Rookie Corner 035 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 035

A Puzzle by Sprocker

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today’s puzzle comes from Sprocker.  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.

Thank you to Sprocker for an interesting crossword.  I suspect that the average solver would have been completely flummoxed by the use of in-house crossword jargon but as a crossword for this blog, it is fair to use jargon that regular readers will know – though Big Dave strives to avoid jargon such as fodder and anagrind in the explanations of the clues.  There were a few rough edges in the crossword that I have indicated.


8 Mortgage starts to hurt and it leaves emotional mess (4,4)
HOME LOAN – The first letter (starts to) of hurt followed by an anagram (mess) of EMOTIONAL after removing the IT.  Two points to note.  The first is that to indicate the selection of a single letter it should be “start to” as “starts to” indicates two or more letters.  The second is that where you are to delete letters from the wordplay before making an anagram, unless the letters are removed in order, some editors prefer a secondary anagram indicator.

9 Unconcern when a bit of animal poo is found in the hay – messy! (6)
APATHY – Another name for the faeces produced by a cow, say, goes inside (is found in) an anagram (messy) of HAY.

10 Journalist tailed a vehicle and got injured (6)
ABUSED – The A from the clue is followed by a public service transport vehicle and the abbreviation for editor (journalist).

11 Psychotic computer infects home worker with aerosol perhaps (8)
INHALANT – The name of the computer in 2001 – A Space Odyssey goes inside (infects) a word meaning home and an insect worker.

12 Nearly puke, losing heart, with mangled gear – have to regain power (8)
RECHARGE – Remove the central letter (losing heart) from a word meaning almost be sick and follow this with an anagram (mangled) of GEAR.  The link word here should be “has” as in wordplay has definition.  Wordplay “have” definition breaks the cryptic grammar.

13 Whilst on board, ask for assistance to find showers (6)
SPRAYS – A word meaning to ask for assistance, perhaps when you kneel and put your hands together, inside SS (on board meaning in the abbreviation for a ship).

14 Cross with these words? Is it crossword’s complicated construction? (11,4)
COMBINATION CLUE – Another word for a cross or hybrid followed by a description of the words you are reading.

18 No litter (6)
REFUSE – A double definition.  No as a noun is a refusal, not refuse.  Refuse is a verb and you cannot clue a noun with a verb.  Although refuse can be used as a noun, in the context in which it is used it does not mean no.

20 That’s concerning, newborn‘s born on a volunteer unit and left (8)
NEONATAL – A two letter word meaning born, the ON from the clue, the name of the former volunteer army unit and the abbreviation for left.

23 Holding helpful letters (8)
CHECKING – A word meaning holding or restraining is used for the helpful letters that a solver may rely on to find the solution in a crossword.  Rather like 18a, the answer here gives an adjective describing the letters but the definition gives a noun and one cannot be used to define the other.

24 Contaminate seabed by mistake (6)
DEBASE – An anagram (by mistake) of SEABED.

25 Thoughtless heartless embrace (6)
CARESS – Remove the central L (heartless) from a word meaning thoughtless.  If you use a word like heartless, it must mean removing the central letter or letters.  Here, in the wordplay, it is not the exact central letters that are being removed.

26 Grind grain in and around design to give two samples (8)
ANAGRIND – An anagram (grind) of GRAIN goes inside the AND from the clue.  Around and Design are two words that may be used to indicate anagrams and are examples of the solution.  It is a real shame that the final five letters of the clue are also the anagram indicator used at the beginning of the clue.  Mill grain in… would have worked here.


1/19 I’ve given you no reason to copy Cockney’s guesses! (6,6)
DOUBLE UNCHES – You won’t find that Sprocker has given us any in this crossword.  Another word meaning to copy or duplicate followed by a word meaning guesses without the leading H (Cockney).  I am not sure that “I’ve given you no reason” really defines the answer.

2 Married European woman in India will bash mime about (8)
MEMSAHIB – An anagram (about) of WILL BASH.

3 Possibly after mix-up, ‘Foxtrot Oscar’ said theologian to the Queen (6)
FODDER – … the letters used to make up an anagram.  The letters represented by Foxtrot and Oscar followed by the abbreviation for Doctor of Divinity (theologian) and the abbreviation for the reigning monarch.  The fodder is the letters before they are mixed up to give the answer, not after mix up.

4 Credit in cardinal sin? (8,7)
INDIRECT ANAGRAM – The cardinal sin for crossword setters is to create one of these.  The answer is an inverse clue where you have to make up an clue that would recreate CREDIT IN.  If an inverse clue is being used, some indication that this is what is required should ideally be given.  It may result in credit in cardinal sin…”

5 Manliness dictates that high speed’s the standard practice (8)
MACHISMO – A word for high speed (travelling at the speed of sound) retaining the ‘s from speed’s) followed by the abbreviation for modus operandi, the standard way someone works.

6 Might we think that only the Queen is more common than this traveller? In the main (6)
SAILOR – My best guess is that this is a play on COARS-ER (more common) as a homophone for corsair.  I did ask the setter if this was the correct parsing but received a rather terse reply suggesting that I was solving the wrong crossword – at which point, I lost interest in finding the correct parsing.

7 Express gratitude that a bit of jiggery-pokery stays on tour? Almost (5,3)
THANK YOU – Inside the first three letters (almost) add half of hanky panky (jiggery-pokery).  There are a few problems with this clue.  “A bit of” usually used to indicate the first letter and not half the word.  Also, in a down clue I cannot see that “stays on” is an insertion indicator.

15 O listen! (but not on purpose) (8)
OVERHEAR – One of the words for which O is an abbreviation followed by a word meaning to listen results in a word meaning to listen or eavesdrop but not on purpose.

16 Born to die, holy woman is the most demanding (8)
NEEDIEST – A word meaning born (also used in the masculine form in 20a) followed by the DIE from the clue and the abbreviation for a saint or holy woman.

17 Judge’s office has our rule-book (8)
CHAMBERS – Double definition of where a judge can sit and a dictionary beloved of crossword solver and setters.  I would not describe Chambers as a rule-book in the context of Cruciverbalism.

19 See 1

21 Pop pensioner perhaps (3,3)
OLD MAN – Another word for a father or pop is also indicative of a pensioner.

22 Allow bum in American hospital department (6)
ASSENT – ASS (bum in American parlance) + ENT (hospital department).

24 comments on “Rookie Corner 035

  1. Loved it. We smiled and chuckled all the way through. Very clever to have the crossword bloggers’ jargon poked back at us like this. It certainly had us laughing. Suspect that the enumeration for 14a should have been (11,4) and 4d should have been (8,7) instead of (15) but they were still solvable.
    Thanks a lot Sprocker.

    1. Thanks! And yes, you are absolutely right, I’ve messed up the enumeration for 14a and 4d, so apologies for that.

  2. Good job I’m tackling this after spending a few weeks on this site, even after doing crosswords for years I didn’t know any of this jargon until I started reading these forums. Very clever to get so many references in. 8 across has an excellent surface and is my favourite. I don’t get 6 down so I’ll check the review tomorrow. Well done Sprocker!

  3. I loved it too. I was stuck on the two long clues but thanks to the 2Kiwis’ enumeration comment they soon fell into place. Altogether fun, with plenty to smile about. I/19 down is my runaway favorite, closely followed by 7D. Great Job, Sprocker!

  4. Nice one, Sprocker! But with this grid I was expecting a Nina!

    A very clever and entertaining puzzle! Thank You very much!

    4d – my favourite!

    (6d – still scratching my head? )

  5. I seem to be finding this one trickier than others have – really enjoying it though.
    Much more head scratching needed especially as I think I may have made a bit of a pig’s ear of a couple of answers. Back later – or even tomorrow.
    Thanks to Sprocker – from the name I wonder if you have one of those lovely Springer/Cocker Spaniel crosses?

    1. I’m with you Kath. This is decidely tricky, and needs lots of breaks and re-thinks, but it’s certainly interesting. As you say, it may well need to roll over to tomorrow.

      1. After a lot of persistance I am now looking a full grid, but I still need to worry away at the wordplay for three of my answers. I’ll keep going as it seems a shame to be beaten so near to the finishing line.

        I did like this puzzle, which was very different to anything I have attempted before. Even though I normally prefer brief clues some of the longer ones here were excellent. 9a reminded me of my rabbit and made me laugh, but the splendid (and brief!) 4d was my favourite.

        Many thanks to Sprocker for a most enjoyable challenge, which had the added benefit of stopping me writing Christmas cards.

        1. Hmmmm – I’m still a fair way off a full grid. Actually, having just looked again I have a completed grid apart from almost all, rephrase that, all, of the top right corner . . . maybe brain will have done those for me by the morning. Who knows . . .

    2. Yes, I do indeed have a Springer / Cocker Spaniel cross (as well as two other Springer Spaniels – all rescue dogs) – I chose the alias because I just really like it as a word for some reason!

      PS if you grabbed the puzzle in the morning and haven’t read the other comments then there were 2 enumeration errors – 14a should have been (11,4) and 4d should have been (8,7). That got fixed about mid-morning though (thanks Dave!)

      1. Thanks for your reply – by the time I printed out the puzzle the enumerations had been fixed. I’m still enjoying your crossword, and still finding it tricky.
        Love Spaniels, second only to Collies, in my very humble opinion – we had a Collie/Springer cross until eight weeks ago – she was fifteen – off I go again.

        1. Well I’d have Collies as a very close second to Spaniels so I think we’ll have to agree to very slightly differ on that

          Sorry to hear of your loss – it’s heart-rending that our dogs lives are so much shorter than our own.

          PS As a dog person you might like this:

  6. What an entertaining puzzle this one was. I don’t often try Rookie Corner, but I’m very glad I did today. I loved the way so many ‘crosswording terms’ were among the answers. I’ve never come across the one mentioned at 26 across before, although I must have solved many without knowing there is a word for it. What’s more I had to reveal some letters to get to it as my electronic aids were useless as far as that word is concerned. Thank you Sprocker – looking forward to more from you in due course.

    1. No, you won’t but read Kiwis comments first – they’re very relevant. Not sure that I would have spotted the general theme for myself.
      Stuck now on 18a and 6 and 22d – gaps – and don’t quite understand a few of my other answers.
      Maybe brain will work overnight but it won’t get a chance unless I go to bed soon . . .
      Night night all

        1. You were right, Kath – I didn’t regret it at all, although I had to resort to the blog for the final four answers (all of them turned out to be ones that Prolixic had queried for one reason or another, which made me feel slightly better!).

          I suspect that younger daughter is beginning to feel that my relatively new-found crossword obsession is proof of a personality defect brought on by ‘old age’ and living alone. Doesn’t seem to occur to her that I find it just as strange that she spends hours trawling through her I-phone.

  7. Hi Prolixic,

    Thanks very much for the review – excellent points to take on board as always. Ref 6D then I’m still confused (and apologies if my reply last night was terse, it was from my phone and I find it such a pain to be more verbose!) – as the answer to that one is not ‘coarser’, which would not fit with the checking letters, nor the length of the clue so I thought maybe we were talking at cross purposes. The answer to that one is ‘sailor’ – it’s a sly reference to the fact that it’s arguably the 2nd most ‘usual suspect’ ( after ‘Queen’ in cryptic cluing. (the definition being ‘traveller in the main’).

    And one v. minor point on 3d – I was going for a definition by example, so I was implying that what you might find after the words mix-up (in a clue), not what you’ve got after you’ve done the mixing up.

    1. I am still a bit confused re 6D. I get the “traveller in the main” bit, but is there any other wordplay apart from the reference to “sailor” being the second “usual suspect”. Unless I am missing something then I think that one is too esoteric for me. But others apparently managed to parse it ok, so I guess it’s a question of how cryptic one likes one’s cryptic crosswords to be!

      1. No there was no other wordplay in that one – it was definitely esoteric, but given the mini-theme of using crossword jargon in the answers I hoped it would be seen as in line with that.

        Doh! As I type this I’ve just realised how I managed to completely get the wrong end of the stick in terms of how Prolixic was looking at it

  8. I found that puzzle really amusing. The first themed answer I had was 1/19d which really helped me along the way. Although 26a took me quite a while as I thought it was an anagram of grain and end for design. 4d was my last one in and must agree that 6d didn’t make sense to me. It was a bung in for me.
    Prolixic was quite hard on you, I felt, but he probably belongs to a rather more purist club of crossword setters. He was however wrong about 25a: carELess had it’s heart definitely removed.
    I also submitted a crossword to BD a while ago and can’t wait for the bashing.
    Thanks to you Sproker and Proxilic for the review.

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