Rookie Corner 459 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 459

A Puzzle by Cattermole

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

 Thanks to Cattermole for the challenge.  There was a hint of Ennio Morricone in the setting of this crossword.  The commentometer reads as 5/30 or 16.7%


1a  Divine avenger seems in turmoil (7)
NEMESIS: An anagram (turmoil) of SEEMS IN.  Some editors will not allow a noun such as turmoil to be used as an anagram indicator.

5a  How journalist introduces herself, to be remembered (7)
IMPRESS: Split 2,5, this might be how a journalist introduces themselves.  I am not convinced that the definition quite matches the solution here.  This could have been improved as “How a journalist introduces herself in print”.

9a  To summarise: setter went backwards (5)
RECAP: Reverse (went backwards) a five-letter word for someone who sets the pace in a race.

10a  Lateness: one problem which is fundamental (9)
ESSENTIAL: An anagram (problem) of LATENESS I (one).  In terms of cryptic grammar, “which is” as the link gives wordplay which is definition.  Perhaps “that’s” would have been better as a contraction of “that has” to give wordplay that has definition.

11a  Retrospective girls initially bite sailor. Extraordinary!! (10)
EYEPOPPING: A reversal (retrospective) of G (girls initially), a three-letter word meaning bite and a six-letter name of a spinach loving cartoon sailor.

12a  Though ground small, often thickens (4)
PLOT: Double definition of a small area of land and something that metaphorically thickens.  I would try to find wordplay that avoids the “though”.  Also, verbal phrases to define nouns are not universally liked.  “it often thickens” would avoid this.

14a  The curtailed dance spurred an undignified race (5-6)
THREE-LEGGED: The “the” from the clue without the last letter (curtailed) followed by a four-letter word for a dance and a five-letter word meaning spurred or encouraged.

18a  Disturbed temper in man is not forever (11)
IMPERMANENT: An anagram (disturbed) of TEMPER IN MAN.

21a  Record about castle goes on and on (and on) (4)
LOOP: The abbreviation for a long-playing record about the chess notation for castling.

22a  Audible hooter, ladies and gentlemen. What’s charged? Your verdict? (10)
CONCLUSION: A homophone (audible) of CONK (hooter or nose) and LOOS (ladies and gentlemen) followed by a three-letter word for a charged particle.

25a  I, bestial? I, raving? “Can-do”, more like! (9)
ABILITIES: An anagram (raving) of I BESTIAL I.  Another clue where I am not convinced that the definition precisely matches the solution.

26a  Public transport into casualty: terrible treatment results (5)
ABUSE: A three-letter word for a mode of public transport inside the abbreviation for Accident and Emergency (casualty).

27a  On lookout for geeks in trouble (7)
SEEKING: An anagram (trouble) of GEEKS IN.

28a  Den was in front, square? (7)
SETTLED: A four-letter word for a badgers den followed by a three-letter word meaning was in front.


1d  Anxiety caused by contents of finer vessels (6)
NERVES: The answer is hidden (contents of) the last two words of the clue.  Is the definition caused by the wordplay?  Perhaps a better link between the definition and the wordplay would be better.

2d  Mark (1:100): “The obvious way into my house should not be taken” (6)
MICKEY: The abbreviation for Mark followed by the Roman numerals for 1 and 100 followed by a three-letter word for a means of entry though a door.  A key is a means of unlocking, not the obvious way in to a house.  There is another verbal phrase here as well. 

3d  Drink drinks? We’re all for it! (10)
SUPPORTERS: A three-letter word meaning to drink followed by a seven-letter word for types of beer (drinks).

4d  Quietly! Go up for the stock (5)
SHEEP: A two-letter word meaning quietly followed by a reverse (up) of a three-letter word meaning to urinate (go). “Sh” means be quiet, not quietly.

5d  Pretended extramarital sex dried up, by the sound of it (9)
INSINCERE: A phrase (2,3) implying that extramarital sex is morally reprehensible followed by a homophone (by the sound of it) of a four-letter word meaning dried up or withered.

6d  Quarter of a ton? A small horse, by all other accounts (4)
PONY: Double definition for the slang word for £25 (quarter of a ton) and a small horse.

7d  From study of its origins, designed Yeti logo
ETIOLOGY: An anagram (designed) of YETI LOGO.  If you are using American spelling in a UK crossword, this should be indiated.

8d  Note current, you of French “isolation” (8)
SOLITUDE: A three-letter musical note followed by the abbreviation for current and the French words for you and of.

13d  After some confusion, aunts ate first and last of regular meals here (10)
RESTAURANT: An anagram (after some confusion) of AUNTS ATE RR (first and last letters of regular).

15d  Rational argument about a child in Gateshead? (9)
REASONING: A two-letter word meaning about followed by a three-letter word for a male child, the IN from the clue and the first letter of Gate (Gateshead).  Some editors will not allow words such as Gateshead to indicate the head of gate.

16d  I’m not big by choice, old fruit (8)
WILLIAMS: How you might say I am small (using the abbreviation for small) after (by) a four-letter word meaning choice.

17d  My associate’s place? The contrary! (8)
OPPOSITE: A for letter word for an associate followed by a four-letter word for a place.

19d  Namely Noel, so it’s said (or seen) (6)
VISUAL: A homophone (so it’s said) of VIZ (namely) YULE (Noel).

20d  Bat, as in parliament, or fend, as in court. Quite! (6)
INDEED: A description of where you would find the letters of bat in debated or fend in defended.

23d  Reconnoitres ends, losing second (5)
CASES: A six-letter word meaning stops without the second letter.

24d  14 less 1? Or by 3? (4)
XIII: A single letter meaning by or times followed by the Roman numerals for 3.

22 comments on “Rookie Corner 459
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  1. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Cattermole, with what I thought was a curate’s egg of a debut. There were certainly some promising signs but these were offset by at least half of the clues having scribbles and question marks by them on my page. I needed to reveal 16d in order to finish, and I can’t parse 20d. Your surface readings were a mixed bag too: some were fine but I couldn’t make much sense out of others.

    I will leave the detailed commentary to Prolixic, who I fear is going to be kept somewhat busy when reviewing this. I will just mention that several of your definitions seemed decidedly dodgy; you have used the American spelling for 7d; and 24d seems rather abstruse.

    On the plus side, I had ticks for 9a, 21a, 3d, 5d & 17d.

    Well done on sticking your head above the parapet, Cattermole. Please pay heed to Prolixic’s wise words and I look forward to your next submission.

    1. For 20d you need to use the first two letters of the answer as an instruction to insert ‘bat’ and ‘fend’ in turn into the last four.

  2. If this is your debut puzzle then congratulations indeed for getting it out there, Cattermole (though the name does seem familiar from somewhere?)

    There are some nice spots for clue construction in here – the anagrams for 1a and 18a, for example; the reversals in 9a and 11a (the second of those, decidedly extraordinary!), the cheeky little charade and nicking of a G in 15d. And I can’t quite make up my mind about 24d which could be brilliant: I don’t think I’ve seen a Roman number as a solution and am not even sure how it should be enumerated.

    I feel there are four main areas to focus on: directionality – you have several clues where wordplay comes from definition; definitions, generally – some, I’m not sure I understood and, in others, parts of speech are confused; linkages between indicators and fodder (eg ‘problem’ straight after fodder to indicate an anagram) and, as RD says above, some of the surfaces don’t read smoothly or sensibly.

    That may sound like a lot but you will find a step change between first and second outings, particularly if you take on board the advice you’ll get from Prolixic in the morning and from other commenters here today. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the useful feedback.

      Clearly, one doesn’t want to exploit another operator’s handle. If you’ve further information about the existence of another Cattermole, I’d be indebted.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner Cattermole

    I have looked at this crossword long and hard after both my cereal and cup of tea were long finished and, without revealing letters, I don’t think I’ll ever solve the six clues I have left. I also have question marks by two of the clues I did solve.

    Thanks for the crossword. Take note of everything Prolixic has to say in his review, for which many thanks in advance

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Cattermole – there are some very neat ideas here but Prolixic will have quite a lot of advice for you – do pay heed to his wise words.
    I did like the ‘castle’ in 21a (a device I don’t remember seeing before) and 24d is certainly novel.
    The clues I liked best were 11a (in spite of the weird surface), 14a and 28a.

      1. The chess notation for a castling on the king’s side is 0-0 (or possibly O-O, depending on convention).

        Queen’s side castling is 0-0-0, which is presumably harder to make use of in a crossword clue.

  5. Hi Cattermole, welcome to The Corner.
    Although you have some really good ideas I thought a few clues suffered from technical errors and sub-standard surface reads along with a few mismatches between definition and solution. Quite a few “nearly but not quites”.I also needed one or two reveals to finish.
    On the plus side I did like 11a, it made me laugh (though I think you need an adverb rather than an adjective at the front), and thought the charades at 14a plus 3d rather good too so they are my podium sitters.
    Well done, look forward to the next.
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  6. Hi Cattermole
    A very interesting debut, albeit one that will keep Prolixic busy, I feel. You clearly have an original mind and there are some very clever ideas here, but unfortunately cryptic grammar is unforgiving. Your wordplay has to give precise instruction rather than a general indication of what the solver should do – eg in 1a swapping turmoil, which has no verbal sense, for trouble, which does, would improve the clue – and your definitions have to be synonymous with the answers, not simply approximations to them. But for all the technical issues, I actually found myself enjoying the originality and tone of your puzzle, notwithstanding failing to parse a handful. If you take on board Prolixic’s sage advice, which I will read with interest, I am sure your next outing will be worth the wait!

  7. Welcome, Cattermole.

    Lots of originality and inventiveness on display here, sadly far too often that was undermined by imprecision in construction, faulty cryptic grammar and many unconvincing and awkward surface readings. For those reasons, I can’t claim to have enjoyed solving the puzzle, unfortunately.

    I’d be very interested to see whether you can adapt your style and address the flaws next time.

    Thank you, Cattermole.

  8. Welcome to the Corner, Cattermole. Like PostMark, I seemed to think that I’d seen your name somewhere previously but perhaps you’ll enlighten us at some stage.
    Some good ideas evident in this puzzle but both grammar and surface reads rather let it down as did your habit of being far to obtuse where some clues were concerned.
    Top clues for me were 12&14a plus 3d.

    Thank you, Cattermole, I hope you take on board all that Prolixic has to say in his review and look forward to seeing your next compilation.

  9. Very enjoyable, thanks, Cattermole. Lots of good clues which kept me thinking and my favourite was the delightful 11A. Have to admit I was stumped by 24D though!! Look forward to your next submission. ***/**** (for me)

  10. Thanks Cattermole – very enjoyable, though as others have pointed out a fair few issues to address too. Re 24d I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Roman numerals clued in an Elgar(?) Toughie (“III” perhaps?) but can’t find it in the archives to check details. Anyway, thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  11. Welcome, Cattermole, and thanks for sharing your puzzle. It was fun in places. Unfortunately, the imprecise grammar and vague wording made it frustratingly hard work to solve in other places.

    The interesting ideas that others have mentioned are all very well but I would prefer to see a focus on getting the basics right first and foremost. But do stick at it, because if you can iron out the technical problems, those interesting ideas are what will set you apart from other setters.

  12. Welcome to Rookie Corner.
    This was an interesting puzzle with some good ideas but definitions were a bit vague in places – and I’m not sure how acceptable a Roman numeral on its own is as an answer, though perhaps that’s because it was the only one I didn’t get. But take on board Prolixic’s comments and I’ll look forward to your next one.

  13. Many thanks for the review and the interesting observations which expanded my own knowledge! Hope Cattermole puts all the words of wisdom to good use.

  14. Many thanks to Prolixic and other subscribers for the feedback.
    At this stage, the edges are indeed rough so the advice is invaluable. Definitions and grammar need to be given more care.

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