Rookie Corner 052 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 052

A Puzzle by Snape

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s time for another new Rookie to put his head above the parapet.  Snape thinks this is a fairly easy puzzle – do you agree?  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.

(review by Gazza)

Prolixic is having some time off following a family bereavement so I’m being a poor substitute this week. Before he passed the baton to me he did mention that this is Rookie number 52 which means that a year has passed since Rookie Corner was started and that a year-end review would be in order – I’m not going to attempt that (I’ll leave it for Prolixic next week). I’ll just say that BD’s brainwave in bringing in the feature has brightened up Mondays in Crosswordland no end and introduced us to a number of new setters who undoubtedly have a bright future.

This week we welcome another new setter. Snape has produced a very entertaining puzzle with a good mixture of clue types and some fine surfaces. It raised several titters which made it all the more enjoyable. My main suggestion is that he should be a bit more rigorous in making the definition match the answer in a grammatical sense – you should be able to replace the definition with the answer in a meaningful sentence.

Across Clues

9a Used to be head of humanities, but went back to be employed cleaning clothes (7)
WASHTUB – string together a verb meaning ‘used to be’, the head letter of humanities and the reversal (went back) of BUT. The definition here (employed …) is a verb form but the answer is a noun.

10a Inherit realm held by African country (7)
ERITREA – hidden in the clue. It should be the other way round – the African country is held by ‘inherit realm’.

11a A more bogus broadcast? No sound reason (7)
APHONIA – A (from the clue) followed by what sounds like phonier (more bogus). This is a medical term for the reason that someone is unable to speak.

12a Teaches about the problem with not writing a will (7)
ESCHEAT – an anagram (about) of TEACHES gives us property which reverts to the state if someone dies intestate.

13a Sometimes each anger-management course is significantly altered (3,6)
SEA CHANGE – hidden (some) in the clue. Some would object to the indicator and the first part of the hidden text being in the same word, but I think it’s fine. Again the definition (which is a sentence) doesn’t quite match the answer (which is a noun).

15a Wife has left second item for sale: a game of chance (5)
LOTTO – the second item in an auction would be LOT TWO. Drop the W(ife).

16a Duped badly, getting little thanks about being informed of the latest news (7)
UPDATED – an anagram (badly) of DUPED contains a small word of thanks reversed (about). I don’t think that ‘getting’ quite cuts the mustard as a containment indicator.

19a Announce you’re going to record a Christmas tradition (4,3)
YULE LOG – what sounds like “you’re going to” is followed by a written record.

20a Small firm breasts are held by this hooded beast (5)
COBRA – start with the abbreviation for a small company and add what some breasts are held or supported by. Superb!

21a Endlessly painful breast exposed? Get a grip! (4,2,3)
SORT IT OUT – an adjective meaning painful without its last letter is followed by ‘breast exposed’ or what’s known in polite circles as a wardrobe malfunction (3,3).

25a Flipping arcade game! (7)
PINBALL – cryptic definition of the type of arcade game which exercised one’s thumbs long before the arrival of texting.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a Take back devotees of Figwit, for example (7)
SNAFFLE – as someone who tries to avoid anything to do with Tolkien I had to look up Figwit. Apparently it’s a made up acronym (standing for “Frodo Is Great… Who Is That?”) for an unknown elf extra in the Lord of The Rings film. Reverse (back) what devotees of such a creature (3,4) could be.

28a Den returns! The origins of Eastenders not totally apparent (7)
EVIDENT – den is cleverly placed first so that it can be capitalised and make you think of the Dirty One in Eastenders. Actually it’s a disreputable club or bar. Reverse that (returns) and follow it with the first letters (origins) of three words in the clue.

29a Badly angered, go insane (7)
DERANGE – an anagram (badly) of ANGERED. This verb means to make or drive (someone) insane rather than to go insane.

Down Clues

1d Andy Murray’s girlfriend will contain herself when married, but now uses foul language (6)
SWEARS – this is a topical clue though (not being a great fan of Mr Cheerful) I had to look up the name of his girlfriend (who was caught using foul language towards one of his opponents). Take her surname and insert what she will become (i.e. a W(ife)) when they are married. This is the second use of W(ife).
kim sears

2d A maths problem leaves one short of breath (6)
ASTHMA – A (from the clue) followed by an anagram (problem) of MATHS. Again, the definition requires a verb but the answer is a noun. Just inserting ‘that’ between ‘problem’ and ‘leaves’ would make it work well.

3d Alien being shown where students go (4)
ETON – Spielberg’s alien is followed by an adverb meaning being shown (at a cinema, say).

4d To get drunk I bat on (6)
OBTAIN – an anagram (drunk) of I BAT ON.

5d Critically cut off cathedral city (8)
SEVERELY – a charade a verb to cut off and the name of a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire.

6d Said to choose a flower with relish (10)
PICCALILLI – this sounds like (said) a phrase to choose a specific type of flower. I don’t like ‘with’ as a link word.

7d Poor relation of China, say (8)
ORIENTAL – an anagram (poor) of RELATION.

8d Vocal chords? (8)
PARTSONG – cryptic definition of an unaccompanied song with parts in harmony. The clue really relies for its cryptic quality on a pun, in that it sounds like vocal cords.

14d Pop charts originally always declared every Sunday after standard was achieved (3,7)
HIT PARADES – a bit of nostalgia here, looking back to the weekly charts presented by Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman on Sunday afternoons in the 1960s. The first letters (originally) of four words in the clue follow a phrase meaning standard was achieved or achieved standard (3,3). ‘Origins’ has already been used to select first letters (in 28a) so a different word would have been better here.

16d Never having been picked to play Bruce Wayne, perhaps, take the lead of Parker (8)
UNCAPPED – I don’t think that this really works because you have to use the definition as part of the wordplay. An actor who’s never been chosen to play the Caped Crusader could be described as UNCAPED and that goes round (take) the leading letter of P(arker) (Peter Parker aka Spiderman).

17d Socialite broadcasting with charm (8)
DEBONAIR – a young socialite of the type who used to ‘come out’ (but not in the 21a sense!) is followed by a phrase meaning broadcasting (2,3).

18d Balls up! Not nearly on time. Gutted (8)
DESOLATE – the wordplay is clever and misdirects – at first I thought the last two letters came from ‘time’ without the middle (gutted), but that’s not the case. Start with the reversal (up) of the forename of the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and add a phrase (2,4) meaning not nearly on time.

22d Belong, if somehow removed from comfortable place at home (6)
RESIDE – remove the IF (but with letters not in that order, hence the ‘somehow’) from a word for a comfortable and warm place in the house.

23d A bad shove ha’penny shot may cause upset (6)
OFFEND – a shot that’s hit way too hard means that your ha’penny shoots past the scoring areas on the board and goes … (3,3). The wordplay really needs a verb such as ‘go’, e.g. ‘Where a bad shove ha’penny shot may go to cause upset’.

24d Holiday destination based around sandcastles, for example (6)
THEMED – split the answer (3,3) to get a popular holiday destination.

27d Sacred heart remains here in Israel (4)
ACRE – a city in northern Israel where there are many historic remains has its name at the heart of sacred.

The ones which I liked best were 20a, 21a and 18d. Thanks, Snape – I’m looking forward to your next puzzle.


53 comments on “Rookie Corner 052

  1. Obscurities like the name in 1d and imaginary name in 26a made it far from easy for us. However we did get there in about average Toughie time except for 8d which we have not yet been able to parse. Some clever word play and we will go for 21a as favourite as it made us snigger and laugh.
    Thanks Snape.

  2. Only four clues made me pause and headscratch, so I’d say definitely more straightforward than some Rookies, which I think is a good thing. A couple of ‘old friends’ , a couple of ‘I know that words’ and a chance to laugh too.

    Well done Snape.

  3. I really enjoyed this and thought it was very accomplished. 10 a seems to be back to front, but lots of clues I really liked 9, 20 and 28 a. I couldn’t parse everything but made relatively steady progress and thought the difficulty was about right, I wouldn’t have said “fairly easy”! Very well done indeed Snape

  4. I definitely didn’t find this to be ‘fairly easy’, not being helped by never having heard of 11a or 12a – always good to learn though. Like the 2kiwis I’m also not getting why 8d is what it is.

    I did find this to be very enjoyable with several chuckles along the way. My favourites were 1d and 18d.

    Thanks Snape

    1. Hi Sprocker,

      Isn’t 8d merely a play on words involving “chords”, i.e. vocal chords which are produced by the vocal cords ?

      1. Hi Silvanus – aha thanks – that does seem to make sense, though if that is the parsing it does feel like a little bit of a stretch. Either way it didn’t detract from a very enjoyable and accomplished debut.

      2. My thinking is chords produced by the voice only, i.e., unaccompanied by music. That would make sense with the answer.

  5. This was a tremendous debut puzzle, so good in fact that it makes me doubt whether it is actually Snape’s first one at all ! I was slightly worried at one point that a breast obsession might be developing after its appearance in two successive clues but I’m sure that was just a coincidence.

    I certainly don’t agree that it was fairly easy (like one of mine!) but it was pitched at just about the right level I felt, with a good mix of clue types and constructions. I concur with Sue that to attempt something too ambitious too soon is a common mistake in RC, and puzzles at the easier end of the spectrum also encourage more people to atttempt them.

    The surface readings were generally very smooth and, as Beet says, overall it had an accomplished feel to it. The more obscure words in the top half were perfectly solvable from the clues and although the SE corner took me the longest I don’t believe anything there was unfair on the solver, even if the Lord of The Rings elf required Googling.

    My only minor gripe is with 1d (a very topical clue !). I felt that the addition of the abbreviation for “wife” within the current name of Andy’s fiancee (if I’ve parsed it correctly) was perhaps asking the solver to make two leaps instead of one, but I’m open to persuasion as to its fairness.

    There are several clues vying for my personal favourite status, but in the end I’ve gone for 16d and 18d as joint winners. Honourable mentions go to 11a, 20a, 21a, 23d and 24d which were very good too.

    I suspect that Prolixic will use very little lead from his blue pencil when reviewing this, as to my inexpert eye it was as close to faultless as would be found in Rookie Corner, certainly from a debut puzzle.

    Many congratulations Snape, and I look forward greatly to your next one. :-)

    1. The blue pencil will be sharpened by Gazza or Crypticsue this week as my father-in-law died this evening and they have kindly agreed to hold the fort.

      1. My condolences, Prolixic. I’ll be standing in for you on the Rookie Corner blog tomorrow.

      2. And my thoughts and condolences are also with you Prolixic and with your family.

      3. Sorry to hear that Prolixic. Father in Law’s can be very good friends as well as family members.

        1. He was a dab hand at the Telegraph crossword before dementia took hold. Woe betide if I filled in any of the missing answers!

  6. Well done Snape! I’m always very impressed when people manage to put together a puzzle, I must try it sometime (so you’re one up on me!). Some lovely ideas here and I have minor suggestions for improvement on many of the clues, which I would be happy to email to you if you give me an address – I didn’t want to list them here.

    I didn’t get 8d, and it took me a while to parse 15a!

    very enjoyable, many thanks

    1. You really must Dutch, it’s good fun and we’d be delighted to welcome you as new Rookie.

  7. Well – I’m concluding that a) Snape is male and b) that he spent a lot of holidays in somewhere like Blackpool!

    Lots to like in this one – particular mention for 9 & 19a plus 6 & 16d. Also, I have to confess to laughing out loud over 21a (look to your laurels, Mr. T.). Two new words – 12a I should have known and 11a was quite fairly clued, but I’m left with several that I’ve only ‘half-parsed’ (to use my newly coined expression, which Rabbit Dave has come up with a great clue for – see Prize Puzzle comments). I understand 2Ks problem with 1d but, as Andy and Kim are getting married next week, their names are fairly prominent in the UK news at the moment.
    Re: the possible issue over 8d – forgive me if I’m wrong, Snape, but I suspect you may have started out with a different word in mind and then realised there weren’t sufficient letters available?

    Certainly didn’t read like a debut puzzle – well done indeed, Snape, not least for tackling the common issue of clue length.

  8. What a beautiful morning.
    And specially down 24d. No more wind and it looks like a lake.
    Great crossword from Snape. Even the homophones in 11a and 6d were good fun.
    21a made me laugh.
    Agree with Dutch about 15a but I suppose the clue is only in the wrong order.
    8d was a bit of a bung in and hope to be right.
    Thanks to Snape

  9. Splendid debut puzzle, with lots of chuckles, a couple of new words and some clever clueing. I really liked 11A, 15A, 8D, and 28D, and 21A made laugh out loud!! A few clues that took time to unravel and Google verification, and I’m not at all sure of my answer for 24D. Altogether, a great job, Snape!

  10. Thank you – everyone is very good at this constructive criticism – much appreciated. I did a work-themed puzzle at our Christmas do, and it went down well, but I had to buy crossword compiler to fit in all of the words I wanted to, and thought I might as well try to get value for my money. A couple of the non-work-related clues are in here. I wrote about 100 clues, then just got CC to fit a few into grids, picked the ones where the words weren’t ridiculous, tried to write clues for the rest, and this was the first one I finished. I have no other breast clues, it is just coincidence (I hope).

    Beet #3, I think you’re right re 10a. My link word was poor. I tried to avoid link words, as I still haven’t grasped what is acceptable and what isn’t (the one in 6d I was unsure about, for example).

    Silvanus #5, Re 1d, and the slight indirectness. Is it fair? I don’t know! (I knew they were getting married soon, but only just realised it was this week, so I’m grateful that it got posted so quickly! I was mainly thinking of when she was spotted saying rude things about Tomas Berdych a few weeks ago, and forgot the wedding was imminent)

    Jane #7. Yes, male, but not really a Blackpool (or similar) person (I’ve been once, when I was 12). And 8d was always that, but I had to change it last minute after I realised chords and cords were spelled differently and my original didn’t work (even less than its replacement).

    Dutch #6 Thank you, suggested improvements are very welcome, as I can learn from them. I still have a very limited vocabulary in terms of ways to say ‘put A inside B’ etc, so I will be reading this blog and fifteen squared and getting tips. I don’t know how you can message me without posting my e-mail address on here, but I don’t mind them being dissected on here if you don’t.

    I only thought it was fairly easy because of the relatively large number of direct anagrams and hidden words. I think I like hidden word clues too much. I seem to have at least 2 or 3 in all of the part-written ones I’ve done so far, so I’ll have to try and cut down.

    Cheers All

    1. Hi Snape – glad you took the time to get back to us all in such detail. As I’ve commented to BD, it would be nice if we could always have a setter’s ‘review’ of their own puzzles in order to understand ‘where they were coming from’.

      Possibly lucky for you that the tennis wedding is so imminent, but I doubt the clue would have phased too many UK folk.
      Re: 8d – I really thought you had originally intended ‘diphthong’ to be the answer – sorry, my mistake.

      As far as contacts are concerned – I think if people send in a message via BD, he will forward it to you and then it is up to you to decide whether or not you choose to respond directly to the comments. At least, that has been my experience – but I was trying to get a message to a blogger, who has subsequently become a much valued ‘friend’.

      Do hope you will give us another opportunity to solve one of your puzzles – your 21a today will live long in the memory.

    2. Welcome Snape – are you named after the Potions Master?

      If you are ever stuck for ideas about indicator words (in my first effort I used the same ones multiple times and learned that was a no-no) then is a good place for lists of e.g. anagram indicators, container indicators etc. But don’t be too worried about trying new things if you are not sure if they will be acceptable, Rookie Corner is a good place to make mistakes, and will help you learn the logic (so far as there is any!) of what is and isn’t going to find favour with solvers.

  11. Naughty but nice. Some of the clues on offer appealed to my schoolboy sense of humour!

    Still missing some of the wordplay … so looking forward to the review.

    (I wonder how many expletives the future Mrs Murray uttered yesterday during the final set? The bagel wouldn’t have been very enjoyable this morning in Miami!)

    Thanks to Snape for a lot of laughs!

  12. Oops. We have just discovered that we had 24d wrong. We had put in Thebes. The city in Egypt is a tourist destination and definitely has sand for one of its characteristics and castles or fortress type structures as another. We rest our case.

    1. I did too, but as I mentioned earlier, I was not sure of it. After reading your comment, I revealed letters to see the correct one. I like ours better! I will be interested to see what the reviewer makes of the clue.

      1. Ah, yes, a great clue, just not for that particular answer. I don’t know how to get round that – when another answer fits that the setter hasn’t thought of. By definition, he/she hasn’t thought of it. I chose sandcastles almost completely at random (related to beaches…), the only thing that would fit both answers.

        And Beet, no, nothing to do with HP…
        I’ve found Cryptipedia useful, and it seems that pretty much anything goes that suggest muddled or broken for anagram indicators. It’s the ‘contains’ sort of clues where I am very limited. In and without can’t be used every time. There are plenty of useful hints on that, this, and others sites, though. I just need to get some into my head.

        1. I don’t think thebes really works as the answer to a cryptic clue… “based around sandcastles, for example” would have to be the wordplay?

  13. Hi Snape,

    Thanks again for a great puzzle. the review has nicely highlighted my main concerns, so the rest are more petty, but as promised I’ll add them here. Of course these are just one person’s experience.

    I’m afraid I would belong in the category of people who think the first word in 13a is pretty dodgy. I think many solvers won’t split it, and then it just looks like the clue is horribly missing a hidden word indicator, so I’d avoid that risk. I think this clue may also have definition issues, I would want it to read “course that is significantly altered”, but I think the meaning is a significant change, not a course that contains a significant change. “significantly altered” by itself doesn’t work as def since we need a noun.

    10a, as mentioned, needs a different containment indicator to mean “hold” rather than “is held by” – reversing the clue as in the review doesn’t preserve the surface

    I may be alone but I found christmas “tradition” (19a) hard to read as food. I’d want “traditional fare”, which doesn’t work here. perhaps speciality? treat? highlight? delight?

    21a: I am not sure if you are working on a surface story with “get a grip”, if so it was a bit lost on me because of the idiom (though I suppose you might be grabbing something!) whereas “fix it!” or “get it fixed” would work for me to create a surface reading.

    28a; the connection between Den returns and the origins of eastenders left a gap in the surface for me – don’t know how to fix it, but if you could it would be an even better clue!

    14d: Gazza swapped this for our benefit in the review, but for me “standard was achieved” suggests par hit, whereas something like “having achieved standard” would suggest suggests hit par.

    16d: I read this as “never having been picked to play” as the definition, “Bruce Wayne perhaps” as uncaped, and “take the lead of parker” for including P, in any case it would have to be “taking”. I’m not sure which parsing was intended.

    18d: I struggled a bit with “not nearly on time”, which I can read as almost on time, which isn’t the same as “so late”, minor but can be easily avoided with “nowhere near on time”, or similar.

    23a – if the definition is “cause upset”, “may” must be a link, and it doesn’t work very well in terms of meaning “producing the answer”. If it isn’t a link, “may cause upset” isn’t an accurate definition, since “offend” is quite definitely causing upset.

    27a: I don’t think you need “here”, to me the clue is a little sharper without it.

    I hope this is useful Snape. The review already covers the best suggestions. I look forward to your next puzzle.

    Many thanks

    1. I interpreted “Christmas tradition” as the traditional burning of the yule log (wasn’t it supposed to last all 12 days?), rather than anything to do with food.

      1. it is also a cake. even so, the tradition would be the burning rather than the log..

  14. Many thanks for the review, Gazza, that’s cleared up my parsing problems – 15&28a plus 18&22d.
    Your comments were, as always, very fair but I confess to having no issues with either 16a or 16d. On the other hand, I still don’t really understand 8d and am rather uncomfortable with 24d.
    As Chris commented, I also took the 19a answer to be a log on the fire rather than a food item.

    Good fun listening to Pinball Wizard again!

  15. Great debut, Snape. Very well done.

    I was also in the Thebes camp for 24d, but the actual answer is much more satisfying. 8d & 12a were new words for me. 26a was my favourite.

    Many thanks too to Gazza for sorting out some parsing issues. Gazza, doesn’t 9a work better if you add the “to be” from the clue to the definition? The answer is something “to be employed cleaning clothes”.

    1. In 9a I don’t think it matters whether you include ‘to be’ in the definition or not. In neither case does it mean washtub unless you insert a further word (as you’ve done with ‘something’). The test is to try to find a sentence in which you can substitute ‘(to be) employed cleaning clothes’ by washtub – I don’t think it’s possible.

  16. I thought this was brill for a first puzzle. OK, as Gazza says, it’s a bit rough here and there but I thoroughly enjoyed it so well done Snape. Hope to see more of you soon.

    Just an aside re 26a, Mudd had this clue for the same answer in the FT prizer on March 21st:

    Those cheering for pixies taken aback a bit (7)

    Another of those strange crosswordland coincidences

  17. Very well done Snape! This is an impressive debut puzzle. It was good fun and provided several good chuckles. I particularly enjoyed 21a and 18d.

    I only ‘half-parsed’ 15a. I needed Gazza’s explanation to understand my [correct] answer to 16d. It was only after I had guessed 8d from the checking letters that I understood the clue. Fair enough. I needed Gazza’s explanation of 24d. I thought about Thebes but, apart from it fitting in with the checking letters, couldn’t see why; and I certainly didn’t think about the correct answer. These problems apart, I managed to parse the rest of the clues satisfactorily.

    When I saw your name, ‘Snape’, my immediate thought was the Maltings! Then I thought of HP, which Beet suggested and you have dismissed. Any clues?

    Congrats and thanks to Snape for a very enjoyable puzzle. And big thanks to Gazza for the excellent review and discussion.

  18. Thanks to Gazza and Dutch, in particular, for their thoughtful comments, but to everyone else too.

    With regard to the noun/verb definition, that’s something I hadn’t considered at all, and will have to keep a close eye on, as it seems natural to me to define a washtub as ‘used to wash things’ rather than ‘an object used to wash things’. It makes cluing more difficult, I suspect I will make the error again, but will try to avoid it. I take it this is always a no-no? I’m going to call it ‘unindicated definition by description’ and make it legal

    Point taken about too much use of the same abbreviation and indicator, a couple of them would have been straightforward to change, the same goes for the use of ‘getting’. I agree with your ‘with’ comment on 6d, but thought it was worth it to get a fluent clue. 10a I should have spotted, and you’re right that 19a could have been worded better.
    8d I think was a poor clue, particularly as the word is quite obscure – maybe if it was in everyday use it would be just about acceptable.

    Gazza, my thinking behind 16d was exactly as Dutch describes, so ‘to play’ was part of the definition. Bruce Wayne was not the Caped Crusader, he was the uncaped alter ego. Hopefully this improves it, although I take it, Dutch, you mean ‘take’ is not the right word because the wordplay is not then grammatically correct? Would ‘takes’ be better than ‘taking’ perhaps?

    21a Dutch, I saw ‘sort it out’ barked as an instruction, somewhere, probably a tv programme, and it amused me, and I thought of it when writing this. I used ‘Get a grip!’ because in my head they were said in exactly the same voice!

    18d Your suggestion (Dutch) probably would be clearer, although I think ‘not nearly on time’ is a generally used expression,

    23a, Dutch. you are right, and I knew there was something about the clue that wasn’t quite right, but wasn’t quite sure what. I thought maybe it was my Yorkshire accent, and that I automatically dropped the ‘the’ from ‘off the end’ (if that makes sense!). (And Catnap, you are closer with your first thought)

    28a Dutch, yes, but I couldn’t think of anything more coherent. (Unrelated to the point, but I did originally have Dirty Den, as I thought that indicated dive fairly, but the second capital concerned me. I did read somewhere about false capitalisation but can’t remember the conclusion. Is it acceptable?)

    27d Dutch, I did originally write it without the ‘here’, and it is sharper, but I was concerned that the remains aren’t called ****, they are just located there, and that the ‘here’ was necessary to make it accurate.

    And Pommers, I had assumed that I might be clueing some words in a way that has been done before (7d must have had something similar done, surely), although was surprised it was that one!

    1. Hi Snape

      Like I said before that was great stuff so please let us have another. I’m not such a verb/noun policeman as others because sometimes it don’t really matter. Washtub worked OK for me.

      Re 26a, the only reason I mentioned it was that I’d printed the Mudd puzzle on its day but only got around to solving it last Sunday afternoon so the rather amusing reversal of ELF FANS was rather fresh in the mind. It was interesting that you used TAKE as the def whereas Mr Halpern used the piece of horsey stuff. Both good clues but yours was a bit trickier because of the FIGWIT bit. I solved it from the remembered Mudd clue and then thought “who/what the hell is Figwit”.

    2. Hi Snape,

      yes sure “takes” works fine in 16d. The entity taking the “P”(arker) is a singular entity, hence the verb must work in the singular. “takes” may not be the best containment indicator since it is sometimes also used for concatenation, but I think it works here. The grammar must work in both the cryptic (1 word “uncaped”) and surface reading (Bruce Wayne). Sometimes (not here) it is hard to match the cryptic grammar to the grammar of the surface reading, and you can then get around that by using a form of the verb that works in both singular and plural, like “taking”.

      Thanks for discussing, all very interesting and much fun.

      Best of luck Snape and we’re all looking forward to your next puzzle.

    3. 28a and capitalisation – in my head (for some reason) I have that it is ok to capitalise gratuitously for the purpose of misleading ( so you could say Den for dive) but it is definitely not ok to decapitalise a proper noun to mislead. Having said that, if you can disguise a capital by making it the first word in a clue, that is just lovely.

  19. Goodness – how much goes into the setting of these puzzles. I used to think us solvers had the thin end of the wedge – now I’m not so sure!
    Keep it up, Snape and well done to you for responding in such detail to all the comments. You’re obviously happy to learn from them – shows a great deal of courage and much potential for future development.

  20. Thanks to all for your condolences and a particular thank you to Gazza for an excellent review of an excellent crossword. I think he commented on the points I had noted (he has trained me well). Hopefully, I will be back in the reviewer’s chair next week.

    Thanks also to Snape and I look forward to reviewing the next one.

  21. Hi Snape. Nice crossword. Enjoyed it though I didn’t finish it. Glad to learn a new word in ‘escheat’. I felt the grid made it difficult because the four quadrants were all pretty much separate. I thought maybe 25a and 8d weren’t quite cryptic enough. There were lots of good surface readings with clear chatty language, which may sometimes have made the parsing of the clues less coherent, but overall lots of fun. 28a was probably my favourite.

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