Rookie Corner 006 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 006

A Puzzle by Hoskins

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The latest in the new Rookie Corner series introduces Hoskins. 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 crypticsue  follows.

I haven’t solved many of the Rookie puzzles to date (too many crosswords, not enough time) but I did enjoy this one –  my favourite clues are 8a and 28a.

I don’t tend to look for the technicalities of the ‘rules’ for  clue writing, but go more for ‘can I solve it?’ ‘do I understand how I got there?’ approach to crossword solving.  It did take a while for me to understand how I had arrived at 10a, 24a and 25a but  I got there in the end.


1a           Police nurse in court following a crash (8)
{ACCIDENT}   A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for court into which are inserted the abbreviated way of referring to detectives (police) and   an abbreviation for a nurse.

5a           Ring English lecturer back on one? (6)
{MOBILE}  This ring is more of a criminal gang which should be followed by the letter that looks like a number one and a reversal (back) of the abbreviations for English and Lecturer.

8a           It may lie about in ambush (3)
{SUBLovely wordplay –   this vessel is hidden and reversed (about) in amBUSh.


9a           Control  eproduction having crossed legs at the outset (10)
{LIMITATION}  The initial letter (at the outset) of Legs followed by another word for reproduction or fake.  Having crossed is not the most obvious way to indicate that the initial letter goes before the reproduction but I suppose it does make for a good surface reading.

10a         20 grand on number 7 in the July Cup! (4,4)
{EARL GREY}   A type of tea (served in a cup)  The solution to 20a followed by the two letters meaning on the subject of (especially in email headings) and the seventh letter in  ‘the July’.

11a         Throw peanuts about when priest leaves (6)
{UNSEAT}  Remove the P (priest leaves) and then rearrange the letters (about being the anagram indicator)  of PEANUTS.

12a         Worried by daughter’s boyfriend? (4)
{DATE}  The abbreviation for daughter followed by part of a verb meaning worried.

14a         Totally smitten with bird in Derby (6,4)
{BOWLED OVER}   Interesting how seeing entirely the wrong bird enables you to solve this clue and then you realise it doesn’t work and there’s another feathered friend in there.    A bird inserted into a type of hat which our American friends would call a Derby.

17a         A stone item used  to build a house or flat (10)
{MAISONETTE}   An anagram (used to build) of A STONE ITEM.

20a         Noble king exiles Liberal to the far east (4)
{EARL}  The famous Shakespearean king has his initial letter, an L (liberal) moved from the west side of his name to the east.

23a         Bishop runs the best services in suspenders (6)
{BRACES}   I once attended a service on a sunny day where you could see that the Rural Dean was wearing shorts under his surplice so who knows what bishops wear under theirs.   The abbreviations for Bishop and Runs (in cricket scores) followed by the best services in a game of tennis.


24a         Woman taken aback after returning phone message (8)
{TELEGRAM}  I can see that an abbreviated woman’s name is reversed (taken aback) but the clue implies that before that you ‘return’ phone.   The BRB confirms that the first three letters are an abbreviation for a telephone number, not a telephone, and they certainly aren’t reversed as ‘returning’ in the clue would imply.  I originally thought that this was a reversal of a three-letter word meaning taken in the sense of rented, eg a flat, but then there is nowhere for the ‘phone’.

25a         Like one guilty of battery without touching? (10)
{CHARGEABLE}    It took me an age to work out the why/how of this clue.    Remove the two letters used to signify about, touching on,  from a type of battery that can be reused if you have the right equipment to get it going again!

26a         Spinster shunning male assistance (3)
{MAID}   remove the abbreviation for male from a young spinster.

27a         Flight   deck? (6)
{STOREY}  Both flight and deck are synonyms of the solution.

28a         Food parcel cracked open by soldiers? (8)
{EGGSHELL}   Delighted to find that I wasn’t the only person who always forgets about this particular type of soldier.



1d           City employer promoting a hydroelectric project? (9)
{AMSTERDAM}  Move the A in an employer to the front of the word and follow with the type of barrier used in a hydroelectric project.


2d           Hipster stashes drug under counter in club (7)
{CABARET}  This type of hipster  is a jazz fan who might be described as ‘cool’ .   Insert into the ‘fan’  a type of counter and the single letter abbreviation for a drug.

3d           Tug sunk in river flood (6)
{DELUGE}   Insert a verb meaning to tug or carry with great effort  into a river beloved of crossword setters  (there is one in Scotland and one in Wales)

4d           Hit single for the Boss? (6,3)
{NUMBER ONE}   A record at the top of the hit parade can also mean the  top person in an organisation.  The clue also hints at a certain Mr Springsteen.

5d           Résumé needs tweaking on receipt of a degree (7)
{MEASURE}   An anagram (needs tweaking) of RESUME plus A (from the clue).

6d           Hellish bit associated with fiery sermon? (9)
{BRIMSTONE}   An anagram (hellish) of BIT plus (associated with)  the letters of  another  anagram (fiery) of SERMON gives something that caused terrible destruction in Biblical times, and was used as an evocation of hell, but as the clue implies can be a preacher’s evocation of eternal damnation.  When I first looked at this one, I just saw it as an &Lit cryptic definition.   It was only when I came to write the review that I saw the anagrams.

7d           What may be misleading about new season’s stock (7)
{LINEAGE}   A misleading statement has inserted into it the abbreviation for New and a verb meaning to season or mature.

13d         Simple church song in which the weary may find comfort (4,5)
{EASY CHAIR}   Another word for simple, the abbreviation for church and another word for a song.

easy chair

15d         Left dance without Jack, he wouldn’t pick up his bill! (9)
{LITTERBUG}   Follow the abbreviation for left with a smart-paced dance from which the initial J (without Jack) should be moved.

16d         Catalogue with pull-out European style guide (4,5)
{ROLE MODEL]   Insert into a catalogue or list, firstly the abbreviation for European, then another word for style or way.

18d         Girl on bed polishing off large fruit (7)
{APRICOT}   A girl’s name without the L at the end (polishing off Large) followed by a type of child’s bed.

19d         Bill’s pink collection of bloomers (7)
{NOSEGAY}   Bill can be another term for a beak or part of the face.   Pink here means of or relating to homosexuality.


1d         A wasted friar close to collapse is the cost of getting high (7)
{AIRFARE}  A (from the clue) followed by an anagram (wasted) of FRIAR and finally the ‘close’ of collapse.

22d         Rector’s orgy that won’t include kiss in the apse?! (6)
{RECESS}   The abbreviation for Rector followed by another word for an orgy without the X (won’t include kiss).

BD sent me Hoskins’ notes but I have so much on that I haven’t had time to look at them apart from a quick glance  (they are possibly the most complicated notes I have ever seen – and I’ve seen quite a few) – judging by all the comments yesterday, I am sure I will hear from him soon ;)

Thanks to Hoskins – hope to see you again soon.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner 006

  1. Quite tricky, especially in the NE corner for me. Did not pick up any significant rule breaking in this one, but perhaps Prolixic will analyse a little more closely than I did. Favourite would be 28a as I tried lots of other soldiers before settling for the right ones and chortling when the penny dropped
    Thanks Hoskins a very commendable first published effort, I thought, which was thoroughly enjoyed.

  2. Congratulations to Hoskins on an enjoyable puzzle. I thought that the surface readings were very good and raised a lot of smiles (especially the bishop taking services wearing suspenders!). My favourite clue was the excellent 14a.

    1. I liked 14a too. Spent quite a lot of time working out the wordplay around the wrong bird. I had spotted the night flying one first, not the one I needed.

      1. Me too – that bit of deception was one of the reasons I liked the clue. I presume that Hoskins had no inside information on goings-on in Derby over the weekend. :D

        1. I can confirm that I had no inside info about any shenanigans that went on in Derby this weekend gone, but, then again, I believe the maxim goes something along the lines of: ‘what happens in Derby stays in Derby.’

        2. And I can assure everyone that if there is a place called ‘Bedover’ anywhere near Derby, Wikipedia has never heard of it. I know, I searched for it long enough.

  3. Thank you both for the kind words – it’s great to hear that there were chortles, smiles and enjoyment as that’s something I’ve been working on. Thanks also for taking the time out to solve and offer comment – much appreciated.


    1. Thanks to Hoskins for an enjoyable puzzle! I agree with gazza – nice surface readings!

      14a also my favourite!

      (Ps Your bear a striking resemblance to Orson Welles!)

      1. Thank you, Stan – I always aim for a nice surface so it’s very rewarding to know I’m hitting the spot there.

        I do look a little like Orson there, don’t I – ‘The Third Man’ is one of my favourite films and I thought that Harry Lime would be rather a good pictorial representation for a crossword setter – though I aim for his mischievousness, rather than his business practices!

        Thank you for solving and responding. Much appreciated.

  4. Impressive debut, Hoskins! I was hung up for a while in the SE corner until 28A became clear. Loved it. I do have a couple of answers where I’m not completely clear on the parsing, so I’m looking forward to the review.

    1. … and the bad news is that we have decided to defer publication of future reviews of NTSPP and Rookie Corner puzzles until the day after publication. Sorry about that. I can send you the notes that Hoskins provided when he submitted the puzzle – just let me know.

    2. Thanks, Big Dave. I don’t mind waiting. You and all of your fellow bloggers and reviewers provide such sterling service that you deserve a bit of a breather, especially on the weekends.

    3. Thanks for the kind words and positive response, Chris.

      There are a few clues that have a tough parse or and unusual indicator – so I’m also looking forward to the review to see what’s made of it. I think that it’s all above board – but we’ll see.

      Thanks again for solving and commenting – and thanks to BD, too, for hosting me on his site.


    4. Expat Chris,

      Which couple of clues are you finding difficult to parse? Are they the same couple that I don’t fully comprehend? (16d & 25a)?

      BD! I presume it is allowed for us mere mortals to help each other out!

        1. It has always been the case that the comments are fair game apart from those on the Prize puzzles. All that I ask is that comments only relate to the relevant puzzle.

          By the way crypticsue has agreed to do the review.

      1. Those are two of mine and the other two are 5 and 9a – just the first letter – why “crossed legs”. It’s entirely possible that I’m just being dim here – it has been known!

      2. Hi Stan,

        for 16d – the containment indicator is ‘with pull-out’ (because the pull-out section is internal to the thing it is in before it’s pulled out – phew!). So the parse runs along the lines of a another word for ‘catalogue’ has an abbreviation for ‘European’ and another word for ‘style’ inside it. ‘Guide’ being the def.

        for 25a – The def is ‘like one guilty’ and the wordplay is a type of battery that has another word for ‘touching’ removed from it. I think the touching synonym may be mostly used in the Times – unless I have that wrong, in which case I offer my apologies.

        Hi Kath,

        for 9a – the def is control. Then another word for reproduction with the positional instruction ‘having crossed’ (having completely gone to the other side of) the initial letter of ‘Legs’ (at the outset indicating the initial letter)

        Hope that helps to clear things up and it’ll be interesting to see if Cryptic Sue sees these as ok devices or a little unfair.

  5. More congratulations to Hoskins – I thought it was brilliant – loved it.
    Like Expat Chris I also have some answers that I can’t explain – more than a couple – more like four. I don’t mind waiting for the review either.
    Lots of these clues made me laugh and I thought the surface readings were good – something that I’m only just beginning to notice.
    Last one in was 28a – I always forget about those soldiers.
    I liked 14 and 28a and 3 and 22d. My favourite was either 23a or 15d.
    With thanks to Hoskins and, in advance, to whoever does the review tomorrow.

    1. Thanks for the for solving Kath – it means a lot to me that it was enjoyable – and you can’t get higher praise than a solver laughing! Hopefully I won’t have let anyone down with the clues that are a hard parse -and thanks in advance to whoever does tomorrows review.

      Cheers again for taking the time out to solve and respond, Kath.

  6. Thanks, BD for your response above. Having transgressed badly yesterday, I didn’t want to make it two in a row!

    I’ve now resolved my minor question on 14A (which, incidentally was not to do with the birds) and I’m embarrassed because I, of all people, should have known this. 5a is bugging me still. I’m sure of the answer but why?

    1. 5a – I’ve only just sorted that one out. I think I’m probably right but who knows?
      The way I’ve explained it to myself is that the first three letters are “ring” in other words to encircle followed by a reversal of the E(nglish) L(ecturer) after the Roman numeral for one.

      1. Hi Chris and Kath,

        For 5a – Kath has the parse correct (though I had criminals in mind for the ‘ring’ synonym) and the def is the whole clue as its the communication device of choice for students.

        I am aware that there was a differing of views when I had the puzzle test solved as to whether the ‘ring’ synonym was kosher, but I came down firmly on the side of yes (with my fingers crossed!)

        Hope that helps

  7. Thanks to Hoskins for a very enjoyable puzzle. Think 14a was my favourite but loads of excellent surfaces and lots of smiles!

    1. Thanks Vigo, can’t beat the smile factor! (BTW, I owe you a more in-depth response for your recent NTSPP – but have been super busy of late so am a bit behind – will send you one in a PM at DIY COW hopefully within a week or so).

      Cheers for commenting. Much appreciated as ever.

    1. Thanks for solving and responding, Una. I like the idea of a fresh take and will aim to be totally fair next time. Whilst surface and fun are important to me – if I’m treating the solver unfairly then I’m not doing my job properly.

      Cheers again for taking the time to solve and comment. Very helpful stuff.

  8. Isn’t this great?: I love the positive interaction between setter and solvers in this forum.

  9. Mega-thanks to Cryptic Sue for the write up and huge apologies to everyone for my blunder on 24a. I re-wrote this clue prior to submission and stupidly didn’t double check everything was working – I hope y’all can forgive me and it didn’t spoil the overall enjoyment too much.

    I also hope that I didn’t go on too much yesterday – having taking part in Soup’s comments last week I noted that people seemed to like a bit of input from the setter and I certainly wanted to thank everyone for all their kind words. Finally, me notes – what can I say – I had hoped for comprehensive rather than confusing, but I shall take note of this for any future submissions I make here and keep them to the bare bones.

    Thanks again to Cryptic Sue for the write-up, to BD for hosting my grid, and everyone who took the time out to solve and offer comment or give the grid a rating. It’s been a great experience here at Rookie Corner and one that has been much appreciated


  10. Thanks for the review CS! Sadly, this “American friend” didn’t know until I checked that derby (or durby, as they say) was the same as bowler.

  11. Many thanks to Hoskins for a polished and enjoyable debut crossword. Thanks also to Crypticsue for stepping up to the plate to blog this. A family bereavement yesterday meant that I was unable to do so.

    1. Very sorry to see your sad news, Prolixic. Our thoughts and sympathies are with you and your family.

    2. Many thanks for the kind words about my puzzle, Prolixic, and sorry to hear about your loss.

  12. Sorry this comment is so late. Thunderstorm directly overhead last night so unplugged internet connection.And everything has been conspiring against getting here today!

    I found this puzzle entertaining, clever, and what a lot of fun it was, too! Fave was 28a. I have a list of others I also enjoyed, like 5a, 8a, 9a, 14a, 23a, 6d (although I confess I missed the anagram and thought it was an all-in-one), 7d, 15d, and 19d.

    I did manage to solve everything, but I needed Crypticsue’s explanations for the second word of my answer to 10a, and also for my answers to 20a and 25a. Otherwise I picked up on the wordplay correctly.

    Appreciative thanks and congrats to Hoskins. An excellent debut, and hope we shall be seeing more of your puzzles.

    Big thanks and appreciation to Crypticsue for the super review.

    1. Hiya Catnap – thanks for taking the time to solve and to comment, too. Glad you had fun with it and thanks for listing the clues you liked – it’s very useful for me to see which ones went down well. Cheers.

  13. Some lovely things in here; took me a while to get into Hoskins’ mind and I found some of it a bit hard. I loved 11, 12, 14a, and 4, 6, 13, 15d particularly.
    A couple of comments on clues: I thought there were a few too many ? and !s; I don’t think eg 12a, 4d, 15d need them. (The way I was taught is that ? means it’s a slightly unusual clue but the wordplay warrants it; ! is to highlight a very unusual construction.) There were some clues I couldn’t get but crypticsue has covered most, and the others are my inability to solve rather than bad clueing!
    Two possible tweaks; 5d I would change ‘needs tweaking’ to ‘updated’, just for a better surface; likewise 19d I would switch round to ‘collection of bloomers makes Bill pink’, again for a slightly better surface.
    Looking forward to seeing your next!

    1. Cheers for solving and commenting, Hamish

      With regard to QMs and EMs – I agree it can be seen as superfluous in 12a (the reason it’s there is because worried/ate is a bit of hot potato synonym-wise – so it was an in-joke in the cryptic). I felt 4d needed it as it’s a sort of DD &lit and so it’s there as a def by example. For 15d I included the EM as the def needs the solver to do a little bit of work for it to be totally valid – so, one has to workout from the wording that the ‘he’ in the story as thrown away his bill in the first place, and then his refusal to pick it up makes him a solid def.

      Thanks for the ideas about reworks – I very much like ‘updated’ as an anagram indicator. Cheers again for solving and responding.

      Much aprreciated

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