

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome to Lamppost with a crossword that whilst largely correct technically, was undoubtedly to complex and, in places, obscure, for its own good.  When experienced solvers are having to resort to revealing letters to complete the crossword, it is a good indication that the cluing is too convoluted.  Try to aim for an elegant complexity.

The commentometer reads as 3 / 35 or 8.6%.

I have no idea how the solutions relate to the theme.  Perhaps lamppost could shed some light on this.


7a  Metropolis of state 1 + 1 + 24 + 24 (8)
HONOLULU: A three-letter word meaning love (the answer to 1d) followed by a single letter meaning love (again the answer to 1d) and the word plus (+) twice without the outer letters (endless – the answer to 24d).  Pleasingly, the numbers add up to the number of the state of which the solution forms a part.

9a  Metal on metal (4)
IRON: The chemical symbol for iridium followed by the ON from the clue.

10a  Russian Spacelab seen in the hall of mirrors (3)
MIR: The answer is hidden at the start of the last word of the clue.  Two points to note here.  Ideally, hidden words should not start or end at a word boundary.  Also, try to avoid padding words in clues – words that are there for the surface reading only and do not play any part in the wordplay.

11a  Income destroyed by discharged uranium waste (8)
MECONIUM: An anagram (destroyed) of INCOME followed by the outer letters (discharged) of uranium.

12a  Rock group from Russia inspired by drugs from the East (6)
EUROPE: A reversal (from the East) of the internet domain name for Russia inside (inspired by) the abbreviations for Erythropoietin and Ecstasy.  Internet domain names used not to be allowed without an indication that it was a domain name as they were not defined in the main dictionaries.  However, Collins now included domain name codes, so I think that they can be used without further indication.  To define a continent a rock group is perhaps a little too indirect.

13a  Silly sod vacantly eating titanium gets upset tummy in the end (5)
DITSY: The outer letters (vacantly) of sod include the chemical symbol for titanium and are then reversed (gets upset) and followed by the final letter (in the end) of tummy.

15a  Non-drinker on the airwaves, one ruining meal (9)
RECHABITE: A homophone (on the airwaves) of WRECKER (one ruining) followed by a four-letter word for a meal.

18a  Ad man proclaiming it’s more fun to compute with a Mac left old market depressed (3, 4)
LEE  CLOW: The abbreviation for Left followed by the abbreviation for the old European Economic Community and a three-letter word meaning depressed.

21a  Book performances (7)
NUMBERS: Double definition, the first being a book in the Old Testament.

25a  Liberal dad on air transforming where listeners live (9)
RADIOLAND: An anagram (transforming) of L (liberal) DAD ON AIR.  Having checked three major dictionaries, I cannot find this word defined.  Other than proper nouns, setters should use only words defined in Chambers, Collins or the Oxford English Dictionary.

26a  Planet spun audibly (5)
WORLD: A homophone (audibly) of whirled (spun).

29a  Settles fair and square (6)
LIGHTS: A five-letter word meaning fair in colour followed by the abbreviation for square.

31a  Countryfile shows traditional means of making the telephone call (8)
LANDLINE: A four-letter word for a country followed by a four-letter word for a file or queue.  Some editors will not allow an unindicated lift and separate where the solver had to make a split in one word to make two words to use in the wordplay.

33a  Stand there oddly (3)
TEE: The odd letter in the second word of the clue.

34a  Period covered by intermission (4)
TERM: The answer is hidden (covered by) in the final word of the clue.

35a  Chef on the radio stars in programme on opening of major display venue (8)
SHOWROOM: A homophone (on the radio) of Roux (chef) in a four-letter word for a programme and the first letter (opening) of major.


1d  Pet duck (4)
LOVE: Double definition for a term of endearment (pet) and another word for zero (duck).

2d  Androids take over Britain, with old traditionalists discontented (6)
ROBOTS: The pharmacological abbreviation for take followed by the abbreviations for over, Britain and old and the outer letters (discontented) of traditionalists.

3d  Firsts for Cambridge University researchers identifying elusive unit of radioactivity (5)
CURIE: The initial letters (firsts for) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

4d  Idiots date headless characters in horror films (7)
DUMMIES: The abbreviation for date followed by a type of character found in horror films without the initial letter (headless).

5d  Layer that’s found between terminals of transistor (4)
TIER: The abbreviation for “that is” inside the outer letters (terminals) of transistor.

6d  Electronic device (‘pocket calculator’, originally) (8)
COMPUTER: The type of electronic device whose abbreviation is given by the initial letters (originally) of Pocket Calculator which also might be described as the solution.

8d  Prior to start of his work, Franz Schubert initially pens note (a potential description for ‘Trout’) (5-3)
FRESH-RUN: Before (prior to) the first letter (start of) his and a three-letter word for work take the initial letters of Franz Schubert and include within them (pens) a two-letter musical note.

11d  Average student design (5)
MODEL: A four-letter word meaning average and the abbreviation for a learner or student.  The four-letter word for average is defined incorrectly.  The mean (average) of a data set is found by adding all numbers in the data set and then dividing by the number of values in the set. The median is the middle value when a data set is ordered from least to greatest.  The mode is the number that occurs most often in a data set.

14,16d  Religious figure from Thailand on piggyback (3, 3)
THE BAB – The internet-domain code for Thailand followed by a reversal (back) of the name of a pig that featured in a film of the same name.

16d  See 14 (3)

17d  Prioritises registers of best candidates after withdrawal of son and, ultimately, daughter (3-5)
HOT-LISTS: A phrase (5-5) for the registers of best candidates without (after withdrawal of) the abbreviation for son and the final letter (ultimately) of daughter.  The solution is given only as a noun in the Oxford Dictionary of English without the hyphen.  The verbal usage is not supported by any of the main dictionaries.

19d  Former reserves taking vitamin for tests (8)
EXAMINES: A two-letter word meaning former and a five-letter word for reserves of underground resources include (taking) a single letter for a type of vitamin.

20d  Letter held by the man-machine (3)
CHI: The answer is hidden (held by) in the final word of the clue.

22d  Exhausted engineer grasps tip of antenna: it picks up sound (3)
EAR: The outer-letters (exhausted) of engineer includes (grasps) the first letter (tip) of antenna.

23d  Plant seed roughly around midnight (5)
SEDGE: An anagram (roughly) of SEED around the middle letter of night (midnight).

24d  After goal, the French put on third of ‘Musique Non Stop‘ (7)
ENDLESS: A three-letter word for a goal followed by the plural form of the French for the and the third letter of musique.

27d  Those staring at (to them) sex object (bum or legs) (6)
OGLERS: An anagram (bum) of OR LEGS.

28d  Sure to get in yellow in Tour de France (2, 3)
IN  FOR: The IN from the clue and a two-letter word for yellow around (tour de) the IVR code for France.

30d  Where Englishman has castle, Frenchman loses heart (4)
HOME: The five-letter word for a man in France without the middle letter (loses heart).

32d  Element‘s name and age (4)
NEON: The abbreviation for name followed by a three-letter word for an age.

26 comments on “Rookie Corner 448
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  1. Thanks Lamppost for a real head scratcher that I needed quite a lot of e-help to complete which Prolixic will probably have quite a lot of comments on.

    Some I have:

    10a is not really a lurker.

    12a – the IVR code for Russia is three letters.

    15a and 18a – for me, very obscure.

    11d – in statistics, the 4 letter word required for 11d is not equivalent to average.

    Plus there are several where the parsing escapes me so I will await Prolixic’s review with interest.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Senf, RU is the Internet domain name for Russia. I don’t know if that makes it an acceptable abbreviation in a crossword. :unsure:

      1. And in 14d, I think TH is also an internet domain code (T would be the relevant IVR) … I’ve seen domains used previously so probably OK, but maybe limit to one in any single puzzle? The “average” I’d say is fine – certainly in school maths, we were taught three kinds of “average” – mean, median and **** – and Chambers has “Loosely … a typical value” for “average” too.

        1. Thanks Fez, maybe, but the statistical pedant in me says that the three quantities are different ‘measurements of central tendency’, which rarely coincide, with a statistician choosing the one that most satisfies the requirement of ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’ for a particular study and only mean equates to average.

  2. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Lamppost. For me, this was a curate’s egg of a puzzle. Some of your shorter clues were very good, which shows that you have the potential to become a skilled setter. On the other hand, I frequently got the feeling that you were trying too hard to be cryptic. Simplicity is often best, e.g.: 27d as written is clunky; changing it to “Those staring at bum or legs” would perhaps have been a better alternative (although some will find this clue in poor taste anyway). You had a few “War and Peace” clues, i.e.: lengthy clues which seem to have developed lives of their own.

    I never normally notice grids, but I don’t think you have done yourself any favours by having so many three letter answers. There were several chemical elements in the clues and answers. Was this intended as a mini-theme?

    I found a lot of this very tough, but finally managed to finish it with the aid of a few reveals. However, I thought a couple of your definitions were not quite right and I can’t parse 7a (see comment below), 18a and 35a.

    I have a lot of scribbles on my page but I’ll leave most of the details to Prolixic. I will just make a few specific comments:

    – The answer to 7a is clear from the definition and the checking letters. I can see that “1” = “Love” = “O” and I take it that “ 24” twice means “PLUS Endless” twice = “LU LU”. However, the HON remains a mystery to me, presumably clued in some way by “state 1 ” which is the unused part of the wordplay. A clue like this doesn’t make a great start as the first across clue is usually the first one tackled and for which a good hook helps draw solvers in.
    – Lurkers are fine as a clue type, but you should not include unwanted words in the fodder and also generally try to spread these across more than one word.
    – I couldn’t find 17d in Chambers or Collins, and I wonder if it is simply the American equivalent of our “shortlists”? 25a is not in Chambers and Collins says it is an Americanism. 15a & 18a are very obscure to me.

    On the plus side, I ticked 9a, 26a, 29a, 33a, 3d, 5d, 30d & 32d.

    Well done on compiling a cryptic puzzle, Lamppost. It is something I know that I couldn’t do. For future submissions, please aim for more simplicity. Do pay heed to the various comments from the contributors to this site and particularly to the wise words of Prolixic, to whom thanks in advance.

    1. P.S. I don’t understand why but a couple of plus signs which I typed in my comment have disappeared from the published version. Mr K, if you are reading this do you have any idea why this should be and is there a work around?

      For clarity, in my comment re 7a, it should read “plus sign 24″ in line 2 of that paragraph, and “state 1 plus sign” in line 3.

    2. I think “hon” is short form of “honey” as term of endearment (ie answer to 1d), and def is sort of all-in-one, being the city in “state 50” (ie 1+1+24+24)?

      1. Good grief! What a convoluted clue. Is “hon” a real word? I think I would have spelt it “hun”, but I see “hon” is actually in the BRB (and in Collins as an American word!)

        How did you get plus signs to print? I wonder if it’s the spaces that caused the problem for me. Let’s test it: 1 1 24 24.

  3. Thanks, Lamppost. I’m with Senf – I don’t get the significance of the title but this was definitely not a morning stroll for me.

    Some of the clues seem excessively wordy, which made them a bit of a chore to unravel. If I’ve parsed 18a correctly, “proclaiming it’s more fun to compute with a Mac” is redundant. People will either know the person or they won’t (I didn’t). If they do, “ad man” will be sufficient as a definition. If they don’t, that extra detail won’t help them solve the clue, and only serves to confuse.

    Similarly, 27d would be much neater if you trimmed it to “Those staring at bum or legs”.

    On the positive side, I thought 3d was nice and justified the wordiness. And 9a and 29a are lovely clues – and all the better for their succinctness.

    (Edit: I see I’ve echoed some of Rabbit Dave’s comments, which he posted while I was typing mine)

  4. Welcome Lamppost and thank you for submitting a puzzle to Rookie Corner

    I found parts of this crossword exceedingly difficult and, because we are going out shortly and I didn’t think I’d be intrigued enough to return to finish the puzzle when we get back, I ended up revealing a considerable number of letters in order to achieve a completed grid.

    There is quite a lot I don’t understand so I look forward to Prolixic’s review, for which many thanks in advance

  5. Thanks Lamppost, an enjoyable workout. Some very tricky stuff in there – a lot of it pleasingly so, but some perhaps a little too convoluted – e.g. if I’ve parsed 7a correctly it’s very clever but perhaps a bit too clever for its own good!

    I’m clearly missing something in 12a, as although I got the .ru domain, I’m still left with a couple of letters. I think I have everyting else parsed but some specific points:

    10a if a lurker, there’s too much padding, but (as your wordplay is otherwise technically quite tight!) I suspect you may have intended “hall of” to mean the “entrance to”? Either way, I don’t think it quite works.

    15a obscure, needing some electronic assistance, but fairly clued. 18a and 14/16d were both, for me, very obscure and in these cases, although again fairly clued, I think perhaps just too obscure? More straightforward alternatives would have been possible for 14d and 16d (separately) and indeed for 18a (eg LEECHES, if the similarly unknown – Americanism? – 17d were changed to the more friendly CELLISTS, say)

    I wasn’t keen on “vitamin” in 19d, like e.g. “note” used in a similar way, it doesn’t feel entirely satisfactory, and in 20d “the” is superfluous.

    Beyond those quibbles, though, a huge amount to enjoy with some very clever wordplay. Personally I love long (“War & Peace”?) clues but I do agree that there were too many here – they should be used sparingly! In a few cases, the same essential treatment could be provided in far fewer words, perhaps the most obvious example being 27d (not the longest, but too much unnecessary padding), whilst Widders’ observation on 18a is well-made.

    Finally – I’m stumped by the relevance of the puzzle’s title, sorry! Looking forward to enlightenment.

    Thanks again Lamppost, and in advance to Prolixic.

  6. Welcome Lamppost.
    There are some very clever clues here (especially 7a after Fez’s explanation of the 50th state) but I found it very difficult in parts and ended up revealing some letters (which I hate to do but it was either that or ‘give up’).
    The clues I liked best were 9a, 29a and 30d.
    Thanks for the challenge. I look forward to your next puzzle but please make it a little less tortuous.

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Lamppost.

    I have to say that I didn’t warm to the puzzle at all, too many obscure answers and over-engineered wordplay in certain cases made for an arduous solve rather than an enjoyable one. Like Gazza, I too had to resort to electronic assistance to achieve a completed grid. 7a may be very clever, but I think it is far too convoluted to be fair. The best clues were definitely the shorter ones, the self-indulgently wordy ones are not my cup of tea, unfortunately. The title of the puzzle remains a mystery, perhaps it was meant as an ironic reference to the difficulty level of the puzzle?

    Thank you for the submission, Lamppost.

  8. Welcome Lamppost. As others have said, due to a mix of obscurities, too much overworked clueing and parsing that escaped me in some instances, the Morning Stroll was a bit of an Uphill Struggle. But I enjoyed clues like 29a, 33a, 30d and 32d very much and I feel these show really good potential. I think you need to bear in mind that your objective as a setter is to guide solvers towards the answers rather than hide them from them completely. Pay attention to Prolixic and keep working at it. You clearly have it in you to iron out any issues. I look forward to your next offering.

  9. I got about half way through completion finding it quite chewy but doable. Then I began to run out of steam. And then I ran into 14d/16d, 15a and 18a all of which were nho. And resorted to an amount of revealing to complete. There is quite a lot I haven’t yet parsed so will look to Prolixic for explanation on the morrow.

    Along the way, I enjoyed 9a, 29a, 3d, 5d, 30d and 32d. As others have commented, the shorter solutions inspired the better clues imho.

    There is plenty of imagination and creativity there and you’ve shown that over on MyC as well. But there is a bit of trying too hard and too much obscurity. We all get odd words forcing themselves into the grid occasionally, especially if there’s a theme involved, but they can be devilishly hard to clue and there’s every chance the solver won’t know the word they are trying to get. If you can eliminate those when grid filling, both parties are likely to have an easier and more enjoyable time of it.

    Thanks for the puzzle and to Prolixic in advance

  10. Thanks for joining in at Rookie Corner Lamppost. I got to this very late in the day so maybe my solving skills were somewhat weakened by the late hour but I found this too tough for me to complete. There were a number of clues I enjoyed solving on the first pass through and a few more I managed to complete once I gradually revealed letters. That then helped me solve some more with the checkers they provided. I particularly liked 11, 13 and 29 across, 5 and 30 down. Sadly there were a number of clues that were well beyond my solving ability and I await Prolixic’s explanations of the parsing.

    Overall I found this a rather curious combination of some really excellent clues and some beyond comprehension! Hopefully, by taking on board the wise advice you are, and will receive from this blog, your next puzzle will contain many more of the former and none of the latter! You have certainly shown you are very capable of producing some original and creative clues.

    Thanks again for the puzzle. Like others I look forward to seeing your next one.

  11. Prolixic, thank you for explaining all that. And, Lamppost, thank you for providing the fun and ingenuity. That puzzle was above my level (but then so many are; that doesn’t make it a bad puzzle), but I did enjoy reading the explanations and admiring the cleverness in many of the clues.

    For what it’s worth ‘radioland’ is in the OED, “a notional place where radio listeners reside” — which matches Lamppost’s definition well.

    And at school we were taught there are 3 averages: mean, median, and mode. OED hints at this, with its citations for ‘mode’ including the Independent newspaper stating the same as I was taught, and its definition for ‘average’ including “the medium amount, the generally prevailing, or ruling, quantity, rate, or degree; the ‘common run’”. Chambers is a little more explicit: “any number that is representative of a group of numbers or other data, especially the arithmetic mean” — clarifying that ‘average’ is wider than just the mean, though not specifically stating that it includes the mode.

    PS: Also thank you to Prolixic for the recent(ish) formatting change to include ‘a’ or ‘d’ after each clue letter in the list. When a commentor mentions a clue by number, it’s useful to be able to search in the page for ‘7a’ or whatever to jump straight to it (in a way that searching for just ‘7’ doesn’t do, as it crops up elsewhere on the page in a variety of uses such as posting times), so I’ve been really appreciating this improvement.

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