Rookie Corner 036

A Puzzle by Axolotl

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have Axolotl’s fifth 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.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Another great crossword from Axolotl with lots to enjoy and little to highlight by way of improvements.



1 About time church leaves such things to others (8)
TEMPORAL – A double definition of a word meaning relating to time and the opposite of things spiritual (the province of the church)

6 Deuce shuffled with remainder and cut (6)
REDUCE – An anagram (shuffled) of DEUCE R (remainder).  Chambers does not give R as an abbreviation for remainder.

9 Generous hospitality wrecked unfit blues on last of fixtures (13)
BOUNTIFULNESS – An anagram (wrecked) of UNFIT BLUES ON E (last letter fixtures).

10 Abandon Burgundy and Tuscan red (6)
MAROON – A double definition of a word meaning to abandon and a colour that could also be described as burgundy or Tuscan red.

11 I name detectives fronting hospital department drama (8)
INCIDENT – The I from the clue followed by the abbreviation for Name, a collective abbreviation for detectives and the abbreviation for a hospital department.

13 Trace rat to messy flowerpots? (10)
TERRACOTTA – An anagram (messy) of TRACE RAT TO.

15 Bull to keep quiet (4)
TOSH – The TO from the clue followed by a two letter word meaning keep quiet.

16 Close inside airless hutch (4)
SHUT – The answer is hidden inside AIRLESS HUTCH.

18 Foolishly they spoilt one breaking first commandment (10)
POLYTHEISTS – An anagram (foolishly) of THEY SPOILT.

21 Bad feeling caused when deceit revealed about end of affair (8)
FRICTION – A word for a story or lie goes around the final letter of affair.

22 Hammeredlike Bojangles? (6)
TAPPED – A double definition – Bojangles (Bill Robinson) was a noted American tap dancer.

23 Somehow 100 join small clique without even first offering informal word (13)
COLLOQUIALISM An anagram (somehow) of  IOO SMALL CLIQU[E] removing the E (without even first) from clique.  Some editors would not allow first on its own to stand as an initial letter indicator.

25 Pull to remove water (6)
STRAIN – A double definition of a word meaning to pull a muscle and to remove water using a sieve or colander.

26 Call team for front-row seats (8)
RINGSIDE – A word meaning call or telephone followed by a word for a team.


2 Run after English doctor for hug (7)
EMBRACE – The single letter abbreviation for English followed by an abbreviation for a doctor (from Bachelor of Medicine) and another word meaning to run or hurry.

3 System hated by 5 cut tropical disaster (11)
PLUTOCRATIC – An anagram (disaster) of CUT TROPICAL.

4 Cane traitor providing cover for a Nazi leader (5)
RATAN – Another word for a traitor goes above (providing cover) the A from the clue and the first letter (leader) of Nazi.  Again leader on its own might not always be accepted as an initial letter indicator leader of … or Nazi’s leader would be acceptable.

5 Fellow traveller set off one way (7)
LEFTIST – … a fellow traveller is a pejorative term for someone who sympathises with communist ideals.  A word meaning set of or departed is followed by the letter representing one and an abbreviation for type of way or road.

6 Unwilling worker oppressed by new cult led by engineer (9)
RELUCTANT – An insect associated with work goes underneath (oppressed by) an anagram (new) of CULT with an abbreviation for engineer added at the beginning.

7 Heard there was some money but didn’t find a buck! (3)
DOE – A homophone of dough (come money) to get the opposite of a buck.

8 Would they lose licences if a transgression found amongst firms? (7)
CASINOS – Another word for a transgression goes inside (amongst) a an abbreviation for a company in the plural (firms)

12 Stretch! Legs straight! Hold it! Steps need choreographing (2,3,6)
DO THE SPLITS – An anagram (need choreographing) of HOLD IT STEPS.

14 Sign for hat, same as worn by Chelsea pensioners for example, but no topper (9)
CAPRICORN – The name of one type of hat followed by the name of a another three cornered hat worn by, among others Chelsea pensioners) with the first letter removed (no topper).

17 Vegetable might start to create hot air when digested (7)
HARICOT – An anagram (when digested) of C (start to create) HOT AIR.  But they are not as bad a Jerusalem Artichokes.  A word to the wise, don’t sit on a heated car seat after eating them!

19 Ladyship initially expressed exasperation turning into lethargy (7)
LANGUOR – The first letter (initially) of Ladyship follow by a homophone (expressed) of ANGER (exasperation).

20 Resulted when e.g. Lancelot’s horse carried Frenchmen (7)
STEMMED – Put the abbreviation for monsieur twice (as Frenchmen is plural) inside another word for a knight’s horse.

22 Coach or coaches? (5)
TRAIN – A double definition.

24 The French top in academic field (3)
LEA – The French masculine singular for the followed by the first letter (top in) of academic.



  1. 2Kiwis
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Really enjoyed this one. Some tricky clues to keep us head-scratching but all came together steadily. We thought the Beanz Meanz ……. joke in the clue for 17d gave us the biggest laugh but it was not the only one that kept us amused.
    Many thanks Axolotl, good stuff.

  2. Beet
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    That was very good I thought, difficult to choose a favourite. Like the 2Kiwis said, 17 down is funny, I also liked 7 down, 12 down and 14 down.

    Not too tricky either apart from a few where I got bogged down in the exact parsing – for 10 across I kept trying to do something with “Ron” Burgundy because I think I wanted it to be that! I also got sidetracked with 23 across – started off with C for 100 and then couldn’t make the rest of the anagram work.

    Very well done Axolotl I really enjoyed this one.

  3. Expat Chris
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Good one. I needed a quick Google to sort out the Tuscan red part of 10A, and I didn’t get the 17D joke until it was pointed out here (well it was very late last night when I was working on this!) but otherwise no problems. 13A doesn’t really work for me, but I did like 18A and 1A. I didn’t count them, but there did seem like a lot of anagrams. Still, altogether very enjoyable. Thanks, Axolotl.

  4. Hilary
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely loved this. OK I did need a bit of electronic help but got 9 and 23 all by myself – serious pat on the back and I revelled in the other anagrams. Difficult to pick a fave rave but I will choose 12d because it made me giggle. Keep up the good work Axolotl – great nickname.

  5. Sprocker
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Great puzzle, really enjoyed this. I also didn’t get the joke on 17D until reading the comments, but otherwise had 14D as my favourite. Did need to resort to Google to understand 5D, but the answer was clear from the wordplay. Thanks Axolotl!

  6. Jane
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Needed a little electronic help for 18a & 4d but otherwise got there unaided – despite having an alternative for 15a before the checking letters went in!
    Still struggling to get the full parsing for 5&19d – can someone pelase enlighten me?

    Good work, Axolotl – how on earth did you come up with that ‘handle’, I wonder.

    • gazza
      Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      For 5d the definition is fellow traveller – for the wordplay split the answer 4/1/2.
      19d The initial letter of ladyship followed by what sounds like (expressed) a noun meaning exasperation or pique.

      • Jane
        Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Gazza to the rescue, as always.

        I was guilty of trying to make both of them far more complicated than they actually were – sometimes I just forget to look at the overall picture!

  7. Franco
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Axolotl, for a very enjoyable (fifth) puzzle in Rookie Corner!

    My favourite: 7d – I would never have been able to solve it without watching The Sound of Music
    over and over again!

    • Franco
      Posted December 15, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

      … that will bring us back to “D’oh”

  8. Jane
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Can’t help thinking that it would be nice if more of us commented on NTSPP and Rookie Corner. Easy for me to say when I don’t take the weekend Telegraphs – but I look forward to those as a complete change of perspective and an insight into how difficult it can be for some relative ‘newbies’ to learn their trade.

    Many thanks to all of you who are brave enough to step forward.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted December 15, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m of the same mind, and I believe I’ve mentioned this in the past. It does seem a shame that so few comment on either puzzle, but especially for the rookies who have never been published elsewhere. Big Dave has provided this great forum for them, and the reviews are always educational and enlightening. I do like the interaction that goes on between setter and commenter or reviewer here. Maybe we few can do our bit to encourage participation by mentioning these puzzles as well worth a go when we comment on the cryptic and toughie puzzle blogs.

      • Hanni
        Posted December 15, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

        You two are absolutely right. And I feel quite guilty now! At the weekends we get The Times but that’s no excuse for not trying the rookie corner. We’re blessed enough to have a blog like this that offers new setters a chance to stretch their ‘cruciverbalist muscles’. I understand that time will not always permit but goodness we’re getting ‘free’ crosswords.

    • Hilary
      Posted December 16, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      As a newcomer to BD my confidence has come on by leaps and bounds and I am now doing all seven of the crosswords through the week, I did the Chrismas one and this is my second Rookie. I have not yet ventured farther afield but I always try to leave a comment because I appreciate the word that has gone into providing us with so much pleasure.

    • spindrift
      Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Rookie’s Corner originated, I think , from a plea concerning the lack of a ‘Toughie’ on Mondays in the DT & it was BD’s brainwave to offer the option of giving us puzzles from novice setters which gives them a chance to display their skills before going ‘public’. I for one am grateful to BD, his site & all of the bloggers who donate their time gratis.

  9. Rabbit Dave
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Very enjoyable puzzle. Not too difficult but a nicely balanced challenge. The brilliant 17d was my favourite. Many thanks to Axolotl and well done!

  10. Una
    Posted December 15, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    I found it quite a challenge. Thanks !

  11. Ginny
    Posted December 16, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this which I am really enjoying. It’s half done, mainly the right side. I loved 22a. Thanks for this. I look forward to no 6.

  12. Axolotl
    Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Thank you everyone for your very kind comments. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the puzzle. Expat Chris made a constructive point about the number of anagrams. I counted 8, which seems pretty average, but they did include all the long clues, which might have made the puzzle seem a bit unbalanced. I will bear this in mind for future puzzles. As always I am very grateful to Prolixic for his judgment. I have been trying to take on board his comments about previous puzzles, so as to avoid the many pitfalls which endanger the rookie setter. His “little to highlight by way of improvements” is music to my ears! Thanks.

  13. Kitty
    Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Lovely puzzle – thanks Axolotl. I found it easy to get into and fairly tricky to finish, with the south putting up the greatest resistance. Needed the blog for a couple of clarifications – thanks Prolixic – but everything felt fair despite a couple of the first letter indicators being not quite legal. And r for remainder not being in Chambers feels to me like a fault of the dictionary, especially with regard to some of the “words” that get into it! My favourite clue was 12d.

  14. Catnap
    Posted January 8, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I agree! This was a lovely puzzle and I really enjoyed it. Like Kitty, my fave was also 12d, but 17d was a close runner-up.

    I have also enjoyed reading the super, constructive review from Prolixic.

    Thank you both, Axolotl and Prolixic.