Rookie Corner 062 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 062

A Puzzle by Froy

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I am please to be introducing Froy with his debut 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 belated review by Prolixic follows.

It is good to welcome Froy into the Rookie Corner with an accomplished debut.  There were only a few minor niggles with the clues.  As others have commented, putting the two intersecting answers in the grid meant that there were very few checkers for the solution (only a quarter of the letters could be obtained from the crossing letters) and this is less than ideal.


8 Drunk swallows first couple of mojitos.  Hello! ‘e’s after another drink! (8)
SMOOTHIE – A three letter word for a drunk includes (swallows) the first two letters (couple) of mojitos followed by a two letter word meaning hello and the E from the clue.

9 Start to examine damaged tile for crack (5)
ELITE – The first letter (start to) of examine followed by an anagram (damaged) of TILE.

10/2 Two cows but only half the ewes, reportedly, provide staple diet (8)
COUSCOUS – Repeat (two) the first two letters (but only half of) cows and a homophone of the letter (in the plural) that sounds like ewe.

11 Upset tory banker after Iain Duncan Smith reshuffle (10)
DISCONCERT – An anagram (reshuffle) of the initial by which Ian Duncan Smith is sometimes known followed by a three letter word for the Tory party and a four letter word meaning a banker or something sure to happen.  Where you are using initial letters as anagram fodder, you need something that it very clear that the initial letters can be used – I am not sure that this clue strictly passes this test.

12 Foxes, when play’s finished for the day (6)
STUMPS – A double definition, the second being a reference to what are drawn at the end of a day’s cricket.

14 Dwarf stripped off in Bilbo’s territory to find something to set in the ring (8)
SAPPHIRE – The central letters (stripped off) of one of the seven dwarves inside the area inhabited by the Hobbits in Tolkien’s imaginary world.

15 Seven, oddly, to finally get this Bolshevik revolutionary (7)
TROTSKY – The odd letters of the answer to seven down followed by the final letters of geT thiS BolsheviK revolutionarYThis clue mixes the wordplay with the definition but does not qualify as an all in one or semi all in one clue.  Usually, clue numbers are referred to by numerals but I do not see this as an absolute rule and my first instinct was to look at the answer to seven down.

17 Head of CID sounds more hopeful for bent staff (7)
CROZIER – The first letter (head of) CID followed by a homophone (sounds) of rosier (more hopeful).

20 Risqué introduction by Mussorgsky? (8)
IMMODEST – You need to know the first name of Mussorgsky.  He might introduce himself I’m ***.

22 See 25

23 Bad similes may be used in evidence (10)
ADMISSIBLE – An anagram (may be) of BAD SMILES.  There is a slight overlap between the worplay and the definition as the answer means that something may be used in evidence but the may be is also functioning as the anagram indicator.

24/24D Ignores audible symbols (4-4)
HIGH HATS – A double definition, the second being another word for the cymbals in a drum set (audible symbols).  The first part of the definition is a little used phrase and perhaps a more well known synonym would have made this a little easier given the dearth of checking letters given the intersecting answers.

25/22 Spooner’s shortage of pastries is completely made up (1,4,2,4)
A PACK OF LIES – Said by Spooner, this may come out as a lack of pies (shortage of pastries).

26 Rear end of horse letting off gas displays equestrian discipline (8)
EVENTING – The final letter (rear end) of horse followed by a word meaning letting of gas.


1 Rogue setter’s after gold (8)
IMPOSTOR – A word meaning the setter is followed by a four letter word meaning after and a two letter word for gold.

2 See 10 Across

3 Foreign character of the French island (6)
RHODES – A letter of the Greek alphabet (foreign character) followed by the French plural for of the.

4 Carry on being cheeky about short relative (7)
PERSIST – A four letter word meaning being cheeky goes around a diminutive form of sister (short relative).

5 Out of sorts but doing well on sandwich course (5,3)
BELOW PAR – A double definition, the second being a good score on a golf course (sandwich).  The convention is that you can capitalise a common noun to mislead but you cannot put a proper noun into lower case to do so.

6 Type of nut-bearing branch lopped for medicinal purposes (5-5)
WITCH-HAZEL – A type of nut goes under (bearing) another word for a branch with the first letter removed (lopped).  The word for used for branch means, according to Chambers, a long flexible twig, which is something less than a branch!

7 Retro design featuring Lagerfeld’s central bête-noire (6)
TERROR – An anagram (design) of RETRO includes the central letter of LageRfelds

13 Orderly is strangely hot during examination (10)
METHODICAL – An anagram (strangely) of hot goes inside the type of examination your doctor might perform.

16 Preserves headless fish as a memento (8)
KEEPSAKE – A five letter word meaning preserves followed by a type of fish with the first letter removed (headless).

18 Get-together held by hospital department is coming up (8)
EMERGENT – A word meaning amalgamate or get together goes into a three letter abbreviation for a hospital departments.

19 Desk in Sunday School where string’s kept (7)
STABLES – You need to know the collective noun for horses.  Another word for a desk goes inside the abbreviation for Sunday (or Sabbath) and School.  Chambers does not give the abbreviation of S for School or SS for Sunday School.

21 Fruit making a comeback in horticultural demonstration (6)
MEDLAR – The answer is hidden and reversed (making a comeback in) in HORTICULTURAL DEMONSTRATION.

22 Exam taken in school Evelyn Waugh attended? (1,5)
O LEVEL – The answer is hidden (taken in) in SCHOOL EVELYN. Depending on the editor, the superfluous words “Waugh attended” may not be permitted in the clue as they are padding and do not contribute to the wordplay or definition.

24 See 24 Across

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 062

  1. That took us a long time but we did get there eventually. We thought that 11a was pushing it a bit too far. To know who the person was, and then that he is often known by his initials, and then to form an anagram of these! Mmmm. We also found both the NW and SE corners with their four letter linked words a real struggle. Generally, with the Rookie puzzles, where we have no editorial guarantee that all the clues are kosher, we prefer to see them a little less challenging than this one. That said we did solve it and had a good ration of smiles and penny-drop moments along the way.
    Thanks Froy.

  2. After five minutes I thought I was going to have to abandon this one, but then once I got the spoonerism to get me started I made reasonable progress. My last ones in were the two linked answers in the corners and I needed electronic help with the SE one. A fine debut, only problems I could see were that I think it should be 7 not seven in 15 a ( others will correct me if it’s just a convention not an absolute rule), and in 22a you appear to have an extra word that contributes nothing to the wordplay. So only very minor points from me and a big congratulations on your first puzzle.

  3. Well done to Froy on an excellent debut. I suspect that there are a couple of problems with the use of abbreviations and sandwich in 5d should really be capitalised, but the whole thing was very enjoyable. I particularly liked 9a, 10/2 and (for the laugh) 26a. The Spoonerism is pretty good as well.

  4. I thought this was a tremendous debut puzzle, and not too ambitious in terms of the degree of difficulty/obscurity, which is often the biggest fault of any inaugural effort.

    The Spoonerism was spot on for me and I thought that the surface readings were exceptionally smooth in general.

    I suspect that for anyone who is not a UK resident, the abbreviated form of IDS is slightly unfair, but for those of us who are based here, I think it’s acceptable, and in fact 11a is one of my two favourite clues along with 17a.

    Congratualtions Froy and look forward to your next one.

  5. I’m only left with the 2 pesky doubles of 10/2 and 24s.
    13d and 16d have a great surface and I love the clever construction of 15a.
    8a made me laugh too and I also liked the spoonerism.
    I’ll wait for the review to complete the missing pieces.
    In the meantime, thanks to Froy for a good puzzle.

  6. I have the 24/24 combo left to solve, but I thought this was a cracking debut. Well done Froy!! Not a fan of spoonerisms generally but I really liked this one. I’ve been overseas for many a long year but I had no problem with IDS at all. I figure that most expats that do UK newspaper crosswords also follow UK news and politics, so I thought it was very fair. In any case, I thought it was obvious that the initials were what was required. I had to google the gentleman in 20A, and loved the clue once I knew that. Also liked 14A. I did think 17A was a bit iffy, though. Maybe Head of Chambers? Again, well done Froy. Looking forward to your next one!

    Now, back to 24/24…

  7. Ah, finally finally saw the 10/2 clue with the two cows! very nice. I spent ages looking for other ways of taking out U’s

    I enjoyed this puzzle, until I got to the last few clues I thought there was absolutely nothing to comment on, it seemed flawless. Well done!
    And certainly not too easy, without being impossibly difficult. I had to look up the composer.

    For 15a, since wordplay and definition are mixed together I started looking for some &lit (all-in-one) character, trying to attach some historical significance to the “Seven” which would justify its being spelt out – but I couldn’t find any – if there is none, I agree with beet the convention seems to be to use 7 – but the convention is also to separate definition and wordplay! And, yes, you can capitalise gratuitously to mislead, but you cannot de-capitalize (Sandwich) – without that mislead, not sure if you still want Sandwich. And yes, 2 extra words that are not part of wordplay in 22, but a nice surface and this would be forgiven by some. Very minor point, don’t think you need the apostrophe ‘s as opposed to simply “is” in 19a.

    I have to say I found the double corner clues hard (10/2 & 24/24, since they have only 2 checkers in 8 letters.

    All in all – Brilliant! Many thanks Froy. A high quality debut puzzle that you can be very proud of. Thanks for letting us enjoy it.

    1. To amplify the point about the necessary capital for Sandwich, a former Times editor once said ” A village can sometimes be ‘Hamlet’ but ‘hamlet’ can never be the Prince of Denmark.”

      I wasn’t keen on 24a/d: I know it’s supported by Chambers, but I doubt the phrase has been used that way since people stopped wearing the second part routinely.

      The rest was great.

  8. Add me to the list of people who enjoyed this puzzle and had the most trouble with the four letter linked words.

    Thanks Froy.

  9. I nearly gave up too soon as I only had about four answers having read it all through – I’m glad that I didn’t.
    This one has really grown on me!
    I’m now stuck with the ‘cows and the sheep’ although I suspect the ‘sheep’ are masquerading as red herrings.
    I’ve never heard of the 24a and 24d combination.
    I have, at least, learnt what Mussorgsky’s first name was and will store it in the brain for future use.
    I’m going to have to wait until tomorrow because I don’t understand several of my answers.
    8 and 26a made me laugh. I also liked 9a and the Spoonerism.
    With thanks and well done to Froy – off to the garden now which is where I should have been ages ago.


    your most impressive guide which I have much enjoyed still says “Ximean” at every occurrence instead of “Ximenean” – is this an alternative spelling? if so, neither google nor I have come across it.

  11. I am most encouraged, and not a little surprised, by the generally positive comments so far. I’ll post a fuller version of my feedback to the feedback tomorrow but, in the meantime, many thanks for taking the time and making the effort – it is much appreciated.

    Best regards,


      1. Thanks crypticsue. I’ve been, to use the vernacular, “lurking” for some time.

  12. Thanks Alchemi! Your comment above was just what I needed to resolve 24A/24. Never heard of it before, though, and didn’t like it much. Too specialized. All done now.

  13. Either my alphabet is short of a few letters or I’m being really thick!
    I thought I had tried everything for 2/10 and 24 but obviously not!
    Where do you wear these things in 24d, your head, your feet?
    In 2/10, a staple diet for me is just good food. I’ll settle for that and forget about the enumeration.

    1. 10/2 may be split in two in the puzzle but it’s one word in the culinary world. I’m betting that you’ve probably eaten it, even if you don’t serve it in your restaurant! Think wheat.

  14. Thought this was really good, particularly for a debut effort, though I did find it rather tricky, and I had to use some electronic assistance and a couple of reveals to finish it. I’m personally not a fan of the 2 8 letter split answers sharing a letter as it seems a little unfair being only given 2 checking letters for 8 letter clues (though maybe I’m just grumpy as I didn’t get either of them without cheating!).

    I’m going to pick the Spoonerism as my favourite as it’s rare to see such a good one.

    Thanks Froy!

    1. Rufus used the same grid in the guardian today.
      When I first saw it I thought ” oh not again” but they were easier clues.

  15. Advance notice that the review will appear later tomorrow as I am busy this evening and will probably not get a chance to post something until Tuesday evening.

  16. Finally got 2/10. That’s a wonderful clue. And to think it’s France’s favourite dish.
    Still need that little hint on the 24s.
    I begin to think it’s a homophone of tough titty. My luck really.

    1. 24/24 is a double definition – the first is a verbal phrase meaning puts on airs, but it’s probably easier to get via the second definition. “audible symbols” are cymbals.

  17. A terrific puzzle , thank you , Froy.
    I though 5d was brilliant. 25a, best ever Spoonerism, it actually works.
    I don’t understand 1d. 10/2 ” Ewes reportedly ” didn’t work for me.I loathe The Lord of the Rings but the answer was guessable from the checkers.
    IDS is a very familiar set of initials in this hemisphere.
    Thanks again.

    1. While something else entirely, “two ewes reportedly” explained itself to me . Sorry !

  18. Many thanks as always Prolixic for the review and comments.

    I read 10a as deleting one “u” from the double-u’s in two cows – works either way.

    1. Although I really liked 10/2 (and I interpreted it as you did) I don’t think that splitting the 8-letter answer into two words in the grid would normally be allowed since the individual parts (“cous” in both cases) are not words in their own right.

  19. Many thanks to all who commented, and in particular to Prolixic for the detailed post-mortem which was, as ever, insightful, enlightening and scrupulously fair.

    In a similar vein to Shostakovich’s A Soviet Artist’s Response to Justified Criticism I’ll have a bash at some self-defence…

    …10/2 – it was indeed intended that double-u’s should be replaced by singles. I take gazza’s point entirely that the split is an error as “cous” is not a word in itself. My wife muttered that she’d noticed it herself whilst doing a trial solve; she might, I suppose, have had the good grace to point it out at the time. I’d put High Hats in the SE and considered that another double made for pleasing symmetry, but it was fatally flawed thinking

    11ac – I agree that there is nothing to suggest, apart possibly from letter count, that an abbreviation of Iain Duncan Smith is required and that, to those not from these shores, the abbreviation itself may not be familiar.

    14ac – I’d like to concur with Una on her estimation of The Lord of the Rings.

    20ac – although I’m aware that not everyone will know Mussorgsky’s given name, I consider he’s a composer sufficiently well-known, in a way that, for example, (Cornelius) Cardew or (Iannis) Xenakis may not be, to justify the clue. I probably listen to too much Radio 3.

    24/24 – point taken about ignore being too vague as a definer. I think I may have seen it used by one of the more shocking of the Victorian authors. On the other hand, the high-, or hi-hat is, I should have thought, a reasonably well-known percussion instrument.

    5d – I wasn’t aware of the rule and it serves me right for not having previously read in its entirety the admirable document produced by Prolixic and referred to towards the top of the page.

    6d – quite right. Twig might have worked, I imagine.

    19d – I’m sure I’ve seen the abbreviation used somewhere (probably The Guardian) but I can’t give provenance. Besides which, I wasn’t happy with it in the first place and should have come up with something better.

    22d – agreed. Too much concern with surface.

    On the whole I enjoyed the experience enormously. I wasn’t aware of how daunting it would be to raise my thinning flaxen locks over the parapet but, after I’ve finished picking the grapeshot from my scalp, I’ll probably have another dabble…maybe with a Nina (the name of Shostakovich’s wife, by the way)

    Best regards, Froy

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