Rookie Corner 002 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 002

A Puzzle by loonapick

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The second in the new Rookie Corner series introduces loonapick.  Once again the puzzle is offered, warts ‘n’ all, exactly as received.  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.

A review by Prolixic follows:

Many thanks to Loonapick for a cracking rookie debut. With crossword like this, he or she will not be on the rookie slopes for long. There were a some excellent clues and the more unusual words were clued fairly. A handful minor points on the use of abbreviations and a couple of other points did not detract from the quality of Loonapick’s first puzzle.  I am probably missing something obvious, but it seems from the on-line version that the answer to 3d may not relate to the clue given.


1 Lounges with a cold drink (6)
{BARSAC} – Another word for lounges (as in a pub) followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for cold.

4 Small guy violently grabbed daughter and streaked (6)
{SMUDGY} – An abbreviation for small followed by an anagram (violently) of GUY containing (grabbed) the abbreviation for daughter. Chambers does not give SM as an abbreviation for small. I cannot find this in my standard crossword references.

8 Approach rabid cat in spasms (7)
{TACTICS} – An anagram (rabid) of CAT inside another word for muscular spasms.

9 15’s service charge at Irish port (or Tangier, alternatively) (7)
{CORKAGE} – the cost for opening a bottle of wine… The name of an Irish port is followed by the even letters (alternatively) of TANGIER. The “or” before Tangier is strictly incorrect as the cryptic grammar requires Wordplay AND Wordplay.

11 After treatment, he must heal old man (10)
{METHUSELAH} – … the oldest man in the Bible.  An anagram (after treatment) of HE MUST HEAL.

12 State in France is very bad… (4)
{DIRE} – Double definition, one part being the French verb to speak or state.

13 …”same again“, said in French to… (5)
{DITTO} – The same French verb conjugated for “said” plus the TO from the clue.

14 …press, covering French prisoner’s headgear (4,4)
{IRON MASK} – Another word for press (as you would clothes) followed by word meaning a covering.

16 Western location – few are broadcast on TV (8)
{SOMERSET} – … part of the West of England.   A homophone (broadcast) of a word for few and the ARE from the clue followed by another word for a TV.

18 Havers, knocking back dregs of alcohol (wine and gin) (5)
{NIGEL} – … the actor Mr Havers.  Take the last letters (dregs) of alcohol and wine and add the GIN from the clue and reverse the whole lot (knocking back).

20 Pass time with rookie (4)
{COLT} – Another word for a mountain pass followed by the abbreviation for time.

21 Praise for former railway pie casing (4,6)
{PUFF PASTRY} – Another word for praise or hype followed by a word meaning former and the abbreviation for railway.

23 Allowed outrageous steps in dance (7)
{GAVOTTE} – A word meaning allowed with a word meaning outrageous inside (steps in).

24 On a bike, son sees Yorkshire (7)
{RIDINGS} – … The three ancient areas comprising the county of Yorkshire.  A word describing what you would be if you were on bike followed by the abbreviation for son.

25 Playing for glory primarily, chasing Scottish individual (6)
{TOYING} – A word meaning for (as in I am heading for / ** followed by a word for an individual in Scotland (Billy Connelly is known as the big ***) and the first letter (primarily) of glory.

26 Alien being fried first fritter (7)
{BEIGNET} – An anagram (fried) of BEING followed by the film world’s cutest alien.


1 Two involved in runners-up competition (5)
{BRACE} – The letter representing runner-up followed by another word for a competition.

2 Tool used by outrageous cheat in right circumstances? (7)
{RATCHET} – An anagram (outrageous) of CHEAT inside (in … circumstances) an abbreviation for right.

3 Tree lines? (9)
{ACCUSTOMS} – When solving on paper, I had ANCESTORS as the answer to this clue as a cryptic definition. Double checking on-line shows my answer was wrong. However, I cannot see how you get the correct answer from the clue. This is probably me rather than the setter but it does appear as if there was a change in the clue or answer without both being changed.

5 Bum (half exposed) at church (5)
{MOOCH} – One half of the word meaning exposed your bottom followed by an abbreviation for church.

6 Ornate domed exterior to UK aristocrat’s home (7)
{DUKEDOM} – … the lands (home) of an UK aristocrat. An anagram (ornate) of DOMED goes around the UK from the clue.

7 Before long, Gary digs out an old tree (9)
{YGGDRASIL} – … a mythical tree linking earth and heaven.   An anagram (out) of GARY DIGS goes before the abbreviation for long. Again, L is not a usual abbreviation for long. It usually represents length.

10 Suitmaker isn’t going into topless joint (9)
{PLAINTIFF} – … one who brings a suit in court. A common way of saying isn’t goes inside a word for a cannabis joint with the first letter removed. As suitmaker is not a recognised word, ideally it should have been suit maker in the clue.

13 Stick used to smell better ? (9)
{DEODORANT} – A mild cryptic definition of something used to stop underarm BO.

15 A tent connoisseur, perhaps (9)
{OENOPHILE} – The name given to someone who is a connoisseur of wine (tent).

17 Work in foyer is no improvement! (7)
{ENTROPY} – A word meaning work – goes this work / ** inside another word for a foyer. I think that the definition “no improvement” is a little far fetched to get to the answer required.

19 Try to cast a Hollywood actor… (7)
{GOSLING} – …first name Ryan.   A word meaning a shot or try at something followed by a word meaning to cast or throw.

21 …and inaugurate a leader (5)
{PUTIN} – Split 3,2 this means inaugurate, together, the answer is a leader of every increasing amounts of territory.

22 Casanova framed great con man (5)
{ROGUE} – Another word for a dissipated man or Casanova around an abbreviation for great. On its own, G is not used as an abbreviation for great – only in compound abbreviations such as Great Britain.




15 comments on “Rookie Corner 002

  1. All done over a looooong lunch, apart from parsing 25a. Several new words to investigoogle but all gettable. Really enjoyable.
    Thanks Loonapick, we are impressed with the quality, roll on the next one.

  2. Thanks to loonapick for a very enjoyable debut. I particularly liked the LOL 5d and the misdirections at 15a and 10d. I hadn’t heard of the Hollywood actor or the fritter but the wordplay on both meant that they were solvable. I had heard of the tree but couldn’t spell it!

  3. That was different but enjoyable nevertheless. Got stuck in the SW corner & had to revert to reveals. Many thanks loonapick.

  4. Thanks to loonapick for the Monday Toughie – well I found it difficult!

    Very enjoyable with a nice bottle of wine!

    Like the 2Kiwis, I’m still trying to parse 25a – but I’m toying with another idea.

    I have some criticisms … but I think that I should wait for the review before revealing my ignorance.

    1. I think that 25a is another word for ‘for’ (as in “I’m heading for Glasgow”) and a Scottish word for one (Billy Connolly was the ‘Big ***’) all preceding G(lory).

  5. 3 down should be ANCESTORS – i set it up last night in Crossword Compiler and must have pressed the wrong button. Will sort it out ASAP.

  6. I found this quite tricky and didn’t finish it by quite a long way but I enjoyed what I could do very much.
    There were several things that I didn’t know and would never have got the answers to.
    I’d never heard of the 19d actor so, having guessed, I googled him – he was apparently killed this morning while filming in Austria.
    I liked 8 and 24a and my favourite was (eventually – it took me ages) 5d.
    With thanks to loonapick and Prolixic.

      1. Oh good – thanks for saying so – why would anyone? I felt really sorry for loonapick (not to mention Ryan Gosling’s family) because it would have been so horrible for him or her to have had the name of an actor who had just died in his or her first crossword.

  7. I was not able to complete the SW corner, partly because I had spelled 13D incorrectly (ent instead of ant) and partly because I had arrived at what turned out to be the right answer for 17D but rejected it as not fitting the clue. There were a couple of other answers I thought were a bit of a stretch for the clue. I’m not a fan of very obscure words like 7D, but others are so I bow to the majority. Some very good clues indeed elsewhere, though. 5D was a smiler and 10D was an outright giggle. I also liked 28A because it brought back great memories of New Orleans and eating these along with wonderful coffee. Thanks to Loonapick for this very good first outing and to Prolixic for the review.

  8. This was a tad difficult! I’ve managed to complete it, however, without hints. I needed the explanation of my answer to 15d. Couldn’t see how ‘tent’ fitted in. Otherwise, all was well.

    This was an entertaining puzzle with some really good clues. Fave was 5d. I also very much liked 12a, 13a, 14a, 21a, and also 23a — one of my last in because to begin with I took ‘outrageous’ as an anagram indicator. Eventually the penny dropped! I also liked the long anagrams 13a and 2d. There’s an interesting range of words in this puzzle. Like Gazza, I hadn’t heard of the Hollywood actor but got it from the word play.

    Many thanks, and very well done, Loonapick! This is an excellent first attempt. I look forward to seeing more of your puzzles.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for an excellent review.

  9. Thanks all for the comments, especially the compliments :)

    I don’t know what happened re the symmetry. I do my puzzles by hand, so it’s an easy (although not forgivable) mistake to make.

    Also thanks to Prolixic for the review. On your specific comments:

    I thought SM was a standard abbreviation, but on checking this it only appears in an American dictionary, so my bad!.
    On CORKAGE, I edited the clue a couple of times, and the OR must have slipped in – the original had AND.
    I was trying to be a bit more subtle on 1d, with “runner up competition being a B-RACE?
    I thought L was quite common for long (certainly when I’m shopping for trousers, I look for 38R, and not 38S or 38L.
    I take your point on SUIT MAKER..
    For ENTROPY, would “is falling apart” be any better?
    “Great” could be changed to good, but surface suffers slightly.

    Again, thanks. I’ll check symmetry and abbreviation in future!!

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