Rookie Corner 042 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 042

A Puzzle by Axolotl

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have another excellent puzzle by Axolotl.  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.

Axolotl returns with an entertaining crossword.  It was not his most difficult but his cluing was inventive and enjoyable.  In one clue, the definition was implied rather than stated but this took little away from the crossword.


1 Unrestrained sips sent one into this state (9)
TIPSINESS – An anagram (unrestrained) of SIPS SENT I (one).

6 Object when Watson, say, hugs bird (5)
DEMUR – The abbreviation for Doctor (Watson, say) includes (hugs) a flightless bird.

9 Lacking love, unhappily top winner hated to celebrate (5,3,4,3)
PAINT THE TOWN RED – An anagram (unhappily) of TOP WINNER HATED TO with one of the Os removed (lacking love).

10 Doctor No finishes with thanks for those on call? (4)
ROTA – The final letters (finishes) of Doctor and No followed by a two letter word meaning thanks.

11 Short “holiday” in prison leads to split (8)
CLEAVAGE – A five letter word for a holiday with the final letter removed (short) goes inside a four letter word for a prison or barred enclosure.  Fortunately, we do not provide illustrations for the Rookie Corner reviews! 

14 Ultimate sacrifice when RA Tommy blown up holding road (9)
MARTYRDOM – An anagram (blown up) of RA TOMMY includes (holding) the abbreviation for road.

15 Goes out with June first and May second (5)
DATES – June 1 and May 2 are examples of a word that also means goes out with.  A question mark at the end of the clue to indicate that these are examples of the definition should be included.

16 Fail to win after investing nothing: that’s free! (5)
LOOSE – A word that is the opposite to win includes the letter representing nothing or zero.

18 Broadcast on cue and first item of news reported (9)
ANNOUNCED – An anagram (broadcast) of ON CUE AND N (first letter / item of news).

20 Protection used by fencer? (8)
CREOSOTE – A cryptic definition of the wood preservative added to fences.

21 King Cole caught bug (4)
GNAT – A homophone (caught) of NAT (Nat King Cole).

25 Criminal gang slosh a cup? No! (7,8)
LAPSANG SUCHONG – An anagram (criminal) of GANG SLOSH A CUP NO.  I don’t think that there is a suitable definition here.  The whole clue is not a definition of the answer save in a too indirect a way.  Perhaps “No – its contents!” would have given greater certainty here.

26 Some fusty legal term (5)
STYLE – The answer is hidden in FUSTY LEGAL.

27 Turkish bath most suitable location for blue film? (9)
STEAMIEST – The most suitable Turkish bath would have the most steam and the most suitable blue film presumably would be the most torrid – but I have neither the time nor the inclination to research this.  The only problem with this is that “most suitable” is double duty on both parts of the double definition.


1 On dope? Given up. This fellow prefers alcohol (5)
TOPER – Take a two letter word meaning about and another word for dope or cannabis and reverse (given up) the letters.

2 Shows way when 1dn sloshed around house (7)
POINTER – An anagram (sloshed) of the answer to 1d goes around a two letter word for home .  I don’t think that house gives the two letters required and the clue should have used home. 

3 Keen on One Direction as well I hear (4)
INTO – The letter representing one (used in 1a) followed by N (direction) and a homophone (I head) of a word meaning as well.

4 Repetition encourages correct habits of beginners (4)
ECHO – The initial letters (beginners) of Encourages Correct Habits Of.

5 Soldiers sheltering under bench gaining time for resolution (10)
SETTLEMENT – A three letter word for soldiers goes underneath a six letter word for a bench and this is followed by the abbreviation for time.

6 Posh Downton daughter mixes with a bit of rough! (4-3-3)
DOWN AND OUT – An anagram (mixes with) U (posh) DOWNTON D A.  it is a shame that the first four letters of the answer appear in order in the anagram letters.

7 Biting insect squashed by medic on street (7)
MORDANT – A two letter abbreviation for a medical orderly followed by an abbreviation for a street or road and underneath (squashed) a six footed insect.

8 Straightened things out after stripping off perhaps (9)
REDRESSED – putting new clothes of (after stripping off perhaps) give a word meaning straightened things out or made reparations.

12 Cosmic revolutionary leaders escape by switching into virtual reality (10)
CYBERSPACE – An anagram (switching) of C R (first letters of cosmic revolutionary) ESCAPE BY.

13 Benefits from commercial viewpoint on opening of shop (10)
ADVANTAGES – A two letter word for a commercial followed by a word for a viewpoint and the first letter (opening) of shop.

14 Surrounded by spies, the Spanish imprison copper for the tiniest of things (9)
MOLECULES – A five letter word for spies or underground agents includes the Spanish word for the inside which (imprison) you include the chemical symbol for copper.

17 Spoil bowler’s rate? (7)
OVERPAY – … as in to treat over-indulgently.  Split 4,3, the answer could be performance related salary for a bowler.

19 Comfort needed by organist (7)
CONSOLE – Double definition, the second being another name for a keyboard on an organ.

22 Drunk in snug (5)
TIGHT – Double definition, snug here being a close fit.

23 They reportedly came by boat or horse (4)
RODE – … came by horse.  A homophone (reportedly) of rowed (came by boat).

24 Lowest of the low found floating to the top (4)
SCUM – Another word for a low bred person is also the dirt that floats on water.


34 comments on “Rookie Corner 042

  1. A most enjoyable challenge. Despite working out the wordplay for 25a and having all the checkers, it still took ages for the penny to drop. And with 20a, even after telling ourselves not to be fooled by the surface, we were. Really good fun and a very satisfying level of difficulty for us.
    Thanks Axolotl.

  2. Great work Axolotl, I really enjoyed this. 7d was a new word for me, but very gettable from the wordplay, and I also needed Google to confirm why 19d was what it was. Favourite was probably 13d, but lots to like otherwise. Thanks!

  3. Well done indeed – some excellent anagrams and very clever wordplay. My personal favourites were 3d and 6d plus 25a, like 2Kiwis it took a while to get it !

    Rookie Corner is now a regular Monday pleasure for me, not just to check out the opposition (!) but also to offer encouragement to fellow rookies, which if they are anything like me, I’m sure is gratefully received.

    Thanks a lot, Axolotl, and I look forward to your next effort :-)

  4. A bit of a mixed bag for me. Some very deft clueing, I thought, but some (25A and 27A for instance) that I am left wondering what the definition is. I also don’t understand the ‘caught’ in 21A. Enjoyable overall, though. I liked 1A, 15A and 17D in particular. Thanks, Axolotl. Looking forward to the review.

    1. I understood the “caught” to be a homophone indicator as caught = heard as in “I didn’t quite catch that”

  5. Thanks Axolotl, very enjoyable with some excellent surfaces. My favourites were 20a, 1d (new word to me as well), 4d and 23d.

    Like Expat Chris I didn’t quite understand 27a, but I hesitate to expose my ignorance of Turkish baths and / or blue movies so I will wait for the review on that and a couple of others which I can’t exactly parse but I’m sure it’s just me.

    Was wondering about the “house” in 2d which I gather is supposed to mean “in” – “home” would do the job, but does “house”?

    Also wanted to get the thoughts of the group about 25a. I know if I were writing that clue I wouldn’t be sure if it would find favour since there’s no real definition, and as far as I can see it’s not quite an &lit although there is the idea of the cup in there. Am I missing something? What are people’s thoughts on whether this is fair? It’s very gettable from the wordplay so perhaps people are more inclined to be flexible. Not a criticism from me, I enjoyed that clue and the rest of the puzzle, just wondering what the consensus was, for my own purposes when I’m next setting.

    Very enjoyable thanks Axolotl

  6. Thank you so much for your comments. Your points about 2d, 25a and 27a are very valid. “Home” would have been preferable to “house” in 2d. I go through every clue again and again checking for mistakes, but this one slipped past. As for 25a and 27a I was hoping these would qualify as &lits. The fact you solved them, gives me some comfort, but your reservations are enough for me to accept that they are not completely fair, so I do apologise for these two being sub-par. Glad to hear, though, that you seem to have enjoyed the rest.

    1. I like 25a and Silvanus has also picked as a favourite – I was just interested in whether other stricter solvers would have an issue with it. My own view is if it’s gettable then it’s fair, and this was eminently gettable, but now when I come to writing clues myself I’m trying to be a bit more scientific about figuring out what the rules are so I was just trying to canvass opinion.

      1. Well, Beet, I suppose everything is subjective. I occasionally come across clues in the main dailies which seem very dodgy to me, but must have been passed by the editor. Although I am not a 100% Ximenean, I do aim for “fairness”. I also think that sometimes a really good surface reading can justify some bending of the rules, especially for an &lit, which I see as the pinnacle of setting. It’ll be interesting to see what Prolixic thinks!

  7. Thanks Axolotl.
    12d is the one that took me the longest time to solve. I was looking for a planet or satellite somewhere in the universe. You can imagine the time it takes to scan.
    Have the same problems with 25 and 27a. Although the anagram in 25a would work if it was criminal to drink tea or if the exclamation mark was the Chinese symbol for cha.
    That didn’t stop me from enjoying the crossword.
    Will read on tomorrow and hope the reviewer will be kind to you.

  8. I really enjoyed this – lots of the answers made me laugh which is probably why.
    I was very slow to get started and then it all went quite well – now it’s all gone horribly wrong – can’t do 1 or 2d which makes me suspect that there’s something wrong with my 1a, but I don’t think there is.
    17d is a total ‘bungin’.
    Didn’t quite know what the definition was for 25a but just assumed that Axolotl hates the beastly stuff as much as I do so perhaps the definition was the ‘No!’ at the end of the clue.
    The clues I liked best are the ones that made me laugh so – 1, 10 and 20a (love the smell of it) and 3, 6 and 24d.
    With thanks and well done again to Axolotl.

    1. Hello Kath,
      I know it’s a bit late but as you guessed 1a is an anagram of sips sent I (one): The state you’ll probably be after this Saturday outing.
      1d is “on” as in about with the usual green dope that you smoke, well I don’t mean you personally, the lot reversed.
      2d is an anagram also of 1d with the word for “home” inside: When you show something with your finger.

      1. Thank you – my 1a was wrong – I had ‘spitiness’ which, as everyone will realise, is an anagram of everything that it was supposed to be but didn’t half ****** up 1 and 2d. Oh dear, oh dear – how silly!
        I can now do 1 and 2d – thanks again – will now be able to sleep!!
        PS I won’t be in a state of the right, or my wrong, answer to 1a on Saturday although, having been to a couple of these dos I suspect I may be the only one who isn’t!

  9. 23d, ouch ! good pun ! I got 25a by the anagram, no definition as far as I can see, must be one of those “all in one” clues .The trouble is , I do these on line and after going to comments, I can no longer see the puzzle.I like the King Cole pun as well.1d and 7d were new to me.Thank you Axolotl, very enjoyable.

  10. For 25a I faintly remembered tea leaf was cockney rhyming slang for thief, hence I thought how clever, criminal might serve as a definition, but that is dodgy too since criminal would then do double duty. To be an &-lit or all-in-one, I think the whole clue would need to be a definition which doesn’t seem to be the case here. This is one of my favourite teas, anyway, which helped me to get it!

    My favourite was “goes out with June first and May second”. Made me laugh when I got it. Last one in was King Cole, and I only saw how it was parsed after filling it in, duh..

    Great puzzle, nice variety of clues, I did wonder about the turkish bath and the home/house that have already been mentioned but a lovely variety of fair clues, well done! I look forward to the review

    Thank you axolotl

  11. Really enjoyed this, Axolotl, and didn’t have any objection to either 25 or 27a – although I do take the point others have made about lack of a definition in 25a. Lots of good clues – 20a was last in and probably favourite, but 1,6 & 11a, along with 23&24d came pretty close.
    Thank you – looking forward to the next one!

    1. hello Jane,
      I did wonder about 27a though. Steam or Sweat? I suppose it’s only down to how much effort you put into it.

      1. Oops! Meant to send (12) as a reply to you – must have got all ‘warm’ and pressed the wrong key!

  12. Ummm…….. I do think ‘steamy’ is used more frequently to describe blue movies/Turkish baths but I suppose that both could give rise to a certain amount of perspiring!

  13. Thank you everyone, including Prolixic, for your kind words of support – I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the puzzle. Prolixic spot on a always. As already posted, 2d (house/home) was a silly mistake – sorry. I also now realise that 25a and 27a were a bit iffy. That’s why I’m still a rookie I suppose!

  14. Like everyone else, I enjoyed this and had several chuckles. I liked many of the clues, like 1a, 6a and 19d, and also 25a which took me ages to work out! I got 27a, but wasn’t really sure how it worked. The only clue I couldn’t do was 23d. Very subtle! Some of the clues, like 20a, had me thinking out of the box, which was good. Incidentally, aside from 23d, I was able to follow the parsing correctly and did not have to resort to a dictionary or other aid.

    Many thanks for the enjoyable puzzle, Axolotl. And many thanks to Prolixic for the and constructive review.

    1. Oh dear! My profuse apologies. The three emoticons were meant to be for you both and should be at the end of the sentence, not in the middle! You most definitely deserve these, too, Axolotl so may I send these to you now

  15. The trekkie in me made me put HYPERSPACE for 12d then wouldn’t tell me why. Most entertaining puzzle & I look forward to more of the same.

    I must say that the Rookie crosswords are getting better than the NTSPPs. Lights blue touchpaper & stands back…

  16. Many thanks, Prolixic, for the excellent review – I was struggling to justify the answer to 1d. Those pesky one-letter abbs. still cause me problems! Have to also confess that, although I knew the word, I didn’t know the definition of 7d.

    Please can someone enlighten me – what does ‘&lit’ stand for?

    1. Hi Jane,
      7d is another French word for biting. Mordant MO for the medic RD for the road and ANT for the insect.
      For the &lit we’ll have to wait for someone else to explain.

      1. Thanks, Jean-luc. I’d got the wordplay sorted – just didn’t know what ‘mordant’ meant. Suspected it might have something to do with death. Perhaps as well I’ve never tried to use it in a sentence!

    2. It is short for “& literally so”, in other words the definition and the word play are identical.

    3. Hello Jane. This is rather after the event, but in case you should read this, Big Dave’s Little Guide to Cryptic Crosswords is truly excellent.If you look up at the lovely birthday banner, third item from the left is Cryptic Crosswords. The first item in that is the Crossword Guide. Big Dave describes the different kinds of clues and provides examples.

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