Rookie Corner 005 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 005

A Puzzle by Soup

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The latest in the new Rookie Corner series introduces Soup.  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.

A review by Prolixic:

Soup has set a very high standard for rookies to follow with a highly polished first crossword in which there was much to admire.   The theme of this crossword was given in the title.  I think that the first version was fairer than the second.  As a general rule, if I revisit a clue or instructions and think that I want to make it more complicated, the result is that the clue or instructions become over complicated.  The name of the show is shown with clues in green letters and the six cast members in red letters.  The remaining clues have the definitions in blue (and purple for double definitions).


7 Pioneering animal (6,3)
{GUINEA PIG} – A cryptic definition of an animal used metaphorically as an experimental subject.

8 Half of one that goes either way (5)
{PALIN} – One of the six cast members.  One half of the word that is used to describe a word or phrase that reads the same forwards and backwards.

9 Members of ship’s crew balloted about crank (9)
{SCREWBALL} – The answer is hidden in SHIPS CREW BALLOTED

10 Cash after the drug exchange (5)
{MONTY} – The first word of the show.   A word for cash has the E (drug) replaced by a T (t’ is a Northern contraction).

12 At first, you plunged into affair (6)
{FLYING} – The third word of the show.  The first letter of you goes inside a word meaning an affair.

13 Every German’s bloody parable (8)
{ALLEGORY} – The German for every is followed by a word meaning bloody.

14 Castigate lover- boy discovered harbouring supporter (7)
{UPBRAID} – A three letter word for a supporter worn by women goes inside a five letter name of a Roman God of love with the first letter removed (dis-covered).  A very minor point but dis-covered works better in a down clue where the top letter covers the remaining letter.  In an across clue it could imply removing the first and last letters like removing the cover from a book.

17 Two blokes (7)
{CHAPMAN} – The second cast member.  Two words both meaning a bloke.

20 Round about the end of December, crucial bombardment (8)
{CIRCULAR} – The final letter of December goes inside an anagram (bombardment) of CRUCIAL.  Opinions differ between editors on whether a noun such as bombardment can act as an anagram indicator. 

22 Heard dog attempted coup (6)
{PUTSCH} – If attempted after consuming a bottle of whiskey, this word for a coup might just about, if misheard through a roaring gale, sound like pooch.

24 Jamiroquai’s top singles (5)
{JONES} – The third member of the ensemble.  The first letter of Jamiroquai followed by a word for singles.  Again, top works better in a down clue as the first letter indicator.

25 Flower on table used as playing surface (9)
{DARTBOARD} – The name of a river in Kent followed by another word for a table.

26 Poles in support of contract (5)
{TENSE} – Two poles inside another word for a supporter used in golf.

27 Theatre company see muses depart (9)
{COLOSSEUM} – The abbreviation for company followed by a two letter word meaning look or see and an anagram (de-part) of MUSES.


1 Heard to fasten belt – that’s cheeky? (6)
{BUCCAL} – … a word meaning of the cheek.  The answer is a homophone of buckle (to fasten belt)

2 Soup produced finer or worse (8)
{INFERIOR} – A one letter word for the setter (soup) followed by an anagram (produced) of FINER OR.

3 Blabber or bladder (6)
{GASBAG} – Someone who blabbers a lot may also describe a type of bladder filled with air.

4 Measure one in the morning (7)
{GILLIAM} – The fourth cast member.  A measure of liquid followed by an I (one) and the abbreviation for morning.

5 Crafty snog with a redhead in a skirt (6)
{SARONG} – An anagram (crafty) of SNOG A R (red – head).

6 Plant sprouting as I write (8)
{WISTERIA} – An anagram (sprouting) of AS I WRITE.

11 Black note: boring stuff! (4)
{BLAH} – The abbreviation for black followed by a three letter musical note.

15 On dope, is badly sick (8) –
{POISONED} -An anagram (badly) of ON DOPE IS.

16 Dishonestly lied (4)
{IDLE} – The fifth person in the team is an anagram (dishonestly) of lied.

18 Clue for top dish? (3,5)
{POT ROAST} – An anagram of TOP followed by an word that is an anagram indicator gives a clue that is also a dish.

19 The cause of imprisonment? (7)
{TREASON} – T (the) followed by a word meaning cause.  As the T = The device has already been used, a different indicator should ideally have been used here.

21 Points found following Cornwall’s borders (6)
{CLEESE} – The sixth and final member of the cast.  The first and last letters (borders) of Cornwall followed by a selection of compass points.

22 Love lost in thundering typhoon (6)
{PYTHON} The second word of the show.  An anagram (thundering) of TYPHOON after removing one of the Os (love lost)

23 Found in London, Oxford or Cambridge (6)
{CIRCUS} The fourth and final word of the show.  The name two places in London beginning with either Oxford or Cambridge are followed by this word.

36 comments on “Rookie Corner 005

  1. That was really good fun. Don’t know how we would have managed without having twigged the theme quite early on, but having done so, it all came together smoothly but not quickly. A quality puzzle with lots of clever clues.
    Many thanks Soup.

    1. That comment should have been from 2Kiwis as it was very much a team effort.

  2. Congratulations to Soup on an excellent debut. Getting the theme early on was a considerable help and I think it would have been much more difficult for anyone unfamiliar with the theme.
    Rather than leaving the six members undefined I think it would have been better to have defined each of those clues as ‘appearing in 10, 22’ or similar.
    There are some great clues (passing swiftly over the 22a homophone) and I’ll pick out 9a and 5d as my pick of the bunch.

    1. I accidentally omitted the instructions from the puzzle page – now added. They were in the pdf and the Crossword Solver downloadable versions.

  3. Hi there,
    Special instructions are missing from the web version of this puzzle – ‘A show and its members lack further definition’. (The PDF version contains an earlier version of the special instructions, which defines which clues hold the name of the show, but on reflection I think it makes it a bit easy!)

  4. I’m dead I the water, I’m afraid. I have no idea what the theme could be. Is being an expat a disadvantage?

    1. It depends how long you have been an expat. Forty-five episodes were broadcast on TV between 1969 – 1974 and its worldwide success led to a number of films and, more recently, a stage show.

      1. Got it. Thanks! I left the UK in i969 and have never seen a complete episode although I have, of course, heard of it and seen the odd clip. This explains a couple of the answers I penciled in lightly because they didn’t make sense!

  5. Thanks for the puzzle, Soup.

    *Potential spoilers ahead*

    On my initial clue run through I got nothing until 15d, then 22d fell and I put in the theme name and the members very quickly. After that, I polished off the NE, SW and most of the SE corners but was left with a gaping hole in the NW corner. 7a finally fell with a nice PDM, but I was still staring at the clues for quite a while before, having worked on the grid for about an hour and completed 60%, I turned to solving help.

    I thought there was a lot to like here – many nice surfaces, some clever constructions and a well-worked (though perhaps it gave too many of the answers away to quickly) theme. Saying that, had the 10 theme words not dropped I fancy I would’ve been a little bit flummoxed. There were quite a few clues I couldn’t parse so am looking forward to the write-up – especially regarding the headicator in 14a (which is either genius, or a little bit unfair).

    All in all, good stuff and an enjoyable solve – but there was, IMHO, a learning curve that went from too easy to very hard withoutout there being a medium stage (though that could be because it the first puzzle I have done of yours and I’m not on your wavelength yet.)

    Looking forward to your next one.

    1. Spoiler alert in this reply…
      ‘discovered’ is the key there – or, rather, dis-covered :)

      1. 14a – But doesn’t dis-covered mean taking a letter from both sides?

        (No need for Spoiler Alerts (Mon-Fri) but be careful when visiting this site at the week-end.)

        1. I’d go for ‘topped and tailed’ for that. Given a cover is a lid – ie something that goes over the top – I thought it was fair. ‘Unwrapped’ could be another one to take the top and bottom off, although I’m not sure I’d like it!

  6. Thanks to Soup for a very enjoyable crossword!

    I really struggled until I discovered the theme … then all became clear.

    9a was my last one in and my favourite. Very well hidden … especially in the print-out (as opposed to the on-line version)

    And Now For Something Completely Different – Off to do the washing up!

  7. Thanks all who’ve commented so far – some fair points! I should mention that I submitted this to Dave back in early January, and I’ve been polishing my clue-writing a fair bit since then, so now I would smooth some of the rougher edges (point from Hoskins re clues either being very easy or very hard with no middle ground particularly noted).
    If you want another one from me which is, I will freely admit, really quite hard, have a look at – should be fun. I’ve got a puzzle in April’s issue of 1 Across magazine, as well, which I’ve had reports is an enjoyable solve.
    Dave also said I could post a link to a site I run, with a number of others who contribute to this site: – you can commission a custom crossword from either an amateur or pro setter, for yourself or a friend/family member/mortal enemy… :)

      1. Perhaps not – but Dave defines it above as ‘setters who have not previously had puzzles published in the national press, the MPP series or the NTSPP series’, which is definitely true :)

  8. Themed puzzles are not my cuppa tea, and I would not have twigged this theme and probably would have given up without BD’s most welcome hint, but finally completed the grid having been hung up in the NW corner for ages. Awaiting the review for some parsing clarifications and confirmation (I hope) of a couple I’m not sure about. I have to say that the NW corner turned out to be my favorite part of the puzzle once things fell into place. 9A was terrific, as was 1D. Good job!

    1. Themed puzzles? I don’t really like them … but at least it shows that the compiler has made a big effort in filing the grid before setting the clues.

      I may be wrong but don’t they now usually rely upon some sort of computer software?

      Whichever method they use … many thanks to all compilers!

      Where would we be without them! (Hic!!)

      1. You certainly can give a piece of grid filling software a list of words and say ‘get as many as possible in’ but a) it may not get all you need and b) for me, the point of setting is to have fun, not just press a button. So, while I might use eg Chambers’ app for finding w?rd? that fit, I do the grid by hand… Plus, of course, I can look down the list of suggested words and pick out ones I like the look of.

  9. Well done to Soup. I thought this was very difficult – I enjoyed it very much.
    I would probably not have “found” the theme but for BD’s reply to Expat Chris – that is self-criticism rather than a criticism of the puzzle – I’m very bad at spotting them.
    Once the theme was identified it involved lots of googling – I only know the very well known bits.
    I’m not going to admit what my first answer to 11d was – all I will say is that it began with a ‘B’ and it fitted the first two words of the clue but not the second two.
    I thought there were some really smart clues – 9a (took me for ever to spot it) and 1, 6 and 15d. My favourite was 5d because it made me laugh.
    With thanks and congratulations to Soup and, in advance, to whoever is going to explain a couple of my answers.

  10. Thanks to Prolixic for sorting out a couple of minor problems.
    I don’t want to get too tangled up in where rivers are as I seem to remember that it’s all been done before but isn’t the better known “flower” in 25a in Devon?

    1. Devon was where my mind was at, having had many happy family holidays by it, but there is a well known ford of another flower of the same name in Kent…!

  11. Cheers for the full parse, Prolixic

    There were a few indicators that I wasn’t keen on (depart – bombardment – redhead – sprouting – dishonestly). I got a little confused as to whether 9a’s ‘about’ was padding or used to put the def into the an adjectival part of speech and whether 23d’s def was a kosher verbal def – but, apart from that, all the stuff I couldn’t parse due to my own denseness fell into place nicely and the mechanics of the grid showed me what a good puzzle it was.

    Looking forward to Soup #2 even more now.

    1. 9a ‘about’ a valid criticism and one which, now I know more about how to polish clues, I would try to avoid. 23d is part of the show, and therefore lacks definition, so I’m happy with that one. Glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Well, I missed out on 26A, having lease (as in accommodation contract) for no good reason. I must say, I do like it that Soup is engaging with the solvers.

    1. Hm; I’d used poles twice in the puzzle, too. I’ll do better next time :)
      As for engaging – the reason I set is for fun; if I can find out what people like about my puzzles then I can set puzzles which others enjoy, then they ask for more. Setting a puzzle that nobody wants to do is a bit dull…!

  13. Can’t get the grid on the iPad, but managed to get all the answers on the first read through without looking at it. Good fun. 1*/3*

  14. I also really like that Soup is engaging with the solvers in this dialogue – would be great to see more of this, i find it very instructive as a wannabe setter. I also liked gazza’s comment (2 above) of designing the puzzle so it refers to itself; no need then to declare the theme. And yes, the indicators etc. made this a difficult one. Many thanks soup! I’ll go check out your other puzzles!

    1. Thanks, Dutch! Hopefully Dave will publish another of mine soon; I’ve got one in mind which he might like, and will revisit some of the clues bearing in mind what’s been said here.

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