Rookie Corner 450 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 450

A Puzzle by Caradoc

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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.

Sorry but as my wife is largely bed bound with severe joint inflammation, I have explained the clues but do not have the time or energy to do a more detailed analysis this evening.   I will try and add more detailed comments later.


8a  Major conclusion doctor reaches in investigation (8)
RESEARCH: The last letter (conclusion) of major followed by an anagram (doctor) of reaches.

9a  Quietly heading for home, finally to depart on light carrier (6)
PHOTON: The musical abbreviation for quietly followed by the first letter (heading for) of home, the last letters (finally) of to and depart and the ON from the clue.

10a  Relative is fresh around English pub (6)
NEPHEW: A three-letter word meaning fresh around the abbreviations for English and public house.

11a  After a time, net value implodes (8)
EVENTUAL: An anagram (implodes) of NET VALUE.

12a  Questions from discontented Welsh youths (4)
WHYS: The outer letters (discontented) of the final two words of the clue.

13a  Right in, Deb said, “I’m somehow never the centre of attention?” (10)
BRIDESMAID: The abbreviation for right inside an anagram (somehow) of DEB SAID IM.

15a  Drops off source of spy’s nuclear leaks (7)
SNOOZES: The initial letter (source) of spy followed by the abbreviation for nuclear and a five-letter word meaning leaks.

16a  Obscure character not quite up to scratch, advanced with a little support with practitioners of martial art (7)
JUDOKAS: The name of the literary character ???? the Obscure with the final letter removed (not quite) followed by a two-letter word meaning up to scratch, the abbreviation for advanced and the first letter (little) of support.

18a  Hunted criminal trapped by little devils, down down here? (2,3,5)
IN THE DUMPS: An anagram (criminal) of HUNTED inside a four-letter word for little devils.

19a  Unlikely to last in China: flees and heads for Incheon and freedom (2,2)
AS IF: The last letters of China and flees followed by the first letter (heads for) Incheon and freedom.

20a  Take last two pieces each from Zoom Hotel buffet, and plate dish (8)
OMELETTE: The final two letters from each of the words Zoom, Hotel, Buffet and plate.

22a  Regretting bungled deregulation, wasting time and abandoning old deal (6)
RUEING: An anagram (bungles) of DEREGULATION after removing (wasting / abandoning) the abbreviations for time and old and the letters in DEAL.

23a  Pressure from reduced staff in the audience (6)
DEMAND: A homophone (in the audience) of DE-MANNED (reduced staff).

24a  Most shady work about hunt (8)
OPAQUEST: A two-letter word for work followed by the abbreviation for about and a five-letter word for a hunt.


1d  Call song – I might need it to get through to you? (9,6)
TELEPHONE NUMBER: A nine-letter word meaning to call followed by a six-letter word for a song.

2d  Fantastic tale: in his pomp he is wicked (15)
MEPHISTOPHELIAN: An anagram (fantastic) of TALE IN HIS POMP HE.

3d  Toast to dead in St Mary-le-Bow? (5,5)
BROWN BREAD: The Cockney rhyming slang (in St Mary-le-Bow) for “dead”.

4d  One excited after lead characters in Phantom and Hulk team up in US city (7)
PHOENIX: An anagram (excited) of ONE after the initial letters (lead characters in) of Phantom and Hulk and a reversal (up) of the number of players (in Roman numerals) in a football team.

5d  Part of suitable space used up in church (4)
APSE: The answer is hidden (part of) and reversed (used up) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

6d  Sixth in league, poor Man U in disarray during match; losing start for Tottenham happening at the same time (15)
CONTEMPORANEOUS: An anagram (in disarray) of E (the sixth letter in league) POOR MAN U inside a seven-letter word for a match that does not include (losing) the initial letter (start for) of Tottenham.

7d  A militant riots: a radical dictatorship (15)

14d  Mounted barbeque’s triangular enclosure (10)
EQUESTRIAN: The answer is hidden (enclosure) in the second and third words of the clue.

17d  Extremely deficient memory recollecting a type of penguin (7)
EMPEROR: The inner letters (extremely deficient) of memory include (recollecting) a three-letter word meaning a.

21d  Current temperature: 1 degree on 7th of December (4)
TIDE: The abbreviation for temperature followed by the letter representing one, the abbreviation for degree and the 7th letter of December.

16 comments on “Rookie Corner 450
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  1. A clever pangram which helped with a couple of the last answers.
    Think I understand what is intended in 23a but not sure that it quite works.
    Particularly enjoyed the four full length answers.
    Thanks Caradoc.

  2. Thank you Caradoc and welcome to Rookie Corner. Reasonably straightforward but, my goodness, 16a and 6d – 35 words between them and that is not counting the solo ‘U’ in 6d. Ray T, on a Thursday, could write at least 5 clues using that amount of words. I have to admit that for 6d I had all but one of the checkers so I was able to ‘bung it in’ because ‘unscrambling’ the clue was proving impossible.

    Smiles for 15a, 24a, and 21d although, for all three, I did have to check that the single letter abbreviations were valid.

    The 23a homophone doesn’t quite work for me but I expect that others will not have a problem with it.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Caradoc, with a promising debut, and a pangram to boot. I enjoyed most of this puzzle but, for my taste, three 15 letter anagrams is too many and I found the two verbose “War and Peace” clues (16a & 6d) off-putting. 23a was my last one in; for me, and I suspect many others, it is not even close to being a homophone.

    A few points of detail from me:
    – I can’t make up my mind if the definition for 18a quite works, and the surface is a little strange
    – 22a needs a second anagram indicator as the letters to be removed from the anagram fodder are in a different order
    – I don’t think “to” is an acceptable link between definition and wordplay in 3d and, in any event, the definition itself isn’t quite accurate
    – “Recollecting” is not a good choice of containment indicator – its meaning of “collecting” is archaic according to Chambers

    My top picks were 12a, 2d, 14d & 21d.

    Well done and thank you, Caradoc. Please heed Prolixic’s wise words for your future submissions and come back soon. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

      1. Good point about the definition for 3d, CS. I hadn’t thought of the answer being a verbal phrase. I’m still not sure about the “to” as a link word though.

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner Caradoc, although I would bet that this isn’t your first cryptic crossword

    As I said to Mr CS, 2d, 6d and 7d aren’t words you expect to have to try and spell over the breakfast muesli. Whilst I am not a fan of Ray T’s terse clues, I do think you’ve gone a bit too far in the other direction with 16a and 6d. I agree with the previous comments that 23a doesn’t work as a homophone

    Thank you very much for the crossword, and in advance to Prolixic for the review

  5. Not too tricky and an enjoyable puzzle – many thanks to Caradoc.
    My anagram counter reached nine which is on the high side.
    Unlike others commenting I liked 23a which is far from the worst homophone we’ve had recently.
    My favourite clue was 3d.
    More like this would be welcome.

  6. Well done Caradoc, I enjoyed filling in the grid and smiled at quite a few.
    The biggest negative for me was the often manufactured and unnatural surface reads. However I know from experience that you will get better in this aspect of setting. My repetition radar bleeped for “6th in” and “7th of” too…I think you can only get away with one of those per puzzle though others may disagree. Stand out favourite for me was the excellent 3d.
    Many thanks, look forward to the next and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  7. Congratulations on making your debut, Caradoc.
    There were some nice clues in here. 12a and 13a both brought a smile as did 4d and 21d. In line with some other commenters, 3d was COTD.
    I’m not a fan of your wordier clues and suspect they could be tightened up considerably and, yes, nine anagrams is heavy. For me, surface reads are as important as good cryptic grammar: I agree with Stephen L that this is an area to work on. Help me to envisage a scenario, an event, an observation whilst assembling your cryptic elements in the background and you’ll make me happy.
    I look forward to seeing you again and I am sure Prolixic’s review will be useful.

  8. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Caradoc.

    I thought this puzzle showed a lot of promise in terms of the way that the clues were constructed, unfortunately the wordiness of some of the clues and the strained surface readings in others detracted from the overall product. A grid with four fifteen-letter solutions was always destined to create a disproportionate number of anagrams, but nine in twenty-four clues is definitely too many. I also noticed an over-reliance on using first and last letter indicators, sometimes in the same clue as in 9a and 19a for example. I always think this looks clunky and it’s best to keep them separate. The Telegraph normally permits its setters just three of each in any puzzle. I agree wholeheartedly with Stephen L about “sixth in” and “7th of”, I think only one such construction in any particular puzzle should be the limit.

    Overall, there was a lot to like, and I look forward to a second submission with shorter clues, a better-balanced grid and fewer anagrams please! Many thanks. Caradoc.

  9. Welcome to the Corner, Caradoc, and with a puzzle that seems unlikely to be your first. I’m not a fan of verbose clues or clunky surface reads and thought the anagram count was too high but have to admit that this was a competent puzzle that just needed a bit more polishing.
    Please take note of the comments you receive and the report from Prolixic and come back to us with another compilation ‘ere long.

  10. We thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle over a long lunch on a wet, dreary day in E. Sussex. Thank you Caradoc. Favourite clues 8a, 10a, 18a, 20a, 22a, 3d and 14d. It was fun teasing out the answers from the long clues – pangram was an added bonus. Google helped with 16a. More like this, please. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  11. Well done, Caradoc. I agree with other commenters that there are positives here, but also that some of your clues are excessively wordy.

    The wordiness in most cases is a side-effect of over-elaborate clue construction. Too much “Take this letter, insert it in this word reversed, and put the whole lot in an anagram of this word.” I would suggest simplifying your wordplay, reducing the number of different devices and operations you use in each clue – for example, 22a would be more elegant if the parts to be subtracted were a whole word rather than bits and pieces separately indicated.

    The long anagrams for 2d and 7d are stand-outs for me – and all the better for their relative brevity and straightforward construction.

  12. I enjoyed the solve & much to like here though fully agree that the overly wordy clues weren’t as effective – Django one of the few compilers who seems to get away with it because his surfaces are so witty. Another vote for 3d as my pick & also liked both 15&23a plus 2&7d
    Thanks Caradoc

  13. Great puzzle, very enjoyable; thanks to setter. 23A fine for me; depends which part of the country you’re from? Lovely start to the week

  14. Thank you all for the fair and positive comments! It’s clear there is a consensus about what’s right and what’s wrong with the puzzle. I’ll take this into account for the next time.

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