Rookie Corner 008 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 008

Outside Interest … by Hasslethymi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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

Review by Gazza

Welcome to Hasslethymi for whom I predict a bright future in cruciverbalism because I thought this one was very enjoyable and fairly tough. I twigged what the title meant when I was about 75% through the solving process and that helped me to finish it – if you haven’t worked out what it’s all about I’ll explain at the bottom. It’s very creditable to work within those constraints and devise a grid with only a couple of uncommon words.
I do have a few (positive, I hope) criticisms – one fairly minor one is that some of the clues (e.g. 30a and 1d) don’t have terribly good surface readings.

Across Clues

8a Encourage physician’s outward rejection of son (4)
{URGE} – remove the word SON from a physician often found in the theatre.

9a Abstract artist opening acclaimed ballet (10)
{ACADEMICAL} – the opening letter of A(rtist) followed by an anagram (ballet) of ACCLAIMED. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ballet used as an anagram indicator but if dance is ok then I suppose that ballet is as well.

10a Waders ran away from violent Siberians (6)
{IBISES} – remove the letters of the word RAN from SIBE(r)I(an)S and make an anagram (violent) of what remains.

11a Subversive hit bears out (8)
{SABOTEUR} – cunning clue because my initial thought was that it was an anagram of ‘hit bears’ It’s actually an anagram (hit) of BEARS OUT.

12a Festival held in Donegal area (4)
{GALA} – hidden word.

13a Long for a French coiffure (5)
{UNCUT} – long as in the uncensored or unabridged version of a film, for example. A French indefinite article followed by a hairstyle.

16a Razzmatazz tiresomeness holds back glamour (4)
{RITZ} – hidden (holds) and reversed (back) in the clue. Since ‘held’ was used as a containment indicator in 12a it may have been better to use a different verb this time.

18a Sun follows it every week (3)
{SAT} – … followed by MON and TUE.

19a Pluck forth ruminant’s stomach (5)
{THRUM} – hidden inside (stomach) the clue.

20a Initially fair and reasonably distant (3)
{FAR} – the initial letters of three words in the clue.

21a Blanch if you go beyond it? (4)
{PALE} – ‘beyond the ****’ is a phrase meaning unacceptable and as a verb it means to turn white.

23a Monarch’s 25 relative swapping left for right (5)
{ROYAL} – start with a synonym (relative) of the answer to 25a and swap the first L for a R. If, as here, there is more than one possibility for the letter to be swapped I always think it’s good practice to identify the correct one.

24a Is there no end to little flapper’s elegance? (4)
{CHIC} – remove the last letter (no end) from a small bird (little flapper).

25a Followers fail to contain the Hungarian football union (8)
{FAITHFUL} – the answer here is a noun used to describe the followers of a specific religion (especially Islam). The word FAIL (given to us in the clue) contains the initial letters of the last four words. T and U are accepted abbreviations for the given words but the H and F aren’t and an indication is needed that the initial letters are being used.

29a What forced German capitalists to take sides? A hotel worker! (6)
{WALLAH} – start with feature that divided the residents of the German capital for about thirty years and add A (from the clue) and the letter that hotel is used for in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet.
berlin wall

30a It helps you to swallow father getting stuck into tortured falsetto (4,6)
{SOFT PALATE} – insert an affectionate word for father into an anagram (tortured) of FALSETTO.

31a Grease  coat? (4)
{FILM} – double definition with Grease being an example. Since Grease is the definition by example it would be preferable for the question mark to be associated with that rather than with coat.

Down Clues

1d Main horse takes Scotsman’s East Anglian leaders (7,3)
{ARABIAN SEA} – a charade of a breed of horse with a high-set tail, the usual Scotsman in Crosswordland plus the ‘S and the leading letters of E(ast) A(nglian).

2d Report accountant on board ship swallowed by amphibian (8)
{NEWSCAST} – the abbreviation for a Chartered Accountant goes inside (on board) the usual abbreviation for a ship, then all that gets swallowed by the sort of amphibian beloved by Ken Livingstone.

3d A big US star used Harrison’s axe (4,6)
{BASS GUITAR} – axe is a slang term for a musical instrument. This is an anagram (used) of A BIG US STAR. There’s been some discussion as to whether George played this variety of the instrument – as far as I can establish he did play it on a few Beatles’ records.
base guitar

4d 31  keepers of canines, say (4)
{JAWS} – double definition, the second being, cryptically, things that hold canines (not the doggy sort). I don’t think that ‘say’ is needed here.

5d It’s done and written up in abbreviation (4)
{VERB} – hidden (in) and reversed (hidden up, in a down clue).

6d Quietly informative numismatist talks about remuneration originally used in Albania (6)
{QINTAR} – the leading (originally) letters of six words produce a coin worth one hundredth of a lek.

7d Road shelled on the outskirts of Honolulu’s island (4)
{OAHU} – the definition here could have been Honolulu’s island because this is the island on which the Hawaiian capital stands, but that would have meant Honolulu doing double duty so I’ve taken the definition to be just island. Stick together road without its outside letters (shelled) and the outer letters of Honolulu.

14d King’s bloody girl rumoured to have a bun in the oven (5)
{CARRY} – this was my last answer. It sounds like (reported) the eponymous protagonist of a Stephen King novel (the young lady who got drenched in pig’s blood).

15d Desert wanderer slumped whilst holding onto contents of bladder (10)
{TUMBLEWEED} – a verb meaning slumped or fell contains bladder contents.

17d Ultimately take exchange rate mechanism and Italian banks into account (10)
{TERMINALLY} – insert the abbreviation for Exchange Rate Mechanism and the outer letters (banks) of I(talia)N into an account or score.

20d Deal with elevator renovation (4-4)
{FACE-LIFT} – a charade of a verb to deal with or adjust to and what we, on this side of the pond, call an elevator. The BRB and other dictionaries I’ve looked at have this as a single word with no hyphen.

22d Virginia or Georgia’s domain? (6)
{ESTATE} – split as (1,5) this could describe either of these two parts of the USA situated on the eastern seaboard.

26d I, but not the Spanish, swear (4)
{AVOW} – I here is one of five (or possibly six) (1,5) – drop the masculine form of ‘the’ in Spanish. I’d have liked to see a ‘possibly’ or similar here.

27d Fibre‘s feminine and soft (4)
{FLAX} – the abbreviation for feminine followed by an adjective meaning soft or easy-going.

28d Welsh representative audibly let slip (4)
{LEAK} – this sounds like (audibly) a national emblem (representative) of Wales.

The clues I liked best were 29a and 14d. The outside (periphery) of the grid is interesting (as hinted in the title) because it contains all 26 letters of the alphabet – that makes the puzzle a pangram of a very special sort.

39 comments on “Rookie Corner 008

  1. That was hard. We got to the point where we were severely stuck and then looked closely at the title of the puzzle. This helped us a lot once we worked out what it meant. Last one for us was 14d which we found really tricky. A well constructed puzzle that gave a lot of challenge and a lot of enjoyment.
    Thanks Hasslethymi

        1. Many thanks, Dave, and for posting my little offering. Proud to be involved!

  2. Very nicely done, in general. It looks like the word “initially” has been missed off the end of 25a, though.

  3. Difficult. After being well and truly stuck in the NE corner, for too long, I resorted to using ‘reveal a letter’ a couple of times to finish up the grid. I don’t understand the axe reference in 3D and it took forever to realize that there was an anagram involved in 9A. Not sure of the relevance of the first letter of 22D. 4D was the last one in. Some very clever clues, particularly 7D and 26D. An excellent and challenging debut from Hasslethymi. ( I peeked at your website and I will be back to try some more of your puzzles! )

    1. Thanks for the great comments.
      Apologies for the missing ‘initially’ in 25A – must have missed it when pasting clues from spreadsheet to software.
      BTW, ‘axe’ is a slang term for ‘guitar’, but perhaps it’s not as well known as I had assumed. The first letter of 22D is to denote ‘Eastern’.

      1. But why is it a bass guitar? After extensive research on Google they all seem to have 6 strings? Probably wrong again?

        1. I just took it to be a slang word for any guitar, but that’s only from friends using the word generically back in the 90s.

          The bass reference is specifically to George Harrison, who was the best known bassist I could think of, other than Sting, but I thought putting ‘sting’ in there might make the clue just too obscure.

          There seems to be such a thing as an ‘axe bass’ though, but can’t be sure to what extent experts would say that the one qualifies as a synonym of the other…

            1. That would explain it! Had convinced myself that George Harrison was the bassist. Oh well, as you say, all way before my time!!!

  4. A very enjoyable debut from Hasslethymi aka Ashley Smith?

    I realised the meaning of Outside Interest … almost immediately having seen the grid. This helped me a lot in solving. Presumably, you filled in the grid yourself rather than relying upon a crossword puzzle generator?

    A few issues, especially with 25a – but maybe I have failed to parse it correctly.

    1. Many thanks! Glad that the puzzle has gone down well, and yes, this was done without a generator, so something of a labour of love!

      Apologies for the 25A oversight too.

  5. Thanks to Hasslethymi for the puzzle.

    I didn’t twig the theme and so this was a hard slog to get about 75% in, though it did have it moments. There were a few surfaces (11a/16a/19a/23a/30a/1d) that I wasn’t keen on and I’ll be interested to see the parses of the ones I didn’t get. My fave clues were 7d & 17d for the smooth surfaces, 21d for the PDM and 28d for the chortle.

    Look forward to your next one.

  6. Thanks Ashley for a tough challenge, I’m afraid I find it hard to make more specific comments as it is impossible (for me anyway) to go back and have a look at the puzzle. Must make notes as I go along in future. I know Ashleys of both genders and I’m hoping you are female as there seem to be fewer women cruciverbalists.

    1. Many thanks. Male, I’m afraid, but I try to put my androgynous hat on when compiling!!!

      1. Thanks stanXYZ! I did…and I have it now! Very clever. Adds a whole other dimension to the enjoyment of the puzzle.

  7. Regarding 22D, this is not a criticism of the clue by any means, just a little friendly advice to anyone visiting VA ( my neighboring State) or GA for the first time. Despite their location on the map, never refer to them as Eastern States if you want to get out of town alive. The natives will tell you in no uncertain terms that they are proudly Southern!

    By the way, I’ve already done one of your other crosswords (I started with # 1) and intend to try more.

  8. I’ve only just started having a look and have only just noticed the title, or heading, so that might help me tomorrow – so far this one is putting up a bit of a fight but I’m enjoying the little I have done so far.
    I have the answer to 8a but, at the risk of being too picky, I don’t think that a physician is synonymous with the answer without his son around him.
    More tomorrow . . .

    1. PS Was going to ask where the name came from but I think I’ve sussed that now!
      For ages I thought Alchemi was called that because he was some sort of magician or wizard.

      1. I wasn’t meaning to be discouraging at all – I hope that it wasn’t taken that way. It was only a comment . . .

        1. No offence taken whatsoever. (If ever I don’t reply, it’s usually because I’ve got a pile of 30 exercise books to deal with. Never a moment’s respite for a teacher in term time!!!)

        2. Oh, no! Not what I meant at all. ‘Encourage’ was the word in the clue synonymous with the answer!

          1. Don’t worry, Chris. I got your intended meaning. Just don’t want anyone to think I’d misunderstood. It’s clear that everyone on here is very positive in their support, so that’s all good!

          2. I think you and I are talking at cross purposes here. I know you hate them but

  9. Many thanks, Gazza, for your hugely informative comments, all of which I agree with and which will help me to hone my nascent skills. Having started setting in December 2013, it’s been a steep but wonderful learning curve and it’s great to know that I’ve been barking up the right tree, having finally dared to take the plunge. (I agree with you particularly about 1D, which I didn’t like at all, either as an answer or as a clue, but it was the only thing I could get to fit. I really wanted to use ‘Bay horse etc.’, but stopped short: can the answer be regarded as a ‘bay’. Any thoughts from geographers out there very welcome!


    1. Sometimes it’s necessary to change tack completely when writing a clue. (Unfortunately, this is often especially true after spending a lot of time trying to force one idea to work.)

      For example, in this case an anagram yields a reasonable surface fairly readily.

      Redeveloped an airbase and a place for the navy (7,3)

  10. I’ve finally finished – well, almost – there were a few I couldn’t do and I completely missed the Outside Interest which was very silly of me.
    I really enjoyed this – I also found it pretty tricky.
    I particularly liked 13 and 24a and 7 and 28d. My favourite was 29a.
    With thanks and congratulations to Ashley and to gazza for untangling the ones that I couldn’t do.

  11. My thanks to HTM for the excellent debut crossword and to Gazza for blogging in my place (Mother-in-Law’s funeral yesterday followed by an early start to get to Leeds today meant I was unable to do so).

    1. My sympathies, too, are with you and your family, especially your wife and your father-in-law.

  12. Apologies for the lateness of this, Hasslethymi / Ashley. I started off well. About half way through completing the puzzle, I lost the wavelength. I put ‘Outside Interest…’ to one side to come back to later.

    I did find parts of the crossword very tricky. I read Gazza’s comment that ‘ballet’ was an anagram indicator. That was a breakthrough, and I was able to complete most of the remainder of the clues without help. I was, however, lost when it came to 3d and needed the answer to that. I also needed Gazza’s explanation of the Stephen King allusion in 14d.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too negative, because I did, in fact, enjoy this crossword very much. The clues I singled out for special mention were 18a, 21a, 1d, 5d, and 26d.

    Just one small quibble re 1a. A ‘physician’ is not quite the same thing as a ‘surgeon’.

    Congratulations on your first excellent Rookie Corner offering, and thank you very much.

    Thank you very much, too, Gazza. I’m indebted for a couple of explanations, and I found it most interesting going through your invaluable review now.

    1. Thanks, Catnap. All valid comments and they are appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the puzzle.

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