Rookie Corner 027 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 027

A Puzzle by Imsety

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Imsety seems to have caught the setting bug and makes a speedy return with this, his third, puzzle.  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.

If you have a puzzle you would like to see published here then why not write to me, using the contact page.  The cupboard is looking very bare at the moment, so new or repeat entries are more than welcome.

Imsety is setting the standard for our Rookie setters.  This was another highly polished crossword with some excellent surface readings and clever misdirection.  Only a couple of comments on the clues which indicates the standard that he is aiming for is being reached.


1 Set off blast in US’s capital city (8)
ISTANBUL – An anagram (set off) of BLAST IN U, capital being an indication to take the first letter only of US.

6/9 Where landlords are sometimes locked up (6,4)
BEHIND BARS – A double definition with the landlords being publicans.

10 Vessels remain at sea, caught by small vehicle sailing west (10)
SUBMARINES – Reverse (sailing west) S (small) and the name of a public service vehicles and include (caught by) an anagram (at sea) of REMAINS.

11 Department store carries queen and tiny amount of twin beds (6)
BERTHS – The abbreviation for British Home Stores (department store) holds (carried) the usual two letter abbreviation for Queen Elizabeth and the first letter (tiny amount of) twin.

12 Royal Mail chases international package couriers, finally getting some replies (8)
RIPOSTES – An R for Royal followed by another word for mail inside (chases) the abbreviation for international and the last letters (finally) of package couriersR for Royal is not a recognised abbreviation.  It involves a two stage solving process – Royal could be king or queen, the abbreviation for which can be R.  Although Royal is abbreviated as Royal in RAF, it is not permitted to use part abbreviations like this.  To chase something is to engrave it.  Engraving is cutting into something so chase just about works as an insertion indicator even through the cutting / engraving is on the outside!!

14 Side level after Pele’s header – he works so well with his colleagues! (4,6)
TEAM PLAYER – Another word for a team or group of players followed by the first letter (header) of PELE and another word for a level.

16 Long throw lacks power (4)
ITCH – Remove the P (power) from the front of a word meaning throw or toss something.

18 Celebrity‘s somewhat bitter at Strictly rejection (4)
STAR – The answer is hidden (somewhat) and reversed (rejection) inside BITTER AT STRICTLY.

19 Opinion of anti- Semite showing love for English organisation? (10)
ESTIMATION – An anagram (organisation) of ANTI-SEMITE after replacing one of the Es (English) with an O (love).  Some editors will not allow organisation (a noun) to be used as an anagram indicator.

21 Highlights in son’s hair (8)
STRESSES – The abbreviation for son followed by another word for hair (particularly long hair).

23 Principal ingredients of newly updated tikka masala, for example spice (6)
NUTMEG – The first letters (principal ingredients of) Newly Updated Tikka Masala followed by the abbreviation for “for example”.

25 Its use divided many (10)
GUILLOTINE – A cryptic definition of the device used to remove peoples heads during the French Revolution.

27 Study register (4)
READ – A double definition.  A dial or gauge will read or register (show) a value.

28 Key goal at the conclusion of game? (6)
LEGEND – Another word for a goal or objective goes after (at the conclusion) of another word for game in a competition or series of games.

29 Complains when good doctor breaks laws (8)
GRUMBLES – The abbreviation for good followed by an abbreviation for doctor inside (breaks) another word for laws.


2 Perhaps Washington intended to leak a report (9)
STATEMENT – A constituent part of the USA of which Washington is an example followed by a homophone (to leak) of meant (intended).

3 Beast of burden gets unlimited strength (5)
ASSET – Another word for a beast of burden followed by the inner letters (unlimited) of gETs.

4 Popular books by 1960s’ footballer and actor (4,7)
BEST SELLERS – The 1960’s Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer (first name George) and the actor first name Peter) who played Inspector Clouseau.

5 Terribly upset to lose the last of our freedom (7)
LIBERTY – An anagram (upset) of TERRIBLY after removing an R (last of our).

6 Fashion accessory conceals half of straw hat (3)
BOA – Half of a Boater (straw hat).

7 A garment made from Harris Tweed is initially worn around hospital (4,5)
HAIR SHIRT – An anagram (worn) of HARRIS TI (tweed is initially) around the abbreviation for Hospital.

8 Bring up Europe with a German relative? (5)
NIECE – Reverse (bring up) the abbreviation for European Community and the German indefinite article.

13 Type of drink on menu at a fancy gastropub, for example (11)
PORTMANTEAU – a word coined from two or more other words …  A type of fortified wine (drink) followed by an anagram (fancy) of MENU AT A.

15 Hurt by phrase heard in French metropolis (9)
MARSEILLE – A three letter word meaning hurt or injure followed by a homophone (heard) of SAY (phrase – as in to speak or enunciate something).  A personal preference when solving and (usually) when setting is that homophones give a proper word as part of the solution, not a series of letters that sound like the wordplay indicator.

17 Craftsman had to work with others (2-7)
CO-OPERATE – Another word for a barrel maker (craftsman) followed by another word meaning had (as in I had a meal).

20 Quiz in the middle of Telegraph is difficult (7)
TESTING – A four letter word for a quiz followed by the IN from the clue and the middle letter of telegraph.

22 Ceasefire Palestine’s backing after short uprising (5)
TRUCE – The final letter (backing) of Palestine follows (after) a reversal (uprising) of a word meaning short or brusque.

24 Detailed article about gold and British pound (5)
THROBRemove the final letter (detailed) from THE and follow this with a reversal (about) of a two letter word for gold and the abbreviation for British.

26 Rum contributing to blood disorder? (3)
ODD – The answer in hidden inside (contributing to) BLOOD DISORDER.

Deletion clues

A common and useful cluing device is the deletion clue.  Imsety uses these effectively in this crossword.  A deletion clue requires the solver to delete one or more letters from the wordplay to give part of the solution.  The reason for the versatility of this cluing device is the ways in which deletions can be used.

Delete the first letter of a word

Removing the first letter of a word can leave useful letters for the remainder of the wordplay.  Deletion indicators for the first letter are usually of the form headless, lead free, decapitated, topless (in a down clue), scratching the first, or anything that indicates that the beginning of the word is omitted.

Deleting the last letter of a word

Deleting the last letter of a word can be indicated in one of two ways.  Sometimes the instruction is clear such as tailless, scratching the bottom or other indicators that suggest the final letter is omitted.  A more subtle indicator is to indicate that the wordplay is curtailed in some way such as words suggesting that a word is taken briefly or is abridged.

Deleting the first and last letters of a word

Deleting the first and last letters can be indicated by words such as endlessly (lacking both ends) or shelled to leave the central letters.

Deleting the inner letters of a word

Indicators can suggest that you remove one or more of the central letters of a word.  Indicators such as heartlessly, gutted, etc might suggest removing one or more of the central letters.  One of the benefits is that the setter can indicate the removal of one or more letters with the same letters.  Heartless rogue might indicate either roué (the G being removed) or RE, the OGU being remove.  The only thing to remember is that you must be fair.  Heartless rouge could not be used to indicate RGE as the OU to be removed are not at the heart of the word.

Deleting one of two central letters

Where the word has a double consonant or vowel in the middle, half-hearted or similar indicators can suggest taking only one of the double letters.  Half hearted pop-group might give ABA from ABBA.

Deleting specific letters

Specific letters can be deleted from a word.  Lacking love, for example might indicate removing an O from word or timeless might indicate removing a T.  This type of deletion can be used well with abbreviations.


28 comments on “Rookie Corner 027

  1. A really good fun puzzle. Not fiendishly difficult but lots of chuckles. Several of the clues headed off in a direction that was not obvious at a first reading which added to the enjoyment. We tried to pick a favourite but just too many good ones to choose from.
    Much appreciated, thanks Imsety.

  2. Very enjoyable – thanks Imsety. The smoothness of the surface readings is particularly impressive. The clues I liked best were 10a, 17d and (for the d’oh moment) 25a.

  3. Some great stuff here! Loved 17D and 25A. I only knew one definition for 13D, and now I know two, thanks to google. That clue’s high on my ‘like’ list, too. Thanks, Imsety! I have 11A yet to resolve. I can see maybe bits and pieces of the answer but can’t put it together. A hint, anyone?

    1. The abbreviation for British Home Stores (a UK department store) includes the usual two letter abbreviation for Queen Elizabeth and the first letter (tiny amount of) twin to give a word meaning beds.

      1. Ah, no wonder. “Gone too long” syndrome again. The only UK department store that came to mind was M&S. Thanks, Prolixic.

        1. We went down the same path as Chris but seemed to remember the correct store and confirmed (to our surprise) by BRB.

    1. What are the chances? – I’ve just taken 5 minutes away from my computer screen to scan through a book called ‘Bad History’ which seeks to debunk many stories in history – the chapter I fell on was about the history of 25a!

  4. I thought this was good and it’s kept me happily occupied, for quite a long time I admit, on a very wet afternoon.
    I got into a bit of a pickle with 1a and still can’t quite sort it out and, if my answer to 12a is right, I can’t untangle that either.
    My first three letters of 26a are a bit of a guess – and I’m guessing it’s something to do with cricket.
    I liked 6/9 and 29a and 4 and 5d. My favourite was 25a.
    With thanks to Imsety.

      1. Thanks Kiwis – I did – “blast in” but where the hell does the “U” come from? Oh dear – looks as if I’m heading for yet another dim week!

        1. Kath you are right. We had included US in the fodder but see now that that has given an extra S. That will teach us to pay more attention! Maybe we will just have to wait for Prolixic’s review.

          1. Eventually sorted it out on a walk around the beach/estuary. The definition is just ‘city’. Ankara is the relevant capital anyway. US’s capital (head or first letter) is the missing U for the anagram fodder as Expat Chris has said. Note to ourselves. BE SURE TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION ON WEDNESDAY!

    1. 12a …a single letter for Royal,
      another name for Mail after (chases) a single letter for International, then the final letters of package couriers ( am I allowed to give hints, it’s a non prize puzzle)


      thanks for a great crossword Imsety, thoroughly enjoyed it.

    2. You can’t go looking for cricket in every clue! It reminds me of the old joke about Michael Foot being a 3,3 in his own lifetime.

          1. See – I told you – it was one of the things that I can’t do – if it’s not cricket it’s football, rugby etc etc . . .

        1. My rationale was not nearly so specific. I just took the first three letters to be the last *** of any game or sport, like the Tour de France or a track relay. Probably wrong, but it worked for me!

          1. Give in – maybe you’re right, maybe Rick is – who knows? I suppose the answer to that has to be Prolixic who, like gazza, knows everything! A little to both of them.

  5. 6/9 is my favourite and 13 and 18 also finish on the podium for me. Thanks imsety. My ipad wants to autocorrect you to misery.

  6. I thought 12a was OK apart from the R as explained by Prolixic. I read it as R(oyal) and then POST (mail) after (chases) I(nternational) and then the ES from packagE courierS finally.

    Nice puzzle and agree about 25a being favourite.

    Thanks to Imsety and Prolixic.

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