Rookie Corner 015 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 015

In Other Words by Soup

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a second helping of Soup.  Will this one be as tasty as the first?  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 of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Congratulations to Soup on his return to the Rookie’s Corner.  This was an accomplished crossword with a very well executed theme in the across clues exploring the ways in which IN is used in crosswords.  A small number of points on the down clues have been highlighted but these did not detract from the high quality of the crossword.


7 In with the Joneses (7)
INDIANA – In as the abbreviation of an American State is also the first name of a swashbuckling film hero.

8 In a book about the origin of humans (2,4)
AT HOME – In meaning in residence.  The A from the clue and another word for a large book go around the first letter (origin of) humans.

10 In Sicily, a heavy smoker (4)
ETNA – In as a prepositional indicator for where the answer may be found.  A volcano (heavy smoker) in Sicily.

11 In 24d, let her stew (3,3,4)
ALL THE RAGE – In meaning fashionable – An anagram (stew) of ALGA (the answer to 24d) LET HER.

12 In love, spinster finally found protection (6)
ARMOUR – In as an insertion indicator.  The final letter of spinster goes inside a French word meaning love.

14 In ascent, regional weather report is no good, at first (8)
CLIMBING – In as part of the definition.  A homophone (report) of clime (regional weather) followed by the first letters of Is No Good.

15 In and not out (7)
BATTING – In as a cricketing term.  What a player will be doing if he is in and facing deliveries from the bowler.

17 In a homemade Iranian cake (7)
MADEIRA – In as a hidden word indicator – The answer is inside HOMEMADE IRANIAN.

20 In troops’ formation, something elementary is seen (8)
POSITRON – In as part of the anagram fodder.  An anagram (formation) of IN TROOPS.

22 In metal (6)
INDIUM – In as a chemical symbol of this metal.

23 In contest, glance held angrily (10)
CHALLENGED – In as part of the definition – in a contest.  An anagram (angrily) of GLANCE HELD.

24 In agreement, it’s said, with a company (4)
AMEN – In as part of the definition.  The A from the clue followed by another word for a group of people or company of soldiers.

25 In Europe, discussed bribe (6)
GREECE – In as a prepositional indicator – the answer is found in Europe.  A homophone (discussed) of a word meaning to bribe.

26 In a jiffy, National Trust snaps up empty gardens (7)
AMONGST – In as definition in its own right.  The A from clue followed by two letter word meaning a jiffy and the abbreviation for the National Trust around (snaps up) the first and last letters (empty) of gardens.


1 Waiters I tripped, seen 14 (8)
WISTERIA – A plant that climbs (answer to 14a) is an anagram (tripped) of WAITERS I.

2 Thought to be nearly perfect (4)
IDEA – Remove the last letter (nearly) from a word meaning perfect.

3 Second, first, last, first and first again chosen by shopper, at last, at market (6)
BAZAAR – The first letter of the alphabet, followed by the first and last letters, another two first letters of the alphabet and the final letter (at last) of shopper.

4 It’s believed, wrongly, to be oddly frail and spidery (7)
FALLACY – The odd letters of FrAiL followed by a word meaning spidery.

5 Infatuation with Stoker’s girl in a shawl (8)
PASHMINA – A four letter word meaning an infatuation followed by the name of Jonathan Harker’s fiancé in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

6 B-biscuit? (10)
SHORTBREAD – If you shorten bread by removing all but the first letter, you get the B.  This is the only clue I have a question mark over as in cryptic crossword, short is almost always used to indicate removing only the last letter of a word.

9 Soup brings up horse for girl (5)
MEGAN – A two letter word indicating the setter followed by a reversal (up) of a word for an old horse.

13 One not 15 drunkenly fueled riot (10)
OUTFIELDER – Someone who is not batting may be occupying this position in a cricket match.  An anagram (drunkenly) of FUELED RIOT.  A minor but important point.  The correct spelling according to Chamber is FUELLED with a double L.  The single L is used in the American spelling of the word.

16 Minestrone soup – it’s missing… Swedes? (8)
NORSEMEN – An anagram (soup) of MINISTRONE after removing (missing) the IT.

18 Heard Kanga’s son occupied in game (8)
ROULETTE – A homophone (heard) of ROO (Kanga’s son) and LET (occupied).

19 Puzzles confuse 24a GIs (7)
ENIGMAS – An anagram (confuse) of AMEN (the answer to 24a) GIS.

21 Additional trouble failed to kick off (5)
OTHER – Remove the first letter (failed to kick off) from a word meaning trouble.

22 Under cover in Tianjin, do origami (6)
INDOOR – The answer is hidden (in) TIANJIN DO ORIGAMI.  As In has already be used as a hidden word indicator in 17a it would be usual to use a different indicator to avoid repetition. 

24 Party head slipping on seaweed (4)
ALGA – The G in GALA (party) is moved downwards (head slipping).

44 comments on “Rookie Corner 015

  1. We solved this one with our team of four in Nelson once again and enjoyed it hugely. Lots of ahaa moments and chuckles. Well put together with a clever theme. Considerable discussion on what we would choose as favourite, so many to pick from, and eventually settled for 3d.
    Thanks Soup.

  2. Inspired indeed – thanks to Soup for a very enjoyable puzzle. My favourites were 8a and 26a.

  3. Thanks for the friendly comments! I think 8a and 26a are my favourites, too; I set this one to see if it could be done. I’ve been trying to think of another word which I could use to start every across clue, but I can’t think of anything which has enough meanings, so it might be a one-off.
    Interesting to see that it’s got a review of just two out of five, when there are four pretty complimentary comments. With how much salt should ratings be taken? Perhaps Dave can comment – as a relatively new setter, having a puzzle get a two-star review is a bit sad…

    1. As Mr Manley will tell you, should you get into conversaton with him at a crossword gathering, the stars don’t seem to bear any relation to the comments. Perhaps some people comment and don’t ‘star’ and vice-versa.

      1. I always comment but quite often forget to press the star thingy – sometimes I can’t remember if I did or not – when that happens I daren’t go back to do it in case I already had and the whole system goes into melt down – and it would be all my fault.

        1. I guess I could sit here and hammer the 5* option, till it became the top-rated puzzle… ;-)

          1. I think the system is designed to be too clever for that and only accepts the most recent entry from a specific computer. Like Kath I hardly ever remember to enter the star rating but I’ve just clicked on 4*. This was a very enjoyable puzzle. Well done!

  4. At this stage all I can do is express admiration for anyone who can a) set this one and b) do it!
    I’ve found it incredibly tricky and still have six answers that I can’t get – one of those is 8a which is bugging me because everyone seems to like it.
    Will carry on trying a bit later – maybe I’ll finish it.
    In the meantime thanks and congratulations to Soup.

    1. Interesting that you find it tricky, Kath; I never try to make it so hard that people can’t solve it. (No fun for anyone.) Hopefully you’ll find the other answers; I think you might kick yourself when you see the answer to 8… Would be interested to know which ones you’re stuck on.

      1. now! It’s quite amazing how a glass of very cold white wine sitting in the sun makes the brain(?) cheer up!
        The ones that I was completely stuck on were 8a, 15a, (cricket – oh dear!) and 17a (a hidden one – again, for me, oh dear!) and 6 and 16d. Can’t remember what the sixth one was . . .
        It wasn’t so hard that I couldn’t solve it but it was right at the top end of my ability.
        I really enjoyed it – thank you, and congratulations again.

        1. Interesting which ones you were stuck on! I couldn’t resist 6d. 17a: I was taught by Boatman, and he said to always put these ones over two lines, just to make it more annoying. 15a I was worried would be too easy…

  5. I’m loving this. Just three more to get (3, 7 and 18) … It’s taken a while but they’ve all been doable, and I’m not the most experienced of solvers. Great theme too. Best Rookie Corner so far in my book. Thanks Soup!

    1. Do you want a hint or two? Or would you rather, to quote our younger Pet Lamb when she was about two, do it all your own self?

      1. Ooh, thanks Kath. Well, I’m about to get dinner now, so I might have a look when I get back and see if the subconscious has done its thing. (My brain does tend to work better in the background than when I’m prodding at it impatiently!) I do like to do it all my own self if I possibly can!

          1. Woohooo! Done I must confess to using Soup’s alternative clue to 7a: I’m missing something in the original one. Still, I’m putting this down as a win!

            1. The original one references the famous filmic family, but the same abbreviation. I think I prefer the alternative, in the end; the first is a good surface but it’s a bit of a stretch from the abbreviation.

    2. Thanks, Kitty, that’s great to hear! 3d is, I think, my least favourite clue; there’s an obvious way to clue it, but it’s been done to death, so I didn’t want to do that. 7 could have a question mark with it; my alternative option for the clue was “In a state”; I don’t know which I prefer!

      1. I liked 3d.
        Going back to 15a being too easy – are you having a laugh? Anything to do with cricket/football/rugby/golf – I could go on – is never easy for me. Everything that I know about sporting terms I’ve learnt from this blog – I may not know what they mean but . . . .

        1. I was just going on a couple of comments from a couple of others who’d seen the puzzle who both said ‘but that’s not a cryptic clue’! But, to be fair, they were cricket fans. Just goes to show that one person’s cinch of a puzzle is another person’s grindstone…

  6. Pretty much over and out – at a nail- biting bit of the book I’m reading so want to go and carry on.
    Just thought that I’d say how lovely it is to have a setter who pops in and out to comment, question, hint etc. I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one to appreciate it.
    A clever crossword with lots of good clues – in addition to the already mentioned 8 and 26a, as an A.A.Milne fan, I also loved 18d, and, as a gardener, 1d.
    Night, night all.

    1. Well, the reason I set is twofold – I enjoy the process of setting as a mental challenge, but I also enjoy seeing people solve them. It’s a bit like telling jokes – the person telling them knows the punchline, but it’s still fun to see the recipient’s reaction – and gratifying when they like it. I take it to extremes on the site I run,, where I’m part of a team which sets puzzles designed for just one person. Hopefully more from me on here from time to time; I’m not a regular solver posting on blogs but try to put together one or two a month for here, Alberich, One Across, etc.. Thanks so much to all for the encouragement – hoping for a good review tomorrow. Sleep well.

      1. Late on parade as ever, I thoroughly enjoyed this Soup, my last one ,as is the norm, a 4 letter and the bruising still shows, how on earth did I miss it. Well done

        1. Thanks, Andy! I think the down four-letter ones are quite hard; good to hear you enjoyed it…

    2. I agree completely with Kath. It’s great to have the opportunity to interact with a setter.

      And I’d just like to say a big thank you and heartfelt congratulations to all the setters who provide such splendid entertainment for us solvers every day. It’s hard enough solving them and completely mind boggling to think how hard it must be to set them.

      1. Ha! You’re welcome. It’s really lovely to see people solving them (and slightly weird, I have to admit, to think that there are people around the country/world who print out some words I’ve put in some sort of order and try to make sense of them.)
        I find the process of setting interesting. I do the grid first, then the clues, but in ones like this, where I wanted all the across clues to start with ‘in’, I wrote the across clues as I went along (or, at least, wrote the gist of them). When I’m doing the grid I start with a blank puzzle (usually from a recent Guardian) and fill in the words, rather than starting with a completely blank set of white squares.
        This one took about an hour and a half to put the grid together, then about four hours on the clues. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly hard to do – it’s just a completely different mindset to solving. I’m not the world’s best solver – I probably only finish the Guardian one day in every five!

  7. It took me a while to get going and quite some time to finish, but I’m glad I persevered. I loved it, particularly 26A and 6D. Hat’s off to Soup for another terrific puzzle. I hope we see lots more of you in the future. Many thanks to Prolixic for the review, also.

    1. That’s very kind, Chris, thanks very much indeed. As I said above, I just couldn’t resist 6D, even if Prolixic’s not quite so keen on it. Hope Dave will let me back on soon.
      Prolixic: thanks so much for the very fair review – very glad you enjoyed it. Point noted re ‘fuelled’.

  8. This was a fun puzzle! I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Looked at it several times and drew a blank. Decided to have one last attempt last evening, and all of a sudden, managed to pick up the right wavelength. Clues I enjoyed the most were 8a, 12a, 26a and 18d.

    I got all the answers correct. Am, however, most grateful for the review as I had a bit of a struggle working out some of the clue types in the across clues. The explanations are most helpful. One continues to learn…

    Thanks, Soup, for a very enjoyable (and somewhat challenging) puzzle. Hope we shall see you back again.

    Thanks to Prolixic for a most informative and helpful review.

    1. You’re welcome, Catnap. I think the across clues neatly fall into what Boatman called something like ‘bafflement by repetition’ – they look more intimidating than (I hope) they are! Hope to be back before too long.

  9. A Souper Crossword!

    I really enjoyed the ones where the definition was “IN”. But 3d was my favourite!

    Last one IN was 18d – never heard of Kanga before … so had to rely on Prolixic for the wordplay!

    1. Just goes to show that it’s all a matter of taste; I thought 3d was my weakest clue… Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Thanks for very entertaining puzzle, impressed you were able to start every clue with in and maintain variety. The ones i really liked: 8a (like everyone else), 11a, 26a, 1d.

    There are also clues that did not really do it for me, these include 7a, 10a, 22a, 25a – it feels (of course i could be completely wrong) that the “in” constraint did not help you in these.

    do you need “chosen” in 3d? does any one else think “brings” in 9d is right grammar for surface but not for wordplay?

    Very enjoyable, and most certainly not too easy!

    thanks again

    1. Hi Dutch,
      Thanks for the comments; glad you enjoyed it!
      It’s really interesting that you pick out 7 and 22 as being the ones you weren’t so keen on; they were the two which started the whole idea off for me. I was wondering if it’d be possible to get state abbreviations which were also words (An, Me etc) and use those throughout. I’d seen it done before with periodic table elements (He, I etc). But with that it became a bit of a write-in – there were seven or so elements, and I just went through and picked them out. So, instead, I spotted that In was both a state and periodic symbol, and wondered if I could try to get the rest to begin with ‘in’ as well. 10 and 25: yep, bang to rights; I made the clue fit the theme. There are better clues for the words, but having all bar one or two start with ‘in’ would be a bit of a shame.
      ‘Chosen’: I think it makes the surface neater, and I don’t think it’s a Bad Word; it can be used as a connector in this case. I could perhaps re-clue this one, and it may be one an editor would pick up on for a rewrite. ‘Brings’: ooh, that’s an interesting one. Would you say ‘brought’ would be fairer?

      1. I like the idea of State abbreviations being used (but then I would, wouldn’t I?) though you’d be on a bit of a loser with AN!

  11. thanks for posting a very well-constructed and varied puzzle, with a clever idea.
    I had to scratch my head on a couple of parsings involving the word “soup” (in particular being convince that Megan had something to do with “nage”) until I remembered it is your setter name.
    Me, that is.

    1. Thanks, Bärchen! I usually try to get one Soup in there, but the anagram indicator for ‘minestrone’ was too good to miss…
      Glad you enjoyed it…

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