Rookie Corner 531 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 531

A Puzzle by Buddy

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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. We 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:

A very quick return for Buddy following his appearance at the beginning of the month.  I don’t know if this indicates that the stock of puzzles from Rookies is starting to run low – if so, any readers who want to submit crosswords are encouraged to do so.

The commentometer for Buddy’s latest crossword has shot up with this one (4.5/30 or 15%).  It is not a reflection on poor clues but more a need to focus on some of the finessing details that separate a good crossword from a great one.  Particular points to focus on are the need to keep clue types varied across the clues so that similar wordplay ideas are not repeated continually across successive clues, avoiding repeating wordplay indicators and thinking about how the wordplay indicators work in the cryptic reading of the clue.


1a  Dog starts to sound cross, barking louder around noon (9)
SCOUNDREL: The initial letters (starts to) of sound cross followed by an anagram (barking) of LOUDER around the abbreviation for noon.

6a  Loose ends in Elf rather irritate audience (4)
FREE: The final letters (ends in) of the final four words of the clue.

8a  Start to campaign against politician engaged in offensive mockery (8)
CONTEMPT: The initial letter (start to) of campaign followed by a two letter word meaning against and the abbreviation for a politician inside a three-letter word for a campaign during the Vietnam war.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Starts was used as an initial letter indicator in 1a.

9a  John, with traces of old putting yips, has a tester (6)
CANOPY: A three-letter word for a toilet (John) followed by the initial letters (traces) of old putting yips.  The first four clues have all involved initial or final letter wordplay.  Try to vary the types of wordplay across the clues.

10a  Excellent finish for champion (6)
DEFEND: A three-letter word meaning excellent followed by a three-letter word meaning end.

11a  Traveling band works so hard without backing (8)
ROADSHOW: An anagram (works) of SO HARD followed by a reversal (backing) of an abbreviation for without.  For the cryptic grammar works would need to follow the letters to be rearranged.  Here, “working so hard” would correct this.  As a crossword for a UK website, the UK English spelling of “travelling” should be used.

12a  Rotten blamed for Anarchy (6)
BEDLAM: An anagram (rotten) of BLAMED.

15a  Approach doctor with distorted view, alas (8)
DRIVEWAY: A two-letter abbreviation for a doctor followed by an anagram (distorted) of VIEW and a two-letter word meaning alas.  Having had four initial / last letter wordplay clues in a row, we now have three consecutive clues containing anagrams.

16a  First sign of TV star with friends in Paris makes big waves (8)
TSUNAMIS: The initial letter (first sign) of TV followed by a three-letter word for the star at the centre of our solar system and the French word for friends.

19a  Enter a seraglio holding rubber (6)
ERASER: The answer is hidden (holding) in the first three words of the clue.

21a  Creation for all to see is never disturbed (8)
UNIVERSE: The film classification for all to see followed by an anagram (disturbed) of IS NEVER.

22a  Work engaged in on behalf of constituent (6)
FACTOR: A three-letter word meaning work inside (engaged in) a three-letter word meaning on behalf of.

24a  Packing almost complete (4,2)
FILL IN: Remove the last letter (almost) from a seven-letter word meaning packing.

25a  Mr. Blue Sky band joins Queen on lively tune’s vocal (8)
ELOQUENT: The band who sang Mr Blue Sky followed by the single-letter abbreviation for queen and an anagram (lively) of TUNE.

26a  Perform Prince song (4)
PLAY: The abbreviation for prince followed by a three-letter word for a song.

27a  He glosses over corruption, a topic primarily concerning North America (9)
ANNOTATOR: A reversal (over) of a three-letter word for corruption, the A from the clue, the first letter (primarily) of topic, a two-letter word meaning concerning and the abbreviation for North America.  As a reversal indicator, I don’t think that over works when it comes before the letters to be reversed as it operates as an imperative verb and you cannot over something in the sense of reversing it.


1d  Twenty shillings and 100 coins from Sweden (5)
SCORE: The abbreviation for shillings, the Roman numeral for 100 and the name for coins in Swedish currency.

2d  Fellow repulsed by chopped meatloaf as a possible breakfast food (7)
OATMEAL: An anagram (chopped) of MEATLOAF after removing (repulsed) the abbreviation for fellow.

3d  Not angry, not tense, but I must be moving on! (5)
NOMAD: A phrase (3,3) meaning not angry without (not) the abbreviation for tense.

4d  Mysterious rite inspired by socialist left (7)
RETIRED: An anagram (mysterious) of RITE inside (inspired by) a three-letter word meaning socialist.

5d  Profitable musical returns after accident shortened run (9)
LUCRATIVE: A reversal (returns) of the musical about the life of Eva Peron after a four-letter word for an accident with the final letter removed (shortened).

6d  Chef in Essex has skill (7)
FINESSE: The answer is hidden (has) in the first three words of the clue.

7d  Spying on a pig, see slops (9)
ESPIONAGE: An anagram (slops) of ON A PIG SEE.  As an intransitive verb (sloshing around), I am comfortable with this as an anagram indicator.

13d  Must German city send back milk from France? (9)
ESSENTIAL: A five-letter name of a German city followed by a reversal (send back) of the French word for milk.

14d  Notes member second in tournament at St. Andrews (9)
MEMORANDA: A three-letter abbreviation for member followed by the second letter in tournament followed by the abbreviation for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

17d  Very enthralled by Christmas, seeing wrapping for trendy gadget (7)
NOVELTY: The abbreviation for very inside (enthralled) by a four-letter word for Christmas followed by the outer letters (wrapping) of trendy.  I am not sure that seeing works as a charade indicator.  The definition for the solution in Chambers gives a “… a manufactured article of unusual or gimmicky design”.  A gadget might reasonably fall within this definition.

18d  Soccer great in Spain occasionally living in a cave (7)
SPELEAN: The four-letter name of a footballing legend inside (in) the odd letters (occasionally) of Spain.

20d  Report: Law catches university involved in fraud (7)
ACCOUNT: A three-letter word for a law passed by parliament includes (catches) the abbreviation for university inside (involved) in a three-letter word for fraud.

22d  Bob keeps nothing in apartment (5)
FLOAT: The letter representing nothing inside a four-letter word for an apartment.  Try to avoid using in repeatedly as an insertion indicator even if “engaged in” and “in”, “involved in” and “keeps…in”.  As Bob is not keeping anything, perhaps put or putting would work better here.

23d  Bearer of bad news perhaps is beheaded (5)
OWNER: A six-letter word for bad news with the first letter removed (beheaded).  To avoid potential upset if a crossword is published just after a terrorist atrocity, it is best to avoid the use of beheaded as a deletion indicator.  It is not a question of being Woke or PC.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner 531
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  1. Certainly a “toughie time” solve for us with lots of clever wordplay to work through. Many ticks on our pages but we’ll go with 8a as our favourite.
    Thanks Buddy.

  2. Thanks Buddy but compared to your recent puzzles this was somewhat of a curate’s egg for me.

    But I did have smiles for 24a, 25a, 1d, 14d, and 20d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Thanks 2kiwis and senf. As I am on a hiking trip with limited cell coverage, I will probably not see any further comments for a day or two, so let me thank everyone in advance for what I’m sure will be incisive yet glowing comments, and to prolixic for Tuesday’s blog.

  4. Welcome back again, Buddy. You are becoming a prolific RC setter, which is good news as your puzzles are always highly entertaining. For me, this one was probably your most challenging yet, but nevertheless it was very enjoyable to solve.

    My repetition radar bleeped with “starts to” and “start to” in close proximity in 1a and 8a. I am not convinced by “slops” in 7d as an anagram indicator, nor by the definition “gadget” in 17d. 18d was a new word for me, but it was very fairly clued.

    A plea from me, which I expect you will find hard to comply with, is to remember when you are compiling a puzzle for submission to this blog, it is aimed at a predominately British audience. In today’s puzzle, I noted a handful of what I consider to be Americanisms. These are generally confirmed by Collins, which is far more aligned to my world-view than Chambers. The latter often keeps its options open with qualifications like esp US. However, the only truly heinous one from my point of view was the “misspelling” of “traveling” in 11a which looks to UK eyes like a typo. [I have to keep my Traveling Wilburys CD well hidden at home. In their defence, they were 60% American!]

    Very well done again and thank you, Buddy, you have become very proficient at this crossword setting lark. Enjoy your hike! Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. RD, 17d. Gadget and the answer are listed as synonyms of each other in both Chambers and Collins online thesauruses.

      1. I am not a believer in thesauri, Jose. I can’t see anything in the either the Chambers or Collins dictionary definitions which suggest equivalence.

  5. I just posted a fairly lengthy comment and got a message saying “duplicate comment detected”. However nothing has appeared. :sad:

  6. I didn’t read the comments before I solved the crosswords, but once I’d reached 9a, I knew RD would have something to say about Americanisms. Several of the great and good of Crosswordland and I discussed this on Saturday, and no-one seemed to have a particular problem with them.

    I also didn’t find the crossword particularly difficult, I still had half a bowl of mini Shredded Wheat left when I’d finished the puzzle.

    Thanks very much to Buddy and, in advance, to Prolixic

  7. An enjoyable puzzle with smooth surfaces throughout – thanks Buddy.
    I thought that nine anagrams was rather on the high side, especially with three appearing in consecutive clues.
    I liked 8a, 22a and 24a.

  8. I do try very hard not to let all the Americanisms bother me when solving one of your puzzles, Buddy, but it does get difficult at times! Having said that, there didn’t seem to be much wrong technically with this compilation and I’m sure the score from the commentometer will reflect that.
    27a &18d were my stumbling blocks and took a long while to work out, particularly the latter for a non-football fan!

    Thanks for bringing us another puzzle, you’re certainly a prolific setter!

  9. A fine puzzle which I enjoyed solving. My favourite clue of a good bunch was the amusing/risque 19a. Just a few observations. I think “slops” (in the surface related to pig) in 7d is OK as an anagram indicator in the sense of spills/upsets – see what P makes of it. There were probably 2 or 3 too many anagrams clues. Nitpickingly, the American spelling of “Traveling” in 11a was a bit unfortunate and I’m not sure the PC/Woke brigade at the DT or most other papers would welcome “beheaded” in 23d – though it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Overall, a great puzzle with very few technical issues – as far as I can see!

    1. Jose, I am as far from being “woke” as one can be, but even I would opt for an alternative to “beheaded” (or “decapitated”) as a first letter deletion indicator nowadays. The relatives of those hostages killed by Islamic State in such a fashion would no doubt take a similar view.

      1. Fair comment. I did say it probably wouldn’t be welcome (or allowed by the editor)) in a national newspaper, mainly for the reason you cite. But it didn’t/wouldn’t offend me as an individual and it’s a shame that those two useful words can’t be used as devices in a cryptic crossword clue.

  10. I enjoyed solving this puzzle. The clues that I liked here were 8a, 16a, 22a, 24a, 1d, 6d, 13d and 18d. However, I observe some repetitions of prepositions with similar functions, such as ‘with’ in 9a, 15a and 16a, ‘for’ in 10a and 12a, ‘in’ in 20d and 22d as also ‘engaged in’ in 8a and 22a. But overall it was a superb puzzle with a lot of entertainment. Thank you so much, Buddy and thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. I found that quite tricky. It took a long time to get on the right wavelength, but it came together fairly smoothly once I did. I still haven’t quite parsed 20d, but aside from that it was very nice – favourites being 11a and 5d.

      Thanks to Buddy and Prolixic in advance.

      1. Not sure why this has appeared as a reply, it wasn’t intended as such. (Fat fingers on a small iPad screen probably…)

  11. Great puzzle, one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Initial thoughts were that it was going to be tough, but suddenly it all started to flow. I forgot that Buddy was American, so put traveling in 11a down to a typo. being well used to The Times crossword 9a did not bother me in the least. OK, too many anagrams for my tastes, but given they included the sublime rubber in a seraglio and porcine spies, I’m not going to complain today. Likewise the repetitive use of starting letters in the first few clues, excused for me by the excellent 8a. The surfaces were generally great, and the puzzle witty and amusing.

    COTD for me the outstanding Fnar Fnar of 19a, joined on the honors board (just for Buddy; honours for the rest of us) by 8a, 12a, 3d, 7d, 13s and 23d (such things in crosswords really don’t bother me at all as long as they don’t coincide with a headline story).

    Many thanks indeed Buddy, and in advance also to Prolixic

  12. Welcome back, Buddy.

    Whilst this was another excellent puzzle in many ways, I found that I didn’t enjoy solving it as much as your previous submissions. Perhaps it was the repetitions, already mentioned above, perhaps it was the large number of anagrams, perhaps it was something else – I’m not quite sure. “Slops” doesn’t really work for me either as an anagram indicator, and I think “keeps” in 22d would be better as “put”.

    Thank you very much, Buddy.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, always fascinating to get your experienced ‘take’ on clues in Rookie puzzles.

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