Rookie Corner 057 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 057

4 Free by Penko

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Penko makes a return to Rookie Corner with an intriguingly titled 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 Penko with his second crossword.  The title to the puzzle refers to the fact that there are no anagrams in the solutions – a device that Ray T sometimes uses when he sets Toughies as Beam.

There was a lot of good stuff to enjoy in here.  As an overall comment, I would say that some of the surface readings need a bit of a polish as some of them are a little random in their meaning and care has to be take not to use the same indicator or wordplay more than once in a crossword.


1/15 Test spot with Chlorasil ends but not at home! (11,4)
EXCLAMATION MARK – … the definition is the punctuation at the end of the clue.  An 11 letter word for a test includes (with) the outer letters (ends) of Chlorasil but omits the IN (not at home) and is followed by another word for a spot or stain.  Chambers gives “containing” as a primary definition of with, but it is a weak containment indicator.   As far as I can make out Chlorasil is not a proprietary acne product.  Did Penko intend to use Clearasil?

7 Ms Rachel Mother-earth embraces tree (3)
ELM – The answer is hidden (embraces) in RACHEL MOTHER-EARTH.  The Ms in the clue is padding and the surface reading is not the greatest.

9 The entire number is firstly not applicable to students (2,3)
IN ALL – The first letter of Is followed by the abbreviation for not applicable and the abbreviation for a student twice (as students is in the plural).

10 Post palindrome period (9)
AFTERNOON – A word meaning post or following followed by a word that is a palindrome.  I am not keen on “palindrome” as the indicator for a word here.

11 Recorder Lyme-Booker followers are almost bloody (9)
REGISTRAR – The word that follows Lyme as a seaside resort and the letter that follows Booker to give the name of an American wrestler or musician (take your pick from either) and a word to describe bloody (as a steak might be cooked) with the final letter removed (almost).  I think that the reference to Booker for the letter is a little obscure as neither the wrestler nor the musician are that well known.

12 The essence of a Mercian village smithy (5)
ANVIL – The answer is hidden (the essence of) in MERCIAN VILLAGE and the whole clue provides the definition.

13 Leon gets into cat holiday business (7)
TOURISM – The surname of Leon, the author of Trinity and Exodus goes inside a three letter word for a male cat.  The name Leon could indicate one of many people so this should be indicated as a definition by example and as the pointer to an surname is vague, it would have been good to indicate that it was an author whose surname was required.

15 See 1

18 In the Raj a new girl discovered (4)
JANE – The answer is hidden (in) RAJ A NEW.  Although the definition is not at the end of the clue, the structure “in this wordplay, the  definition is found” works.

20 Tom’s not well-off I hear for an unwitting stooge (4-3)
CAT’S PAW – Another word for a tom (see 13a!) with the S from the “‘s” in the clue followed by a homophone (I hear) of poor (not well-off).

23 “Lout Youth of broken Britain” opine leaders (5)
YOBBO – The first letters (leaders) of the second to fifth words in the clue.

24 Balls to Calvin Klein with supplies in excess of demand (9)
OVERSTOCK – Another word for balls (as in cricket) the TO from the clue and the abbreviation (on underwear, clothes, etc) of Calvin Klein.

26 Arturo scored to fell reversal of homes (9)
TOSCANINI – The TO from the clue followed by another word for the name of a peak in the Lake District that is followed by fell and a reversal of the word for home doubled up (as homes is in the plural).  The name of the peak is Scafell and to clue the sca as fell is as unfair, a bit like cluing post as Mark on the basis that there is a word postmark.  Also as Arturo is an example of a first name leading to a surname, this should ideally be indicated as a definition by example.  I am not sure about the function of “scored” in the clue.  Also, as “home” has already been used as an indicator, a different indicator should have been used here.

27 Lop-sided like gardens (5)
ASKEW – A two letter word meaning like followed by the name of the SW London botanical gardens.

28 Spoil most of the planet (3)
MAR – Remove the last letter (most of) from one of the planets in the solar system.

29 Gets together American and Local Government Association friends (11)
AMALGAMATES – A two letter abbreviation for American followed by the abbreviation for Local Government Association and a word meaning friends.  Sadly the wordplay leaves us with a missing A between the two abbreviations!


1 Go abroad to an Arab state with good Governor (8)
EMIGRATE – Another word for an Arab State including (with – used again containment indicator) the abbreviation for Good.  The use of Governor in the clue seems superfluous.

2 Loud banging about monkey heard (8)
CLANGOUR – A one letter abbreviation for about followed by a homophone of Langur (a monkey).

3 Finally but not quite get back up top (5)
ATLAS – An expression 2,4 meaning finally without the final letter (not quite).  I think the definition refers to the name of the top vertebrae in the spine.  The link word  here should be in the form wordplay gets definition.

4 Two animals after a mix-up (7)
ANAGRAM – The A from the clue followed by the name of a jaded horse and the name of a sheep.  The crossword contains none of these.

5 In Word I am in betwixt and between period (7)
INTERIM – The IN from the clue and another word for a word including an I (I am in).

6 Country with desert animal (6,3)
NORWAY RAT – The name of a country famous for blue deceased parrots together with a word meaning to desert.

7 First Lady with heraldic charge to change over time (6)
EVOLVE – A three letter word for a heraldic charge or device goes inside (with – using the same containment indicator three times is rubbing it in!) the name of Adam’s wife.

8 I hear ringer caused much pain for Derek and Clive’s Aunty Mabel? (6)
MANGLE – A homophone of wringer gives the name of a laundry device in which (according to Derek and Clive) Aunty Mabel trapped a sensitive part of her anatomy!

14 Female lover in a mother smothering love rat (9)
INAMORATA – The IN A from the clue followed by a two letter word for mother around (smothering) the letter for love and the RAT from the clue.

16 Space rocket loses a wheel with teeth (8)
SPROCKET – Remove the card that is abbreviation as A from space rocket to find the answer,

17 They are first here – Russell Crowe and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for example (8)
TWOKIWIS – The nationality of the two stars in the clue gives the identity of early commentators on the Rookie posts.

19 Porn swaps Queen for Ten to get interesting things from faraway (7)
EXOTICA – Another word for porn has the R (for Queen) replaced by an X (for Ten).

20 Revolutionary arm for grinding (7)
CHEWING – A setter’s favourite revolutionary followed by another word for an arm or branch of something.

21 “Syria – stop formulated planned! (6)
SYSTEM – The international code for Syria followed by a word meaning stop.  I don’t think that planned is a direct synonym for the answer.  The answer is a noun and the definition is an adjective or verb.

22 He maltreats sailor and drug addict (6)
ABUSER – The abbreviation for an able seaman followed by another word for a drug addict.

25 Serious painful and sudden muscular leads to cramp (5)
SPASM – The initial letters (leads) to the first five words of the clue.  The surface reading makes no sense as a sentence.  Muscular what?

50 comments on “Rookie Corner 057

  1. I’ve only just started the puzzle, but I just had to pop in and say 17D is an absolute joy!!! Big belly laugh from me!

  2. I really enjoyed this, especially the aforementioned 17d. The bottom half went in quite quickly but the top took a bit more thought.

    Thank you Penko. Now I suppose I’d better do what I’m paid for.

  3. Thanks to Penko for an entertaining puzzle – well done on achieving the self-imposed restriction. Until I solved 4d I thought that the title referred to the absence of the letter D in the grid but I guess that’s just a coincidence. Vying for favouritism for me were 1/15a and 8d.

  4. There was a nice mixture of clues here,some easy ones to get one started and then some real head scratchers. I’ll go for my 23 a as my favourite. Thanks Penko

  5. Welcome back, Penko, I thoroughly enjoyed this and I thought it was very well crafted.

    Like Sue, I felt that the bottom half was much more straightforward than the top, so I’d advise anyone yet to tackle the puzzle to work upwards from the bottom.

    It took some time after completion for the penny to drop regarding the puzzle’s title, and I still find it strange I never noticed the omissions at all, seeing as I’m usually very partial to them!

    Considerably easier to tackle than the Araucaria celebration puzzle, although I had not previously heard of the “heraldic charge” in 7d or the monkey in 2d. I had to Google the specific Derek and Clive reference in 8d (cleverly clued!) and I was initially unsure if “Lyme-Booker” in 11a was an inspired Penko creation or a real person! I liked this particular clue a lot.

    There are only a couple where I’m uncertain of the parsing, and just a handful where I wasn’t totally convinced of the cluing:

    1a – Shouldn’t Chlorasil be Clearasil? Not that it affects the clue, but I felt that “with Chlorasil ends” was insufficient to expect the solver to insert it in the middle of the answer.

    1d – Similar to 1a, “with good….” came across weakly and “having good…..” might be better.

    13a – “Writer Leon…” might be more appropriate as I feel that he is too obscure to be referred to merely by his first name?

    25a – Each time I read the clue it looks like a noun is missing after “muscular”. Perhaps “introductions” instead of “leads” might resolve this?

    Overall I have to say that 17d is my favourite as it produced the widest smile. Ironic that this is one of the few weeks when they are not “first here”! I wonder if it was a coincidence that 16d is one letter away from being another regular contributor and fellow-rookie of ours?!

    Many thanks again Penko for a lot of fun and I look forward to the next one :-)

    1. Never mind. I had the wrong word for 1A. All sorted now. I need to go back and look at the parsing of a couple but I, too, must do what I’m paid to do, so that will have to be later. Thanks, Penko. this was fun!

  6. Very much a game of two halves for me this one, with the bottom half going in very easily, but the top half taking a fair amount of electronic assistance to get there. I’m also left with a few where I’m not sure I get the parsing. 17d made me laugh out loud, so I’ll name that one my favourite, although I can see why there may be some objections in terms of the enumeration (which also makes me wonder why it’s not allowed to have a numeral as part of an answer). I also liked 24a, and 1a/11a.

    I didn’t twig the title reference until I read Gazza’s comments above – well done on achieving that.

    Thanks – that was good fun

    1. Wasn’t there once a clue in the DT – where the solution was “2wheeler” (or something like that?)

      Seem to remember it making the “Letters to the Editor” page – Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells may have been the correspondent.

      1. That was the infamous Telegraph Cryptic number 24,000 where the answer to 6a had to be entered as 24,000 and the down answers had corresponding references such as 2-wheeler, etc.

        I cannot recall who the setter was but I would expect it was someone like Elgar!

  7. I only just twigged the title significance – can’t say I noticed while solving – very nice idea.

    Some solid clues here, including 9a, 10a, 12a, 23a, 27a, 28a, 5d, 16d, 20d, 22d, quite a few smiles

    Like everyone else I warmed to 17d, delightful! (and I am ashamed to have thought Russell Crowe was Australian). This clue alone makes this a very special puzzle. I would have preferred (3,5) annotation.

    Many thanks Penko, very entertaining.

    Some random comments intended to be useful: Not sure the Ms is needed in 7a. I know Booker-T, but I would have guessed this to be obscure (11a). 18a, feels like the hidden indicator is spread across both sides of the fodder and definition which seems a little inelegant to me. 26a, I didn’t know the conductor and I still don’t see the complete parsing of this. 29a, I seem to be missing an “a” in the parsing. 1d, g is an accepted abbreviation for good, which is confusing me here – is governor intended as “head” of good? if so not sure it works. Didn’t know the monkey in 2d. Not sure I understand the definition in 3d. I didn’t know the heraldic change in 7d. 8d is funny but pretty obscure, though well indicated. 19d is interesting but I don’t understand the surface. 25d feels like there is a word missing in the surface.

    Thanks again and very best wishes, looking forward to more!

      1. Booker T. Washington is a very well known figure in American history! As for the other musical feller…never heard of him before today. Of course, Penko could have been referring to the wrestler chappie. We shall have to wait and see!

  8. 26a – Isn’t this a definition by example? Perhaps there should be a “perhaps” in there somewhere?

    I noticed the lack of 4d’s quite early. That’s why it took me so long to get started!

    Many thanks … not only… to Penko … but also … to prolixic (when he explains the Derek and Clive one tomorrow.)

  9. Bottom half went quite well for me too and struggled a bit more with the top. 1/15 was the toughest as I was looking for a cricket ground abroad so was sure 15a was park. After that I thought 1a was examination. What a mess. 5d gave me the m so examination mark was just perfect. Oh dear as Kath would say.
    Managed to finish after reading the blog.
    I found 8d a bit odd as I watched the video of Auntie Mabel.
    Didn’t notice the lack of 4d either.
    Favourites are 20a and 20d.
    Thanks to Penko.

    1. Hi JL – I was with you on ‘examination’ and the perfect partner was either ‘hall’ or ‘room’ so that made the whole thing an even bigger mess! Must admit there was a persistent niggle that I’d totally negated the rest of the clue.

  10. Thank you Penko! I could do the bottom half with some electronic help (the universal favourite 17d was my first one in, and as 3 of my first 5 in were contributors to the forum (or one letter out) I spent a bit of time looking for others). My favourite was 24a, and I’m wondering if my lack of opera knowledge is the reason I can’t work out the first part of 26a.
    I like clues, whether easy or difficult, that have smooth surfaces, so 9a, 12a, 13a, 18a, 20a, 4d, 6d, 8d, 22d all worked for me in that sense (even if I don’t know the answer to some!), whereas 19d (in particular), 21d and 25d need a bit of polishing.

    Dutch, have you had a go at compiling one yet? I may be able to help, as I have Crossword Compiler (if you don’t), and I’m starting to think I may work at the same place as you (possibly even in the same building?)!.
    I think I’ll be able to pop down to London next Tuesday (I’ll need help if there are actually crosswords to solve!), so I will see people then.

    Thanks again Penko.

  11. A game of two halves, indeed. So far, I’ve managed the bottom half and only have two answers in the top!
    At this point, I’d obviously go along with 17d as favourite – although I have a slight leaning towards 18a.

    1. Climbing slowly up towards the top. Prolixic, if you’re doing the review – please, please can we have a music clip for 11a.

      1. I don’t usually have the time to add clips or illustrations for the Rookie reviews but as you have requested it, I will see what I can do.

      2. Yeah – got there! Want to add the 1/15 combo and 11a to the ‘best’ list.
        How long did I stare at it before the penny dropped re: the title – not prepared to say, but someone should tell MP about this one!

        Many thanks, Penko – thought you had me beaten for quite a while. Just goes to show how vital the 4’s are for some of us.

        1. I love anagrams like 17d in today’s puzzle. I am not against them Jane. As soon as they are spotted they are solved. In my head. As such they become a given. I want a work out. I wish they put the toughies into the iPad version. I would do them more often then and comment in that place you once said you felt safe as I rarely ventured into toughie territory.

  12. I haven’t finished this one by quite a long way – not because I can’t, although that might eventually come into it, but because I haven’t had time.
    I’ve deliberately not read the hints or comments yet because I hope to come back to it at some stage.
    Just popped in to say that of the answers I’ve got I really loved 27a.
    Thanks and well done to Penko and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the hints, whenever I get round to reading them.

  13. Many thanks, Prolixic – had a private bet with myself that you’d go for ‘Soul Limbo’ and thereby not only please me but also all our cricketing fans, however, your choice was very acceptable!
    9a I had taken to be ‘in hall (of residence)’ minus the ‘h’, but no doubt your answer is far better.
    20a was a new expression – which I rather liked.
    26a & 3d I would NEVER have fully parsed.
    7d was another newbie for me in respect of the heraldic association and I didn’t know about poor old Aunty Mabel in 8d!
    21d didn’t really work for me.

    Good work as ever, Prolixic – even if you didn’t credit me with a name check at 18a.

    Come on, Penko – you now have the chance to put us right on 11a – hopefully you’re a fan of Booker T and the MGs.

  14. Thanks for a terrific review that sorted out all my questions, Prolixic. I have no idea who Derek and Clive are, but I have not-so-fond memories of helping mum put the wet sheets through the mangle in the back garden. I just assumed Chlorasil was the British brand name for Clearasil, but obviously not. I was helped considerably to an early solve on the answer to 26A because the same person appeared in yesterday’s DT GK puzzle. Booker T. Washington, famous American educator, was the first one that came to mind for 11A. I hope that we hear from Penko which of the three contenders he was actually referring to. 17D is still my favorite, but honorable mentions to 20A and 27A. I think it was a very good effort on the setter’s part and I hope we see him back before too long.

  15. i have 11 circles around the clues that i solved without really understanding why & have had to come to the review to do so. having said that i still enjoyed the puzzle with 24a being my favourite.

  16. Well done to Penko (and anybody else who has a go). I will go along with Beets comment above. I was never going to complete this puzzle without a lot of checkers and then a lot of bung it in, hope it is right and work it out later moments. 1ac I am still struggling to parse. Some good some less so but better than I could do.

  17. Many thanks for the great review Prolixic which sorted out my questions for 3d (def) and 26a (parsing – I was nowhere near Scafell). You very nicely described some of my concerns and you managed to recount the Derek and Clyde reference rather succinctly, I thought.

    However I read “here” in 17d as “in the UK”, i.e. our antipodean friends are currently visiting this country (for the first time,is that right?) – was that the intention?

    Thanks again Penko

    1. 2Kiwis have visited the UK before. I read 17d the same as Prolixic – when they’re at home the 2Kiwis are almost always the first to comment on the Rookie puzzles, because of the time difference,

  18. Thanks to everyone for comments feedback etc. The context was a request late one Saturday from Big Dave for crosswords as supplies were running short. I did this crossword in about 2 hours and then sent it off the following day. Note to self – do more checking!

    In terms of specifics
    1/15 was pretty hopeless – yes I did mean Clearasil but the clue itself was jut not neat – apologies for that.
    11 across – yes it was Booker T – I thought he was more well known than is obviously the case
    8 down again I thought that Derek and Clive was fairly well known
    21down this was poorly constructed – I’ll do better next time!
    25 down was missing something as Prolixic says so incomplete

    Hope two kiwis and Jane liked their mentions and sprocker the near mention .

    best wishes


    1. Thank you, thank you, Penko. Both for the mention and the confirmation (I think) that it was indeed Booker T of musical fame. We seem to have a fair number of cricket fans amongst the commenters on this site, so I reckon most of them will have heard his ‘Soul Limbo’ many, many times! If I was sufficiently IT savvy, I’d attach a clip to remind them.

      1. Me too, Beet. I reckon it probably took several of us a great deal longer than that to solve it!

      2. I’m absolutely staggered that this took only a couple of hours to create – it means that each clue averaged just four or five minutes!!

        I thought I worked reasonably quickly but this means I’m a positive slowcoach by comparison!

        I salute you Penko :-)

    2. Penko, a thousand apologies. As part of our itinerary for our UK trip, we have been in Brighton for a couple of days and did not get to even glance at Rookie Corner until we got back to London today. What we plan to do now is avoid looking any further at the puzzle and saving it for a treat when we get back home to NZ in a couple of weeks. We are really chuffed to be mentioned. Cheers.

  19. Another puzzle! Who did the review – Big Dave or Prolixic?

    My money’s on Big Dave … the title does say “Rookie Corner 056 – posted by Big Dave”

    1. Scroll up to above the hints where it says’ A review of this puzzle by Prolixic…”

    2. I put up the initial post and the author should then be changed to whoever writes the review. I have now changed it.

      1. When I change it on the “scheduled update” it does not seem to work and the original author always reappears.

  20. This was indeed an interesting and enjoyable puzzle. Like so many others, I found the lower half very much easier than the rest. My absolute fave was 17d. I also liked 14d, 20a and 27a.

    I needed Prolixic’s expert enlightenment for a number of clues. Re 11a, the only Booker I could think of at the time was the Booker Prize. As soon as I saw the name ‘Arturo’, I guessed the answer to 26a, but was frustrated not to be able to parse the ‘sca’ — part of ‘Scafell’ . Would never ever have stumbled on that. Nor was I sure how ‘scored’ fitted in.

    Many appreciative thanks to Penko and to Prolixic.

  21. As promised, now we are home again, we printed the puzzle and solved it sitting in front of a roaring fire. We needed a bit of Google help to understand what 8d was all about and that gave us a whole lot of additional laughs to add to the ones that we had already got from the crossword. Did not get the Booker part of 11a but that did not stop us solving the clue. It is interesting about Russell Crowe, although he was born in NZ he has spent most of his life in Australia and they certainly claim him as their own.
    Really enjoyed working through the puzzle and feel so flattered to have been mentioned.
    Many, many thanks Penko and Prolixic for the review.

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