Rookie Corner 044 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 044

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I was delighted to meet Silvanus at the recent Birthday Bash.  Today we have his second 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.

Welcome back to Silvanus with his second crossword.  A lot of care had gone into this puzzle to produce some nice clues without being hair-tearingly difficult.  There were a few rough edges but overall this was enjoyable to solve and review.


1 What Polly put on might well cause whistling (6)
KETTLE – Something that whistles when it boils referred to in the nursery rhyme featuring Polly and Sukey.

4 Depression, without early diagnosis, could lead to removal (8)
EJECTION – Remove the first letter (early) of diagnosis from a word meaning depression.  I am in two minds about early as an initial letter indicator as early means before the start of something, not the start itself.

10 Father Newton issuing 9 Down? (5)
SIREN – A four letter word for father followed by the abbreviation for Newton.

11 Forgiving sailor is debt-free (9)
ABSOLVENT – The abbreviation for able seaman (sailor) followed by a word meaning having cash (not quite the same as debt-free).  The answer does not appear in Chambers as a word.

12 Broken chandelier, lacking colour, is of South American origin (7)
CHILEAN – Remove the letters of RED (colour) from CHANDELIER and make an anagram (broken) from those that remain.  There is an indirect subtractive anagram hidden in this clue as the solver has to find a colour and then remove the letters out of order.

13 One representative in the case of reemployment will leave a mark (7)
IMPRINT – One of the letters representing one followed by the abbreviation for member of parliament (representative) and the IN from the clue inside the outer letters (case of) redeployment.  Whilst the IN is used in the wordplay, there is then no insertion indicator to tell the solver to put in the “In” inside the letters. 

14 It’s morally acceptable to drop erring path for a change (5,3,6)
RIGHT AND PROPER – An anagram (for a change) of DROP ERRING PATH.

17 A rice blend is no exotic arrangement and unimportant (14)
INCONSIDERABLE – An anagram (exotic arrangement) of A RICE BLEND IS NO.

21 It s reported that a Cockney’s trial is delicately suspended (7)
EARRING – A homophone (it is reported) of how a Cockney would say “hearing” (trial).  Delicately suspended suggests an adjective but the answer is a noun.  Perhaps “one delicately suspended” would have overcome this.

23 Having grown up, met a rude awakening (7)
MATURED – An anagram (awakening) of MET A RUDE.  There are too many letters in the words to be used in the anagram.  I think that awakening is OK as an anagram indicator as it suggests a rousing or revival of something.

24 Doubtful whether unfinished net curtain needs adjustment (9)
UNCERTAIN – An anagram (needs adjustment) of NE (unfinished) CURTAIN.

25 Old saying still evident in the era of advertising (5)
ADAGE – Split 2,3 this could be the advertising era.

26 To strain so is unusual in realising his burning ambition (8)
ARSONIST – An anagram (is unusual) of STRAIN SO.  The initial “to” jars slightly as you have cryptic reading of TO wordplay IN REALISING definition.  Again the definition does not suggest a noun.  Perhaps “… unusual for a one with a burning ambition” would have been better.

27 The current collection of wealthy international socialites (3,3)
JET SET – Another word for current followed by another word for a collection.


1 Somehow Rick’s endless lust results in a Bill Haley feature (4,4)
KISS CURL – his signature hair feature…  An anagram (somehow) of RICKS LUS (endless lust).

2 Taking the side-road home and then going to bed (7,2)
TURNING IN – What you would be doing if taking a side-road followed by another word meaning home.

3 Let nine go free – very compassionate (7)
LENIENT – An anagram (go free) of LET NINE.  The very is surplus to the definition and could have been replaced with a link word “Let nine go free being compassionate.”

5 Legitimate obstacle for union with cause (4,10)
JUST IMPEDIMENT – A cryptic reference to the banns of marriage from the Book of Common Prayer.  “If any knows of an cause or **** ****”

6 Ignoring brief holiday, improvised play school song (7)
CALYPSO – Remove the letters of HOL (brief holiday) from PLAY SCHOOL and make an anagram (improvised) from the remaining letters.

7 Fragment of chalice Nigel unearthed is from an ancient tribe (5)
ICENI – The answer is hidden (fragment of) CHALICE NIGEL.

8 Express in symbolic form the absence of gallery (6)
NOTATE – Split 2,4, this could indicate a lack of a British art gallery.

9 Agitated swans glaring in alarming displays (7,7)
WARNING SIGNALS – An anagram (agitated) of SWANS GLARING IN.

15 Letter to Scottish island by ship to cause discomfort (9)
EMBARRASS – A two letter phonetic spelling of the letter M followed by the name of a Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides and the abbreviation for steamship.

16 Incredibly shattered with no time to find capital support (8)
HEADREST – An anagram (incredibly) of SHATTERED without one of the Ts for time.

18 Old unit of length denoted by a Greek letter (7)
OMICRON – The abbreviation for old followed by a unit of length equal to one millionth of a metre.

19 Renew the outline of crumbling terrace (7)
RETRACE – An anagram (crumbling) of TERRACE.

20 Mythological monster beamed halfway across America (6)
MEDUSA – Half of the word beamed over the three letter abbreviation for America.  I don’t think that across means over or above in the context of the clue.

22 Music’s a hazard to navigation, especially if played by 10 Across (5)
ROCKS – A double definition though I think that the clue could have ended after “navigation”.

60 comments on “Rookie Corner 044

  1. Not quite sure what I’m doing up at this time of night but I enjoyed this puzzle. Not too difficult but a few smiles along the way. I do have a few quibbles though:-

    The Ximeneans among us would say that both 12a and 6d need a second anagram indicator as the letters we are supposed to remove aren’t in the correct order. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest but I’ve heard the comment before.

    In 20d I’m not keen on ACROSS as this sounds like a containment indicator. OVER would have worked better in a down clue.

    23a, if the answer is supposed to be an anagram of MET A RUDE it doesn’t work, there’s an extra E in the fodder.

    Like I said, I enjoyed it and look forward to more so well done and thanks to Silvanus.

  2. We really enjoyed this one. Lots of anagrams but clever and amusing ones. All our problems were in the NE where we searched through quite a few options for 4a before settling on the correct one and this certainly helped us with the first word of 5d. There seems to be an extra E in the anagram fodder as we read the clue for 23a, or maybe we have missed something.
    A big thank you Silvanus, good stuff.

  3. Thanks Silvanus for a fun puzzle! I enjoyed the surface reading of several clues, 1 across my favourite. As an accountant I have to nit pick though and say that “debt-free” is not an accurate synonym of the required part-solution of 11ac… A company can have a large amount of debt and still meet the required ratios with ease!
    Looking forward to more puzzles.

    1. Welcome from us too Andrewkiwi. We look forward to hearing from you again now that you have de-lurked.

  4. I thought the surface readings of these clues were very good, my favourites were 1ac, 3 and 9 down,

    Apart from the extra letter at 23 ac (I can’t parse it away?) all the clues seemed to work fine. Only constructive criticism I can offer is that there were an awful lot of anagrams.

    Very well done silvanus, very enjoyable

  5. It was good to meet Silvanus at Bridge House. I enjoyed the puzzle. As others have said there are probably too many anagrams. As well as the drug overdose in 23a I thought that 13a doesn’t quite work – the IN seems to be doing double duty. Also there are some ‘padding’ words which could be omitted to make the clues tighter, e.g. ‘a’ in 1d, ‘then’ in 2d and ‘very’ in 3d.
    My favourites were in the NW corner – 1a and 1d.

  6. Loved it, I am of the generation to recognise reference in 1d and being an anagram fiend I enjoyed them but can see that for non-anagram people there might have been too many. Sense of achievement when completed but have incurred wrath of OH because I am supposed to be getting breakfast not doing crosswords. Keep up the good work Silvanus.

    1. Hi Hilary,
      In France 1d is even lovelier. It’s is called an “Accroche Coeur”.

  7. Many thanks to all those who have responded and commented thus far, and sincere apologies for my mistake (or drug overdose as Gazza delightfully called it) with 23a.

    It’s amazing how one can check and re-check clues and still miss the obvious – a classic case of being too close to one’s product and needing an independent pair of eyes I think !

    I have to concur that I rather overdid the number of anagrams, but like Hilary I’m extremely partial to them, although I shall attempt to rein them in a tad in future puzzles.

    I’m very glad that the enjoyment/satisfaction factor seems to be very positive, that is always great to hear :-)

    1. Hi Silvanus – since I managed to put the wrong clue for the wrong number in my last effort, I have buddied up with fellow Rookie Sprocker to test-solve each other puzzles. Although it’s no replacement for Prolixic’s expert review, I think we both find it very useful and it should pick up basic errors like your anagram one. Why don’t you see if one of the other Rookies would like to have the same sort of arrangement? If you don’t get any volunteers then I’m sure that we could expand to a test-solving trio.

      1. Thanks, Beet, that’s a very good idea.

        Apart from you I haven’t yet had any meaningful dialogue with other rookies, but if nothing else materialises and if you and Sprocker have no objection, then I’d be honoured to take up your kind offer.

        1. Hi Silvanus,

          Congrats on a very enjoyable puzzle – as has been commented on the surface readings were excellent, and it was lots of fun (and I for one don’t mind the anagram count!). As per Beet’s comments then for my part I’d be more than happy to expand our arrangement. As you say, even going over it time and again, it’s much easier for a fresh set of eyes to spot things.

          1. Hi Sprocker,

            Many thanks indeed both for the kind comments and also for being happy to support Beet’s idea of a potential test-solving trio.

            Perhaps I can revert on this in the near future, once my next puzzle has been drafted. Happy to offer my assistance (and an additional pair of eyes) to both you and Beet in the meantime of course.

            1. Thanks, sounds all good. Big Dave was kind enough to share our respective email addresses between myself and Beet, so perhaps he can do the honours again.

  8. I enjoyed this a great deal, too. The only hold up I had was 18D — not one of the usual suspects when Greek letters turn up in crosswords and I don’t know the lot by heart so had to check. The abundance of anagrams didn’t bother me, though I thought that they made the crossword as a whole a bit too easy. I’m with Gazza on 13A. Loved 1D because it brought up an immediate visual image. Several others made me smile, but my favorite by far is 22D. Great job, Sylvanus!

  9. A jolly and entertaining puzzle that kept me occupied slightly longer than Rufus this morning. On reading through again I appreciated some nice surfaces – something I deliberately ignore when I am solving. As others have noted a bit heavy on the anagrams and I would have liked one or two clues with a bit more meat to them to give it more of a balance. Overall a very good effort and I appreciated the name check!

  10. I really enjoyed this puzzle, and I agree with all of pommers’ comments above. Even though I found it pretty close to read & write, that didn’t detract from the fun.

    I like anagrams but there were too many, even for my taste. On the positive side, there were no obscurities, the cluing was clear and fair, and the surface readings were generally plausible and amusing.

    Many thanks, Silvanus, and I hope to see more from you in the future!

  11. Thank you Silvanus – I liked the simplicity of your crossword, the fact that there weren’t obscure words for answers and – with a couple of exceptions – everything straightforward and well constructed. I particularly liked 10, 1 and 6. I got the answer to 13 but still don’t understand how you’ve clued it other than one member and the meaning. I also noted an extra “e” in 23 but other than these two I thought the rest of the clues sang along nicely. Once again -thank you Silvanus

    1. Penko, for 13a the last four letters are obtained by putting “in” inside “rt” the first and last letters (case) of re-employment. As Gazza has pointed out above, the “in” seems to be doing double duty.

  12. Congratulations, what a nice achievement putting this together. I didn’t find it too easy, with some clues holding me up for a while or needing revisiting. Last one in was 5d, just after 4a gave me the checking letter. There are some minor niggles and I agree with other comments especially Gazza.
    There is no rule for the number of anagrams, it’s just that a variety of clue types gives your crossword balance – and I thought you threw in some interesting clue types. I wasn’t sure about some of the anagram indicators (awakening?) but again this is not a precise science and different people have different preferences.

    Many thanks Silvanus

  13. Enjoyed this one even more than your last one Silvanus.
    Some nice surface reading.
    Noticed the extra letter in 23a but took no notice.
    Liked 6d a lot.
    Thanks for the fun.

  14. My favourites were 1a, 4a and 22d. Not exactly a replacement for a toughie, but very enjoyable.I don’t know the Greek alphebet by heart so that Greek letter was my last one in.

  15. thank you Rabbit Dave for the explanation. I think imprint to start with is maybe presenting rather involved nuances to solve. In terms of the greek character answer when I got it, I couldn’t help blurting out OMC! ( even though I have no idea what a “cron” is! Everybody is so nice – if only the rest of the world could follow suit. Take care! Lots of Love Penko

    1. Thanks Jean Luc – I did get that one – clearly a failed attempt at a joke by me – so OMC cf OMG. Also “imprint to start with Is Maybe Presenting Rather Involved Nuances To solve I.e imprint

      1. I got the OMC joke ( I thought it was funny!), but missed the imprint one. I’m going to be reading your comments much more carefully in future!

      2. Sorry I didn’t spot it. So annoying, It’s just the subtle kind of humour I like.

      3. I don’t know you wait ages for one sub-tle appreciation and all of a sudden two come along at once!

  16. Really enjoyable, Silvanus – many thanks (I love anagrams!).
    Only holdup was a determination to make ‘eviction’ work at 4a – left me with a first word of 5d that was feasible (at a stretch) but didn’t answer ‘depression’ in the 4a clue!

    Best of the bunch for me were 4a (finally!), 8d and the surface reading of 27a, although it possibly didn’t need the initial ‘the’?
    Smile of the day goes to 21a.

    Looking forward to your next one.

    1. We recognise your train of thought with 4a. ‘Eduction’ was the next option that we played with until we couldn’t make it work either. Cheers.

  17. I’m pretty well in agreement with all the comments above (if any are contradictory, just call me Schrödinger’s Kitty). The only reference I needed was a quick check that a certain island existed. I do know the Greek letter names so 18d was no problem. Back when I was very little I was 20d in a school assembly. I wore a box over my head adorned with paper snakes. Some said it was an improvement…

    Anyway, it was a most enjoyable solve – thanks Silvanus A great improvement on your last puzzle, so I am very much looking forward to your next one. Clues like 1a, 8d and 22d bode well for your future as a setter.

  18. My printer has decided not to work tonight. As I prefer to do crosswords on paper I have hand drawn the grid and completed it.

    Mini assessment…I agree with others about 23a but it a minor quibble. As a fan of anagrams I certainly enjoyed them.

    Sorry for the rather brief review, I’ll endeavour to write more tomorrow.

    I really did enjoy this with 1a, 1d and 6d providing amusement.

    I’m looking forward to more from you.

  19. Many thanks indeed to Prolixic for his customary thorough review and analysis, I’m pleased that there were fewer “rough edges” this time which demonstrates that I must be improving !

    Thanks once again to all those who attempted the puzzle and especially to those who provided encouraging comments and suggested tweaks. This sort of feedback is invaluable and is an enormous reason why Rookie Corner has been so important to me and my fellow novice setters since its inception.

    A final thank you to Big Dave for his assistance in a last minute change to one of the clues, luckily it fitted seamlessly in the end !

    My next puzzle is already under way and I hope it will be slightly trickier with more of a balance in the clue types :-)

  20. This was very enjoyable. Most was not too difficult, but there was a sprinkling of clues that required quite a bit thought before the penny dropped. 4a was one such for me. Faves were 1a and 1d. I also particularly liked 10a and 22d, as well as 20d.

    I felt a good deal of care had been taken over this puzzle. Although there were rather a lot of anagrams, some I thought very good. I must confess to having chuckled at 23a even though it has a letter too many. What a pity! I managed to follow all the parsing correctly, even 13a — eventually.

    Big thanks to Sylvanus for a very enjoyable second puzzle, and to Prolixic for an excellent and constructive review.

  21. Good stuff! If I had one minor carp it would be the overabundance of anagrams but that’s from someone who has never set a puzzle in his life & is unlikely to do so.

      1. One day maybe when I finally retire (2 attempts so far). Where do you get the empty grids from , always assuming that is where to start?

        1. I am old-school: pen and paper and lots and lots of fiddling. However, I know that there are much better ways out there – one of the other rookies or setters will probably be able to point you in the right direction.

        2. I don’t know if Beet did the same, but I started either by utilising the formats of grids previously published in the Telegraph or by inventing my own grids, but the second method carries a number of risks (lack of symmetry, too many unchecked letters, corners not joining up (!!) etc), so the first method is probably the safest.

          As Beet says, why not give it a go, even if initially you just use friends or family as a sounding board.

        3. Hi Spindrift I am retired and prior to that was a manager (which is nearly an anagram of anagram!). Anyway, the mechanics of putting pen to paper or rather finger to keyboard are much easier with an App on your PC. The only one I know is the one I’ve got which is Crossword Compiler – I had it for Christmas. Depending on how many aspects of it you actually get it can be expensive but I’ve found it really good thus far though am pretty much at the technophobe end of the IT literacy continuum so I know there’s more I could do with it. But with what I’ve got, my current ability to actually use it, a pen and paper and Chambers Dictionary as much for definitions as anything (other Dictionaries are available of course), the whole thing has broadened my experience of crosswords though some days – today is a good example – my brain doth hurt!

          Something I would like to have is the Guardian Crossword grids – I did write and ask but never got a reply so maybe it’s not the done thing or something. If anybody knows anything about that I’d love to hear about it

          best wishes to all


          1. Penko, the Guardian crosswords are free on-line. Why not just print out the empty grids as they appear?

            Why are the Guardian grids so special?

            (I’ve just spelt Guardian twice without a single smelling mistake!)

          2. thanks Franco, Kitty, Jean-luc, Kitty and Franco again. I understand that the Guardian only uses its own grids which are numbered so whilst in theory I can copy them off the website I wouldn’t know which grid number it was. Anyway. I’m sure that’ll all come to pass i.e. getting access to grids. In the meantime, I just want to reiterate how nice it is that folks are nice to each other – which of course in turn would not be possible without our host Big Dave. Crosswords with warm words and cold lager is clear gold/amber nectar – other lagers are available – and indeed some of ’em are in my fridge! Best wishes to all Penko

    1. I’m overwhelmed by the responses – thank you all. It looks I’ve set myself a challenge – watch this space but don’t hang around too long as I still have 2 businesses to run (albeit they are small)!

      1. Exciting! I wonder how many other commenters we can persuade to take up the setting challenge in 2015? Also when Silvanus says why not just share with friends and family – you know that we are all friends in Rookie Corner right? We want to see the results here!

        1. Thanks Beet for the encouragement. My first attempt will be shared with my 84 yrs old mother who completes 2 cryptic crosswords every day& has done since as long as I can remember. As she’s from Yorkshire I am sure of an honest appraisal.

  22. Always so interesting to read your Rookie reviews, Prolixic. When clues don’t ‘work’ for me, I would often struggle to say exactly why – your explanations are much appreciated.
    The Rookies are indeed lucky to have the benefit of your clear-sightedness and I think many of us solvers gain a great deal of insight into clue construction.

    Many thanks.

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