Rookie Corner 452 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 452

A Puzzle by Tyjer

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

As indeed it always should, family life has had to take precedence over crosswords for Prolixic this week, so I’ve provided the explanations for the Tyjer Rookie.

As comments on the blog said, a home-made grid is not the best option for a rookie setter, and this one certainly included a lot of clues in its strange arrangement of lights! I had quite a few question marks by clues when I originally solved the puzzle yesterday morning, and some of them remain still to be answered.

I would suggest to Tyjer that he/she takes note of the constructive comments made by other solvers and then return with a new crossword, using a better grid and a bit less ‘obscure’ general knowledge. There are some good clues in here, but more care needs to be taken with surface readings – 16d being a prime example of one that didn’t work well.

Apologies – no time to find illustrations – I’ve got to get up to the Post Office to send two parcels off to Ireland!


1a American innovation in breakfast, or American league in dessert (9)
CORNFLAKE: OR (from the clue) and the abbreviated American National Football Leave inserted into something you might eat as a dessert

6a At dwarves’ house, how many reportedly dined? (3)
ATE: A homophone of the total number of people present when Snow White and the dwarfs sat down to dinner

10a Inside, left handed dealer comes across unruffled (7)
RELAXED: A reversal (left handed) of DEALER into which is inserted a cross

11a Channel inner cheerleader: “Of course you. . .” (7)
CONDUIT: This is supposed to be a homophone (as said by a cheerleader) of a three-word phrase [of course you] can do it

12a Heart of calendar creator shows pride (3)
EGO: The letters in the middle (heart of) the name of a person who created a calendar

13a Friends return provocation (4)
SLAP: A reversal (return) of some informal friends

14a Without ace, a space ray still active (4)
SPRY: Remove (without) the ACE and A from SPace RaY

15a Finally Ma reaches beach to repair canoe here (6)
ASHORE: The final letters of mA reacheS beacH tO repaiR canoE

17a Herb initially seems a gustatory extravagance (4)
SAGE: The initial letters of Seems A Gustatory Extravagance. The usual practice is to avoid following one type of clue (in this case last letters, with a similar one, this one having first letters

19a Enormous bird sets task back carrying large edible crystal (4,4)
ROCK SALT: An enormous legendary bird (there’s an illustration of it in my review of last Saturday’s NTSPP) followed by a reversal (back) of TASK (from the clue) into which is inserted (carrying) L (large)

21a Girl will train a year at intervals (5)
TANYA: The odd letters (at intervals) of TrAiN a YeAr

22a Selected all natural stockings (5)
CHOSE: Apparently notes in the key of C are all ‘natural’. Follow with a synonym for stockings

23a Disclose times one, destroying identification, scattered paper (8)
CONFETTI: Remove the ID (destroying identification) from a verb meaning to disclose [secrets], add two abbreviations for Time and the letter representing one

24a Shallow division in family goes back around a century (4)
NICK: A reversal (goes back) of family into which is inserted (around) the abbreviation for Century

26a Heartiness concealed by moustache, although thinly (6)
HEALTH: Hidden in (concealed by)moustacHE ALTHough

28a Slap end of sleeve (4)
CUFF: Double definition, one a verb, the other the end of a sleeve

30a Song of endless love in Sherwood (4)
ARIA: Robin Hood’s love interest without the letters at either end

32a High note, but is it right? (3)
ALT: One of my question mark clues – a musical term for a high note in voice or instrument. The second part of the clue may refer to a far-right political movement originating in the United States

34a Conference trades heads of ectoplasmic apparitions for calmly inferred  empirical research (7)
SCIENCE: Replace the E and A (heads of Ectoplasmic Apparations) in a conference designed to contact spirits of the dead with those for Calmly Inferred Empirical

35a In consequence of corrupt scab use (7)
BECAUSE: An anagram (corrupt) of SCAB USE

36a Check sprout (3)
EYE: A verb meaning to check by looking or the description of a sprout on a potato

37a Least hospitable street randomly ignites (9)
STINGIEST: The abbreviation for street and an anagram (randomly) of IGNITES


1d Rooster one moment, then monster (10)
COCKATRICE: A rooster, A (one) and a small moment of time

2d Sort of dressing taken from part of tree with broken top (5)
RANCH: Part of a tree with the top “broken off”

3d Glowing uranium buried in island known for hobbit’s coin (11)
FLUORESCENT: The chemical symbol for Uranium inserted into an Indonesian island where remains of an ancient ‘hobbit’ man were discovered, followed by a coin

4d Directionless lumps could be sculpture and painting? (4)
ARTS: Some lumpy growths without the compass direction that is the first letter

5d Child mimics dogfight, shows inaccuracies (6)
ERRATA: Apparently, a homophone of how a child might mimic the sounds of the guns in an aerial dogfight

6d Beverage of headless man (3)
ALE: Remove the ‘head’ from a man

7d Labels silver in inverted acceleration (4)
TAGS: The chemical symbol for silver inserted into a reversal (inverted) of Speed [over] Time (acceleration)

8d Revolver must be sought far away, by Pegasus maybe? (9)
EXOPLANET: A cryptic definition of a planet outside the solar system – apparently there is one called Pegasus

9d Funkily dyed swirl (4)
EDDY: An anagram (funkily) of DYED

16d Suspect fleeing, dropped loot! Leader lost way in escape over top! (3,1,7)
GET A FEELING: An anagram (suspect) of FlEEING without the leader of Loot. In front of this in a Down solution (over top) is an expression meaning to escape without (lost) the WAY. Far too complicated a clue for its own good

17d Farm animals are an investment (5)
STOCK: Double definition

18d Process of elimination (10)
BANISHMENT: A cryptic definition of a way of eliminating someone from a place

20d This circle’s shorthand is equal to ours, they say (9)
CLOCKFACE: The time represented by the short hand on this particular circle would sound like (they say) a homophone of ours

25d Turns motorhome into sticks (6)
CURVES: An abbreviated motor home inserted into some sticks used to play snooker

27d Arrange clean equipment for tourney (5)
LANCE: An anagram (arrange) of CLEAN

28d It’s three times two-faced, and all of them alike (4)
CUBE: A cryptic definition of a solid body

29d Feel cranky intermittently in skin (4)
FLAY: The intermittent letters of FeeL crAnkY

31d Disguised in mask, initiate winter exercise (1,3)
A SKI: Hidden in mASK Initiate – another one where I wasn’t sure how the solution quite fitted with the definition

33d French kill short day (3)
TUE: Part of the French verb meaning to kill is the abbreviation (short) for one of our days of the week


27 comments on “Rookie Corner 452
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  1. Certainly a different sort of puzzle from what we are used to getting from the DT.
    It took us quite some time but we did eventually get most things sorted but still at a loss for the Hobbit allusion in 3d.
    Discovered some very interesting wordplays in places that kept us intrigued and amused.
    Thanks Tyger.

  2. A real curate’s egg with some very obscure GK – the Hobbit’s island for example – that, for me to finish, required e-help and reveals.

    The ‘unusual’ grid didn’t help; I will be interested to read Prolixic’s opinion on that.

    I know that we are told to ignore punctuation but the possessive S in ‘hobbit’s coin’ is very misleading and I am reasonably certain that is what caused a problem for the 2Kiwis.

    Thanks Tyjer but not really for me. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Tyjer. I agree with Senf’s assessment of this puzzle as a curate’s egg. I thought that about half of your clues were fine but I had scribbles and question marks by the all the others. I too needed e-help and reveals to end up with a filled grid, albeit still with some answers unparsed.

    I suspect Prolixic will be kept busy with his review and I will only mention a few specific things at this stage:
    – Some of your definitions were over-stretched for my taste.
    – The surface of the wordy 34a is utterly bizarre and there were several other clues where the surfaces made little sense.
    – There are two possible spellings for the plural of dwarf. The much more common one is dwarfs, and the title of the fairy tale referred to in 6d is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Dwarves is much rarer (although it is used by Tolkein in The Hobbit!)
    – The “homophone” in 11a is truly dire.
    – I would never describe a cake as a dessert.

    On a positive note, there were some very promising signs in many of your clues and, armed with Prolixic’s invaluable advice, this should provide a sound basis for your future puzzles.

    Well done and thank you, Tyjer. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner Tyjer
    A peculiar puzzle – mysterious as opposed to misleading or cryptic which I have to admit left me somewhat underwhelmed
    There seemed to be a distinct lack of satisfying wordplay plus some slightly strange definitions

    Well done for putting the puzzle together at all [I know it’s not easy] and thanks for sharing

  5. Welcome to Rookie Corner Tyjer and thank you for a crossword which, like other commenters, I found difficult to understand in places. I did just manage to solve without revealing a letter or using e-help, but I did wonder at one stage whether to give up with quite a few clues unsolved. I agree with RD about the non-homophone in 11a.

    Thank you in advance to Prolixic as I will need the review to understand the many clues I have ?? by as I have no idea how to parse them.

  6. Well, I managed to complete this with a fair degree of revealing towards the end. I did like some of the shorter clues like 6d and 27d is lovely and was COTD for me. There’s quite a lot I failed to parse so I shall look forward to explanations tomorrow. I do think you can improve some of your surfaces; as RD points out, 34a is pretty surreal but others were also either ungainly or rather difficult to visualise. And, whilst there is no accounting for GK, it’s probably a safe bet that few solvers – even the Tolkien fans like me – will know what to make of 3d. There’s plenty of imagination and creativity on show and, hopefully, comments here and from Prolixic in the morning will be helpful.

    Thanks Tyjer and to Prolixic in advance.

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Tyjer.

    If I had to give a Rookie setter just one piece of advice it would be NEVER to use home-made grids like this one, as it immediately suggests that the compiler has fitted the grid around the solutions rather than fitted the solutions into the grid.

    Even apart from some very surreal surfaces, i.e. how can a headless man drink a beverage? (6d) and how do streets spontaneously combust? (37a) and some obscure references and stretched definitions, there were quite a number of flaws evident in the wordplay and cryptic grammar which I feel made it almost impossible for anyone to complete the puzzle without electronic assistance. I would definitely recommend never following a “take all the last letters” clue with a “take all the first letters” clue, as was evident in 15a and 17a. 28d seemed more of a riddle to me than a crossword clue.

    I couldn’t warm to the puzzle at all, unfortunately, but I will always applaud anyone who enters Rookie Corner and submits a puzzle for others’ scrutiny. I hope you’ll take Prolixic’s advice to heart, the review will take him quite some time, I suspect.

    Thanks, Tyjer.

  8. Thanks Tyjer – as for others, something of a curates egg for me (not helped by the grid design) but with lots of imaginative and inventive clues, and a fun challenge to unravel.

    I think I’m there with parsing everything except 5d and the “acceleration” in 7d. I suspect Prolxic will be busy (thanks in advance!) as the majority of clues do have “issues” – on close inspection, many of these turn out to be minor things (e.g. 14a probably needs “aces” plural, and the “still” is padding; 24a, because of the “in”, “going” would provide a better reading than “goes”, whilst the “a” is superfluous and ought to be omitted; in 16d “dropping” and “losing” would similarly read better, and I don’t think “loot! Leader” indicates L in the way that “loot’s leader” would – distracting punctuation is fine only if the meaning is retained) but I think they’re compounded by some strange surfaces making the overall ‘feel’ of the puzzle less satisfactory.

    A few questions – should 32a’s “note” be “tone”? 8d I get the allusion (I think!) to 51 Pegasi b, but not sure how the clue as a whole really hangs together? And I’m not familiar with 31d as a “thing” (cursory Google check hasn’t offered any enlightenment)? 3d needed Google but actually I think this one is very clever … although the surface is a little odd and the ‘s arguably could be lost (but does work as juxtaposition, “[ha]s”).

    Plenty to enjoy too – my favourites were 1a (I’m happy with cake as dessert!), 23a, 30a, 25d & 27d – and I’ll look forward to more Tyjers … with a little more attention to detail and a bit of surface polishing! Thanks again :-)

  9. Well, Tyjer, I can only agree with the comments above. Off-puttingly nonsensical surfaces, overstretched definitions and obscure GK made this impenetrable for me. While there were some excellent moments (I much preferred your shorter clues), overall it wasn’t really solver-friendly. Nevertheless there is evidence of original thinking and I feel if you can just tame it a little, bring some sense to your surfaces and iron out any technical problems, you have potential to produce original and satisfying challenges.

  10. Welcome to the Corner, Tyjer, you certainly brought us a puzzle that was ‘different’ as the 2Ks said but I don’t think it worked particularly well on a satisfaction level. Leaving aside the numerous ‘technical errors’, I found it hard to deal with some of the surface reads and also with the amount of GK that required assistance from Mr Google.
    I could see that you have some clever ideas but I feel that you would be best served by choosing an acceptable grid formation, cutting back on the more obscure GK and thereby delivering a better experience for the solvers.
    Thank you for bringing this one to us, I hope you will learn much from both the comments and Prolixic’s review.

  11. Many thanks for the puzzle, Tyljer – but we did struggle with some of the answers and we did need Google and some reveals. We still cannot parse several so we shall be pleased to read Prolixic’s review. Thank you in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Apologies for the wrong spelling of your name Tyjer- my iPad has a mind of its own and I did try to edit but without success

  12. I found this a proverbial Curate’s Egg of a puzzle, but must first thank you, Tyjer, for the challenge. I second Silvanus’s appreciation of anyone who braves the parapets to put their compositions in the public eye!

    The grid design in the SW and NE corners does absolutely nothing for me. It is one of the reasons I dislike the DT’s new puzzle and have not returned to it after the first one appeared.

    Some wonderful and inventive clueing, but quite a lot of odd surface reads, grammatical issues, and a feeling of “oh, so close” – all of the notes were there, but some of them not quite in the right order. I shall need Prolixic’s review to understand some of my answers (more biffs than a Beano comic!) and had about 12 clues where I had question marks. Was surprised to see above that 15a was a “last letters” clue – I had read it as ‘a’+’shore'[beach]!

    But there were plenty of positive notes – 1a, 13a, 19a & 34a (ok, slightly odd surfaces), 30a (brilliant!); 1d, 2d, 9d, 17d, 27d, 29a, 33a.

    I really look forward to your next puzzle, just please make it a slghtly less unconventional grid!

    Thank you again, and in advance to Prolixic

  13. Thank you for ‘bashing out’ some explanations, CS. What a shame that Prolixic didn’t have time to ask someone to stand in for him beforehand.

  14. CS. I’m struggling with 34a. Either I’ve got the wrong (6-letter) “conference” or I’m missing something else. Following the instructions in the clue, I get the answer SCINCE. Where does middle the E come from, please?

      1. Ah, thank you. The “empirical ” being underlined is what threw me – I still should have been able to suss it out, though. The definition must be just “research”.

  15. Thankyou very much to everyone who provided feedback and to the reviewer!
    Regarding Fez’s questions: I think ‘tone’ in 32a might indeed work better: I did not think of it. 8d was attempting more of a cryptic definition style clue: something that revolves, and is found far away, for example the one Fez mentioned in the constellation Pegasus. For 31d, I was thinking of phrases like ‘take 31d’ or ‘go for 31d’ where the definition could be substituted in as a synonym. I am working on getting a feel for when two or more words can be combined successfully: when a difficult spot can be filled with a combination of words, it is very tempting to me to try to justify it to myself as an idiom. In 16d, I intended to indicate that the letter L is moved downward rather than removed, but clearly needed better wording for that.

  16. Thanks for stepping in CS – the homophone in 11a is certainly overstretched, but was at least gettable (and the “inner cheerleader” was nice) but had no chance with 6d! The other one I didn’t get was ST for acceleration – not sure S=speed is accepted? Tyjer, if you’re reading, investing in the Chambers app will be the best few quid you ever spend (I may be exaggerating slightly) – you’ll be able to find words that fit a necessary pattern (e.g. ASTI) and can check for “acceptable” abbreviations too (things that seem ‘obvious’ like A/D for Across/Down, or Y/N for yes/no, don’t appear so – to ensure a level playing field for solvers – shouldn’t really be used, but on the other hand it opens up a whole range of unlikely abbreviations to select from too … some maybe a little too obscure for a regular ‘back-pager’, but you’ll get a feel for them!) Thanks again!

    1. You are right about S not being a valid abbreviation either in Collins or Chambers, but in any event the correct scientific definition of acceleration is velocity / time, i.e. V/T not speed / time.

  17. My thanks to Sue for stepping into the breach. A quick apology for missing the blog this week. My wife was rushed into hospital last week with pneumonia and everything else has taken a back seat as a result. Fortunately, they got the infection under control and Kim was released into the wild yesterday evening which coincided with the time I had set aside to write the blog. It has been pretty full on since then with caring duties and work responsibilities.

    1. So sorry to hear about your wife, Prolixic, and here’s hoping she continues to improve now that she is back home.

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