Rookie Corner 059 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 059

A Puzzle by Viola

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Viola returns with 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.

Prolixic has prepared a document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Viola with another entertaining crossword.  The preamble said that several related clues lack a definition.  It would perhaps be kinder to the solver to say how many clues were so related but this is a minor point.  As others have commented, this was perhaps not quite so polished as Viola’s previous “ice” puzzle but it was enjoyable to solve.

The related clues are highlighted in green below.


1 Tea? Right guy to make it: the one in charge (8)
CHAIRMAN – A four letter word for a spiced tea followed by the abbreviation for right and another word for a guy.  The link “to make it” is slightly jarring as the “it” is padding.

5 Making an attempt to be difficult (6)
TRYING – A double definition

9 Rose presently follows direction of revolution (8)
UPRISING – The present participle of rose (as a verb) after (follows) a direction.  I think presently does not really indicate the present participle of the verb (which operates as an adjective) or the gerundive form as rose functions in the present tense in its own right.  The structure of the clue wordplay of definition is the reverse of the usual definition of wordplay and some editors will not allow this form.

10 Pacific island doesn’t have new or old money (6)
GUINEA – Remove the New from the name of a Pacific island.

12 See 14

13 Cleaned below, involved in dodgy deal (9)
LAUNDERED – A word meaning below goes inside (involved in) and anagram (dodgy) of DEAL.

14/12 Rum, ale (6-2-3)
MOTHER-IN-LAW – A reverse clue.  Look at the words RU-MA-LE to see a description of the answer.  Some indication should have been given that this was reverse type of clue – may be “Rum, ale for the setter?

16 Troubled poet has rowdy launch party for ‘Death at Sea’ (7)
TORPEDO – An anagram (troubled) of POET includes (has – not a very good insertion indicator) the first letter (launch) of rowdy included and this is followed by a two letter word for a party.  This could have benefitted from a question mark or exclamation mark at the end to indicate that the definition is oblique.

19 To let loose in France, one goes with the French to eat at French hospital (7)
UNLEASH – The French for one followed by (goes with) the French for “the” inside which (to eat) you include the French for “at” followed by the abbreviation for hospital.

21 Do calculation in reference to replacing domain name (6)
REPUTE – Another word for do a calculation has the initial COM (domain name) replaced by RE (in reference to).

23 Shrunken and embarrassed (9)
BELITTLED – A double definition.

25 Is it pleasant in Gravesend? On the contrary! (5)
NIECE – The final letter of Grave (Grave’s end) goes inside a word meaning it is pleasant (the on the contrary tells us that the wordplay in the clue needs to be reversed).  Not all editors would accept Gravesend as indicator to take the final letter of grave.

26 Initially not as naturally nimble as (6)
NANNAS – The first letters of Not As Naturally Nimble followed by the second AS in the clue.

27 Ignore mixes by Ministry of Sound made before ambitious leap (8)
GERONIMO – An anagram of IGNORE followed by an abbreviation for Ministry Of.  A common mistake is to use partial abbreviations.  Although MoJ for example is an abbreviation for Ministry of Justice, that does not mean that you can use a partial definition such as Ministry Of to indicate the letters MO.

28 See 20 Down

29 Swore behind queen and her short son, got time inside (8)
ASSERTED – A three letter word for your behind or bottom followed by the abbreviation for the Queen and a diminutive form of the name of her youngest son inside which you add the abbreviation for time.


1 See 22

2 Dessert after shower time for victim of a prank (5,4)
APRIL FOOL – A type of dessert goes after the month reputed for showers.

3 Darn! Again? We’re in trouble with squadron leader (5)
RESEW – An anagram (in trouble) of WERE S (squadron leader – first letter)

4 Make invalid a penultimate piece of jewellery, like a ring (7)
ANNULAR – A five letter word meaning to make something invalid followed by the A from the clue and the penultimate letter of jewellery.

6 ‘Arms protrudin’ for return journey (5,4)
ROUND TRIP – An anagram (‘arms – contraction of harms) of PROTUDIN.  To maintain the cryptic reading this would work better as ‘Arm protudin’ to give “harm” the anagram letters.

7 Shouting at Homer in private?! (5)
INNER – A homophone (shouting) of a word meaning “at home” followed by ER.  If this is the intended wordplay, the E in Homer is doing double duty as part of the answer and part of the wordplay.

8 ‘Thousand!’ our star announced (8)
GRANDSON – Another word for a thousand (as a sum of money) followed by a homophone (announced) of sun (our star).

11 Come back as a ghost without a head (4)
AUNT – Remove the first letter (without a head) from a word meaning come back as a ghost.

15 Symbolically love to measure pulse (5,4)
HEART RATE – A shape or organ of the body symbolically representing love followed by a word meaning to measure.

17 Kiss in spruce tree, up above the fog, with fanatic (9)
EXTREMIST – The letter representing a kiss goes inside an anagram (spruce) of TREE and this goes over (up above) a word for fog.

18 Burning bush and heart of asp (8)
HUSBANDS – An anagram (burning) of BUSH followed by the AND from the clue and the middle letter (heart of) asp.

20/28 S is? (4-6)
HALF-SISTER – A cryptic allusion to the word (half of which is) SIS.

21 It’s correct to put clothes back on (7)
REDRESS – A double definition meaning to correct something and to put your clothes back on.

22/1 Agree with it being said? (6,6)
SECOND COUSIN – A word meaning to agree to or to back a proposal followed by a character in the Adams family whose name is a homophone (being said) of it.  I think that to get from the homophone of IT to a member of the Adams Family is a bit of a stretch.

24 Heard wild cat at golf course (5)
LINKS – A homophone (heard) of Lynx (wild cat).

25 End of life comes before long when strung up with this (5)
NOOSE – Reverse (strung up) the letters provided by the last letter (end of) life and a word meaning before long.

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 059

  1. Welcome back, Viola.

    The mini-theme was soon evident and I can understand why the “related” clues lacked definitions, but to be honest I think it detracted from the puzzle and gave it an incomplete feel and was slightly unfair on the solver. Having said that, ironically I thought that the 14/12 and 20/28 combinations were both very clever in their simplicity.

    I began by listing those clues which I couldn’t parse adequately but once they had reached double figures I decided to abort the list! I felt that overall there were more rough edges than the previous “Ice” puzzle, but it was still eminently solvable without electronic assistance once sufficient checking letters were in place.

    I’m sure that the review will be of great assistance as always in highlighting those areas which require tightening up. Many thanks Viola.

    Many thanks too to Prolixic for his Cryptic Clue guide. I’m sure all Rookie setters will find this extremely useful.

  2. I really enjoyed this, it was within my capabilities, with lots of enjoyable clues. I got 20/28 immediately, thought it was a quirky clue, and only when I completed the SW corner did I think there must be a preamble, as I couldn’t see half the definitions.
    I look forward to the review as I didn’t totally understand all of them (I don’t understand the Shouting in 7d, for example), but great stuff.
    My favourite was undoubtedly 14/12.

    I’m looking forward to reading the beginner’s guide that’s just been posted, too.

    Many thanks

  3. I thought this was pretty good, though I think there are a few issues with some of the anagram indicators, and I’m left with three that I can’t parse.

    My favourites are 11d and 25d. I did also really like 14/12 but think that probably should have an indicator that it is a reverse clue.

    Thanks Viola

    PS Massive thanks to Prolixic for compiling the guide, it looks fantastic and will be incredibly useful.

  4. Thanks, Viola, for an entertaining puzzle, though I don’t fully understand 7d or 22/1d. Top clue for me is 21a.

    1. I didn’t get 22/1 either while doing the puzzle, by I’ve just looked again and I would guess it is an Addams Family reference.

      1. Thanks, Beet. I’ve just listed the members of the Addams family and I get it now.

  5. An enjoyable puzzle, where I had to cheat on a few so that’s about standard difficulty in line with newspaper puzzles. Still a good few I can’t parse exactly so I will check back on the review. My favourite for the surface reading was 25 d.

  6. Completed, but my page is littered with question marks. Perhaps there will be fewer of them by the time the review is posted as I work a bit more on the parsing. In truth, I started off disliking this, because I an not a fan of two-part answers that jump all over the grid, and I’m not fond of ‘undefined’ answers either, but it did grow on me. 21A was the last one in and my favorite. I thought it was clever and well-constructed. I do like that ‘related’ seems to be doing double-duty in the hint. Thanks, Viola. I look forward to the enlightenment that the review will bring.

  7. Realised the theme when I got to 11d as I couldn’t understand why 14/12 was what it appeared to be. Does that makes sense?
    There are also a few I can’t fully parse, the “our star” in 8d, the whole of 7d and 22/1d.
    The sound made before ambitious leap in 27a made me laugh.
    I also liked 17d and 25d a lot.
    19a was a good French puzzle to unravel.
    Thanks to Viola.

    1. The last three letters of 8d are a homonym of ‘our star’ i.e. the star which is the source of light and heat to our planetary system.

  8. I enjoyed this. The theme made it easier for me as I saw it as soon as the first relation was in.

    27a was a nice misdirection as I wanted to fit MOS in … unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s not legal to have MO on its own clued in that way. But it was clear enough to solve.

    I’m not sure about one or two anagram indicators (arms in 6d?) or at as a link word (24d). I needed Beet’s comment above to understand 1d, and need someone else cleverer than me to explain 7d.

    I may at times have been described as 5a, so I liked that one for all its simplicity. Other picks include the pairs 14/12a and 20d/28a, and 11d.

    I also liked 21a which was my last in because I wanted url instead of the actual three letters that were required. Or rather, not required.

    All in all lots of fun – thanks Viola.

    Many thanks also to Prolixic for the guide, which I’m sure will be invaluable. I was pleased to note the number of pages too. Most appropriate for today.

    1. I think the anagram indicator in 6d is meant to be ‘arms (harms). but no idea re 7d.

      1. The only thing I can think of for 7d is that home is ‘in’ so very cryptically homer could be in-er, with shouting indicating a sound-alike.

  9. Thanks to Viola for the puzzle.

    Like others I still cannot parse a few of them (7d, 9a and especially 25a)

    But I particularly liked 14/12 (Rum, ale) and 20/28 (S is?). But my favourite has to be 11d for the very smooth surface reading!

    [And an extra “Thank You” to prolixic for “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues”.

    His definition of Brief is different from mine!}

      1. 25a – D’oh!

        But I still don’t understand 7d – the Homer one. I notice that the clue ends with both a Question Mark and an Exclamation Mark.


  10. I found that really difficult and to begin with I thought I wasn’t going to get anywhere at all.
    ‘Persevation’ paid off and I’ve finished it now if having answers to all the clues counts as having finished it.
    I’ve got lots of answers that I don’t understand.
    I get very cross with myself when so many people particularly like one of the ones I don’t understand – today it’s the 14/12 combination.
    Quite a few of these made me laugh -27a and 3, 11, 20/28 and 25d.
    With thanks and well done to Viola.

      1. Thanks gazza – I know that I’m being really dim but I still don’t get it.

        1. Thanks for the “son”. I thought it had something to do with Maureen Lipman saying ” a son ! Our star has arrived!
          As far as 14/12, MA is in RULE.

        2. OK. The middle two letters of rum ale (think of it as one word) form an informal word for mother. The four outer letters form another word for law. So the middle two letters are ‘in’ the outer four.

  11. Like Kath, I’ve finally got answers to all the clues, but am not at all sure about half a dozen of them.
    I did very much like the 20/28 & 22/1 combinations and also 25d – along with the 14/12 combo, now that Gazza has explained it!
    Without wishing to sound overly negative, I have to say that I much preferred Viola’s ICE puzzle. I shall be most interested to read the review and discover whether it’s simply a matter of my not ‘getting’ the wavelength on this one.
    ps I had (apparently incorrectly) thought that Viola was of the female gender!

  12. Hi guys. Thanks for your honest feedback. It is much appreciated. I think one of the things I have done that has caused quite a lot of confusion is ask the solver to see one word in separate parts, for instance ‘at homer’ sounding like INNER because ‘in’ is a synonym for ‘at home’, and ‘Gravesend’ meaning Grave’s end or ‘e’. I realise the Homer clue was pushing it a bit – the ?! was an admission of this! Is this kind of thing, i.e. one word that should be seen as more than one parts, best avoided do you think? I’m sure I’ve seen it before in the Guardian.

    Maybe I should explain a few other things.

    In ‘Arms protrudin’ the inverted commas were supposed to play double roles in that they could both be apostrophes indicating that the two words are abbreviated or they could be quotation marks.

    For 22/1, I originally had just ‘O’ as the clue, because O is the second letter of COUSIN, but I know that’s not strictly Ximenean and I thought people wouldn’t like that. The Cousin Itt reference was maybe a bit obscure though. I suppose for the reverse undefined clues, I thought that the solver would have to have found the theme before they could solve these, and I liked the idea that they would look completely baffling until you had the guidance of the theme.

    For the MO in 27a, I was going on the logic that if MOD is ‘Ministry of Defence’ then MO is ‘Ministry of’. If that’s not legal then I think it should be.

    I realise some of the clues were probably a bit ambitious. It’s good to know what one can’t get away with! And I’m glad you enjoyed some of the clues and some of them made you laugh, that’s definitely a victory of sorts.

    1. Hi,
      I like the Gravesend type constructions, and people here don’t seem to mind it within reason. I know now what the shouting in 7d was for, I only understood the clue in retrospect, and didn’t even twig that it would need a homophone indicator. You were definitely right to change the second cousin clue, though. I think reverse clues would have to be absolutely precise to be fair.
      Regarding the ‘Ministry of’ issue, I think Prolixic covers precisely that in his guide. Here is the perfect place to experiment, though – I’ve learnt so much from Rookie Corner and the mistakes made, it is fantastically useful

      Thanks again

  13. Thank goodness for Prolixic – without the knowledge that you would sign in today with all the answers, I think I would have been very likely to have given up on this one. Such a shame – I was really looking forward to it after Viola’s ICE puzzle.

    May I ask a question, Viola? Did someone do a test solve for you and – if so – did they not have any difficulties with the parsing?
    Hope that doesn’t sound rude, I’m just interested to know whether I’m simply way off wavelength (entirely possible!) or whether there were indeed too many leaps of faith required.
    Either way, please don’t stop now – you’ve given us some great moments!

    1. Hi Jane. I did have a few people test solve it. They didn’t have any problems but I fear they may not have as precise in their critiques as they could have been. Thanks for the encouragement.

  14. Many thanks to prolixic for the excellent clue construction guide. I look forward to studying this in great detail.
    I hope I won’t be as confused as my printer was when I tried to print the odd pages first, then the even pages on the reverse side, to save paper. Computer had a complete meltdown, probably due to my stupidity and loathing of windows 8, possibly not helped by your unique page numbering method.
    Best regards, oddjob.

    1. I sympathize with your difficulties. However, Prolixic’s basic page numbering system is not unique. It’s common practice when the document has a cover page and a page index and any other kind of preamble to start the page numbering proper on the first page of the body of the text ( in this instance, page 1 of the body text is on page 4 of the document). However, normally the cover page is not numbered and the pages that precede the body text are usually designated i, ii, iii, iv, and so on. But I know from practice that setting up the page numbering and section breaks in MS Word to get this right can be a pain! The easy way out is to just bite the bullet and print single sided. The back sides of the pages are not necessarily wasted; they can be very useful for your personal notes!

      And maybe invest in a printer that can accommodate double sided printing automatically…

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