Rookie Corner – 067 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 067

A Puzzle by Barfly

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Barfly handed this puzzle around at the recent Birmingham meeting – is that a hint? 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 updated his 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.

An excellent debut puzzle from Barfly.  This was a tough challenge with plenty of thoughtful and well-crafted clues with only a handful of minor points to highlight.  This crossword was produced for a Sloggers and Betters meeting in Birmingham and the letters around the edge of the crossword read “Has anyone seen Brummie yet”.  Brummie is a Guardian and Private Eye setter.

As a general rule, the convention is to omit full stops at the end of the clue.


8 Protective cover arse backwards. (4)
TARP – Reverse (backwards) another word for a foolish person (who might be described as an arse).  The answer is a shortened form of tarpaulin.

9 Grabbed by an outspoken bird at party I will show weakness. (10)
PECCADILLO – The abbreviated form of I will goes inside (grabbed by) a homophone (outspoken) of a word for a bird that taps on tree trunks with its beak and a two letter word for a party.  Grammatically, this clue breaks down into wordplay show definition where strictly the grammatical construction would be shows definition but this would not fit the surface reading. My preference for homophones is for the letters produced by the homophone to be a word in their own right but this is a self-imposed discipline and is not convention.

10 Decadent fellow in base celebration. (6)
EFFETE – The abbreviation for fellow goes inside an irrational number that is used as the base for natural logarithms and another word for a celebration.

11 Amidst Flodden chaos, English embraced. (8)
ENFOLDED – The abbreviation for English goes inside (amidst) an anagram (chaos) of FLODDEN.  Some editors would not allow “chaos”, a noun, to act as an anagram indicator.

12 To date, one allegedly found very high up. (4)
YETI – Another word that could stand in the place of to date, as in “it has not happened to date”, followed by the Roman numeral for one.

13 Irritates actor for no reason. (10)
NEEDLESSLY – A seven letter word meaning irritates followed by the diminutive name by which the actor Sylvester Stallone is sometime known.  Although not wrong of itself, given the endless list of actors and no indication of first or last name, etc, it might have been a courtesy to the solver to let them know that a nickname was required.

17 Being in the heart of the ship (4)
ESSE – The inner letters (in the heart of the) of a six letter word for a ship or other form of container.

18 Outstanding success in comeback attempt. (5)
OWING – Another word for a success or victory goes inside a reversal (comeback) of a word meaning attempt or try.  As an adjective, the word comeback, as in the comeback kid, works as a reversal indicator.

19 Indian losing heart shows sign of disappointment. (4)
SIGH – Remove the central letter (losing heart) from a common Indian surname.  Having used heart as a middle letter indicator in 17a, another indicator should ideally have been used here.

20 Accusation arising from interest circulating staff of Chambers amongst others. (10)
INDICTMENT – A three letter abbreviation for interest goes around (circulating) an abbreviation of dictionary and men (staff of Chambers and others).

22 Key for Bill and Mark‘s flat perhaps. (4)
NOTE – A quadruple definition.

23 Elaborate lights distract horseman. (8)
MENORAHS – An anagram (distract) of HORSEMEN.

27 Liz and I are becoming closer. (6)
MEANER – A two letter pronoun that would replace the setter (I) followed by a slang way of saying “and” and the abbreviation for the queen (Liz).  It seems to me that the word order is wrong here as the word for the setter goes first in the answer and, that without further indication, you cannot expect the solver to get the slang way of “and”.

28 Evergreens produced by sound engineer with top backing singer’s intro added (10)
MACADAMIAS – A homophone (sound) of the surname of the engineer who gave us tarmac (his name does not have the first A that is used as the name of the product) followed by a reversal (backing) of A1 (top) and the first letter (intro) of singer.

29 Hears expression of surprise from the heart. (4)
CORE – A homophone (hears) of an ejaculation used when expressing surprise.  The from here is out of place as it give wordplay from definition which is back to front.


1 Hardy’s response when offered a drink in the hold. (4,6)
HALF NELSON – How Hardy might have responded to a request from his naval captain for how much beer he wanted.

2 Enthusiasm of primate holding dear young child. (8)
APPETITE – A three letter word for a primate (the animal not the bishop) holds another word for dear (as in cherished) and a two letter word for a young child.

3 Fern is escorted around place with nothing right. (10)
SPLEENWORT – Another word for escorted (as in he was escorted/**** off the premises) goes around the abbreviation for place and this is followed by the abbreviation for with, the letter representing nothing and a two letter abbreviation for right.

4 Long-suffering – check into hospital dept. (4)
ACHE – The abbreviation for check (in chess) goes inside a two letter abbreviation for Accident and Emergency.  Strictly, the abbreviation is A&E, not AE though this is sometimes ignored by setters – see last Friday’s Toughie.   I don’t think that long-suffering (as adjective meaning enduring patiently) is a valid definition for a noun meaning a pain or a verb meaning to long for.

5 Vulgar supporter jumps up loudly. (4)
NAFF – Reverse (jumps up) another word for a supporter or enthusiast and follow this with the musical abbreviation for loudly.

6 Delivers products. (6)
YIELDS – A double definition for returns made or delivered on an investment and the fruits of the harvest.

7 Talented sportsman on the right wing. (4)
BLUE – A double definition of an Oxbridge sportsman or woman who represents the university and the colour associated with the right-wing or Conservatives.

14 Available online – low-calorie cream. (5)
ELITE – The letter used for on-line and a word for low-calorie.

15 Make right on appeal before taking notes, that is. (10)
LEGITIMISE – Another word for “on” in cricketing terms followed by another word for sexual appeal, two musical notes (the same note but in the plural) inside the abbreviation for id est or that is.

16 Caught sight early with a long way to go. (5-5)
LIGHT YEARS – An anagram (caught) of SIGHT EARLY.  I think that caught here is being used in the sense of entangled but this really means that something is surrounded by a line or rope, etc, not that the thing itself is mixed up.

19 Outlaw native ceremony. (3,5)
SUN DANCE – Split into 3,5, the name of a Wild West outlaw associated with Butch Cassidy.  I think that some indication that you need to split the name of the outlaw would be fairer here.  Also, as the outlaw is the **** kid, is it fair only to take the first word of his nickname for the clue?

21 Is pub empty? The pressure’s the same here. (6)
ISOBAR – The IS from the clue followed by another word for a pub includes an O (empty meaning having nothing in it).

24 Cheated brother but ‘e noticed apparently. (4)
ESAU – The E from the clue followed by a homophone (apparently) of noticed.  Apparently is a word that describes how something is seen or seems, not how it is heard so I do not think it is a fair homophone indicator.

25 Horse of stellar ability. (4)
ARAB – The answer is hidden inside STELLAR ABILITY.

26 Hurries up the drive. (4)
SPIN – Reverse (up) a word meaning hurries.  My preference would be to omit the “the” from the clue as this better fits the definition.

58 comments on “Rookie Corner – 067

  1. Lots to enjoy in this one. And yes, Prolixic, I did see the Nina! Very helpful in the SW corner it was too.

    Thanks Barfly for a nice start to Monday morning before doing what I’m paid for.

  2. Thanks, Barfly – I enjoyed that. The Nina helped considerably. My favourites were 23a and 4d. Most of the surface readings are very good, but you don’t need the full-stops at the end.

    I had a few little queries:
    27a Liz and I seem to be the wrong way round.
    28a I don’t understand the sound engineer bit.
    1d ‘beer’ rather than ‘drink’ would have made the clue better, I think.
    15d Last bit of the clue seems very Yoda-like.
    16d ‘Caught’ as an anagram indicator?

  3. Once I was aware of the Nina (thanks Gazza and Crypticsue!) it certainly did help a lot, even if the Nina itself is very parochial and less meaningful away from its original context.

    It seems that four-letter answers often pose the most problems and this was no exception, however the fact that they constituted 40% of the total meant that the grid was far from ideal. It was a pity that “heart” featured in three of the across clues, a little variation wouldn’t have gone amiss.

    Overall though it was an enjoyable solve and there were some great surfaces, with just a few notable exceptions such as the unfortunate 8a which seemed to defy any grammatical interpretation.

    Like Gazza, I felt it was stretching things a tad to use “caught” as an anagram indicator in 16d, likewise “apparently” as a homophone indicator in 24d. 27a didn’t work for me either, and I wasn’t convinced that “actor” in 13a was fair on the solver, when it’s actually the actor in question’s nickname.

    Favourite clue was 19d.

    Many thanks, Barfly.

  4. Hi, having been the grateful beneficiary of the review of a puzzle on here a couple of weeks ago I thought it only fair to offer some feedback myself.

    I found this tricky, perhaps partly because there are so many short words – 14 out of 30 being 4 or 5 letters. That’s partly because it’s a totally symmetrical grid. Had it been only top/bottom matching (I’m sure there must be an official term for that) it would have allowed more variety. The SW corner was particularly awkward. Whilst 23a and 28a aren’t exactly obscure they are probably two that don’t trip of the tongue and are tougher still with mainly vowels as the crossers. I had to get some electronic assistance to complete this corner and quite a few others.

    The surfaces generally seem very smooth, and some lovely ideas – 2d, 14d, 7d, 21d and 10a were all ones that particularly appealed. 19d also in theory, but see below…. I cant’ parse a few though, and wasn’t sure about some of the wordplay and definitions. In particular:

    2d – can’t see petit listed as a noun; I know people often use it as such (“mon petit”), but I can’t see it having been adopted officially in English, so maybe it needs a “foreign” indicator
    3d Can’t parse this
    4d The hospital department is “A and E” or “A&E”; not sure what the rules are on ignoring the &
    9a I’m not sure if “show” works as you’d like it to in this tense, but will see what the expert makes of it
    13a Don’t see how the second part of the wordplay works
    17a Not familiar with this term, one I had to cheat on
    18a It feels to me that it needs to be “attempt to comeback” for the grammar to work. “Comeback” as one word isn’t a verb so can’t instruct me to do something
    22a can’t parse
    15d can’t parse
    16d can’t see how “caught” works as an anagrind, but even if it’s kosher wouldn’t it need to be “catch” to instruct me to rearrange the fodder?
    19d As “Sundance Kid” was a nickname I don’t see how you can have use part of it to match the definition in the way you can with given names. Nice idea though.
    24d is too specialist knowledge for me and I agree that “apparently” isn’t a homophone indicator as it’s not a word related to sound
    27a don’t understand this at all

    If anything I’ve written above turns out to be nonsense when the expert crit goes up, apologies!

    And I’ve only just read the above and hadn’t seen the nina at all; very nicely done to get one in without having any totally obscure words as answers, and only 2 or 3 less common ones.

    Look forward to your next one.

    1. 2d You need to split petit into pet (dear) and it (young child).
      3d Escorted is seen – put the abbreviation for place inside and add W(ith), O (nothing) and abbreviation for right.
      13a The last 3 letters are the nickname of a male American film actor.
      22a is (I think) a quadruple definition.
      15d Another word for ‘on’ in cricket + sex appeal (2) then plural of note from tonic sol-fa inside ‘that is’.
      27a Split the answer 2,2,2 for the wordplay.

      1. Thanks gazza. Not seen IT clued as young child before (2d). Not sure I like it much but will probably borrow it at some time when desperate! Makes a change from sex appeal etc. after all. Should have spotted the cricket reference though. If 27a is as you say then agree, Liz and I are the wrong way round.

        I meant to comment on 8a – the answer is an American abbreviation, so shouldn’t that have an indicator to say so?

        1. My late mother-in-law called all her grandchildren (and other babies) ‘it’ until they were at the saying a few words/toddling stage when they transformed into either he or she depending which variety of grandchild they were.

          1. Love it, CS. Reminds me of my dear – long departed – grandmother who, having been introduced to my first ‘serious’ boyfriend (John) for ever after referred to all subsequent boyfriends by that name, followed by the comment ‘I’m so sorry if that’s not your name, but you’re all the same to me’!

  5. Phew! Definitely a Toughie for me.

    Once again with a Rookie Corner puzzle I’m going to have to rely on prolixic to explain some of the wordplay.

    But there were many nicely constructed clues … My favourite: 1d.

    Has anybody here yet noticed any obscurities? (3d, 23a & 28a – never heard of them)

    (Did the gentleman in the Nina make an appearance?)

    Thanks to Barfly. (Full-stop)

  6. Popped in to see if it’s another of those, “Just me days”. I’m really having a fight with this one – will carry on trying a bit later on.

  7. Just left with a couple of 4 letter words to parse and solve.
    Liked the “bangs on the head” and the “distract horseman”.
    I suppose the homophone of the Scottish engineer is there because of the different spellings of his name.
    Didn’t have a problem with Mr Stallone either.
    Not easy but enjoyable solve.
    Are we likely to see the person in the Nina in the telegraph? Or is it an invitation to cross over?
    Thanks to Barfly.

    1. Look at me. I’m mixing the back page and the rookie.
      It’s the heat that bangs me on the head.

  8. This wasn’t easy. Very interesting puzzle, with some really nice surfaces eg 9a, (which I think begs a comma before I), 14d, 2d, to name just a few. And some inventive clueing, e for base, staff of chambers, quadruple definition, available online, cheated brother, again just to name a few. the originality is very good, Experience and valuable feedback will help you understand just how much you can and can’t get away with.

    I found the grid made it a little hard to find inroads into the four corners, for me NW was last.

    And a Nina! I forgot to try and use it, perhaps that would have compensated for the grid. Well done – and of course now I am intrigued – no I haven’t seen him, what has he done?

    Congratulations, I look forward as always to Prolixic’s review, which is often beneficial to us all and I hope you can see it also in that light.

    Many thanks barfly, an impressive achievement and I look forward to the next one

  9. Is this the setter’s first foray into the Rookie Corner?

    I finished, but I doubt that I would have if the Nina (which true to form I had not spotted) had not been mentioned in the comments. I am at a disadvantage with the movie in the Nina since it’s obviously new and and I’ve never heard of, but I worked it out (couldn’t be much else) and that gave me the letters I needed to solve 28A and 26D, my last two in. I thought there were some very good clues here, and some where the construct is a bit clunky and/or indicators are missing (unless I’m missing something) . For the most part, I found the LHS easier than the RHS. Overall, though, I thought it was enjoyable. 8A was a smiler! Thanks, Barfly

      1. Ha ha! I had Googled to see if it was a movie and the first headline was “Brummie Movie Quotes” so I read no further. That’ll learn me, as my old Gloucestershire Granddad used to say. I only do the Guardian occasionally and I don’t think I’ve come across Brummie. Is he worth a go?

          1. You are sooo bad baiting me like that! I couldn’t resist Googling PE and the online version showed a puzzle by said Cyclops and I scanned through the clues. I now need a dram or two of the Balvenie to recover!

  10. Struggled badly with this one and only completed courtesy of help from Crossword Solver and comments here that led me to believe there was a Nina (which made absolutely no sense to me, other than that it contained words I could join together!).
    Left with at least a dozen for which I can offer no explanation beyond the fact that they ‘fit in’.

    So sorry, Barfly. I really did try very hard to get onto your wavelength and much enjoyed 13a, 1&24d and the new word at 23a.
    Hopefully, the review will shed light where there is presently little but darkness!

  11. Well I did about 5 and then I started deploying the reveal letter key left, right and centre (keen to finish before Only Connect). Too tough for me today, but some really lovely surface readings in there: 11a, 5d and 14d particularly. The Nina is making me do a confused face

  12. I thought this was a very good puzzle. For a time, I wondered if it was Brummie himself, but there were too many clues which didn’t quite work for it to be him.(He’s liable to sacrifice technical rigour on the altar of entertainment a couple of times a puzzle, which I approve of, although some may find it annoying.)

    Most of the difficulty comes from guileful wordplay, some of which couldn’t be bettered by an expert. A handful, though, look like ones where the setter has had a wonderful idea and come up with something with which he can just about justify to himself, at a stretch, that it does in fact work. I’ve learned that if you’re having to argue with yourself about whether the clue works, it’s no good, and you’ve got to abandon it and find another clue idea.

  13. What are the chances of the same word (albeit one plural) appearing in the Rookie Corner (21D) and the Cryptic (5A) on the same day? No disrespect intended to Barfly, but this is a rare opportunity to see in real time how a master like Rufus approaches clueing the same answer.

    1. Actually, if one is a plural form and one singular, they are definitely not the same word from a setter’s point of view. You may be able to approach both of them the same way (trivially, in the case of an anagram where the fodder can also be singular/plural with/without an S, but that’s a pretty special case), but it’s a lot less common than a solver might think.

      And I wouldn’t recommend copying Rufus’s style. He’s probably the only person who can get away with using such a limited palette of devices. It’s a bit like encouraging an actor to study John Wayne – his style works in relatively simple tough guy movies, but it doesn’t work in anything else.

      1. Though if Rufus had to fit a singular form in, could the clue not neatly read “…as Boris shortly found out”. Anyway, I bow to your superior knowledge. I definitely don’t know all the rules or conventions!

    2. Yes, noticed that, and was quite taken with the Rufus version of an old chestnut.

  14. Had to stay up to get your review on this one, Prolixic.
    On reflection I should have understood the parsing for 17&27a but as for the other problematic ones – 8,9,10,19&28a plus 3&4d – never stood a ghost of a chance.

    Not to worry – we live and learn!

    Many thanks for explaining it all, not to mention the significance of the Nina.

  15. Love I that Prolixic posts at midnight GMT so I get to see the review on the same day I tackle the crossword. I do think the Nina was a bit of an insider thing, I don’t much like that. Anyway, thank you Prolixic for a masterful review.

    1. Yes, the puzzles distributed at these meetings often have local content which does make it tricky if your not an insider, the excuse is they were tailored to the meeting which in itself is clever.

  16. I had “race ” for 7d, completely messed me up. Thanks for the review and a most amusing puzzle.

  17. I really tried very hard with this one but it was way beyond me – I only managed about half of it, if that.
    Having read the hints now I realise that there were some that I should have managed but plenty of others which I would never have got.
    Anyway, with thanks and congratulations to Barfly and to Prolixic for all the untangling and explanations.

  18. Where is the overseer?
    Am I the only one to have noticed the review of 29a? Or is everyone just laughing in their little corners?
    We all have problems with auto correction but it’s a far cry from interjection.
    Prolixic, you are discharged.

    1. If you look in the dictionary, one of the meanings of the word in question is a suddenly utterance so it does work in the sense that Prolixic is using it, so he’s quite correct in using the word in his review.

      1. Well I never.
        Didn’t realise this at all. Really thought it was a typo.
        Thanks for the enlightenment.
        Your language never ceases to amaze me.

        1. It continues to amaze and fascinate me, too. I don’t know of any other language that is anywhere near as rich.

        2. Don’t worry about it, JL. It would be a lie to suggest that no one this side of the channel has the occasional snigger about hearing it used in this context, despite it being perfectly correct.

    2. You’re possibly the only one not to have realised that the word you’re talking about is perfectly correct and unexceptionable.

      1. Given that he’s the only one who’s French, I think it is quite acceptable for him to be confused.

        1. The only one, CS? There were thousands of them last time I visited – but then it was quite a while ago.

    3. My stack of Rookies on my to-do list is sadly growing, but I’m glad I cast an eye over the comments here. The thread gave me a good chuckle :). And brought to mind this:

          1. No. We have BBC America, but it’s typically last year’s series of dramas like Downton and Call the Midwife (both of which I love), and reruns up the gazoo of very old sit-coms like that Hyacinth Bucket thing. No quality quiz shows or panel shows at all, more’s the pity.

      1. I was going to link to the whole episode, set to start at that point, but my international link tester confirmed my fears that it would be blocked in the US. For those in the UK, it’s here:

          1. I’ve just checked, and apparently later series are broadcast on BBC America, and also streamed online on Hulu. So with luck you should be able to catch the programme.


        1. Thanks for that one, Kitty. I’ve seen it before (maybe even twice!) but I can invariably enjoy an episode of QI as many times as they care to show it.

  19. Thanks Prolixic for the review, enlightening as always. I wondered whether long-suffering in 4d could be intended as a double definition, though I’ve never seen a double definition plus wordplay. Mind you I don’t see quadruple definitions very often (and triple definitions invariably cause me grief).

    Would such a double definition be kosher?

    1. Two reasons I would be uncomfortable with this. The first is that I don’t think that you could use “suffering” as a direct synonym for ache. The second is that as long-suffering is a word in its own right, I think it would be too much of a misdirection for the solver to split it into two definitions without further indication.

      As a slightly different offence, I did have one clue sent back for editing where I had used a hyphen between two words to split the definition and part of the wordplay.

  20. Many thanks to all of you for doing the puzzle and especially to Prolixic for the blog.

    As Dave said I didn’t intend the puzzle for this slot hence the inappropriate nina. It was done in something of a rush prior to the Birmingham event hence the multiple ‘hearts’ among other things.

    To clarify a few things, I took a liberty with ‘Long-suffering’ by hyphenating it – otherwise it’s just pretty much Chambers’ first def of ‘persistent pain’. The wordplay is CH in A and E – the and is not omitted as some suggested but is part of the instruction.
    Similarly I was conscious that ‘caught’ as an anagrind was at best iffy but hadn’t found an alternative in time.
    As far as Sundance is concerned, he is referred to in that way throughout the movie and his partner is invariably just Butch.
    I don’t agree on apparently being unsuitable as a homophone indicator – as a solver all I expect to be told is all is not quite as it seems ie I can’t believe my ears.

    I accept that there are probably too many obscure words – I wanted to have a go at a nina just to see how restrictive it was which I probably shouldn’t have attempted on my first puzzle.

    Thanks again to Dave for the encouragement – I hope to do better if I get another opportunity.

    1. Welcome to the blog Barfly

      I thought the puzzle was too good to be solved only by a handful of people, and yes, you will get another opportunity.

    2. Hi Barfly. Time constraints mean I’m behind on the Rookie Corner puzzles – but I do intend to have a go hopefully before too long, and will make a comment, since I’m assuming feedback will still be appreciated even if a little late.

      A scan of the comments shows that I am in for a treat, if a pretty tough one – I look forward to it. Well done!

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