Rookie Corner 048 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 048

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Silvanus returns to provide this week’s entertainment  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.

A crossword does not need to be difficult to be enjoyable as this outing from Silvanus shows us.  A lot of attention has been paid to the wordplay and (usually) the surface readings.


1 Knock down bridge for access over track (5,8)
LEVEL CROSSING – A word meaning knock down or raze something following by another word for a bridge.

9 Demanding half-sister seized by purpose (9)
INSISTENT –Half of the word sister goes inside (seized by) a word meaning purpose

10 Time Switzerland was placed last after record “nul points” (5)
EPOCH – A type of old vinyl record followed by the letter representing 0 or “nul points” and the IVR code for Switzerland.

11 Muse or ponder a topic a little (5)
ERATO – The answer is hidden in (a little) PONDER A TOPIC.

12 Purchaser announced for cowshed (4)
BYRE – A homophone of buyer (purchaser).

13 Conduct dodgy deal (4)
LEAD – An anagram (dodgy) of DEAL.

15 Turned uneven tart to be finished off (7)
TRENDED – The odd (uneven) letters of TaRt followed by a word meaning to be finished off.   Chambers gives the turned as a synonym for the answer.

17 Source guarded by the German resident (7)
DWELLER – A source of water or oil has one of the German words for “the” around it (guarded by).

18 Accounts for explosive noises (7)
REPORTS –A double definition.

20 Face the wrong way before endless street of eucalyptus, for instance (7)
GUMTREE – Reverse (the wrong way) a three letter informal word for the face and follow this with the inner letters (endless) of street.  Chambers gives the answer as 3,4.  Also, you can use definition OF wordplay in a clue but wordplay of definition is not universally approved of.

21 Rosemary exemplifies a lady’s ultimate aplomb (4)
HERB = Another word for “a lady’s” followed by the last letter (ultimate) of aplomb.  I think that definition is exemplified by wordplay works better than definition exemplifies wordplay which seems to me to put things in the wrong order.  The “a” could be have omitted from the clue but including the indefinite article is not a problem with clues.

22 Essex chap losing his head making comeback as a female singer (4)
DIVA – Remove the first letter (losing his head) from the singer (***** Essex) and reverse (making a comeback) the remaining letters.

23 React poorly to keyboard symbol (5)
CARET – An anagram (poorly) of REACT.

26 Pop up again, freed from meagre current (5)
RECUR – The answer is hidden (freed from) MEAGRE CURRENT.

27 Penetrate what Derek may do too well, say (5,4)
DRILL INTO – This is a homophone (say) of “What derrick may do to well”.  I like the idea of the homophone applying to more than one word in the wordplay.  Sadly, Chambers defines derrick as the framework that supports the boring apparatus, not the apparatus itself.

28 Rely on written interpretation to find one’s numbers have come up (7,6)
LOTTERY WINNER – An anagram (interpretation) of RELY ON WRITTEN.


1 Hunt county for cheese list I err in misplacing (14)
LEICESTERSHIRE – … a county once associated with fox hunting.  An anagram (misplacing) of CHEESE LIST I ERR.  The construction definition for wordplay is back to front as the usual order is wordplay for definition.

2 Holy man occupying Roman thoroughfare is quite a prospect! (5)
VISTA – The abbreviation for saint (holy man) goes inside a Latin word for a road.

3 Final call for unusual lard stores? (4,6)
LAST ORDERS – An anagram (unusual) of a LARD STORES.  The surface reading here is not the most convincing.

4 Broadcast study of river floor and important wetland feature (4,3)
REED BED – A homophone (broadcast) of read (study) followed by another word for the floor of a river.

5 Took action about upset routine. It’s all sewn up! (7)
SUTURED – A word meaning took legal action goes around a reversal (upset) of word for routine.

6 Mountain goat on island is cross (4)
IBEX – The abbreviation for island followed by a word meaning to exist (is) and the letter representing a cross.  I don’t think that be and is are precise synonyms but are close, is a conjugation of the verb to be.

7 Forgetting keys, woodcutter is a crawler (9)
GROVELLER – A five letter word for a wood or glade followed by another word for a cutter with two keys or musical notes removed from the beginning (forgetting keys).  As there is one key or musical note at the end of the word for a wood, this is perhaps slightly unfair as not all the keys are lost.

8 Immediately prior to daybreak, proverbially, Theo heard Turks cavorting (3,7,4)
THE DARKEST HOUR – An anagram (cavorting) of THEO HEARD TURKS.

14 Back sick vicar to trap rodents with pasta (10)
VERMICELLI – Reverse (back) ILL REV (sick vicar) and include (to trap) a word for rodents.

16 Based on experience I nearly telephone leading large organisation, which is pointless (9)
EMPIRICAL – Remove the final letter from I CALL (In nearly telephone) and ahead of this (leading – Yoda like applied to the words that follow) a word for a large organisation with the final E removed (which is pointless).  I don’t think that leading here works well because A leading B does not save in a very strained way mean B before A.  Also, it is not made explicit which of the cardinal points is to be removed from the word for a large organisation.

19 Breeze from the south facing the French cheat (7)
SWINDLE – The abbreviation for south followed by a word for breeze followed by the French masculine for “the”.

20 The importance of physical attraction (7)
GRAVITY – Double definition, the second in the Newtonian sense of the word.

24 Rush home to an altercation (3,2)
RUN IN – A word for rush followed by a word for home.

25 Worry that pink sheets are covering soldiers (4)
FRET – The shortened form of the pink financial newspaper around (covering) the abbreviation for the sappers (soldiers).  In a down clue, A covering B usually means A on top of B.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner 048

  1. I think the on-line answer for 21a is incorrect as the answer accepted ends in E when it should logically be a B.

  2. Nicely put together clues that all have good surface reading and gave us plenty to smile about. It went together quite quickly for us. We can’t decide between 7d and 14d as favourite but as there are two of us, reckon we can get away with having two. Good fun.
    Thanks Silvanus.

  3. I found all the clues read well and the level of difficulty was very consistent throughout, which I really like. A little easy for me but this would be a great crossword for someone developing their cryptic awareness to have a crack at. Favourite is 10a whose surface reading made me laugh, and did you know that Australia are entering this year! Not sure how they qualify as European… Many thanks Silvanus and looking forward to seeing more!

  4. Nice one, Silvanus, although there are a couple of clues that puzzle me. I’m not convinced that the answer to 15A matches the definition. Since the 2Kiwis have noted 7D as a favorite, I must be missing something because I can’t parse it yet. And 27A just doesn’t work for me, I’m afraid. But I have learned something new. In all the years I’ve been pecking away at my keyboard, I’ve never had cause to use 23A! I know what its function is as an editing symbol, of course, but that’s the extent of it. I had to Google to find out it’s other use. I liked 5D and 20D and 28A.

  5. Thanks for sharing this Silvanus – a very pleasant solve – nothing stupidly difficult, but with a few that took a while. Some nice surfaces: I liked “ponder” in 11a, “dodgy deal” in 13a, ” react poorly” in 23a, and in contrast to expat chris, I had marked 27a as a rather clever homophone. My favourite has to be 28a, which has a nice all-in-one flavour. 7d (the woodcutter) took me a while to parse. In 14d I was misled into trying somehow to use “vermin” in the parsing – nice one! I thought 20d was nice.

    I did think 15a was a little clunky and I wasn’t sure what the “a” was doing in 21a. I wasn’t convinced by the wordplay in 6d (be=is? or maybe I am missing something), and it seemed to me that “leading” in 16d put things in the wrong order (or maybe I am missing something again). Perhaps the review will help clarify.

    But all in all very enjoyable, thank you very much

  6. Nice one – Silvanus, I really think you improve with every puzzle. I particularly liked 5,14&20d but my favourite has to be 1a which read well and made me smile. Also, well done for being the only recent setter to have used the word ‘rodent’ correctly!

    Had to check my 15a answer – I didn’t know that definition, neither was I familiar with 23a, although I suspect it was lurking in the dark recesses of the old grey matter!

    Someone may well correct me, but I think 20a is actually two words in the context in which you are using it. I also thought the lovely phrase at 8d deserved a less clunky clue.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Jane, there are a lot of 20a in this corner of the world and one word is perfectly fine and correct in that context. Often shortened to the first three letters alone, but to have it as two words would in fact be somewhat tautological!

      1. Hi Andrew – I knew someone would come back to me on that one! All my internet trawling re: eucalyptus gave the answer as two words and I can’t see why it would be tautological – ‘gum’ being a secretion from a ‘tree’. Perhaps it has simply entered into language as a single word in areas of the world where eucalyptus are widely grown? It is also now widely known as a website name and I wondered whether that had been uppermost in the mind of the setter?

        Glad to have you on board on the BD site – I suspect you will become a regular commenter and it’s always good to have fresh thoughts on the puzzles.

        1. Hi Jane, I shall be formally thanking everyone tomorrow (post review) but I couldn’t resist replying now to your comment, since you are almost certainly right that I was influenced by having the commercial company of the same name in my mind !!

          I’m more than happy though to accept Andrew’s useful local input even if the BRB may back your initial thoughts !

          1. No problem, Silvanus – I’m actually rather delighted that, for once, I was able to look into the mind of one of our younger setters! I do try to keep up but not always with much success – particularly on the IT and current jargon fronts.

          2. Apologies – I’ll have to get a BRB!

            Collins is on my side, having for gumtree:

            “any of various trees that yield gum, such as the eucalyptus, sweet gum, and sour gum Sometimes shortened to: gum”

            whence “gum tree” in such context would be a shortening of “gumtree tree”! Hence the tautology.

    2. The thing I don’t really like about 20a is the use of endless when it means both ends.

  7. Very enjoyable. Thank you very much. I do agree tha 15a is confusing. But I really enjoyed it.

  8. Thanks Silvanus,
    Found it a bit easier than the last two.
    27a was quite misleading as I first thought of delve. Del for Derek is the usual but to have the clue as a homophone was very clever. As we say in France, you’re Le Roi Du Petrole.
    Like Jane I love the phrase in 8d, but favourite is the hidden word in 26a.

  9. The primary reason 27A doesn’t work for me is because a derrick doesn’t drill into anything. It is just a framework for hoisting or, in the oil or gas industry, for suspending the drill bit.

    1. Oh dear, Chris – I hadn’t come anywhere close to being that clever. I was looking at a homophone (poor, I admit) of Derek being ‘rill’ as in ‘really’ into something. Your answer is, I’m certain, the correct one – but at least I spared myself getting into the issue of framework!

      1. Not clever, just many years spent working in the underground construction industry so I’m familiar with the structure and deep drilling.

  10. Fabulous Silvanus, great fun and I like puzzles that aren’t too taxing. I guess I am still developing my cryptic awareness. I liked 7d and 20d the best.

  11. I’ve changed my mind. Jane’s last comments on the back page made me realise that I forgot about the singer in 22a. David Essex! What a great clue. Definitely my favourite.

    1. Hi Jean-luc, have to admit it took me a while to discount ‘Joey’ as being the only Essex chap I could come up with!

      1. I too was looking for the equivalent masculine version of Sharon or Tracy. But the clue is so witty. Not only David can’t really be considered as an Essex first name but it also sound so posh to say Essex chap as if one had forgotten his first name.

          1. Who is is Joey Essex? And on another point, I googled the Gumtree company and no surprise that I’ve never heard of it.

          2. My god! No. We seem to be missing something there. He’s only 25 and did so much. His Autobiography is probably coming out soon.

  12. A big thank you to everyone who tackled my latest puzzle and especially those who took the trouble to provide feedback – your comments are extremely valued I can assure you !

    Thanks also to Prolixic for his usual clue by clue analysis and of course to Big Dave for his continued support and for setting everything up.

    A special mention is due to my fellow Rookies, Beet and Sprocker, for their assistance with test-solving and critical input in this first puzzle of our three-way collaboration. Without their help the rough edges would definitely have been much greater and I think that we are all benefiting from the process

    1. Now I know why Beet and Sprocker didn’t comment this time around. I missed them. I do like that you three are supporting each other. The down side for us is that when your fellow rookies have been involved in the process, we don’t get to see their comments on here!

      1. I’m also missing Kitty – she has been a regular supporter of RC, I hope that she will leave a comment or two soon

        1. :). Hi Silvanus! I don’t always manage to find time on a Monday, but do try to get round to the Rookie when I can. I have now solved it – comments coming soon…

    2. We live in hope that one day between the three of us we will manage to spot all the glitches and get one passed Prolixic without any corrections. Not there yet but I think we are steadily improving!

  13. I think your collaboration is working brilliantly and, to be honest, I thought this puzzle knocked today’s back-pager for six. Clues are getting more concise, answers more pithy and I see less and less of the experts red pens being wielded in the reviews.

    Well done to all of you – I hope you’re proud of your achievements.

  14. Mondays would not be Mondays without the rookie.
    Such a great idea from our mentor.
    Keep it up.

  15. I very much enjoyed this – thanks Silvanus.

    A refreshingly easier than usual Rookie puzzle, which was fun to do and caused no problems except for the parsing of 27a and a question mark over 6d’s be for is.

    I kind of agree with Jane about 8d. It reminds me of the Demotivators Despair poster.

    In 14d, Dutch may have wanted vermin but I wanted rats. The answer was much micer. Sorry.

    Thinks I particularly liked:
    The clueing of half-sister for sis.
    13a, 4d, 5d and 14d.
    20d. Brevity, physics and attraction. Win.
    The imagery in 25d. What a gift that pink organ is to crosswords.

    Speaking of 25d, that is one of the rules that I don’t much like. Sure, in a down clue covering can mean on top of, but why should it not surround it just as happily when vertical as horizontal? Actually, I’ve just changed my mind a bit by thinking of hats and shoes and coats and lids and various other coverings, but I’ll leave my initial thoughts here.

    I don’t mind wordplay of definition, since the wordplay is formed of the definition by the setter just as much as the definition is formed of the wordplay by the solver. Similarly, definition for wordplay isn’t too bad in my book. But my book is a notebook, constantly being added to and deleted from.

    Anyway, great stuff. Thanks again Silvanus, and thanks to Prolixic for the unpicking of the clues and clarification of some of the rules.

    1. Many thanks indeed Kitty :-)

      Such detailed feedback is ideal for us Rookies, and I know you seldom disappoint in that respect, which is why you were conspicuous by your absence until now !

      1. That’s exactly why I like to make some time before doing these. Short comments are fine – all (constructive) comments are useful for you, but that extra bit of detail is worth putting in if possible.

        Happy setting – I look forward to your next one :).

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