Rookie Corner 016 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 016

A Puzzle by Phito

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have another new setter.  This puzzle has an interesting sub-theme.  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.

Many thanks to Phito for his creditable first Rookie crossword.  There was a mini theme based around a comedy duo.  Lots of good clues to admire here with only a few errant indicators that would normally be smoothed out when test solved.


9 Gershwin time! I’m not angry (5)
IRATE – The first name of one of the Gershwin brothers followed by the word time from the clue after the IM has been removed (I’m not).

10 Dissonant, dismissed frequently by one over the Channel (3,2,4)
OUT OF TUNE – Another word for dismissed in cricket followed by a three letter word meaning frequently and the French (over the channel) feminine form of “one”.

11 Large area where urea is a problem (7)
EURASIA – An anagram (problem) of UREA IS A.

12/1/3 Mayhem at inn with some feathers is a feature of 2 and 25 (7,4,4)
ANOTHER FINE MESS – An anagram (Mayhem) of INN SOME FEATHERS for one of the films (feature) of the comedy duo that forms a mini theme in this crossword.

13 Film “The Bottoms Out” is smut (5)
FILTH – Remove the last letters (bottoms out) from Fil[m] Th[e].  The use of bottoms to indicate the removal of the last letters of the words does not work in an across clue.  It would be fine in a down clue.

15 Very nasty opening issue (3)
SON – A two letter word meaning very followed by the first letter (opening) of nasty.

16 Give up roast occasionally (3)
RAT – The odd letters (occasionally) of RoAsT.

17 Without us, Schulz’s retiring philosopher is nothing (3)
NIL – Schulz’s philosopher is Linus from the Peanuts cartoon strip.  Remove (without) the US and reverse (retiring) the remaining letters.

19 Thanks to strong cheese, we find a lustrous material (7)
TAFFETA – A two letter word meaning thanks followed by the abbreviation for strong or loud in musical terms and a type of Greek cheese.

20/16D Ah! Choral arrangement for the producer (3,5)
HAL ROACH – An anagram (arrangement) of AH CHORAL gives us the producer of many of our comedy duo’s films.

23/24/30 Two playing with sweaty uniform are a feature of 2 and 25 (3,3,4)
WAY OUT WEST.  A film staring our comedy duo.  An anagram (playing) of TWO SWEATY U, the U being the letter indicated in the NATO phonetic alphabet by Uniform.

25 Durable road through the grass, one of a pair (5)
HARDY – The first member of our comedy duo is also a word that means durable.  The abbreviation for road goes inside a word for dried grass.

27 Record held by excitable steed is firmly embedded (4-3)
DEEP-SET – The abbreviation for an Extended Play record goes inside (held by) an anagram (excitable) of STEED.

29 Players on the green disturb Serb clutching hooter (7)
BOWLERS – An anagram (disturb) of SERB includes (clutching) a bird that hoots.

32 Crushing revolts, each half lifts (9)
ELEVATORS – An anagram (crushing) of REVOLTS EA (half of ea[ch]).

33 Fix pen when unspecified number becomes cold (5)
STICK – The wordplay and solution were clear here.  A word meaning fix comes from a stink with the N (unspecified number) becoming C (cold).  I needed Big Dave’s assistance to discover that “pen” is Cockney rhyming slang.  Pen and Ink = stink.


1 See 12 Across

2 Honour hands around a flower, one of a pair (6)
LAUREL – The second of our comedy duo.  The abbreviation for Left twice (hands) goes around the A from the clue and the name of a North Yorkshire river.

3 See 12 Across

4 One does lose energy getting up for a mixer (4)
SODA – A letter for “one” and the DOES from the clue without the abbreviation for energy are all reversed.

5 Ann and I met two times, a remarkable accomplishment (10)
ATTAINMENT – An anagram (remarkable) of ANN I MET TT (two times) A.

6 Revolving tractor factory surrounds Greater Barnet (4)
AFRO – The answer (a big style of hair do (greater barnet) is hidden (surrounds) and reversed (revolving) in TRACTOR FACTORY.

7 Letter from Greek church about which flyer emerges (8)
NUTHATCH – The Greek character Nu and an abbreviation for church go around word that should usually be used when people write which.  The play which I attended should be the play that I attended, etc.

8 Flustered brides often found in 2 and 25’s wake (6)
DEBRIS – An anagram (flustered) of BRIDES.  A slightly tenuous link to the comedy duo.

13 Swimmer’s power source providing back-up to a point (3)
FIN – Reverse (back up) a two letter word meaning providing and follow this with a point of the compass.

14 Buddy from Texas, over time, misses Lima passionately (5)
HOTLY – The Texan singer Buddy Holly loses one of the Ls (misses Lima – L in the Nato phonetic alphabet) and this goes over the abbreviation for Time.  The wordplay A over B to indicate A going around B works in an across clue.  In a down clue it means A followed by B.

15 The easier path to post, thanks to no paperwork (4,6)
SOFT OPTION – To post is STATION.  The TA (thanks) becomes O (no) FT (paper) OP (work) to give the answer.  Thanks to Phito for the elucidation.

16 See 20 Across

18 The amount of noise made by the herd? (3-5)
LOW-LEVEL – A cryptic definition of the amount of sound made by cattle.

21 Amateur drama without an introduction (3)
LAY – Remove (without and introduction) the first letter from another word for a drama.

22 See 29

26 Land on river going north (4,2)
REEL IN – A two letter word meaning on followed by the name of a river associated with Egypt reversed (going north).

28 Mates back strike (4)
SLAP – Reverse a word meaning mates.  This is one of those clues where putting the reversal indicator between the two words should be a hanging offence as there is no way of knowing which is the definition and which is the wordplay element.  Phito is not alone – see 22d in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph Crossword.

29/22 Boy dances on public transport and passes on feature of 2 and 25 (4,6)
BUSY BODIES – Another film involving our comedy duo.  An anagram (dances) of BOY under a word for a type of public transport followed by a word meaning passes on.  The wordplay does not work here.  The anagram of BOY comes after not on (above) the public transport.

30 See 23 Across

31 Intoxicating stuff, once said, loses momentum (4)
SAKE – An word once used in as the past tense of to say, as in “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, loses the abbreviation for momentum (from the original term used to describe persistence of an objects motion).  P as the abbreviation for momentum is obscure unless you are a physicist.  It is not given in Chambers as a recognised abbreviation.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner 016

  1. We needed quite a bit of help from Wikipedia to complete but we did get the critical theme clues early on so at least we knew where to look for assistance. Not too keen on the grid with all the 3 letter answers. That said, we did enjoy solving the puzzle which took us about mid-week Toughie time.
    Thanks Phito.

  2. I never realised that I knew so much about the theme and so was able to complete this without investigoogling. Agree with the Kiwis about all the 3 letter words but one of them 17a is my joint favourite, the other favourite being 6d.

    Thanks to Phito – hope we see you here again soon,

  3. The grid is unloveable; apart from the ugly central section with its concentration of three letter words, the lights at 8 and 22 have two consecutive unchecked letters. I think phito has some really good clues in this puzzle but I would re-write 11a – it scarcely looks like an anagram.
    I notice some problems with the enumeration, which I suspect is caused by linking clues in crossword compiler and not checking the word lengths – it is a simple job to correct those and go back and re-upload the puzzle.
    I don’t understand 31d, otherwise an enjoyable solve – but overall I feel the grid should have been filled without splitting what are pretty simple phrases into so many 3 letter jobs.
    Thanks phito

  4. This is the kind of puzzle I usually avoid because jumping all over the grid to get numerous multiple word answers makes my eyes cross. But that’s just me. However, I persevered. I was a bit less than halfway through before the theme became clear, which certainly helped. Last in were 26D, 31D and 33A. I had 14D from the checking letters but it took a while to work out the “why”. Big smile when the penny dropped.

    This was a challenge that I surprised myself by enjoying much more than I thought I would, and I’m glad I didn’t just opt out. Thanks, Phito. I am looking forward to the review to explain 31D and 33A, and I’m not at all sure of 15D either.

    I am very curious about the ‘interesting sub-theme’.

    1. I’ve been looking for something else myself, without luck so far. Three words beginning with FI, three with SO…….nah. Can’t see any Ninas, and can’t do much with combining the three letter words. Like you, I’m waiting to see what we’ve been missing – I hope it’s good

  5. I enjoyed this but agree with Expat Chris about jumping all over the place looking to see what goes where.
    I didn’t get the theme for quite a long time which didn’t help but then got 25a and guessed 2d – don’t quite get that bit. I don’t know anything about them but that’s my problem rather than a problem with the crossword.
    I don’t understand my answers for 33a or 15 and 31d.
    I liked 13a and 6 and 18d.
    With thanks and congratulations to Phito.

    1. Kath 31d , P is usual abb. for momentum. Remove the P from thus said to get the drink. You’ll kick yourself with the other two.

        1. not a common word but..
          Belshazzar’s Feast
          Thus spake Isaiah:
          Thy sons that thou shalt beget
          They shall be taken away,
          And be eunuchs
          In the palace of the King of Babylon
          Howl ye, howl ye, therefore:
          For the day of the Lord is at hand!

          My pooches hate it when I reach for the volume button…..

  6. I enjoyed this although I admit to using a half dozen letter clues. I loved 12a/1d/2d. I was very surprised by 20/16, whom I haven’t heard of for decades.I didn’t realise he was international.I cannot understand why 33 is the answer.
    Thanks Phito.

  7. I liked a lot of the clues, but not 29/22D and 13A, because they’re incorrectly worded for the direction. “On” is a suffix indicator only in an across clue, and “bottoms” are only last letters in a down clue. If they were in the right direction, they’d be good clues, but they’re not as it stands

    Presumably this is a mistake which will not be evident in the future offerings to which I look forward

  8. Thanks Phito I liked the momentum of 31d which really worked with the wordplay but I suspect my parsing of 33a may be somewhat tenuous .Some smashing clues and look forward tp the next one .Cheers .

  9. Hi Folks,

    Thanks for all the comments. I didn’t realise the grid pattern would cause so many problems! I took a while picking one that would allow me to fit in a few more ghost references to the theme and the only one i found was this. I shall choose a little more judiciously in future!
    Thanks @Alchemi for pointing out the problem with the positional indicators. That hadn’t occurred to me. I think that’s because I set the clues online without paying particular attention to their positions in the grid. Certainly something to watch out for next time.

    Thanks to all who tried the puzzle. The feedback is very useful.


  10. I’m still missing the sub-theme alluded to by BD………I assume it isn’t rhyming slang for stink and hair? By they way, here in Germany everybody refers to Laurel and Hardy as “Dick und Doof” (meaning “fat and stupid”, somewhat pre-dating pc terminology). Not to be confused with Dick and Dom, meaning “stu…………..(snip! ed)

  11. This was a very entertaining debut. Well done, Phito!

    I liked many of the clues, including 9a, 13a (warts and all), 17a, 29a, and 14d. I picked up on the theme and worked through most of the puzzle before having to investigoogle. This wasn’t because I am particularly well-informed on the theme, but because I found the clues communicated well (if that’s the right way to describe it?).

    It has been most interesting going through the review. There were just three clues which I solved but couldn’t understand the parsing. One was 33a: I couldn’t fathom why ‘pen’ and ‘stink’ were synonymous, but knew that somehow they had to be. Another was 15d, and the third was 31d as I didn’t know the abbreviation for ‘momentum’. Otherwise I had no problems.

    Many thanks to Phito for this lovely fun puzzle, and do hope that we shall be seeing you again. Many thanks to Prolixic for the much appreciated enlightenment.

  12. Though I thought I knew nothing about the theme, enough knowledge of it must have entered my head through the ether, because I didn’t need to google except to check Hal Roach. The answers which remained empty when I went to sleep were 26d, 31d and 33a (completely forgot about pen and stink). Also used hints to parse 2d (d’oh!) and 15d (eek!).

    I liked many of the clues. Such a shame 13a was not a down clue, because it would have otherwise got my vote for favourite. As it is, I’ll have to pick 15a. You do have a talent for clueing those 3-letter words, Phito :).

    Overall, a great effort, and the minor issues with the clues didn’t detract from the enjoyment in solving, which is the main thing. Well done, and thanks to Phito, and also to Prolixic for the review.

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