Rookie Corner 443 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 443

A Puzzle by Hopping Rhino

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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 the Hopping Rhino.  This was a much better crossword than the first Rookie offering.  The commentometer reads as 4.5 / 28 or 16.1%


7a  Great house with square bay (5)
BIGHT: A three-letter word meaning great followed by a single letter abbreviation for house and a single letter for a type of square.  The single letter abbreviation for house is not recognized by the main dictionaries.  Perhaps type of square bay would be better to indicate that it is a type of square that is required.

8a  Music played around mutinous boat for minute (9)
SUBATOMIC: An anagram (played) of MUSIC around and anagram (mutinous) of BOAT.

10a  Primitive bound by chains in temple (6)
CHURCH: A two-letter prefix meaning primitive with the abbreviation for chain before and after it (bound by chains).

11a  A dancer and I jump for joy (8)
RADIANCE: An anagram (jump) of A DANCER I.  I think that the cryptic grammar is maintained with the singular jump but it is better to avoid ambiguity.

12a  Islands where men welcome divorce (8)
MALDIVES: A five-letter word for men includes (welcome) a three-letter abbreviation for divorce.  Here the cryptic grammar does not work as the clue resolves A welcome B.  Welcoming would overcome this problem.

13a  Float and spin (4)
RIDE: Double definition, the second being a spin in a car.  I think that the first definition is a little tenuous other than a milk float being a vehicle in which you could take the solution.

15a  Holy bishop lacking education (7)
BLESSED: The abbreviation for bishop followed by a four-letter word meaning lacked and a two-letter abbreviation for education.

17a  Shortly after a new day, more of the same (3,2,2)
AND SO ON: A four-letter word meaning shortly after the A from the clue and the abbreviations for new and day.

20a  A bit of backbone in Mahdi’s character (4)
DISC: The answer is hidden in the last two words of the clue.

22a  Dig in between French nationalist and companion (8)
ENTRENCH: A five-letter word being the French for between followed by the abbreviations for nationalist and companion.

25a  Release publisher imprisoned by relative (8)
UNCOUPLE: The abbreviation for Oxford University Press (publisher) inside (imprisoned by) a five-letter word for a male relative.

26a  Instructors rebuke men with spades (6)
TUTORS: A three-letter word of rebuke followed by the abbreviation for Other Ranks (men) and the abbreviation for spades.

27a  Passing English pub with space and time left (9)
EPHEMERAL: The abbreviations for English and Public House (pub) followed by a two-letter word for a printer’s space, a three-letter word for a period of time and the abbreviation for left.

28a  Hear pitch regarding feet (5)
PEDAL: A homophone of peddle (pitch or sell).  I don’t think that the homophone works as the dictionaries give the E sound in the solution as a long E as in “see” but in the homophone it is a short E.


1d  Flying put forward to get preferred seating (4,5)
HIGH TABLE: A four-letter word meaning flying or up in the air followed by a five-letter word meaning put forward a proposal.

2d  Switzerland and Spain hold an endless parade, and one of the French joins after tea? (8)
CHARADES: First we have the IVR code for Switzerland and Internet Domain Code for Spain that include the inner letters (endless) of parade.  Secondly, we have a three-letter word in French meaning ‘one of the’ after a four-letter word for tea.  A couple of points here.  First, internet domain names should be indicated as they are not included in the main dictionaries, unlike IVR codes.  The IVR code for Spain is E.  Secondly, if the clue is a definition by example, is does not work as the first part of the clue involves an insertion as well as the solution.  I agree that A and B holding C works better in the cryptic grammar.

3d  Croesus arranged sweetener (7)
SUCROSE: An anagram (arranged) of CROESUS.

4d  Orange leader (8)
MANDARIN: Double definition of a type of orange and another name for a Chinese leader.

5d  Company care for chicken (6)
COWARD: The abbreviation for company followed by a four-letter word meaning care for.  As a verb meaning to care for, the dictionary gives the word required in the solution as archaic, so this should indicated.

6d  Knotty problem? (5)
HITCH: Double definition of a type of knot and a problem.  I don’t think that using knotty to define a type of knot.

9d  God without a knife (4)
SHIV: Remove the A from a the name of a Hindu deity.

14d  Doc and cantor working out agreement (9)
CONCORDAT: An anagram (working out) of DOC CANTOR.

16d  Runaways head in four directions (8)
ESCAPEES: A four-letter word for a head of land in four compass directions (some repeated).

18d  Surrounded the duke under nut tree (8)
SHEATHED: The “the” from the clue and the abbreviation for duke underneath a four-letter name of an African nut tree.

19d  Enlarge revamped rough (7)
GENERAL: An anagram (revamped) of ENLARGE.

21d  Pressed? Ride on recklessly (6)
IRONED: An anagram (recklessly) of RIDE ON.

23d  Carry child east (4)
TOTE: A three-letter word for a child followed by the abbreviation for east.

24d  At home, naughty pet is clumsy (5)
INEPT: A two-letter word meaning at home followed by an anagram (is clumsy) of PET.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner 443

  1. Sorry Hopping Rhino a head scratching curate’s egg for me.

    Unless I have ‘missed’ them, two single letter abbreviations, in 7a and 2d, that are not supported by Chambers.

    Also for 2d, unless I am missing something which could easily be the case, I can’t see an actual definition.

    I took some time to convince myself on ‘regarding feet’ in 28 but eventually decided it agreed with the adjectival part of the definition in Chambers.

    Smiles for 27a and 18d.

    Thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Senf, I appreciate your comments. I’ll hold off re definition in 2d, but there is at least an attempt at one there. I don’t think there’s a single letter abbreviation in that clue though?

      Re 7a, point taken

      1. Apologies on my comment(s) on 2d. When I woke this morning (my time) about an hour ago I had the realisation* that of course, as Fez says below, it’s a definition by example and I just confused myself over the abbreviations used in the first part.

        It might have been better to use only one ‘half’ of the clue with a definition, say, of party game.

        * Somewhat scary, I must have been thinking about it subconsciously in my sleep.

    2. 2d I think is definition by example (or two examples, as its plural) though I’m not sure the clue types are strictly what’s being alluded to? Very clever idea though!

  2. Not a quick solve but slowly and surely it all came together with the NW the last sector to yield. Spent time trying to work out how ‘He Brides’ would fit the wordplay. They weren’t needed after all. Nevertheless a good chuckle, so will nominate for favourite.
    Thanks Hopping Rhino.

  3. Thanks for the puzzle Hopping Rhino! The bottom half went in far more quickly than the top.
    I too struggled with 2d’s definition and a small part of the wordplay. And 28a’s definition needs a long ē and not a short e sound for this to work, I think.
    15a and 25a were perhaps my favourites as both surfaces conjured up very plausible scenes.
    I look forward to Prolixic passing his careful eye across this.

    1. Thanks for the comments Encota.
      I didn’t forget the definition in 2D, but perhaps it doesn’t work as I intended!
      Re 28a, my Concise Oxford offers both pronunciations as alternatives, but I see it’s 35 years old, so perhaps the short e is now arch.

  4. On first go through I’d only solved eleven clues (which, if you know me, isn’t very many). It took several more goes and the use of the ‘reveal letter’ function in the NW to finish the crossword. The whole thing is a bit ‘cornery’ in that I solved the SW, NE, SE and then struggled mightily with the NW. There are a lot of solver-friendly clues in the mix, but those that aren’t, really aren’t!

    I presume that in 7a you were thinking of the square as a particular shaped ruler? I can see what you are trying to do in 2d but I still can’t quite see any definition?

    Thanks Hopping Rhino and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. Thanks crypticsue. Yes re 7a, though as Fez suggests, probably it needs an indicator of def-by-example.

      I take your point re ‘cornery’ – with hindsight, a combination of the grid I chose and then the distribution of the harder clues. (I happily confess I have little instinct for which clues will be hard – having tested puzzles on friends, what they find easy or hard often doesn’t match what I expected).

  5. Many thanks Hopping Rhino, a challenging solve that I thoroughly enjoyed. A couple of minor issues (abbreviation in 7a should be indicated as def-by-example I think, not sure the examples in 2d are strictly 2d’s, and a very nit-picky point: 21d includes a solution from elsewhere) but overall I thought very impressive with lots of invention, enough ‘gateway’ clues to assist with crossers for some of the trickier ones, and plenty of surfaces to enjoy – my favourites from a super selection were 10a, 12a, 13a, 6d, and 16d. Many thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Fez for kind words and helpful critique. I need to check my understanding of 2d’s, but as you say above, I was going for definition by example. Re 21d, I was entirely oblivious, both to the convention against and that I’d breached it, so thank you!

      1. I wouldn’t worry about 21d, as I said an extreme nit-pick – it underlines how good the puzzle is when this is the sort of innocuous trivial thing that gets commented on! Re 2d I think Prolixic will provide a much better critique, I’m also not sure what techically count as 2d’s (I guess the “an” should be omitted from the clue, to bring word count down and avoid redundancy, if we’re going to be picky!) As for 7a, personally I think it’s def-by-example but it certainly has precedence, being accepted by highly esteemed editors / setters: see for example 17d in Alchemi’s MPP031:

        1. Ah! I feel much better knowing I’m following in Alchemi’s footsteps. (Did you recall that from 2014?!)

          1. ha ha, I can’t even remember clues from yesterday; but I was sure I’ve seen this plenty of times before, and thought a Big Dave example would be nice so Googled: big dave “T (square)”; searching similarly on fifteensquared brings up plenty of further examples, mainly form the Grauniad.

  6. I started this at the bottom (as 24d leapt out at me as it came off the printer) which in retrospect was a good policy. As I worked up the grid I was thinking ‘this is pretty straightforward’ but then I reached the NW corner which wasn’t straightforward at all.
    2d is an innovative clue but I don’t think it quite works (and Sweden rather than Spain would be better for the abbreviation). The clues I liked best were 10a, 15a and 17a.
    Many thanks for the enjoyable puzzle, Hopping Rhino. I hope to see you here again.

    1. Thank you Gazza, that’s kind. Re 2D, Spain was there for ES, the ISO code for the country – so I don’t think Sweden would work?

      1. Ah, I see that now. I had, obviously erroneously, thought that you were just removing the first ‘end’ from parade.

  7. Welcome back, Hopping Rhino. Think I’m in the ‘curate’s egg’ camp where this one’s concerned but I’ll wait for the wisdom of Prolixic rather than stick my neck out at this point. Two that I particularly disliked were 28a & 2d but I really did enjoy 15&25a so I suppose it’s a case of swings and roundabouts!
    Thank you for your puzzles thus far, hopefully we’ll see more from you in the future.

    1. Thanks Jane. Looks like 2d isn’t winning any prizes. I have a wry smile, because I was quite pleased with it. A lesson there perhaps.

  8. Welcome back, Hopping Rhino.

    A much, much better grid and anagram indicators that actually suggest rearrangement this time, so well done on producing a vastly improved puzzle as a consequence. I totally agree with Gazza about the NW corner being considerably harder than the rest of the crossword.

    My main of area of concern in this puzzle is the cryptic grammar, something many Rookie setters fail to master initially, so you are far from alone. In 11a “jump” needs to be “jumping”, “welcome” ought to be “would/will welcome” in 12a, and “hold” needs to be “holding” in 2d. Irrespective of the English grammar, one cannot use a verb in the plural as you have done, as the subjects of each verb (“a dancer and I”, “men” and “Switzerland and Spain” are all regarded as singular entities as far as the cryptic grammar is concerned. I’m sure Prolixic will explain fully if you are still unsure.

    The clues I liked best were 17a and 25a.

    Many thanks for an enjoyable solve and congratulations on the improvement shown, Hopping Rhino.

    1. Thanks for the explanations re cryptic grammar, Silvanus – whilst I think this holds for “men” in 12a, I disagree on the others as there are two separate “singular entities” involved (X and Y say) and “X and Y jump…” or “X and Y hold…” both seem to make perfect sense when read even purely from the cryptic p.o.v?

      1. Hi Fez,

        For 11a, if you treat “a dancer and I” as merely “anagram fodder”, I don’t think “anagram fodder jump for joy” works. I think it’s less clear cut with 2d, as I have seen other compilers use plural verbs when there are multiple subjects involved, but such instances certainly jar for me and I would always use a present participle instead.

        1. Silvanus –

          Thanks for the detailed comments (and kind words) above.

          I’m keen to get my head wrapped around the cryptic grammar concept. I can see what I got wrong in 12a. But re the “a dancer and I” example, is it right to think of this as “[fodder] and [fodder]” (since AND is not part of the anagram), in which case a plural verb might be ok? I’m not trying to be argumentative, just looking to understand properly.

          Thank you

          1. Hi Hopping Rhino,

            In my opinion, whether the “and” in 12a is present or not makes no difference. As a rule of thumb, it’s so much easier to put “-ing” on the end, isn’t it? The surface rarely if ever suffers and one doesn’t need to agonise at all over whether the verb is plural or singular!

  9. A most enjoyable solve, flying through from the bottom to the top before stalling on my last four in the NW – it didn’t help that I’d initially opted for revere(n)d in 15a, puzzling on how the n was removed, before that particular penny dropped! Going “up the downs” made me think there were a lot of anagrams (four from the first / bottom seven) though that turned out not to be the case – they’d simply gathered there together,

    Liked most of the clues and had little to say about them. 28a was my COTD.

    In 18d I hummmed over ‘nut tree’ – answer is the nut, and answer is the tree, but ‘nut tree’? 6d – I’m uncertain whether knotty = answer although knot = answer; I’d worked out 2d but I think for an average solver to know that this particular clue comprised two instances of this clue type is expecting too much. Confusion between IVR and ISO codes is entirely fair, though it considerably slowed down my parsing!

    In 22d I think you need to capitalise Nationalist to be able to use the N; in 7a the single letter abbreviation is not in Chambers but may be elsewhere? A few quirky surfaces that may not pass RD’s pub conversation test.

    But all in all a cracking puzzle and I would look out for your future challenges with pleasure, thank you Hopping Rhino. And thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thank you Mustafa G for helpful and detailed feedback.

      I take the point re 2d – I certainly wouldn’t have offered it to any but this august audience!

  10. We also found the NW corner difficult and had to reveal some letters there – putting Hebrides in initially didn’t help! We couldn’t parse 2d until you mentioned ES for Spain and we still don’t understand our answer for 28a. Otherwise we really enjoyed the puzzle and look forward to more from you, Hopping Rhino. Favourites are 17a, 25a, 27a and 24d. Thank you in advance to Prolixic.

  11. A puzzle of two halves – 0r maybe one half and two quarters. The bottom half came easily enough and I got the top right quarter with a bit of thought; the top left was a struggle and I needed Prolixic’s hints to finish. Some good ideas generally, and I liked 8ac, also 2dn even if it doesn’t quite work.
    Thanks, HR and Prolixic.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up my problems and hopefully explained to Hopping Rhino the ways in which he could have improved the puzzle. It was, as you say, a distinct improvement on his debut offering.

  13. Many thanks for the review Prolixic, lots of good pointers there. Re 13a, “float” is the 2nd definition of “ride” in Chambers (in full: “to float or seem to float buoyantly”) so no milk floats required. Many thanks again to HR!!

  14. I enjoyed this very much, Hopping Rhino. It certainly made me think! That NW corner was very tricksy but I finally managed to untangle it — albeit with the help of a couple of dictionaries. The two-letter synonym for ‘Primitive’ is a new one to me.
    My most appreciative thanks to Prolixic for the review. I did parse correctly but it is always very interesting to see his analysis of each clue.
    Very many thanks, Hopping Rhino, for keeping me entertained for quite a while! Do take note of Prolixic’s comments, and I hope we shall be seeing you again soon. Well done for a really good effort!

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