Rookie Corner – 292 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 292

Fit by The Void

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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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

After Void’s first crossword, I feared that this one would leave me with a pain in the diodes in my left-hand side.  Happily it was not the case.  In Rookie terms this was a superb comeback with the best improvement I have seen in some time.  Some of the surface readings need attention, but unless they are complete nonsense, I tend to be more forgiving on surface readings than the wordplay.  Polishing surface readings will come with practice.  The commentometer reads as 2.5/30 or 8.3%


1 Thorough acupuncture? (11)
PAINSTAKING – A cryptic reference to the effect of acupuncture as a form of analgesia.

9 Maybe Marvin unravelled DNA before Ford essentially backed identification (7)
ANDROID – An anagram (unravelled) of DNA followed by the inner letters (essentially) of ford and a reversal (backed) of the abbreviation for identification.

10 Heads of television authorities start testing if excellent radio’s more appealing (7)
TASTIER – The initial letters “heads” of the third to ninth words of the clue.

11 Skips over the pond and drops the new Herald Sun quarterly (9)
DUMPSTER – A five letter word meaning drops followed by every fourth letter (quarterly) in “the new Herald Sun”.  Despite some objections in the comments, I quite liked the quarterly as indicating every fourth letter.

12 Heart of gold? Yours might need the opposite, if they’ve gone bad (5)
TEETH – Cryptic definition of part of the body that may have to have a gold cap (opposed to a heart) if rotten or decayed.

13 Silenced two characters (5)
MUTED – One of the letters of the Greek alphabet and one of the abbreviated forms of Edward (together being two characters).

14 Bird: smooth musician (9)
SANDPIPER – A four letter word meaning to smooth (in woodworking) and a five letter word for a type of musician.

17 US junior group member, good in real life (saint, almost), refined (4,5)
GIRL SCOUT – The abbreviation for good followed by the abbreviation for In Real Life (supported by Collins and the OED but not Chambers), the single letter abbreviation for saint and a five letter word meaning cultured with the final letter (almost) removed.

20 Screen siren‘s role-playing knight (5)
LOREN – An anagram (playing) of role followed by the abbreviation used in chess for Knight.

22 Produce sound of secret disclosures (5)
LEEKS – A homophone (sound of) leaks (secret disclosures).

25 Satirist‘s real reversal over moonshot with Pence (9)
LAMPOONER – Reverse the real for the clue around (over) the MOON from the clue with P (pence) inserted (shot with).  Some editors will not allow lift and separate clues where you have to split words like moonshot into moon and shot.

26 Double-crosses seer I mixed up with Persian invader (6,1)
XERXES I – An anagram (mixed up) of XX (double-crosses) SEER I.

27 Ghastly crime in Adam Ant’s little group of unnamed horse riders (7)
AMERICA – An anagram (ghastly) of CRIME inside AA (Adam Ant’s little).  The wordplay to get the AA does not work.  The definition is perhaps a little too oblique.  It may also be misleading as it was principally the horse that had no name not the riders and there was only one rider.

28 Problem raisers, but they travel hopefully (5-6)
HITCH-HIKERS – A five letter word for a problem followed by a word for those who raise something.  I don’t particularly like the but as a link word though it is occasionally seen.  The issue is that cryptically wordplay but definition does not make much sense.


1 Top of St Paul’s fitted in gatekeeper’s measuring device (9)
PEDOMETER – One of the notable features of St Paul’s Cathedral inside the Saint who holds the keys to heaven.

2 Cromwell flattens, expires: daughter moved (9)
IRONSIDES – A five letter word meaning flattens or smooths followed by a four letter word meaning expires with the abbreviation for daughter moved down.

3 Depression? Send back into SAS! (7)
SADNESS – Reverse (back) the SEND from the clue and include in the SAS from the clue.  Perhaps this could have been made more cryptic by cluing SAS as crack unit.

4 Knitwear style worn by its mad exquisite crafter (7)
ARTISAN – A letter word for a type of knitwear around (worn by) an anagram (mad) of ITS.

5 Positioned within exits of mini gun turrets’ smoke vent (5)
INSET – The final letters (exits) of the fifth to ninth words of the clue.

6 Lead British 17 (5)
GUIDE – Double definition, the second being the UK member of a girl’s uniformed organisation.  Where you give a cross-reference to a clue where there are both across and down clues, you should indicate which one you are referring to.

7 Firebrand omitted part of selection method (6)
RANDOM – The answer is hidden (part of) in the first two words of the clue.

8 Dancing hurt a queen in Moore movie (6)
ARTHUR – An anagram (dancing) of HURT A followed by the abbreviation for Regina (queen).

15 Pasty person covers civil engineer of ancient age (9)
PALEOCENE – A four letter word meaning pasty followed by a three letter word for a person around (covers) the abbreviation for civil engineer.  In a down clue, covers more naturally means above or over, not around.

16 Delusions from average lack of oxygen not unknown. End of diagnosis! (9)
PARANOIAS – A three letter word meaning average followed by a word meaning lack of oxygen without the X (not unknown) and the final letter (end) of diagnosis.

17 Happy to be around slack gathering of stars (6)
GALAXY – A three letter word meaning blithe or happy around a three letter word meaning slack.

18 Lubricate to try to catch swimmer (7)
OILFISH – A three letter word meaning lubricate followed by a four letter word meaning try to catch.  There is perhaps too much of an overlap between the root of the word try to catch and the solution.

19 Returning, I sleep briefly with university instruments (7)
TIMPANI – A reversal (returning) of the I from the clue an three letter word meaning to sleep and the abbreviation for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (university).  Perhaps university members in the kitchen might have improved the surface reading here.

21 Impossible to get right in a cold country (6)
NORWAY – A phrase (2, 3) meaning impossible includes (to get … in) the abbreviation for right.  

23 Broken heater spews out some energy where temperatures are rising (5)
EARTH – An anagram (broken) of HEATERS after removing one of the Es (spews out some energy).

24 Exhausted author in street (5)
SPENT – A three letter word for a writing instrument inside the abbreviation for street.

42 comments on “Rookie Corner – 292

  1. Hi all,
    It’s about time I resurfaced here. (Ahem) Hope you find this an improvement over my first RC puzzle.

  2. We thoroughly enjoyed solving that and finding all the themed answers. There is still one where we will have to give it a bit more thought, 27a. We’re pretty sure we have the right answer but don’t yet understand the definition.
    Our first tick went beside 1d and there were plenty more that followed.
    Thanks The Void.

  3. Very enjoyable. Like the 2Kiwis I had the answer for 27a without understanding why until the penny dropped with the aid of Gonzo’s comment.
    One or two others that I haven’t quite got the parsing for.
    17a raised an eyebrow and got a Hmm as it seems that you have created an abbreviation for In Real Life.
    I did like 28a and 8d (when the penny dropped on the particular Moore).
    Thanks The Void.

    1. Thank you Senf. I don’t have a copy of Chambers (DON’T SHOOT ME!), so I mostly use the Ocford Dictionary Of English, which has IRL as an abbreviation. Glad you liked those clues, and the puzzle in general. Hopefully the review will clear up the parsings for you.

  4. Nice puzzle, 27a very sneaky (thanks Gonzo). Don’t get 12 yet, a touch of overlap in 18 and 28 has wordplay ‘but’ definition?
    Enjoyable overall and I think I see the mini-theme, but not totally convinced
    Thanks and well done The Void (bit of an odd handle – hope you don’t mind me saying!)
    PS – yes, definitely an improvement, well done again for that

    1. Thank you Roy. 18 was a grid-filler which I neither liked having nor clueing. I see your point about the overlap, but can I plead a defence that one can use that verb in search of compliments or information, and not just swimmers? :-)
      The use of “but” as a linkword is something I’ve picked up along the way (never really thought it was particularly nice, myself), so I just assumed it was okay. I interpreted it as being used to mean “but can also be expressed as…”, and therefore thought it worked in both directions, but you’re saying only in one? Happy to hear the reason why, if that’s so.
      I think “mini-theme” is fair. I originally started off trying to make a grid with a lot of answers for this theme, but it just didn’t work out. So I started a new grid, and then this theme crept back in.
      Glad you found it enjoyable overall,
      (just) Void (for short)

      1. It troubled me when I first encountered “but” used as a link word, but I eventually decided that it’s OK because, for example, something that is “small but strong” is both small and strong. So “wordplay but definition” could be taken to mean that the answer is (equal to) both wordplay and definition.

        1. Had the clue read ‘Problem raisers – but they travel, hopefully’ it would have made a bit more sense as in ‘trouble-makers, but hopefully they will go away’
          Small but strong means ‘small, though more significant than its size suggests’. There is not a similar correlation between ‘problem raisers’ and ‘hopeful travellers’
          Alternatively, the ‘but’ could have simply been omitted from the original clue and a comma inserted after ‘travel’ or similar

          1. In the surface, I think I imagined some safety inspectors, whose job it is to find any potential hazards, going on a new route, but hoping not to find any issues to bring up. Maybe not the smoothest, though, and you’re right that the best route would have been to dispense with the “but” entirely.

  5. I’m delighted to say that was a big step in the right direction after your first Rookie puzzle, The Void. Your word play is much more precise and your next step forward will come by paying more attention to your surfaces – 17a is a particularly clumsy example, but there are several others.

    It took a while for the penny to drop on 27a, and 18d was a new one on me requiring a check in my BRB. I’ve also never come across IRL meaning In Real Life and that abbreviation is not given in Chambers.

    1a or 12a don’t seem to work and I’m not sure in 11a that “quarterly” is OK to use to mean every fourth letter.

    Not withstanding my dislike of nebulous names, if I have parsed 13a correctly I think it is far too vague to clue the second syllable as a “character”.

    But these are points of detail and overall this was an enjoyable solve. 1d was my favourite with honourable mentions for 22a & 21d.

    Well done TV, and thank you.

    1. Oxford has that meaning of IRL (def 2), with a bunch of example sentences.

      It gets used in online forums, to clarify something that’s in-person, outside of that online community. For instance: ‘AB’ meaning ‘sailor’ is something that I’ve never encountered IRL.

    2. Thanks Dave, I’m glad you found it both enjoyable and an improvement.
      17a surface: Yep, fair enough. I found that one hard to clue, and that was the best that came out after a prolonged hammering.
      I’ll comment on 1a and 12a after the review. With “quarterly” I was very much going for the last four letters of wordPLAY. Playing with the word to try to come up with a new letter-selection indicator. I can see why it’s arguable against, but I thought I’d try it, mainly as it worked nicely in the surface.
      13a: true, but I thought the definition was on the easy side to make up for it.

  6. Interesting puzzle – my thanks to The Void! Yes, definitely an improvement. As usual I only spotted a theme after the event and after the prompting from others’ comments – I think I can now spot seven or eight.
    For me the best clue by far was the Charlie Parker reference at 14a, “Bird: smooth musician (9)”, and I thought 1a, 4d, 21d & 24d were all good, too.
    A few surfaces didn’t seem to make much sense to me: 1d, 17d (what is a ‘slack gathering’?) & 19d, for example. The “Could you reasonably use this sentence down the pub in normal conversation without raised eyebrows?” test is often useful here. Depends on your local and how late it is in the evening, I guess ;-)
    As usual I have made comments on clues whilst solving which I am more than happy to share if you’d like to ask Big Dave to put us in email contact – they’d be too much of a spoiler here.
    Keep working on those surfaces and thanks again!

    1. 17d. E. “Gathering of stars” is the definition. Slack is a synonym for the 3-letter word inside the answer.

    2. Hi Encota,
      Thanks, I’d be happy to have your comments. Big Dave, please could you pass my email address on?
      Happy to hear you found it interesting and an improvement.
      1d surface: I imagined something like the gatekeeper looking through a theodolite, and seeing the whole top of SP’s in the viewfinder.
      17a: A slack gathering might be one where only half the expected people had turned up?
      19d: Yep, another one that I wanted to smooth the edges off. Fair cop.

  7. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, The Void. Unusually for me I spotted the theme early on (at 9a actually). Like others the horse riders (27a) were a mystery until I saw Gonzo’s comment.
    The clues which I liked best were 14a and 28a.

    1. Hi Gazza,
      Glad you enjoyed it. 9a did indeed have three big flags to the theme, for those who know their stuff. :-)

  8. I too spotted the theme fairly early on and I knew the horse with no name connection!

    An improvement but as others have said, some odd surfaces.

    thanks Gonzo and, in advance, to Prolixic

  9. Just finished after a bit of head-scratching. Overall I enjoyed the clues, even though some were a bit too wordy for my taste and parts of some of them I can’t see how they work, like the last four letters of 11a and the first three of 19d. I’ll wait for the review tomorrow to see if the penny drops.

    Oddly enough the clue that got me started was the much-mentioned 27a. As soon as I saw ‘unnamed horse riders’ I was transported back (no pun intended) to the early 70s, and roller-skating at Ally Pally (that’s Alexandra Palace, 2K). I then looked at the rest of the clue and realised I was right. But I did wonder about ‘little’ being used as Adam Ant’s initials.

    I submitted my own second puzzle a few weeks back. I keep hoping to see it on a Monday, but realise there is normally an 8-10 week gap between our own puzzles appearing, so have been patiently waiting, even though it’s a bit like waiting for exam results. In fact it’s probably time to have another look at it just in case I’ve made any schoolboy errors :)

    1. Hi Umber,
      Thanks for solving. Glad you enjoyed the clues overall. See RabbitDave’s comment for a clue to 11a, and in 19 you’re looking for a particular establishment. I realised after submission that “…little Adam Ant’s group…” might have read a bit better, but perhaps there wasn’t much in it.
      Hopefully the review will clear up any issues you still have.
      Good luck with your next one.

      1. The coincidence is, I am painting a picture of a horse that I took a picture of when in America last month. I guess I should call the picture ‘A Horse With No Name’ :)

  10. Welcome back, The Void.

    I think it’s fair to say that your debut puzzle received quite a roasting, so well done indeed to return to Rookie Corner with a second that shows a huge improvement. An object lesson to all other would-be setters, I’d suggest, i.e. not to feel too discouraged if your early efforts are not as well received as you had hoped, but to take on board Prolixic’s advice and come back with something much better next time. You’ve done just that.

    There were still quite a few rough edges, however, and these have been largely mentioned by previous commenters. I would only add that if you are cross-referencing another clue in a puzzle, as in 6d, and two possibilities exist (17a and 17d), it is important to specify which one you mean.

    Congratulations on such an improved showing.

    1. Thank you silvanus. “Huge improvement” is about as much as I could ask for.
      This is about the 10th or 11th puzzle I’ve made since my first RC. On 7 of those, I got useful feedback from Gonzo and Chameleon elsewhere, so a big hat tip to them for helping me to improve. (By the way, I forgot to say thank you to Chameleon for being my test solver on this one. Anything you still don’t like is all my fault. :-) )

      Mea culpa on not signalling the 17*a*.

  11. Definitely an improvement on your first puzzle, The Void – I didn’t have to reveal any letters this time!
    Not being a devotee, the theme passed me by, I also had to seek confirmation of the unnamed horse, the fish and the Persian invader.
    I did particularly like 1&14a plus 1d.

    My advice to you, for what it’s worth, would be to concentrate on your surface reads, ascertain that your abbreviations are accepted rather than just text-speak and to be wary of answers that require specific GK.

    Good luck, The Void, and please think of changing that pseudonym – it’s very unfriendly!

    1. Hi Jane,
      Thanks for solving, pleased you thought it was an improvement.
      I realised that 27a needed GK, but thought that the wordplay wasn’t too tough, to compensate. But yes, I will try to avoid such in future. Noted on surfaces, from you and others. I’ll keep trying.
      I try to be friendly. Sorry if you don’t like my name, but it’s my name.

      1. Quite. That’s the second person who’s had their name criticized recently. Shall we stick to the puzzles?

  12. Thanks, good puzzle, very much agree with earlier comments. Not to make a comparison, but there was a Tramp puzzle in the Guardian a while back (27,175) with the same theme, worth a look.

    1. Hi mucky,
      Thank you. I imaged the theme must have been done before, but I didn’t go looking. I will check out that puzzle. Annoyingly, as of today, the G’s puzzles will no longer load on my creaking iOS9 iPad. Bah!

  13. I enjoyed attempting to solve this. I did need a smattering of reveals here and there, and there are still a couple I don’t “get” but I won’t comment on them until I see the review.
    Like others have mentioned, I thought some of the surfaces were convoluted and bitty, but on the upside there were quite a few smile inducing moments. I particularly liked 1a, 14a, and 28a plus 4,8, 19and 21d, where the clues were concise and clever. Funnily enough I saw 27a right away, being a fan of the band.
    Thank you and in advance to whoever does the review.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. Glad to have induced some smiles. I know what you mean about convoluted surfaces. Sometimes inspiration goes on strike, rather than strikes, and I’m left with something unsatisfying. I’ll keep trying.

  14. Thanks to Prolixic for the review, helpful comments, and joining in with the theme. Very pleased to have reduced my commentometer score significantly.
    The puzzle’s title references the fact that the original radio series’ programs were not titled “Episode 1”, “Episode 2”, etc, but rather… “Fit the first”, “Fit the second” etc.
    In 1a, in case it’s not clear, acupuncture is the “staking” of pain.
    12a was mostly engineered just to get the theme referrence in. :-)
    I expected a bit more pushback on 27, but it seems it is out there in the conciousnesses of some, at least. I made a point of not hyphenating horse-riders, so that the namelessness at least could be referring to the horse. Didn’t all members of the band sing the line in question? :-) That’s perhaps a justification too far – should indeed be rider, singular, I guess.
    Hopefully the review clears up any issues left for anyone.
    Thanks for the feedback, one and all.

  15. Thanks for the review Prolixic. I thought that was what 12a was getting at, but ‘my (yours) heart of gold, they might need the opposite’?
    Congrats to Void on a fine score, look forward to your next

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m sure The Void will be greatly encouraged by his low score on the commentometer.

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