Rookie Corner 462 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 462

A Puzzle by Avtaar

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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.

Welcome back to Avtaar.  I found this a lot more approachable and enjoyable than our setter’s first crossword.  It was still on the tough side but less impenetrable and the clues were a lot better in terms of accuracy.  My only comments are minor ones and all are points that can be overcome with practice and experience.  Interestingly, all of the comments relate to the down clues and increase towards the end, which is often the sign of a long setting session where you are beginning to lose focus or trying to race to the finishing line.  The commentometer reads as 3/28 or 10.7%.


1a  Banks in Guernsey isle near UK, covering up blunder by the German doctor (11)
GERRYMANDER: The outer letters (banks in) of Guernsey followed by a three-letter name of an isle in the North Sea around (covering up) a three-letter word meaning to blunder all followed by the German for the.

9a  A switch, perhaps – available at a bargain? (2,5)
ON OFFER: A switch might fancifully (perhaps) be described as this as by reference to it being on or off.

10a  European country backing stand by one Arab (7)
KUWAITI: Reverse (backing) the abbreviation for United Kingdom (country) and followed with a four-letter word meaning stand and the letter represented by one.

11a  Cry in front of Queen’s grave (5)
SOBER: A three-letter word meaning cry followed by the two letter regnal cypher for Queen Elizabeth.

12a  On the verge of heading out in wonderful, timeless darkness (4-4)
WELL-NIGH: A five-letter word meaning wonderful without the initial letter (heading out) followed by a five-letter word for darkness without the final T (timeless).

14a  Cornered by public, English king, back from hiatus, sweats excessively (10)
OVEREXERTS: The abbreviation for English and a three-letter word for king inside (cornered by) a five-letter word meaning public all followed by the final letter (back from) of hiatus.

15a  Beam routine cut short (4)
GRIN: A five-letter word for routine or hard work without the final letter (cut short).

17a  Staff arrived, cycling in reverse (4)
MACE: A four-letter word meaning arrived with the letters cycled and then reversed.

19a  Sweat room in our stadium is re-designed (10)
SUDATORIUM: An anagram (is re-designed) of OUR STADIUM.

22a  Material from report about major getting recalled by Navy (8)
TANGIBLE: A four-letter word for a report or story about a reversal (getting recalled) of a three-letter word meaning major and the single letter abbreviation for navy.

23a  Relative quits sporting venture (5)
FLING: A four-letter name of a female relative removed from (quits) a nine-letter word meaning sporting or showing ostentatiously.

25a  Stretchy top in cotton that is flipped around at the end (7)
ELASTIC: The first letter (top in) of cotton and the abbreviation for “that is” reversed (flipped) around a four-letter word meaning at the end.

26a  Model carried around and put down (7)
DETRACT: The model of the first Ford car and a six-letter word meaning carried all reversed (around).

27a  Vast old dominion‘s territory in Middle East confiscated by corrupt Premier (5,6)
ROMAN EMPIRE: A four-letter name of a country in the Middle East inside (confiscated by) an anagram (corrupt) of PREMIER.


1d  Parting spirit and body transformed by energy (7)
GOODBYE: A two-letter word meaning spirit followed by an anagram (transformed) of BODY and the abbreviation for energy.  Silvanus is right that there are too many A by B clues to indicate A followed by B.

2d  King rejected old advocate for change (8)
REFORMER: A reversal (rejected) of the regnal cipher for King Edward followed by a six-letter word meaning old.  I think it is acceptable to use different indicators for ER.  Often you will get this for single letter indicators such as independent and island in the same crossword.  I don’t think that a different rule applies for indicators for two letters.

3d  New suggestion elevated fantastic story (4)
YARN: The abbreviation for new and a three-letter word for a suggesting or hint of something all reversed (elevated).

4d  Bug runs away lifting scraps in shoe accessory (5,5)
ANKLE STRAP: A six-letter word meaning bug or annoy without the initial R (runs away) followed by a reversal (lifting) of a five-letter word meaning scraps or bits.

5d  Famous surrealist describing island with festival of lights (6)
DIWALI: The name of the surrealist Salvador around (describing) the abbreviations for island and with.

6d  Mount having more falls (7)
RAINIER: Double definition of a mountain in Washington state and wetter due to increased precipitation.

7d  To demonstrate, unfortunately, is of no consequence (4,3,6)
DOES NOT MATTER: An anagram (unfortunately) of TO DEMONSTRATE.  I have always been advised not to use a sentence that is valid in its own right that is not separately defined in the dictionary.  Whilst it doesn’t matter may be defined, I don’t think that this justifies the phrasing here.

8d  Arrogant drunk disrupted day-night match’s inauguration (4,3,6)
HIGH AND MIGHTY: A four-letter word meaning drunk followed by an anagram (disrupted) of DAY NIGHT M (match’s inauguration).

13d  Antique article captivates local politician in US (10)
REPUBLICAN: A five-letter word for antique and the two-letter indefinite article around a three-letter word for a local or inn.

16d  Often, it is scattered  after the start of celebrations (8)
CONFETTI: An anagram (scattered) of OFTEN IT after the initial letter (start) of celebrations.

18d  Legendary horseman? (7)
CENTAUR: Cryptic definition.

20d  Do an impression of one couple having sex (7)
IMITATE: The letter representing one and a four-letter word meaning a couple includes (having) a two-letter word for sex.  As the indicator one for the letter has already used in 10a, a different way of indicating the letter should be used.

21d  After losing gold, champion starts to insult manager, becoming object of abuse (6)
VICTIM: A six-letter word for a champion without (after losing) the heraldic word for gold followed by the initial letters (starts to) of insult manager.  Beware of repeating wordplay indicators such as starts where you have also had start of in 16d.

24d  A crazy revolutionary’s first boy (4)
ADAM: The A from the clue and a reversal (revolutionary) of a three-letter word meaning crazy.  As the solution was the first man, created as such, it seems a stretch to define him as a boy.  Your last crossword had 12 anagrams which was too many.  This is the ninth clue requiring a reversal which, again, makes the crossword seem unbalanced.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner 462
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  1. Sorry Avtaar, like your first one, not for me and, once again, I ‘retired hurt’ with about 50% complete.

    Thanks anyway and I look forward to reading Prolixic’s review.

  2. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Avtaar. For me, this was not as impenetrable as your first offering but it was still very tough and I needed a couple of reveals in order to finish. Your clueing is generally sound but I can’t say that I warmed to the puzzle overall.

    I am not sure if using “ER” to mean “king” and “queen” in each of 11a & 2d counts as a repetition; and 24d was created as a man so could never have been considered as a “boy”.

    I’ll be interested to learn Prolixic’s opinion of 7d which is obviously a meaningful phrase, but is it considered as a valid single entity for a crossword answer?

    Well done and thank you, Avtaar. I admire anyone who can compile a coherent cryptic puzzle. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Hi Avtaar. I did get to the end though I do have a couple unparsed so will look forward to explanations in the morning. I’d agree with RD’s ‘generally sound’ – and with his specific criticisms; there are certainly a few that didn’t work for me but plenty that did. In particular, I ticked 11a, 15a, 17a, 25a, 26a, 13d, 16d, 20d and 21d. Those four down clues were delightful in my book with 13 and 16 vying for COTD.

    I’m not sure if I saw your first so can’t comment on progress but there was plenty to like for this solver. Keep polishing!

    Thanks for the puzzle – and to Prolixic for the review when it comes.

    1. For anybody else wondering whether they saw a setter’s previous puzzles — or even who know that they did and want to remind themselves — note that our bloggers lovingly tag each crossword with the setter’s name, making them easy to find.

      Scroll up to the light grey bar that’s just above comment 1, and the final item in it says “Tagged Avtaar”. Click on Avtaar’s name and you get a list of all of their puzzles (which in this case is 2, including today’s).

      Apologies if that’s really obvious to everybody else, but it took me ages to spot so I figure there may be somebody else for whom it’s useful.

      1. That’s really helpful, Smylers. Thank you. And I see I commented last time around and there were quite a few that I really liked.

  4. Definitely a tough crossword although I did finish before my cup of tea went completely cold The anagrams definitely help to get started. I agree with RD – 24d was definitely never a boy

    Thank you Avtaar – take note of Prolixic’s review and the comments you get from solvers today – and if you could come back with something a bit more solver-friendly, that would be much appreciated

    Thanks in advance to Prolixic

  5. Hi Avtaar, it took me a little time to find your wavelength, but I thought this was generally more accessible than your previous offering, even though it was challenging and a couple of parsings escape me. I liked 15a, 11a, 8d, 18d, 20d, but didn’t think 16d was even a bit cryptic. Take heed of Prolixic’s comments but well done on your progress.

  6. I should add on 16d that the WP is clearly cryptic (and is grammatically spot on), but to illustrate my sense of it “not being cryptic”, I read it to Mrs Diva who got it immediately! So in spite of the Cryptic devices the surface reading is perfectly descriptive and is all one needs.

    1. I took 16d to be at the very least &littish, Dr D. (Only ‘ish’ because I am never confident enough to go all-out and declare one!) True, not a difficult &lit but isn’t it the nature of the beast that the clue, when read out, should actually be a decent description of the solution?

      1. Yes, I get exactly what you (and Gazza) are saying PM and I don’t really disagree. I just thought that the surface was almost too perfectly descriptive so the answer was very obvious without having to grapple with the excellent wordplay. I realise I am saying, ironically, that it made the clue too simple in a puzzle where the more general comment is that the overall challenge was too tough. But I think you could substitute ‘start of celebrations’ with, say, ‘initial commitments’ or other alternatives to give it just a bit of opacity. Nothing more. But, hey, if everyone else liked it, then I am happy to stand down!

      2. 16d is decidedly an &lit to me. The whole surface is a description/phrasal definition of the answer and the clue contains cryptic wordplay which also leads to the anwer. The trouble is, experts seem to disagree on what, exactly, constitutes a true &lit clue.

  7. Pretty tough but lots to like – many thanks to Avtaar.
    My ticks went to 9a, 10, 15a, 16d (I have to disagree with Dr Diva, I thought this was excellent) and 21d.

  8. Welcome back, Avtaar.

    Whilst I found your previous puzzle incredibly tough, this one, although challenging in places, was far more solver-friendly in my opinion, and I thought the construction of the majority of the clues was of a very high standard indeed. You wisely reduced the anagram content this time and the surface readings were exceptionally smooth too. Just a couple of quibbles – “start” was repeated as a first letter indicator and “by” was used three times as a wordplay juxtaposition indicator, hardly a capital offence but still something to watch, I’d suggest. You’ve also introduced something I’ve not seen before, a reverse “cycling” clue, a nice innovation. My ticks were plentiful, I gave double ticks to 9a (for the humour and inventiveness) and 27a.

    Congratulations on the huge improvement shown, Avtaar, if you can maintain this standard of clueing then you won’t stay a Rookie for too long, I reckon. Many thanks.

  9. Welcome again, Avtaar. Must admit my heart sank a little when I saw who had compiled this one but although it was far from being an easy solve I felt you had dialled down the difficulty to some extent which resulted in far more enjoyment for the solver.
    My GK didn’t stretch as far as the ‘sweat room’ but that was easy enough to check so didn’t cause a particular problem.
    Plenty of ticks on my sheet which is always a good sign and hopefully Prolixic won’t find too much to adversely criticise.

    Thank you for taking heed of the comments following your last outing and I look forward to seeing your next compilation.

  10. Well done, Avtaar; very enjoyable puzzle. Certainly the enjoyment lasted longer than my morning coffee!! Respect to anyone who can construct a puzzle so making it a challenge, as well as very enjoyable, is a success in my book. Thanks

  11. A long time since I’ve attempted a Rookie Corner puzzle, but I was at a loose end this evening after binge watching Clarkson’s Farm so I thought I’d give it a go. I almost got to the finish line, except for 19A, for which I had to reveal a couple of letters. A new word for me, and one which I will almost certainly never use in conversation down at the biker bar. Parsing cryptic clues is often my bugaboo, but I did quite well on this one, so that raised my enjoyment level. Top clue for me was the chuckle-worthy 9A. Many thanks Avtaar!

  12. This kept me nicely entertained on the first bit of my flight home from Joburg last night & I enjoyed it. Like others shy of a couple of parsings but filled the grid without a letter reveal though 19a was an educated punt with no internet to confirm. 1,9&27a along with 8&16d clues I particularly liked.
    Thanks & look forward to your next one.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I wonder why your avatar no longer appears above the reviews?
    Even more pleased than usual to read your words as the parsing penny finally dropped with regard to 23a!
    An excellent score for Avtaar – just hope he manages to keep his future puzzles at that slightly lower level of difficulty.

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