Rookie Corner 480 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 480

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.

Since last summer the wait time for publication of Rookie Corner puzzles has been at least a few months, which might be discouraging for new setters trying to hone their setting skills in response to the feedback provided here. The queue is now significantly shorter, and so we encourage new or existing rookie compilers who wish to take advantage of this opportunity for faster publication to send their puzzles to

A review by Prolixic follows:

Time did not permit me to prepare a detailed analysis of Caradoc’s first crossword, but the consensus is that this one was an improvement.  There were a few blips along the way but the commentometer is a respectable 2/26 or 7.7%.


4a  Some façades I argue in retrospect must get built (6)
RAISED: The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (in retrospect) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

6a  Brief support reversed amid affair (8)
FLEETING: A three-letter golfer’s support is reversed inside (amid) a five-letter word for a romantic affair.

9a  Can’t stand date – film is in French (6)
DETEST: The abbreviation for date followed by the two-letter name of a film about an extraterrestrial and the French word for “is”.

10a  Counter-agent revealed by soldier to die gruesomely (8)
ANTIDOTE: A three-letter word for a soldier insect followed by an anagram (gruesomely) of TO DIE.

11a  Glowing review of client’s menu (11)
LUMINESCENT: A anagram (review) of CLIENTS MENU.

15a  Withdrawal eventually returns, consuming one with restlessness, firstly (7)
RETIRAL: A five-letter word meaning eventually or further on in time is reversed (return) including (consuming) the letter representing one and the first letter of restlessness.

17a  Solution following objection’s unclear (7)
OBSCURE: A four-letter word for a solution or remedy after (following) a three-letter abbreviation for objection.

18a  Second in puzzle society contests (5,6)
CROSS SWORDS: The abbreviation for second inside a nine-letter word for the type of puzzle you are solving followed by the abbreviation for society.  I think that the definition needs to be in the singular to match the solution.

22a  Used up key to draw in page with a little dash (8)
DEPLETED: A six-letter name of a key on a computer keyboard includes (to draw in) the abbreviation for page all followed by the first letter (a little) of dash.

23a  Recover oxygen on distant body (4,2)
COME TO: A five-letter word for a distant astronomical body that often has a tail when close to the sun followed by the chemical symbol for oxygen.

24a  Stories of a matter occupying civil service (8)
ACCOUNTS: The A from the clue followed by a five-letter word meaning matter inside the abbreviation for civil service.

25a  Troubled senator taking 5th conceals motive (6)
REASON: An anagram (troubled) of SENATOR after removing the fifth letter.


1d  A boy’s soul (6)
PERSON: A three-letter word meaning a followed by a three-letter word for a boy.

2d  Abusive Hawaii inhabitants, perhaps, originally out touring Oahu on vacation (10)
SLANDEROUS: A nine-letter word for people who live on a landmass surrounded by sea (Hawaii inhabitants, perhaps) with the first letter removed (originally out) around (touring) the outer letters (on vacation) of Oahu.

3d  English international team’s director furious with referees (8)
MEDIATES: An anagram (furious) of E (English) I (International) TEAMS D (Director).  Whilst technically correct, I would avoid using too many abbreviations to build up the letters to be rearranged in the anagram.  For furious to be used as an adjectival anagram indicator, it would need to come before the letters to be rearranged.

4d  Leader made right signal (3,5)
RED ALERT: An anagram (made) of LEADER followed by the two-letter abbreviation for right.

5d  Friendly hint (8)
INTIMATE: Double definition.

7d  Serve up seaweed as supplement to support blood health (4)
IRON: A reversal (served up) of a type of Japanese seaweed.

8d  Gambia’s principal river and banks of estuary are murky (4)
GREY: The first letter (principal) of Gambia followed by the abbreviation for river and the outer letters (banks) of estuary.  The cryptic grammar in the clue of wordplay are definition does not work.  I am not convinced that grammatically, you can say that A and B are C.

12d  Shape of damaged hotel suite (10)
SILHOUETTE: An anagram (damaged) of HOTEL SUITE.

13d  Grace and favour residence? (8)
QUARTERS: Double definition.

14d  Commits to writing and becomes melancholy (4,4)
GETS DOWN: Double definition.

16d  Arrived in Cork prepared by education at university (6,2)
ROCKED UP: An anagram (prepared) of CORK followed by the two-letter abbreviation for education and a two-letter word meaning at university.

19d  Unnatural forest outside of Edmonton (6)
WOODEN: A four-letter word for a forest followed by the outer letters (outside) of Edmonton.

20d  Vision of attack Everton demand: it starts from the back (4)
IDEA: The initial letters (starts) of the third to sixth words of the clue reversed (from the back).

21d  Large-scale electronic image (4)
EPIC: The letter representing electronic followed by a three-letter word for an image.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner 480

  1. A well put together puzzle that was fun to solve. Not sure of the parsing for 3d but everything else sorted.
    Thanks Caradoc.

    1. Hi 2Kiwis. Many thanks for the kind comment. I think 3D is a fair clue but I will wait for Prolixic’s response before giving anything away.

      1. C. Can’t see a problem with 3d, seems pretty straightforward to me. But, of course, that could mean I’ve parsed it wronly or missed something.

  2. Thanks Caradoc, a great improvement over your first Rookie. Like the 2Kiwis, I will have to wait for Prolixic’s review to fully understand 3d.

    Smiles for 10a, 23a, 5d, and 21d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. 2Kiwis and Senf, I don’t want to give too much away but I think 3d is a fairly straightforward clue of the most popular type, albeit including initialisms.
    I enjoyed this a lot, 25a being a particularly fine clue/surface. I liked the neat simplicity of 1d too. Nice one, Caradoc.
    (There’s a solution here that I used in a puzzle I set in March using exactly the same anagram fodder. If it does turn up here some time, don’t sue me!)

    1. Hi Twmbarlwm, thanks for the positive response.

      I’m curious about the solution/anagram you used, where can I find it? (I won’t share the details with my lawyer)

      1. I set it in March but it’s as yet unpublished – it might be reviewed here in future. I won’t pinpoint it here for spoilers, but it has the same hard-to-resist two-word fodder and the same definition – just a different anagrind. You can probably work it out from that!

        1. Speaking of your unpublished puzzles, I’m still hanging on to one of your NTSPP compilations that erroneously appeared some time ago only to be replaced by another prior to publication. You’ll doubtless know which one it was if I mention the cuckoo in Middle Wallop!
          Hope that one gets to see the light of day at some stage.

          1. Yes, I have that one, but can’t remember the circumstances behind it disappearing. Do you see NTSPPs for test solving before they appear? I think I once withdrew one after submitting it, probably to change a clue or too – perhaps it was that one.

            1. I think most setters have their own test-solvers but occasionally the puzzles have appeared slightly early in the archives giving the opportunity for eagle-eyed solvers to make an early start on them. Obviously, you then run the risk of the puzzle being swapped for another one prior to publication but that’s the chance you take if you ‘jump the gun’!

              1. Okay, thanks. I didn’t realise anyone had access to puzzles before they went live, so I wondered if eg Mr K had sent it to you first (perhaps to check for a rude Nina!).
                I’ll have to look at it again and give it a dusting down. I do have another NTSPP in the queue in the meantime.
                Apologies to Caradoc for the thread digression – and to everyone for typing ‘too’ instead of ‘two’ up there ^^. :oops:

  4. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Caradoc. I thought this was a very accomplished crossword, and I really enjoyed the solve.

    A couple of surfaces didn’t quite cut the mustard for me. This is only a minor point and, in this respect, this puzzle was markedly improved over your debut offering.

    Also very minor, but 14a could perhaps be made a little neater by substituting “writes” for “commits to writing”.

    I had a lot of ticks with my podium selection being 18a, 1d & 5d.

    Very well done and thank you, Caradoc. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hello RabbitDave, thanks for taking the time to solve and respond.

      I think I can guess what surfaces are not cutting the mustard. Thanks also for the tip about 14A.

  5. A nice accompaniment to breakfast. Thank you Caradoc and, in advance, to Prolixic

  6. An enjoyable puzzle – many thanks to Caradoc.
    I have a niggle with 18a where, since the answer is a verbal phrase, I thought the final word of the clue should be contest rather than contests.
    I ticked 24a, 1d and 5d but my favourite clue was the excellent 13d.

    1. Oh yes, you are right about 18d, Gazza. I missed that and so, reluctantly I must remove it from my podium and replace it with 24a.

    2. Hi Gazza, point taken about 18a. Your objection is clear.

      Otherwise, I’m pleased you enjoyed the puzzle and thanks for offering your feedback.

  7. Quite a lot to enjoy in this one, Caradoc, and I was pleased to see that you just about managed to avoid straying into ‘War and Peace’ territory this time! Like Gazza, I couldn’t justify ‘contests’ as the final word of 18a and there were a couple of rather dubious surface reads but overall this was a much improved second puzzle.
    Top three for me were 6&23a plus 19d.

    Many thanks and hope you continue to add refinements with further practice.

    1. Hello Jane,

      Thanks again for the constructive criticism, and I’m pleased you can see some improvements.

  8. Welcome back, Caradoc.

    A distinct improvement on your previous submission, as others have said, so congratulations on that.

    Like Gazza and Jane, 18a doesn’t work for me and the cryptic grammar is faulty in 8d, as it is “wordplay are definition”. Using something like “getting” as the link word would overcome this issue. Otherwise, there was very little to criticise and much to commend, the two long anagrams in 11a and 12d were particularly good spots. 24a and 1d were the clues that appealed to me the most.

    Well done on the progress shown and thank you for an enjoyable puzzle to solve.

    1. Hi silvanus,

      That’s a very subtle point in 8D which I hadn’t considered. but I understand it now.

      Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback and I’m pleased you enjoyed the puzzle.

      1. It is a subtle point and one to watch out for generally, but in this case (whilst acknowledging “getting” would probably be better/safer) I think the “are” can perhaps be justified: “Gambia’s principal”, “river” and the “banks of estuary” “are” (collectively, put together to give) the solution? Will be interested in Prolixic’s take – thanks in advance, and thanks for a nice puzzle Caradoc.

        1. Interesting take, Fez. I’ll wait for further feedback.

          Glad you enjoyed the puzzle.

        2. Would ‘are’ in that sense not suggest that individually both A and B are C Fez? It seems to me that A added to B is C is what is required here.

  9. Enjoyed the solve Carodoc. I don’t recall your first submission so can’t comment but congratulations that those that do all reckon this one a distinct improvement. I too particularly liked 11a&12d as well as 6a& 16d. Add me to those struggling to parse 3d.
    Look forward to your next one.

    1. Hi Huntsman, thanks for the response and I’m happy you enjoyed the puzzle. I won’t say any more about 3D until Prolixic provides his feedback.

  10. Very good puzzle, Caradoc, an enjoyable lunchtime solve. Some very inventive clueing and while there were a couple of odd surfaces, most were a-ok and I particularly enjoyed 20d – their season would have been so much easier had they had any vision at all!

    For me 6a, 10a, 2d & 16d stood out for various reasons; it took me a moment to parse 3d, where I paused at the anagram indicator, but I thought it a very fair clue.

    Thank you for this lovely puzzle, and I anticipate your next offering – presuming there will be one! – keenly. Thanks in advance also to Prolixic.

    1. Hi Mustafa G, thanks for commenting. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback to this puzzle so I’ll be sure to keep trying.

  11. Thank you, Caradoc. We struggled with a couple but enjoyed your puzzle. Favourites were 6a, 23a and 25a. Will check in with Prolixic tomorrow. We look forward to your next one.

    1. Hello Hilton, sorry to hear you struggled with parts of the puzzle but I’m otherwise happy you enjoyed it.

  12. Hi Caradoc, I have not seen your previous offering, so I can only judge on what I see here, which was for the most part excellent, with 6a, 23a and 5d making my podium There were some minor quibbles that others have pointed out already – in 3d I feel the problem is both the link word, which doesn’t quite work for me, and the anagrind which IMO lacks an -ly. But overall you clued things well and can be pleased with the outcome! Well done.

    1. Hi Dr Diva,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond, I’m pleased your experience with the puzzle was positive. You’re the first to suggest an issue with the anagrind for 3D (which I hadn’t imagined to be the most divisive clue in this puzzle). I’ll be interested to know the view of Prolixic.

      1. Certainly not divisive, Caradoc, just slightly off grammatically (in the cryptic sense – the surface is excellent) as Prolixic suggests. The instruction was still clear but if you have, say, “odd bread” the odd has the sense of unexpected/different etc. If you have “bread oddly” it has the sense of in an unexpected/different way. Both options work. But “bread odd” just doesn’t, even though you could still say the instruction is clear. So in your clue you could have ” Furious English international team’s director referees” (not as good a surface, but grammatically OK) or “English international team’s director reacts badly to referees” (to being a better link word as it gives WP (leads) to Def instead of WP with Def, which you have. It is just a minor point and I don’t know if that helps at all. As you say, a learning experience and the puzzle was still really good overall!!

  13. Many thanks for the solve, Prolixic. After having read the comments there seems to be some agreement with you about the issues with the cryptic grammar in a couple of places, but this has been excellent learning experience.

  14. Hi Caradoc,
    A strong puzzle, I thought. My order of solving and thoughts are attached below.
    1a. OK. There may be a better alternative to ‘must’ in the linkphrase
    10a good
    25a good. I’ll be interested to know how many anagrams or part-anagrams are in this puzzle. part*
    8d good
    2d good
    4d ok. Perhaps there’s a better choice than ‘made’. It’s fine, though. another *
    16d ok. another part*
    20d good
    21d good
    6a ok. Some more pedantic editors might want ‘amid’ to mean ‘at the exact centre of’. ‘During’ or similar would fix this
    9a ok
    11a good. another*
    17a Simpler cryptics might baulk at ob for objection: it’s fine by me!
    22a I like how this will draw some solvers into trying to fit in ‘em’ or ‘en’ for ‘a little dash’
    23a One of the very few where the surface doesn’t quite work for me. ‘Distant body’ for COMET isn’t wholly accurate, too.
    24a good
    1d good
    3d I don’t recommend ‘with’ as a linkword – I don’t believe the grammar works
    5d good
    7d does ‘as’ work as a linkword? Not sure. I’ll be very interested to see Prolixic’s view. I guess it can, with its meaning: ‘In the manner of’?
    12d good. another*
    14d I think this can only be GETS …
    18a very good. an old favourite but well written
    19d good
    13d Last One In. very clever – it took a while to spot the dual synonyms of QUARTER (grace; favour). I’m wondering if the ‘residence’ meaning and the above come from the same source? Unclear from Chambers.

    General comments:
    – very good surfaces
    – accuracy of wordplay is sound
    – almost certainly too many *s or part *s!! eg the Times will normally have 4-6 in total

    1. Hello Encota,

      Thanks for the detailed breakdown, it’s greatly appreciated! I’ll be sure to take your comments on board.

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the points you raised about 3&8d – neither of which actually caused me any problem when solving the puzzle.

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