Rookie Corner 534 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 534

A Puzzle by Gegs94

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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:

Welcome to Gegs64.  This was a creditable first crossword but, as might be expected, with a Rookie debut, there were a number of technical issues with some of the clues that need to be addressed in his or her future crosswords.  However, despite the technical issues, there was a good variety of clues.  Whilst, I don’t comment on surface readings as polished surface readings come with practice, you do need to make sure that the surface reading makes sense.  For example, in 9a, what is a “rambling rose plan”?  The commentometer reads as 5.5/27 or 20.4%.


4a  About six, rests and goes again (8)
REVISITS: A two-letter word meaning about followed by the Roman numerals for six and a four-letter word meaning rests.

8a  Urban Anaconda swallows jungle fruit? (6)
BANANA: The answer is hidden (swallows) in the first two words of the clue.

9a  Rambling rose plan unique to you? (8)
PERSONAL: An anagram (rambling) of ROSE PLAN.

10a  Softly, Ivor turned back socialist breadwinner (8)
PROVIDER: The abbreviation for piano (softly) followed by a reversal (turned back) of IVOR  from the clue and a three-letter word for a socialist.

11a  At first, open door directly into the yard. Strange thing! (6)
ODDITY: The initial letters (at first) of the third to eighth words of the clue.

12a  Milk supplier loses in farm’s autumn and winter quarters?
COWSHEDS: A three-letter word for a milk supplier followed by a five-letter word meaning loses.

13a  Jacob’s miserly partner perhaps, man taken in by headless bloke (8)
EBENEZER: A three-letter man’s name inside (taken in by) a seven-letter word for a bloke without the initial letter (headless).

16a  German drink gathering strange reef bits (8)
BIERFEST: An anagram (strange) of REEF BITS.

19a  Armstrong perhaps, no saint but echo of balloon pilot (8)
AERONAUT: Remove (no) the abbreviation for saint from the description of Neil Armstrong and replace with the letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet represented by echo.  You can have definition of wordplay but you cannot use wordplay of definition as the structure of the clue.

21a  One who secretly makes off, leaves clue in envelope, ready to be found (6)
ELOPER: The answer is hidden (to be found) in the ninth and tenth words of the clue.  There are too many padding words in this clue.  I don’t think that leaves clue works as a hidden word indicator so should have been omitted and the clue reworded.

23a  Show to the audience a free spirited Princess? (8)
INDICATE: A homophone (to the audience) of INDY (free spirited) KATE (princess).

24a  Van Droop, Double Dutch, Russian Leader (8)
ANDROPOV: An anagram (Double Dutch) of VAN DROOP.  As a noun, I don’t think that this works as an anagram indicator.

25a  Awayday – start of directions missing (6)
OUTING: Remove the initial letter (start of) from a seven letter word meaning directions.  I have a couple of issues with this clue.  The word required in the wordplay is given in all dictionaries as a verb not a noun.  You cannot use a noun to define a verb.  Also, “start of directions missing” on its own does not tell you to take a word for directions and remove the first letter when reading the clue cryptically. 

26a  A tango in things we hear, leading to shocks (8)
ASTOUNDS: The A from the clue followed by the letter represented by Tango in the NATO phonetic alphabet inside a six-letter word for things we hear.


1d  Hit space bar (7)
TAPROOM: A three-letter word meaning lightly hit followed by a four-letter word for space.

2d  Evans Cars transported opinion seeker (9)
CANVASSER: An anagram (transported) of CANVASSER.

3d  Composer on-air has radio name? (6)
HANDLE: A homophone (on-air) of Handel (composer).

4d  House members wary with no time at first, overwhelmed by put down (15)
REPRESENTATIVES: Remove (no) the T (time) from a 9 letter word meaning wary and put a seven-letter word meaning put down around the remaining letters (overwhelmed by).  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  No to indicate the removal of a letter has already been used in 19a.

5d  Forbidden at 16? (8)
VERBOTEN: The German word (at 16) for forbidden.  Effectively, this resolves as a straight definition clue, not a cryptic clue.

6d  French beach, small row over delta (5)
SWORD: The abbreviation for small followed by s reversal (over) of the ROW from the clue and the letter represented by Delta in the NATO phonetic alphabet.  Where possible, don’t simply take a word from the clue and include it in the solution.  Also, whilst you can use words from the NATO phonetic alphabet to indicate a letter, this is the third use of the device so it becomes repetitive.

7d  Hot sandwich cut up, so eat it! (7)
TOASTIE: An anagram (cut up) of SO EAT IT.

14d  A shared background in the busy metropolis (9)
ETHNICITY: An anagram (busy) of IN THE followed by a four-letter word meaning metropolis.

15d  Gangster rap included name of watery reptile (8)
TERRAPIN: The answer is hidden in the first three words of the clue.  There is no hidden word indicator.  As “included” is one of the words that contributes to the solution, it cannot be used as the containment indicator.

17d  Trendy kitchen features water surrounds (7)
ISLANDS: Double definition.  The word features is doing double duty in both parts of the double definition (trendy kitchen features / features waters surrounds).  Avoid doing this.

18d  Muslim leader with a Christmas Pudding ingredient (7)
SULTANA: A six-letter word for a Muslim leader followed by the A from the clue.

20d  Greek Goddess goes after Pole, American shows (6)
RODEOS: The three-letter name of a Greek goddess after a three-letter word for a pole.

22d  Iberian city left nothing (5)
PORTO: A four-letter word meaning left followed by the letter representing nothing.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner 534
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  1. Competently put together set of clues that all went together relatively smoothly although we have not yet sussed the wordplay for 25a.
    We’ll go with 1d for favourite.
    Thanks Gegs94.

  2. Thanks Gegs94. As the 2Kiwis have already said competently put together which suggests to me that this is not your first example of 20d.

    I can’t quite fathom what ‘trendy’ is doing in 17d.

    Smiles for 10a, 25a, 1d, and 20d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Gegs94. I thought this was a very promising debut which was fun to solve with 1d my favourite. Subject to Prolixic’s scrutiny, your basics are in generally good order and your next step should be polishing up some of your surface readings.

    I am not keen on “Double Dutch” as an anagram indicator in 24a.

    While technically not wrong, you have included a couple of my personal bugbears: the vague man’s name in the wordplay for 13a (the answer being a name is fine as it is constructed from the wordplay); and what I suspect is an American term for directions in 25a.

    In 12a, the milk supplier and the answer are rather “same-sidey”, but this too is technically not wrong.

    Many thanks, Gegs94. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner Gegs94

    A very good crossword which I suspect is far from your first. Like others I don’t understand 25a but apart from that I have no other queries

    Thanks to you and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Welcome to Rookie Corner Gegs94 and thanks for an impressive first puzzle.
    I thought that there were perhaps one too many ‘hidden’ clues and although I can see all the ingredients in 10a I can’t get them in the right order.
    Ticks from me for 16a, 1d and 5d.

  6. Thanks Gregs94, really enjoyed completing your puzzle. We thought the direction ‘right’ was missing from 25a? Favourites were 16a and 5d. Hope we have more from you. Thanks also to Prolixic.

  7. Welcome to the Corner, Gegs. Like others, I would doubt that this is your first foray into setting, it was competently and confidently put together. My favourite bugbear applies – please watch out for those surface reads, they do make all the difference where solver enjoyment is concerned. Top marks here went to 1d.
    Thank you for the puzzle, hope you’ll be back very soon.

  8. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Gegs94. Is your name a hint to your preferred breakfast, perhaps?

    A lot of promise here but I did find several of the surface readings to be unconvincing and I thought it disappointing to see “rests” in 4a and “row” in 6d lifted straight from the clue into the solution when plenty of synonyms were available to use instead. It was a nice try to attempt to conceal the obvious surface padding in 21a, but it’s still padding unfortunately! I’m not sure that 5d is sufficiently cryptic and 19a is “wordplay of definition” which runs counter to convention. My favourite clue was 1d.

    For a debut puzzle this was not bad at all, but there is certainly scope to improve, especially with making the surfaces smoother. Many thanks, Gegs94.

    1. I think 4a is supposed to be working like about=RE, six=VI, rests=SITS. If you take it as RESTS about VI, there’s still another I unaccounted for.

  9. Thanks for the puzzle Gegs, very enjoyable. Favourites are 19a, 26a and 1d.

    In 15d, I think “included” is doing double duty – both as the hidden indicator and part of the hidden word itself. I’m not sure if this is technically correct or not.

    21a is the opposite – you have both “leaves clue in” and “to be found” acting as hidden indicators. I’m not sure if this is technically wrong, but it does make the clue quite verbose.

    Thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    1. Yes, the “included” in 15d is doing double duty, there is no containment indicator (as there should be).

      As I mentioned earlier, I’m sure that the verbosity in 21a is in an attempt to make a meaningful sentence, but there is more padding in the clue than for a bone china tea set obtained by mail order!

  10. I took to this puzzle right from the start and found it provided plenty of enjoyment throughout. Thank you, Gegs94, for a very accomplished BigDave debut. Yes, some surfaces need attention, likewise the cryptic “grammar”, however the few clues I had marked have all been commented on already. Only thing I would add is re 21a (padding aside!) where I felt that as it is the answer that is lurking, it should not be the “clue” left in the envelope.

    Personally I have no issue with the source word for 25a – the BRB may say “Esp N Am” but it is in very regular use here and has been for decades; and I know it’s RD’s other main bugbear but the ‘random’ name in 13a (one of my favourites in the grid) was fine by me. I thought you judged the GK requirement very well, and I appreciated the variety of clue types although for me (my bugbear this time) you had one or two anagrams too many.

    Other highlights were 1d, 17d & 16a.

    Thank you once again, and also in advance to Prolixic

  11. Enjoyed this one. Enough ‘easy’ clues to make a good start, but also some that were more challenging. The clues were mostly well put together, though I’d second the points made by Rabbit Dave in post #3.

    The biggest issue for me is probably the choice of words in the grid. Unless this contains a Nina I’ve missed, a few of the choices feel as though they were the last remaining option which fitted the space and the resulting clues look a bit stretched. I’m thinking here – 13a, 19a, 24a. Similarly, the surface reading for 16a feels a bit weak, which makes me wonder whether it was included to allow 5d to be clued.

    Maybe if you’d scrubbed 3 or 4 of the words, found an alternative for 4d and then chosen other words in the resulting gaps you would have ended up with a better overall puzzle. After all – you can always save a clue for another day – especially if it feels a bit off. It’s subjective though – there are probably several people who liked the clues I didn’t.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, some very interesting observations for Gegs to get his head around!

  13. Thanks so much for all your comments. I am very pleased that a lot of you enjoyed my first attempt at a cryptic, and I will certainly be aware of a number of the issues noted when I start the next one. If I have learnt anything from this, it’s that crosswords which make it into The Telegraph are always very well constructed, with much more thought and skill going into the clueing than I probably managed with this grid.

    Thanks very much to Prolixic for the detailed comments and to all who commented and gave suggestions, which are all fair and very helpful.

    25a seems to be the clue which was the least pleasing: it is simply an alternative name for an awayday, and the ‘r’ of routing removed. I agree it wasn’t a great clue but I’m not sure I understand Prolixic’s criticism of using a noun to define a verb, as I thought all sorts of puns and wordplay were allowed. I also think that 5d may be against convention as Silvanus says (I’m a little bit starstruck that Silvanus has commented on my puzzle!) but I’m not sure the answer being the German version of ‘forbidden’ is so obvious that it is not cryptic, so I’m going to very respectfully push back on both of those clues!

    I know I was also pushing things a bit with one of the lurkers including the containment indicator in the answer, but I am sure I have seen this in ‘proper’ crosswords and to me it makes the lurker better! In 21a ‘leaves clue in’ was the containment indicator and I think I was so pleased with myself I didn’t notice that the other end of the sentence was just padding. Lesson learnt.

    Conference Match makes a very good point about putting more effort into getting the best words in the grid before starting on the clueing – I think as it was my first attempt I was just pleased I’d got a grid to work and didn’t do the tidying up and look for alternative words at that point. 16d wasn’t put in because of the answer at 5d, or vice versa, it was just serendipity, which I found to be the most enjoyable aspect of clueing – seeing the appropriate anagram of Toastie, or finding a three word clue with a credible surface (1d) being other examples which I found really satisfying. So satisfying that I will be back for more, if you’ll have me. Many thanks again for all the comments.

    1. Just in case you hadn’t considered it, some software will fill the grid for you (completely or from a partially filled start) as well as list the alternatives which fit existing letters if you don’t like the original suggestions. I am no expert on the subject, but if you can find something you like to use, you should be able to populate a gird with words easily and focus on the clues.

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