Rookie Corner 504 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 504

A Puzzle by Azuna

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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. We 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.

Although easier than the previous two crosswords Azuna has produced, unfortunately the quality of the cluing has taken a leap backwards with the commentometer reading as 8.5/30 or 28.3%.  Previous reviews have highlighted the need only to use abbreviations used in the major dictionaries so it was disappointing to find that the use of unrecognized abbreviations continues unabated.  Also, there were too many clues where a word in the clue was simply transplanted into the solution.

Across

9a  Vertical line glued into randomly (9)
LONGITUDE: An anagram (randomly) of GLUED INTO.

10a  Reaction from bovine heralded by red (5)
REDOX: A two-letter word for a bovine animal preceded (heralded) by the RED from the clue.  Perhaps having a synonym for red would be better here.  “Reaction from bovine heralded by Rosy” would work and improve the surface reading.

11a  Quartz and others mostly a group of four (7)
QUARTET: Remove the final letters (mostly) from the Quartz from the clue and a three-letter abbreviation for “and others”.  Another clue where the majority of the solution is found in the clue.

12a  Dream of one magazine without extreme letters (7)
IMAGINE: The letter represented by one followed by the magazine from the clue without the AZ (extreme letters).  The third clue in a row here most of the letters in the solution are given in the clue.

13a  Make changes to current reflection (4)
EDIT: A reversal (reflection) of a four-letter word for a current.

14a  Art master ensnared by unending trust to office (10)
DEPARTMENT: The ART from the clue and the abbreviation for master inside (ensnared) by a six letter word meaning trust and the to from the clue each with the final letter removed (unending).

16a  Host for the time being (7)
PRESENT: Double definition.

17a  Development Indian backed gets constructed (7)
DEVISED: A three-letter abbreviation for development followed by a reversal (backed) of four-letter meaning authentically Indian.  The abbreviation for development is not given in the main dictionaries and should not, therefore, be used.

19a  Some doctors caught in slight pause at heart hurrying for explanation (10)
COMMENTARY: The abbreviation for Ear, Nose and Throat (some doctors) inside (caught in) a five-letter word for a punctuation mark that is indicates a pause followed by the inner letters (at heart) of hurrying.

22a  Women surrender to Conservatives in blow to union (4)
BLOC: Replace the abbreviation for women with the abbreviation for Conservatives in the word blow in the clue.  Strictly, the abbreviation is for Conservative, not Conservatives.  Also, for the cryptic reading of the clue to work, you need A surrenders to B, not A surrender to B.

25a  Splitting task, replacing Mike with Yousef in the end (7)
FISSION: A seven-letter word meaning a task with the letter represented by Mike in the NATO phonetic alphabet replaced with the final letter (in the end) of Yousef.  Getting the balance of clues right is difficult.  I avoid two swap the letters clues in a row.

26a  Fired that man smuggling uranium-producing metal (7)
LITHIUM: A three-letter word meaning fired or ignited followed by a three-letter word meaning that man that includes (smuggling) the chemical symbol for uranium.

27a  Dipping from South Africa originally used chillis excessively (5)
SAUCE: The abbreviation for South Africa followed by the first letters (originally) of the final three words of the clue.  Dipping is given in Chambers as a mixture into which food may be dipped.

28a  It goes up and down, ignoring oddly all action during scare back at the start (9)
ESCALATOR: The even letters (ignoring oddly) in all action inside (during) the scare from the clue with the final letter moved to the front (back at the start).

Down

1d  Bacteria taking quality from top of gum (6)
PLAQUE: Cryptic definition of a type of bacteria found in the mouth.

2d  Some species from India drip inside vase (8)
INVASIVE: The internet domain name for India followed by the abbreviation for intravenous drip inside the VASE from the clue.   There are far too many clues in the crossword where you simply take a word from the clue and use it in the solution.

3d  Registers to half-off Lisbon tours outside (5)
LISTS: Half of the word Lisbon followed by the outer letter of tours.  Strictly for the cryptic grammar to work, you need tours’ outside.  Also, you cannot have a cryptic reading of definition to wordplay.

4d  Ratio not quite out of place (8)
QUOTIENT: An anagram (out of place) of NOT QUITE.

5d  It helps you see concerning metal trade, essentially (6)
RETINA: A two-letter word meaning concerning followed by a three-letter type of metal and the inner letters (essentially) of trade.

6d  Taking the initiative to demonstrate adopting uncovered tactic (9)
PROACTIVE: A five-letter word meaning to demonstrate or show around (adopting) the inner letters (uncovered) of tactic.

7d  Respect man interrupting commercial with anger (6)
ADMIRE: The abbreviation for man inside a two-letter abbreviation for a commercial and a three-letter word for anger. M for man is another abbreviation not found in the dictionaries.

8d  Stretch dislodged and cramped muscle as required (8)
EXPECTED: A six-letter word meaning stretch without the N (and) includes (cramped) a three-letter word for a type of muscle.

15d  Gave new meaning to graceful containing heart of ordeal (9)
REDEFINED: A seven-letter word meaning graceful includes the middle letters (heart) of ordeal.  Another clue where there is a repetition of a wordplay indicator (heart was used in 19a).

16d  They prefer peace but mostly pack a punch (8)
PACIFIST: All but the last letter (mostly) of pack followed by a letter representing one (a) and a four-letter word for punch.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Mostly to delete the final letter has already been used in 11a.  The definition implies a plural solution.  Perhaps “One prefers peace…”

17d  Previously surrounded by dead weight after 26 abandoned (8)
DERELICT: A three-letter word meaning previously surrounded by the abbreviation for dead, the chemical symbol for the answer to 26a and the abbreviation for carat (weight).

18d  Note provisional agreement on focus of music behind street performers (8)
SOLOISTS: A two-letter musical note followed by the abbreviation for letters of intent (provisional agreement) and the middle letter (focus) of music after the abbreviation for street.  The abbreviation for letters of intent is not given in the main dictionaries and it should not therefore be used in a clue.

20d  Parent embraces utilisation of public building (6)
MUSEUM: A three-letter word for a parent around (embraces) a three-letter word for utilisation.  Some editors will not allow a construction wordplay of definition.

21d  Mess around with bank to frame North Korea (6)
TINKER: A four-letter word for a bank around an abbreviation for North Korea.  I am assuming that this is the internet domain name.  As domain names are not given in dictionaries, they should not be used without some indication that it is a domain name that is required.

23d  Snapper in America curiously lacking eye (6)
CAMERA: An anagram (curiously) of AMERICA without the letter pronounced as EYE.  I think that a homophone indicator is required to get from eye to I.

24d  Made out steps to identify technique (5)
STYLE: A homophone (made out) of stile (steps).


21 comments on “Rookie Corner 504
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  1. Thanks Azuna. For me, much better than your second Rookie – I solved this completely with a minimum of e-help. There are some parsings that are not totally clear to me so I will await the wisdom of Prolixic.

    In 16d, unless I am mistaken, the definition suggests a plural answer but only the singular can be entered in the grid.

    Wow, 15 words in 28a – Tolstoy should be worried.

    Smiles for 25a, 26a, and 24d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Azuna. I’m pleased to say that I found this a big improvement over your previous submissions and far more solver friendly. I managed to complete it and enjoyed most of the solve, although I can’t fully parse my answers for 14a, 1d & 18d.

    Now that you have fewer technical issues, it would be good to work on polishing up your surface readings. 9a, 19a, 28a & 1d, amongst others, read decidedly strangely.

    A few specific comments from me:
    11a – if I am parsing it correctly, this clue doesn’t work. It appears to be using “mostly” as an instruction to remove one letter from the end of “quartz” and two letters from the end of ET AL (“others”).
    17a – DEV is not given in the BRB as abbreviation for “development”.
    19a – ENT is a hospital department not an abbreviation for doctors.
    7d – I can’t find anything to support M = “man”.
    16d – be careful with the use of personal pronouns. It is an area which has become a minefield. Many solvers will be expecting a plural answer.
    23d – if I have parsed it correctly, you need a homophone indicator for “eye”.
    24d – I don’t think “made out” is a valid homophone indicator.

    6d was my favourite, joined on my podium by 16a, 25a & 20d.

    Well done and thank you, Azuna. If you take on board Prolixic’s wise words and all the other comments made here, I am sure your improvement will continue. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hey, Azuna here

      On 11a, the intended parse is taking one letter away from ETC, which also means “and others”.
      17a, 19a and 16d was me trying to experiment a bit and it not exactly going well, so I do apologize for that. On a related note, what types of abbreviations not on the BRB are accepted in cryptics?
      The issues in 7d and 23d is completely on me but I believe “make out” means to see or hear something, which would likely justify it.

      Nonetheless, thanks for the feedback and I’ll be eagerly waiting for Prolixic’s review.

      1. Hi Azuna. Thanks very much for responding.

        Regarding abbreviations, at the top level of crossword setting it is the editor’s decision. For example, I believe that the Telegraph provides setters with an acceptable list.

        For Rookie Corner purposes, I would suggest only using those abbreviations you can find in Chambers or Collins.

        For your 7d, “male” would have been OK.

    2. RD, 19a. Just a thought, “some doctors” are often referred to (perhaps informally) by the sphere in which they specilaise – some doctors are E, N & T doctors. Maybe the reviewer will see it that way?

  3. Thanks Azuna, my faves were 25a, 26a (I think the L&S is fair enough), 27a, 4d, 5d, 6d & 24d (I agree “made out” works fine for a homophone). Mostly agree with RD’s observations – including the three unparsed (14a can’t account for the final T; 1d not sure at all; 18d I’m left with LOI/OI for “provisional agreement”?). A few other bits’n’pieces – watch out for link words (they don’t quite work for me in 14a, 22a, 3d, 16d & 20d) and repetitions (“mostly” in 11a/16d, “heart” in 19a/15d). I don’t mind having devices repeated but 13 “container/contents”-type clues does seem a little excessive. 12a retains an “extreme letter”; 22a I think needs “surrenders” for cryptic grammar to work; 2d definition in worng part of speech (and not sure about INdia, shouldn’t that be INdiana?); 8d’s N=and probably ok (as in “fish’n’chips”) but the cryptic grammar there (and in 28a) does feel a little awkward. Sorry for quibbles – plenty to enjoy, thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Fez, I don’t think 12a does retain an extreme letter. It is “one” (1) followed by magine. Also IN is the internet domain code for India.

      1. Thanks RD – didn’t know the Internet domain, fair enough. In 12a, presumably A and Z are the “extreme” letters, but there is still an A in MAGINE? I’d think that it needs some indication that it’s only the consecutive AZ (or only a couple of the extreme letters) that are removed?

  4. Welcome back, Azuna.

    Unlike RD, I didn’t feel that this puzzle was your best to date, in fact I think it was a step or two backwards, I’m sorry to say. Whilst I think you can get away with one country abbreviation in a puzzle, or even arguably two, having three in the same crossword is too many, I believe. On the subject of acceptable abbreviations, pages 168-170 of Chris Lancaster’s excellent book ” How To Solve A Cryptic Crossword” provide the definitive list of what the Telegraph will accept.

    As it contributes 60% of the answer, I thought it was disappointing to have “red” in the clue for 10a, when there are dozens, if not hundreds of synonyms for the colour. I had similar thoughts about 11a. “Mostly” appeared as a deletion device in both 11a and 16d, by the way.

    3d and 20d both defy the normal conventions, the former is “definition (leading) to wordplay” and the latter is “wordplay (consisting) of definition”. I had other crosses rather than ticks on my printed page, but the points above were the main negatives for me. I also felt that quite a few of the surfaces, whilst not being meaningless, were strained and not particularly smooth.

    Sorry for the overall negativity, it’s just that I was expecting to see progress and improvement I didn’t really see it. Thank you for the puzzle, Azuna.

    1. Hey, Azuna here

      Don’t worry about sounding negative, since all your feedback is completely valid. I got a bit too overconfident on this puzzle that I didn’t check it for any repetitions and that’s completely on me. I’m slowly getting worried I may have reached a plateau in my puzzle creation ability though. I also tend to put internal deadlines on my puzzles so that I don’t laze around and do nothing, so that may have also contributed to the rushed clues. Here’s hoping I will improve even more the next time I get published here. Thanks, silvanus.

  5. I was left with rather a lot of question marks particularly where parsing was concerned so will eagerly await the dissection of this one by Prolixic. From the clues that worked for me, 6d came out on top, but I did feel that our setter still has quite a way to go before achieving a clean bill of health.

    Thanks to Azuna for his efforts.

  6. Hi Azuna – thank you for putting your head above the parapet again. I enjoyed quite a lot of this puzzle, and felt there were a good number of positives throughout and a number of nice surface reads. I thought 5d the COTD, joined on the podium by 26a and 21d (albeit with the repetition of country abbreviations).

    Much has been said by previous commenters, but something I noted in particular was the repetition of words from the clue appearing in the answer – 10a red; 11a quart(z); 12a mag(azine); 14a art; 22d blo(w); 2d vase; 3d Lis(bon). I’m not convinced that 27a dipping is on its own synonymous with sauce, or that 18d LOI is a valid abbreviation – I cannot seem to find it in the BRB.

    All in all a good effort, thank you, and thanks in advance to Prolixic, too.

    1. Oh is LOI “Letter Of Intent”? Not come across that before – found on Wikipedia (once you’d confirmed the L wasn’t part of the note) but seems a bit obscure, better to stick with dictionary-supported abbreviations?

        1. Snap. Also POI. I’d heard of LOI meaning list of illustrations, laughing on the inside, and lodge of instruction, and while there seem to be dozens of alternative meanings for the acronym, I remain uncertain as to its validity in this context.

    2. MG, 27a. From Collins OL dictionary, under “dipping”:

      29. a creamy mixture into which pieces of food are dipped before being eaten.

      So, maybe the reviewer will pass it? If you’ve ever been to Mc Donald’s you’ll have seen many folk dipping their slim chips into small tubs of tomato sauce.

  7. Thanks, Azuna. We started well but had to reveal some letters in the end. Favourites were 6d, 16a and 15d.we look forward to your next one and to Prolixic for clarification of a couple of clues.

  8. I agree with many of the points made now that they’ve been highlighted for me. Can’t quite put my finger on why but didn’t enjoy this as much as I seem to remember enjoying your last one & found it pretty challenging in places too. The top two for me were 6d &12a.
    Thanks Azuna & sorry not to be more positive

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