Rookie Corner 056 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 056

A Puzzle by Fidelibus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Fidelibus’s puzzle has been written especially for the week of the Election and was offered to one of the National Daily newspapers – their loss is our gain.  Those living outside the UK may need to use a search engine to confirm some of the content.   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 to Fidelibus with a corker of a crossword.  There were a few minor points but this was one highly polished themed crossword.  If he continues in this style, Elgar may have to cede his Vlad the Impaler boots to a new setter – indeed many of the clues had a distinctly Elgarish feel to them!  In the interests of fairness  in the week of the election, I should point out that other political leaders are equally gaffe prone.


1 See 10

5/22 OK, remove that twit, he gets stir, off with varlet’s head! wishes 11? (4,3,2,3,5)
TAKE HIM TO THE TOWER – … what the Queen may wish for a gaffe prone PM?  An anagram (gets stir) of OK REMOVE THAT TWIT HE after removing the V (off with varlet’s head).

9 Upper-class twit putting foot in it may be this (5)
UNFIT – The letter representing upper-class followed by a three letter word for a twit inside which (putting) you add the abbreviation for foot.  A reference to the person making the gaffes in this crossword?  Without this link to the theme, the definition would be tangential!

10/1/12 Remark on ultra-quiet train? one 21 made re 11 (3,6,4,3,4)
SHE PURRED DOWN THE LINE – … 21’s indiscretion in revealing how the Queen responded to the result of the Scottish Independence referendum.  How one might refer to a quiet train going down the tracks for one of the gaffes.

11 That lady Theresa, say, round joint established one in top job (3,7)
HER MAJESTY – The word meaning that lady followed by the surname of a person names Theresa (Home Secretary) around the abbreviations for joint (as in a spliff) and established.

12 See 10

14 21 said it to lady MP, clowned? drama unfolded (4,4,4)
CALM DOWN DEAR – An anagram (unfolded) of CLOWNED DRAMA.  Another of the gaffes!

18 A male in charge, he’s snapped up by 21? It is rocket science! (6,6)
ATOMIC THEORY – The first word comes from the A from the clue followed by the name for a male cat and the abbreviation for in charge.  The second word is the political allegiance of our 21 inside which (snapped up) you add the HE from the clue.

21 Sacked finally, what’s said to Maria? I’m boss (for now) (4)
DAVE – The final letter of sacked followed by the Latin for hail followed by Maria as the salutation to Mary given by the Angel Gabriel.

22 See 5

25 A hot, sweaty thing, back with medal, I hate going up (9)
AEROPHOBE – The A from clue followed by a reversal (back) of the abbreviation for hot and a part of the body that releases sweat and then the abbreviation for a type of medal or honour awarded by 11a.

26 21’s no idea how much this to buy this (5)
BREAD – A slang word for money used to buy a staple item of food whose price 21 could not remember.

27/19 Twitter’s foremost seem way OTT, no?  They could make a [13] says 21! (3,4,6)
TOO MANY TWEETS – 21 once said the answer could make an unprintable word (represented by 13d).  The answer comes from an anagram (they could make) of T (first or foremost letter of Twitter) SEEM WAY NO.

28 Don’t make cut after all, lad, for Top Gear? (7)
STETSON – The Latin for let it stand (don’t make the cut after all) and another word for a boy or lad.


1 Sad year following what’s needed to make 26 (6)
DOUGHY – … sad as in a cake that has not baked well may be.  What is needed (and kneaded) to make the answer to 26 followed by the abbreviation for year.

2 Fights over further education – Corpus Christi? (6)
WAFERS –  As consecrated in a service of Holy Communion.  Another word for fights or battles goes around (over) the abbreviation for Further Education.  I think that over in a down clue is better used for A on top of B but it is sometimes used in down clues.  It use is justified that it works in the way that the clue is written across the page but as the answer in inserted down in the grid, I think it better reserve the use of words like “over” and “covers” in a down clue to the A on top of B construction.

3 With four tiny bits of H mad cats bear hit – H gone (10)
TETRABASIC – … an acid that has four replaceable hydrogen atoms.  An anagram (mad) of CAT BEAR HIT without the H (gone).

4 Essence of  ‘plebs’ issue is lost name bound to follow (5)
ENSUE – The central letter of “plebs” followed by the issue from the clue without the “is” around (bound) the abbreviation for name.

5 Majority once? cut that in time, I’m out (6-3)
TWENTY-ONE – A word meaning cut (as it departed or having left) and a word meaning that (as in that one over there) goes inside the time from the clue after removing the I’m (out).

6 Knot bank nurses tie… (4)
KNUR – The answer is hidden in (tie) BANK NURSES.  I am not too keen on tie as a hidden word indicator and  at the end of the sentence as it would need to be “ties” to indicate the containment.

7 …stars pull up old-timer, what? (8)
HEROINES – Reverse (pull up) a word for an old-timer (often followed by citizen) and an expression meaning what (as in say that again).  I think that the definition here is a little loose.

8 One female up, one down, year’s over for loopy king (3,5)
MAD HENRY – Reverse (up) a word for a mother (female) and follow this with another going the right way (down) and a reversal (over) of another abbreviation for year.

13 Powerless to cover e.g. libel claim, subject to gag? (10)
UNWRITABLE – A word meaning powerless or incapable of doing something goes around (to cover) the legal document issued by the court to commence, for example, a libel claim.  Again in a down clue, covers would usually mean A on top of B.

15 ‘Watch DC’s mate see about cutting what belongs to me and thee’ – Balls? (9)
MYTHOLOGY – Reverse the initials of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (DC’s mate) and a word meaning look or behold and put these letters in (cutting) a word meaning when belongs to me and a word meaning what belongs to thee.  I think that requiring the solver to get from “DC’s mate to the initials of one of the members of the cabinet without further indication is a little unfair on the solver.

16 Water on tap, paintings? It’s heavenly destination? The opposite! (8)
HANDCART – The initials on taps in a kitchen or bathroom (I think that the clue should have taps in the plural as we want the initials on both) followed by a word that describes paintings.  Does this clue refer to an article in the Guardian where 21 claimed that the Government’s policies would save a lot of lives that would otherwise go to hell in a ????????.  If it does, it should have a clearer indication that it is linked into the theme.  Otherwise, I cannot see how the definition is arrived at.

17 Desert for good limitless setting open to view (2,4,2)
GO OVER TO – Remove the last letter (limitless) from good and include (setting) a word meaning open to view or patent.

19 See 27 Across

20 What 21 did to 11’s toes, no doctor could treat, company’s parted (4,2)
TROD ON – An anagram (could treat) of NO DOCTOR after removing the letters in the abbreviation for company.

23 Husband onto slippery types, rogues (5)
HEELS – The abbreviation for husband follows by the name of slippery fishes.

24 Borrowing rises in each measure Israel takes (4)
EPHA – Reverse (rises) the abbreviation for Hire Purchase (borrowing) and include this in the abbreviation for each.

67 comments on “Rookie Corner 056

  1. Phew! That was enjoyable but with some very tricky wordplay and it needed knowledge of various gaffes made by a certain person. I cheated to get 3d and 24d because I’d never heard of them. I don’t understand how 1d means sad. The clues I liked best were 28a and 16d. Thanks to Fidelibus for the brain exercise.

    1. I am delighted to have the opportunity to say this to you, Gazza, but the answer to 1d is one of the definitions for sad in my BRB!

      1. Thanks, RD. I’m suitably humble at finding yet another failure in my vocabulary. I did look up the answer (which doesn’t list sad) in the BRB but, as you say, the answer is listed there under sad – it’s a baking term apparently. I look forward to ordering half a dozen sad buns from our local baker and observing his response.

        1. So the next time Paul Hollywood tells a contestant “That loaf is really sad”, we will know he’s not being mean, just technical!

          I’m just relieved it didn’t turn out to be American slang, because you know where that leads…

  2. Have to give up and wait for the review. Not knowledgeable enough about day to day British politics and all the comments made by some.
    Thanks anyway.
    Very topical I’m sure but ever so homegrown.

  3. Well, if that was a phew for Gazza it was definitely a double or triple phew for me! More Toughie than Back Pager standard for sure.

    I had also not heard of 3d or 24d before, but they were just about gettable once other letters were in place. I think that Googling recent comments made by 21a helped considerably, but although I liked the topicality, overall this would be extremely hard going for someone not sufficiently au fait with UK politics and even pretty difficult for anyone who is!

    A very well put together puzzle however I thought, but no particular clues stood out for me. I look forward to the review to explain the few that I couldn’t parse.

    Thanks very much Fidelibus and hope you will make a return visit before too long.

    1. I pretty much agree with everything you are saying Silvanus. This was tougher than a Toughie for me, but generally most enjoyable.

      6d & 24d were new words to me, and I had never before heard of Henry VI being referred to as 8d.

      Thank you Gazza for explaining the GO in 15d. I will need the review to complete the parsing on about five other clues.

      Many thanks Fidelibus.

      1. Thank you very Prolixic for the explanation of the clues that I “bunged in” correctly but didn’t understand. I agree with you that the definition for 16d is rather tenuous, but that doesn’t spoil an otherwise entertaining puzzle.

  4. I gave this 2 hours but i am quitting, it’s doing my head in. The combination of cross-referencing, multi-entry answers, bits of news I probably didn’t pay attention to, and a mixture of literal and cryptic styles makes this very difficult for me. I will read the review with great interest

    At least I got 3d, but it already took me ages to parse the critical 11a.

    Many thanks for sharing this

  5. Surprised myself. The combination of Rookie styling and topicality made this difficult, but I read UK newspapers on line as well as doing their crosswords so I was familiar with most of the quotes and able to work out the 27/19 combo. I, too, cheated on 3D. 16D and 27A (also topical) are my favorites. I still have 15D and 24D to go (scratch that. 24D just came to me as I was typing. Clever clue!). So, just 15D to solve then, and some parsing to attempt to unscramble. I’m not giving up. Thanks, Fidelibus. This was certainly a challenge. I hope we will see more of you down the road.

    PS. I think perhaps the 2Kiwis are en route today. I would really like to know their thoughts!

  6. This was too difficult for me (I got 3 answers, plus a couple more when I revealed the first letter) but that’s not a criticism as my level is several notches below everyone else on here. I was intrigued by 3d, though, after Gazza’s comment, and cheated. The wordplay is clear, but the definition puzzles me. Is the whole clue a sort of semi &lit? (The definition is only correct after the Hs referred to have been removed) Having looked up what the online dictionaries say, their definitions aren’t very clear either. (I can’t say much more without giving the answer away!)
    I suspect that this answer was the only one that fitted the crosser, and the word was defined just from the dictionary, which was ambiguous. When I had a go at setting, I was worried about how I defined words I wasn’t very familiar with, (and whether I was accurate enough) so if this is the case, I empathise!
    Thanks Fidelibus – you comprehensively defeated me – I should have paid more attention to the election coverage

    1. Wordplay is fine, it’s the def… Having the four bits of H would make it the opposite, releasing them would fit the solution.

  7. I’m not going to be beaten by a rookie am I?
    Making slow progress but I am not going to cheat.
    Got the top sorted bar 2 and 7d.
    Now working on the bottom half. SW mostly as SE almost complete too.
    Wish me luck.

              1. Maybe it’s because I’m in America and we’re perverse. Any road, I didn’t think the answer fitted with the definition.

                  1. I think 2D is just fine. Corpus Christi…body of Christ. Isn’t that what the answer represents during the taking of communion?

                    1. Absolutely.
                      Drink this as it is my blood and eat this as it is my flesh. We call it a Hostie in France. As if you eat your host. Sounds like Annibal Lecter to me.

                  2. yes, was just thinking it was a part of a ceremony but it is a much closer metaphor. Apologies, not part of my upbringing.

        1. So did I.
          Got 7d thanks. And we had that word (almost) in the back page. Alongside mine as it happens.

        1. OK. A four letter word for a conservative, with a two letter word denoting a male inside (snapped up by). Or the second word of the recent Stephen Hawking movie.

            1. I tried to send you virtual beer and wine, but the emoticons did not work on this site.

          1. Thanks. I thought the second word might start with an S (Sam backwards for the first letters of 15d. It’s going to be a long night but I’m getting ready for dinner with friends by the seaside. Sundown on the Med with Porquerolles in the background. Heaven. See you all later.

  8. I think I’ve finally got the answer for 15D, my last one….or maybe not, because I can’t parse it. But it does fit with the clue’s last word.

    Having too much fun here, but I do have to get back to work!

  9. Tough indeed, and I’m feeling quite proud of myself for getting as far as I did. Getting the last few required some “resourcefulness” (cheating), and like Expat Chris I can’t unravel the wordplay in 15d. I have a few quibbles and questions which I hope the review will shed light on.

    Thanks Fidelibus.

    1. I didn’t reveal letters for 3D, but I did use a crossword solver site. I think “resourcefulness’ is OK when all else fails!

    2. For 15d you have to reverse the initials of DC’s best mate in the cabinet and a word meaning see or behold. Put all that inside a) what belongs to me and b) what belongs to thee.

      1. Thanks, Gazza! I had worked out the “what belongs to me” bit and the ‘see bit” but didn’t know the mate and was looking at the “me” bit as being the first and last letters of the answer so failed on the ‘what belongs to thee’ bit…if that all makes sense. But I did have the correct answer!

      2. Thanks gazza. Quite complex but it makes total sense. Welcome to the real world.

  10. I’m back with a vengeance.
    Can’t read Expat Chris last comments on my windows phone but will look at what she has to say on my main computer.
    Got 27a. What a tw..! And a lovely anagram it is too.

  11. That’s it.
    Last one in as you can guess from my gravatar. The connection wasn’t obvious at all to me. I love learning new idioms but I must say that Mr Google is rather helpful.
    I also wanted to thank Dutch, Chris and Gazza for making the experience even more enjoyable as I started on the wrong foot.
    To BD for making all this possible and to Fiddly Fidelibus for the great fun it turned out to be.

  12. i admit to total defeat – at least I know when I’m beaten.
    I got one answer on first read through which wasn’t enough to get me started.
    I’m not a very political animal.
    I’m very bad at crosswords with clues that jump around all over the place and keep referring to yet another clue.
    These are all my problems so no disrespect is intended to Fidelibus – thanks to him (or her) for putting me right back in my box!
    I look forward to the review – let’s hope that my one answer was right.

    1. I also found the large extent of cross referencing difficult, especially when combined with answers that occupy multiple grid entries. Felt like every time i wanted to work on a checker, it was another cross-reference… that certainly added to the challenge…

  13. This comment thread has been such fun! I will pay later for all the billable time that went to [cue Jean-luc’s avatar] today but I can catch up later. Who needs more than four hours’ sleep?

  14. I am so glad that this review was posted before bedtime here in the USA. Many thanks, Prolixic! Splendid, as always. Looking through, I see that there are only 11 different commenters (though some of us did happily chat up a storm, to be sure). That’s a shame. I wish more folks had taken a shot. I missed the usual suspects: Beet, Jane, Hanni…where were you? Well, perhaps it being a bank holiday weekend there took its toll.

    This was challenging, especially for an expat, but so much fun and such a great feeling of satisfaction to have completed it correctly, even if I did come up short on some of the parsing. . Many congratulations to Fidelibus. It’s no small thing to be compared favorably to Elgar by Prolixic. I look forward to more from you.

    1. Hi Chris – sorry, I took one look at the theme and walked away! My aim at the present time is to avoid reading, watching or discussing ANYTHING to do with politics or election campaigns. Almost 100% success rate to date.

      1. Ah. I see. Just be thankful that you don’t live here then. Our lot are already gearing up for November 2016!!

  15. Thanks Prolixic for the enlightening review. In the end I missed 5: 25a and 13d (which I should have worked out), 15d (had the answer but couldn’t parse) 16d ( had parsed the answer but could not see the relevance) and 24d (which I had never heard of)

    It was fun especially solving it in virtual company on this blog, but I hope we don’t have too many more puzzles this hard

    Many thanks Fidelibus for this tour de force.

  16. I’m late to the party but I have had a go this morning and I’m throwing in the towel with a little over 50% completed. I knew I was going to be in trouble when I saw the first comment. If a puzzle elicits a phew from Gazza then I stand no chance!

    I did get enough to twig the theme and my favourite was the definition in 2d. Thanks Fidelibus for a very timely puzzle – both in terms of the theme and it being an extra-tough toughie for the bank holiday.

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