Rookie Corner 446 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 446

A Puzzle by Mary

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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:

Welcome aboard to Mary with a challenging debut crossword in the Rookie Corner.  I don’t think I found this as tricky as some of the commentators, though progress through the grid was slow and steady.  The crossword was one where all the basics were there and there were a lot of good clues.  However, there were a quite number of rough edges that need honing.  Whilst most of these were minor ones, cumulatively, they add up.

The commentometer reads as 6.5/32 or 20.3%.


1a  It’s given to those with no filter? (8)
DIALYSIS: Cryptic definition of the treatment required by patients whose kidneys have failed.

5a  No longer broadcasting once love is a concern (6)
AFFAIR: A phrase (3,3) meaning no longer broadcasting with the initial O (love) being replaced by an A (once love is a).

10a  Saying hi to fruit in oratory? (9)
ELOQUENCE: A homophone (saying) of ‘ello (hi) quince (fruit).  I am not sure that the homophone works as in the fruit the sound is q-win but in the solution the sound is q-when.

11a  Get angry, being attacked (5)
GORED: Split 2,3, the solution would be a phrase meaning get angry by reference to the colour your face goes when irate.

12a  One hundred pence clutched by dead butcher (9)
LIQUIDATE: The letter representing one and another word for a pound (hundred pence) inside a four-letter word meaning dead.

14a  Land not supposed to move a bit (5)
REALM: A four-letter word meaning concrete or actual (not supposed) followed by the first letter (a bit) of move.  In the cryptic reading of the clue, I am not convinced that “move a bit” indicates that you take the first letter, it would need to be a bit of…

15a  Zillions of decapitated dogs (6)
OODLES: Remove the first letter (decapitated) from a seven letter word for a breed of dogs.

16a  During Depression, sat around miles away (7)
DISTANT: Inside (during) a four-letter word for a depression include an anagram (around) of SAT.

19a  There’s a mother with good intentions (7)
THERESA: The answer is the first seven letters of the clue.  There is no real wordplay in this clue and the solution is incorrect as the name of the nun referred to does not have the H in her name.

21a  Follow-up letters for Suffolk team (6)
SUFFIX: The four-letter abbreviation for Suffolk (given in Collins but not Chambers) followed by the number of players in a baseball team in Roman numerals.  In terms of the clue structure, definition for wordplay is not permitted.  You can have wordplay for definition but not the other way around.

23a  Bottled spirits and brilliant people (5)
GENII: Double definition.  The double definition does not work as the plural form differs, with the solution being limited to spirits, not brilliant people.

25a  Swear by lamb and sheep stew (9)
BLASPHEME: An anagram (stew) of LAMB SHEEP.

26a  King is mad when order is lost (5)
MIDAS: An anagram (when order is lost) of IS MAD.

27a  National theatre evacuated – band is full of gas (9)
NATTERING: The three-letter abbreviation for national followed by the outer letters (evacuated) of theatre and a four-letter word for a band.

29a  One day swimming to watery death (6)
NOYADE: An anagram (swimming) of ONE DAY.  Where an archaic or historical word is used, setters should indicate this.  Perhaps “to watery death in ancient France.”

30a  Changes form, as sphere going pear-shaped (8)
RESHAPES: An anagram (going pear-shaped) of AS SPHERE.


1d  Dead writer lives (6)
DWELLS: The abbreviation for dead followed by the name of a science-fiction author.

2d  Backstabber primarily lacking back (3)
AGO: The name of the villain in Othello without the first letter (primarily lacking).

3d  What the fond kettle reportedly told the evaporating water? (3,4,2,6)
YOU WILL BE MISSED: A homophone (reportedly) of “you will be mist” with the whole clue being a whimsical allusion to a fond farewell.  I rather liked the whimsical nature of this clue.

4d  Greeks charge Scotsmen (7)
IONIANS:   A three-letter word for a charged particle followed by the plural of a name associated with Scotsmen.

6d  Won and ate? (7,2,6)
FIGURES OF SPEECH: A reverse homophone clue where homophones of one and eight give the words in the clue.

7d  A litigation, endless courts (5)
ATRIA: The A from the clue followed by a five-letter word for litigation without the final letter (endless).

8d  Scarlet’s hush-hush around university – she forges! (8)
REDSMITH: A three-letter colour (scarlet) followed by a two-letter word meaning be quiet (hush-hush) around the three-letter abbreviation for an American University in Cambridge.  The solution is not given in the main dictionaries.  Setters should only use words (other than proper nouns) that are in one of the standard dictionaries used by newspapers (Chambers, Collins or Oxford).

9d  Command and kill (6)
BEHEAD: Split 2,4, the solution might imply that someone is in command.

13d  Hotel endlessly putting up Queen, it is said (5)
QUOTE: The inner letters (endlessly) of Hotel with the abbreviation for Queen above them.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators – endless was also used in 7d.

17d  In Japan I’m entertained by this (5)
ANIME: The answer is hidden in the second to fourth words of the clue.

18d  Pornographic title about theatrical assistant (8)
STAGEMAN: A four-letter word meaning pornographic (as in a ???? Show) followed by a reversal (about) of a four-letter word for a title.  Another solution that is not given in the main dictionaries.

20d  One far beyond the pale (6)
ALBINO: Cryptic definition of a person or animal without skin pigmentation.

21d  Star turtle crushed, causing alarm (7)
STARTLE: Remove the central letters (crushed) from the first two words of the clue.  I don’t think that crushed works as a removal indicator to delete the central letters.

22d  Stoops to postmodernist design (6)
DEIGNS: An anagram (postmodernist) of design.  I am not keen on post-modernist as an anagram indicator as it does not immediately imply an re-arrangement of the letters.  In terms of the cryptic grammar of the clue you have definition to wordplay, which is the wrong way around.  You can have wordplay to definition, but not the other way around.

24d  Simpleton with rum in US city (5)
NODDY: A three-letter word meaning rum or strange inside the abbreviation for New York (US City).

28d  One is impious, lacking promise and ultimately mischevious (3)
IMP:  Remove a four-letter word for a promise and the last letter (ultimately) of mischievous from the third word of the clue.

19 comments on “Rookie Corner 446

  1. Quite a head scratcher that needed some e-help to cross the finishing line and there are still a few parsings that I will have to wait for Prolixic to explain.

    Smiles for 1d, 3d, and 6d.

    Thanks Mary and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. As Senf says a proper head scratcher where in the end I gave up and revealed quite a lot of letters to finish. One of those Rookie Corner crosswords where one could go on and on about what isn’t quite right about several of the clues but then that would mean extra work for Prolixic when he’s preparing the review, so I’ll leave that to him

    Thanks Mary – I think in a lot of these clues you are ‘trying too hard to be cryptic’ and just confusing the solver. I really liked 3d., Please take note of what Prolixic will have to say in his review and come back with a more solver-friendly crossword in due course

    Thanks also in advance to Prolixic

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Mary, and thanks for quite a tricky puzzle which I enjoyed solving.
    There are lots of good ideas here but perhaps some don’t quite come off. There are two clues in the SE corner (21a and 21d) which don’t quite work for me (unless I’m missing something).
    I ticked 5a, 14a and 6d.

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Mary. I enjoyed parts of this but some of it proved to be quite a struggle and I can’t parse my answer to 14a.

    I have a lot of scribbled comments most of which I’ll leave to Prolixic. I agree with Gazza’s concerns about 21a & 21d and I’ll just mention the incorrect spellings of both Teresa in 19a and the plural of genius in 23a.

    Neither Collins nor Chambers think that 18d is a real word, and 29a & 8d were new to me.

    My ticked clues were 5a, 1d, 3d & 6d.

    Well done, Mary, and thank you. Please heed Prolixic’s wise words and come back again soon. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi RD – checked BRB

      genius noun (geniuses or in sense 5 genii) – but I’m not sure whether it is clued in the correct sense

      I hoping Prolixic can provide his usual definitive verdict

      1. For me, LbR, the second definition requires the plural of genius using the BRB’s definition 2, i.e. geniuses, but we shall see what Prolixic makes of it.

  5. Welcome, Mary.

    As I was solving the puzzle, I wondered whether “Bl**dy Mary” might have been a better pseudonym given the plethora of references to death, killing, beheading, decapitation, stabbing, goring etc., which unfortunately populated the crossword. Some subtle changes like “…dogs without a lead” instead of the rather distasteful “…decapitated dogs” would have been very welcome.

    I found the LHS much less solver-friendly than the RHS, and there were certainly some good ideas on show that didn’t necessarily translate into satisfactory clues, like the non-lurking lurker at 19a. I’m not a great fan of whimsical clues like 10a and 3d which attempted to anthropomorphise fruit and household appliances respectively, the former being a very strained homophone in any case and the latter being rather lame. 21a and 22d are both contrary to convention in the sense that one is “definition for wordplay” and the other “definition (leading) to wordplay”. “Endess” as both a last letter deletion device and as an instruction to remove both ends of a word appeared twice in the space of four clues. I couldn’t find 8d in either Chambers or Collins so had to Google it.

    As debut puzzles go, I have seen many with far more flaws than this one, and some of the wordplay ideas were very clever, but it was the execution (to maintain the theme of the puzzle) that let you down on several occasions. 6d was excellent and my clear favourite.

    Many thanks, Mary.

    1. S, 10a and 3d. Apparently, King Charles often talks to (or at least, used to) various plants bearing fruits, but I don’t think they (like kettles) ever replied. :-)

  6. Welcome to the blog Mary. Like far better solvers than me have said, your challenge was a serious head scratcher, so I resorted fairly early to the reveal button. Having done so, I could parse most of the clues but found a number that didn’t quite work for me – homophones that were too much of a stretch, definitions that pointed to, rather than defined their answers and a couple of very obscure words that made the challenge too testing. But there were some very entertaining and clever ideas characterised by a sense of humour which I really appreciated – the brilliant 6d gave me the loudest penny drop moment I have had in a long time!

  7. Welcome to the Corner, Mary. Regret that I had to resort to the reveal button many times in order to complete the puzzle so don’t really feel qualified to make any worthwhile comments about the contents of same. One for our experts to handle!
    I do hope that you will return with a more solver-friendly offering.

  8. We struggled quite a bit and had to resort to the reveal button several times. We didn’t know 8d, Google confirmed 29a and there are still some we can’t parse. We did like 11a, 15a, 29a, 3d, 7d and 9d. 10a did not work for us. Thank you for the puzzle, Mary. We look forward to your next one and to Prolixic’s review.

  9. Welcome to Rookie Corner Mary
    Despite some errors, I did find this enjoyable to pick apart in places
    Thanks for the entertainment

  10. Many thanks for the review Prolixic, I didn’t actually do the puzzle but can see there are a lot of good ideas there. I’m sure Mary will be grateful for and benefit from your guidance.

  11. Thank you all for the comments! And special thanks to Prolixic for the very helpful review. Golly I am somewhat amused that the one error I spotted after sending the puzzle (i.e. that the “team” in 21A was going the wrong way) seems to be the one that prolixic overlooked.

    The folks over at MyCrossword were too kind, I clearly have a lot to work on.

    I shall return – and with a more polished, solver-friendly offering!

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