Rookie Corner 513 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View comments 

Rookie Corner 513

A Puzzle by X-File

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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:

After a distinct improvement between the first and second Rookie crosswords, I think that X-Type has taken a step backwards with this crossword.  Perhaps with 44 clues, the possibilities for repetitions in wordplay and the need to try different constructions pushed the number of errors up.  This distracted from the number of good clues that there were.  The commentometer reads as 9.5/43 or 22.1%.


8a  Alcoholic wife attends fashionable ball (4)
WINO: The abbreviation for wife followed by (attends) a two-letter word meaning fashionable and the letter shaped like a ball.

9a  Location around national stadium (5)
ARENA: A four-letter word for an area around the abbreviation for national.

10a  Vera‘s solo number released? (4)
ALOE: A five-letter word meaning solo without (released) the abbreviation for number.  You cannot use one part of a compound noun to clue the second part.

11a  One deserts errant ships regularly (3)
RAT: Remove the odd letters (ships regularly) of the second word of the clue.  For the cryptic grammar to work, you would need shipped regularly.

12a  Ring for reinforcements (6)
EYELET: Cryptic definition of ring that provides reinforcement.  For the clue to work, reinforcements need to be in the singular.

14a  Jam or butter? (3)
RAM: Double definition, the first meaning to cram something in and the second an animal that butts.

15a  Earl fooled about in cape (4)
HEAD: The abbreviation for earl has a three letter word meaning fooled around it.

16a  Fish found in submarine movie (4)
NEMO: The answer is hidden (found) in the last two words of the clue.

19a  Points rod, bending arm (5)
SWORD: Two points of the compass followed by an anagram (bending) of ROD.

21a  Part of art in books on hooks? (4)
BARB: The first two letters of art in two Bs (books).  Having part of to indicate all but the last letter does not work.  The definition implies a plural noun but the solution is in the singular.

23a  Record by American during Olympic event (6)
DISCUS: A four-letter word for a record followed by a two-letter abbreviation for American.  The link word during does not work.

25a  Chip swallowed by Miss World? (6)
GLOBAL: A three-letter word meaning chip inside (swallowed by) a three-letter word for a young girl (miss).  I am not convinced that “chip” means the same as the word required in the solution.

27a  King William wrote real rubbish (4)
LEAR: An anagram (rubbish) of REAL.

28a  Catch clipped wings of kite in wind (5)
SNAKE: A four-letter word meaning catch with the last letter removed (clipped) followed by the outer letters (wings) of kite.

30a  Get up for a dance, Desmond? (4)
TUTU: Double definition, the first worn by a ballerina and the second the old Archbishop of South Africa.

32a  Head comes off bed: “Oh dear!” (4)
OUCH: Remove the first letter (head comes off) from a five-letter for a day bed.

35a  Feline caught athletic rodent’s tail (3)
CAT: The abbreviations for caught and for athletic followed by the last letter (tail) of rodent.

36a  No ties worn in the building (2-4)
ON-SITE: An anagram (worn) of NO TIES.

39a  See 20d (3)

40a  Border of grass cut square (4)
EDGE: A five-letter word for grass without (cut) the abbreviation for square.

41a  American crude oil I served with French fries? (5)
AIOLI: The single letter abbreviation for American followed by an anagram (crude) of OIL and the I from the clue.

42a  Smooth fat around, holding side of bowl (4)
GLIB: A three-letter meaning big is reversed (around) and includes (holding) the last letter (side) of bowl.


1d  Containing ‘fat one’ wearing yellow, oddly, on its head (4)
OILY: The letter representing one has the odd letters of yellow reversed (on its head) around it.

2d  Upside-down, pounds on top of head (4)
NOLL: A reversal (upside down) of the abbreviation for pound twice (pounds) and the ON from the clue.

3d  Hits the ground, having a run in the hot sun (6)
EARTHS: The A from the clue and the abbreviation for run inside an anagram (hot) of THE and the abbreviation for sun.

4d  Restaurant staff employs bouncy Australian, briefly (7)
TEAROOM: A four-letter word for staff includes (employs) a three-letter diminutive form of kangaroo.

5d  Side of meat’s not cooked. On reflection, it’s close (4)
WARM: The first letter (side) of meat and a three-letter word meaning not cooked are all reversed (on reflection).  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Side of was used in 42a.

6d  Promise nothing to husband (4)
OATH: The letter representing nothing followed by a two-letter word meaning to and the abbreviation for husband.

7d  Go off before getting round (4)
ROTA: A three-letter word meaning go off followed by the abbreviation for ante (before).

13d  Small leaves seldom do without a tree (3)
ELM: Remove (leaves) the abbreviation for small and also remove (without) the DO from the clue from the word seldom.  I think that position of without following the letters to be removed does not work.  Without A is not the same as A without.

17d  Cut off top to get into centre of cheese (5)
ELIDE: A three-letter word for top inside (to get into) the middle letters (centre) of cheese.

18d  Statue of Satan contravenes all religious principles (5)
OSCAR: The initial letters (principles) of the second to fifth words of the clue.  To indicate the initial letters, you need principals, not principles.

20d  & 39. Take blow and fold in corner? (3)
DOG EAR: Split 2, 4, this would indicate taking drugs.

21d  Ship left to sink in swell (5)
BLOAT: A four-letter word for a ship includes (to sink in) the abbreviation for left.

22d  Almost get there, time to go again (5)
REACT: A five-letter word meaning get there with the final letter removed (almost) followed by the abbreviation for time.

24d  Strangeness, we find fishy (3)
SUS: The abbreviation for strangeness followed by a two-letter word for we.  I don’t think that we is synonymous with the word required in the sentence.  You could not use them interchangeably.

26d  Had a bit of secretary bird, swallowing tentatively at first (7)
PARTOOK: The two-letter abbreviation for a secretary followed by a four-letter word for a bird that includes (swallowing) the first letter of tentatively.  Another repetition of wordplay.  Swallow was used in 25a.

29d  Spicy European bread’s cold (6)
EROTIC: The abbreviation for European followed by a four-letter word for Indian or Caribbean bread and the abbreviation for cold.

31d  Weapon seizure comes up with missing arms (3)
UZI: The answer is hidden (missing arms) and reversed (comes up) in the second word of the clue.

33d  Pakistani road bends around (4)
URDU: The abbreviation for road with two letters U around it.  The definition is of the people of the country.  The solution is a language spoken in that country.  There is also a repletion of around used as a containment indicator (see 9a).

34d  Fish’s back. Fish’s back (4)
HEEL: The last letter (back) of fish followed by a three-letter slippery fish.

35d  Canine bit off rabbit’s claw (4)
CRAB: The abbreviation for canine followed by the rabbit from the clue without (bit) the bit.  There have been a lot of uses of off to indicate deletions.  Bit off, cut off, comes off.  Try to avoid this type of repetition.

37d  Story has a ‘Gack’ involved (4)
SAGA: The answer is hidden (involved) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

38d  Back-track, right away (4)
TAIL: A five-letter word for a track without (away) the letter R (right).  You should not elide the definition and the wordplay with usages such as back-track.

18 comments on “Rookie Corner 513
Leave your own comment 

  1. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, X-File, with a puzzle which I found to be a curate’s egg although it was certainly more solver-friendly than your previous offerings. Well done on incorporating a Nina, but I suspect this may have imposed some constraints on you, particularly regarding the grid design.

    I don’t normally notice grids, but this one gave rise to an unusually large number of answers. None of these was longer than 7 letters, which, in turn, limited the possibilities for different types of wordplay.

    While most of your surface readings were fine, a few made little or no sense.

    A lot of your definitions didn’t quite ring true for me:
    – 10a. Half of a phrase doesn’t define the other half.
    – 19a, I think needs a question mark to indicate a definition by example
    – 21a. The answer is singular but the definition is plural. (In addition, I think that “endless” would have been better than “part of”).
    – 32a. I don’t think the answer is synonymous with “oh dear”.
    – 3d. I don’t think the answer is synonymous with “hits the ground”.
    – 22d. The answer is a language, the definition refers to a nationality.

    Some other specific comments
    – I don’t think that 27a quite works.
    – Possibly 42a should say “far side of …”
    – For 24d, “we” is not synonymous with “us”.
    – The only way I can see to parse 31d, is to assume that SE & RE are the “arms” of “seizure”, which I don’t think is valid.

    There were a lot of good clues too. Those I ticked were 8a, 14a, 25a, 30a, 4d, 6d, 18d, 34d & (painful for me!) 35d.

    Well done and thank you, X-File. Can I suggest you opt for a more balanced grid in future and concentrate on the basics rather than adding in things like a Nina? Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi RD, Thanks for solving and for your feedback. I can see a rabbit themed grid in my near future.
      I would be interested to hear which of the surfaces you felt didn’t make sense. Perhaps 1D out of context? There are a number of surfaces which refer to the source material from the nina. Perhaps I overestimated everyone’s familiarity with this, and maybe I should read more books for grown-ups! :)

  2. By the time I get around to the RC puzzle on a Monday morning there are usually several comments from our overseas contingent so a lack of comments indicates something strange in the puzzle. In this case we have no less than 44 clues in a 15×15 grid which may be some sort of record.
    I think that having so many short answers does restrict the wordplay possibilities but I did enjoy working through the puzzle.
    I can’t account for the final A in 7d.
    There are some very neat ideas here and I particularly like 12a, 17d, 20/39 and 26d.
    Thanks to X-File.

    1. That pesky A in 7d had me stumped for a while too, Gazza, but I eventually found it in the BRB under a abbrev definition 18.

  3. RD has used precisely the right phrase: curate’s egg. Some of the (many) constructions were very neatly done indeed. Some were ‘almost’ there. Quite a few did not work. There are plenty of good ideas in here and, with honing, this could be a creative setter. Ticks from me 14a, 16a, 19a (just about. Clue Clinic does support ‘bending’ as anagrind though it is not been used that often), 30a (COTD), 35a, 3d (def just about holds), 17d, 20d/39a, 26d, 29d and 33d. Which is quite a few.

    Thanks X-File

  4. Welcome, X-File.

    As Gazza rightly says, having so many short words in a grid means that a setter’s clueing options are severely limited. As I’ve said on numerous occasions before, “home-made” grids should be avoided, this one was very unbalanced. I wasn’t aware of the Dr Seuss (?) Nina before.

    I think there was quite a lot of promise evident, but too many “nearly but not quite” constructions, in my opinion. Full marks on the brevity of the clues, however. “Side of” was repeated as a first letter indicator and I suspect there were other repetitions too, but with so many clues I lost the will to check. “Gack” is not a word Chambers or Collins seems to recognize, but an online search does at least indicate it isn’t invented.

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t warm to this puzzle and I hope that future appearances will be accompanied by better-balanced grids. Thank you, X-File. The truth is out there…

    1. Hi Silvanus, Thanks for your feedback, and sorry this wasn’t an enjoyable one. Hopefully next time will be more fun.
      A Gack is very much an invention of Dr Seuss, and was intended to be a bit of a pointer towards the overall theme. I thought there may be too much going on, and given the feedback I think I’ve probably overcomplicated things and made the puzzle less easy to enjoy for almost everyone. I’ll simplify things next time.

  5. Tackled this in two sessions and still ended up having to resort to the reveal button in order to fill all of the grid.
    I did award ticks to 8,12&14a plus 18&26d but found several clues rather incomprehensible.
    My apologies, X-File, and thank you for the effort you must have put into the puzzle’s construction.

    1. Hi Jane, thanks for pushing through and solving! I promise they won’t all be like this and hope you enjoy the next one!

  6. I will have to wait for tomorrow’s review before I will be able to make sense of the majority of my answers/reveals. I have more ? Marks than you could shake a snake at. Sorry X-file but this was not for me.

  7. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m none the wiser when it comes to a couple of my question marks but you obviously made sense of them. Not sure that X-Type would be willing to claim authorship of X-File’s puzzle!

  8. Hello! Apologies for the lack of comment on my part, I haven’t been able to get online for the last few days.
    A big thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to solve this and give feedback, and of course to Prolixic for the detailed review.
    It is of course disappointing to receive a higher score on the commentometer, but this is just an opportunity for more learning! I know it’s risky to serve fish at a dinner party, but in light of the large number of short solutions, I approached this as a challenge to make clues as short and simple as possible. There is a lot going on in the grid, so I was also interested to see what would be noticed and whether it would be satisfying or fun. Clearly errors made it harder to enjoy, but I’m pleased to have got quite a few ticks and that some found it enjoyable overall. This was never going to be a puzzle everyone liked.
    I didn’t feel restricted in my options for cluing when I was setting this so it’s frustrating to have made errors with the balance of clue types. Especially as some were so easily avoidable. I will focus on this more in future.

  9. It would be great to have a little further clarification on a few points if possible, as some of the errors were things I had queried with test solvers, and been told were okay.
    For Aloe Vera, my understanding was that Vera being a variety of Aloe, this functioned as a definition by example.
    Ships versus shipped: I can’t work out why the past tense is acceptable but not the present. Would shipping be acceptable?
    Ring for reinforcements and books on hooks share the same issue, where the definition was said to imply a plural noun. I thought that given the ring is singular that that did not imply a plural in the solution. Equally the thing that is ‘on hooks’ is implied as something that could be singular or plural. I can see that this could be a bit muddy, but thought that it was perfectly acceptable, and wasn’t flagged by any of the test solvers.
    An eyelet is a ring used for a variety of different types of reinforcement
    A barb is a feature of various kinds of hook.
    What about a clothes hanger? A hanger for clothes
    Is this just poor grammar on my part? If so, I’m happy to be learning new things
    Chip/Lob: Both are definitely descriptors for a ball struck with a lofted, looping trajectory. A lob in tennis, or a chip in golf. I think a lob is synonymous with a chip in football. You can lob the keeper or chip the keeper.
    Without A/A without. This is frustrating as I thought this was an issue, queried this with two people and was told it was okay. Is this always a problem, or is it allowed by some?
    Same with we/us. Is this never allowed? Would have been easy to change
    Language vs. Nationality. This was a surprise, as I thought National Languages could be referred to in this way. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard Pakistanis refer to Urdu as Pakistani. I thought this was an acceptable usage and a very easy clue. Not something I see coming up again but I will avoid in future.

Join the Conversation, Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.