Rookie Corner – 073 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 073

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Silvanus has waited patiently for his turn to come around again! 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.

Silvanus entertains us once again with a well constructed crossword.  There are some minor comments that point to where the clues have their shine polished more.  The only main comment is that from 30 clues, one-third of them involved anagrams or partial anagrams, which is a little on the high side.


1 Take in the world of a sailor (6)
ABSORB – Split 2’1, 3 the answer gives a two letter word for a sailor with the possessive ‘s added followed by another word for the world.

5 Leave of absence covering stars but missing start of performance (8)
FURLOUGH – A three letter word for animal skin (covering) followed by the name of a group of stars with the initial P removed (missing start of performance).

9 Translation of “atlas” in a Germanic language (8)
ALSATIAN – An anagram (translation of) ATLAS IN A.

10 Amorous advance to maiden I clutched here and there (6)
PASSIM – A four letter word for an amorous advance and the abbreviation for maiden includes (clutched) the I from the clue.

11 Rising French comic actor working live showed development to begin with (10)
LEVITATION – The name of a French comic actor and a two letter word meaning working preceded by (to begin with) an anagram (showed development) of LIVE.  I think that for a transitive verb, the correct definition here would be raising.

12 Area in church where initially apprentice priests sermonised exclusively? (4)
APSE – The initial letters of the final four words of the clue.

13 Outsider is surprisingly grounded (8)
UNDERDOG – An anagram (surprisingly) of GROUNDED.

16 Any empty toboggan overturned outside results in hold-ups (6)
DELAYS – A four letter word for a toboggan is reversed (overturned) around (outside) the outer letters (empty) of ANY.

17 Significance of major road turning to the left (6)
IMPORT – Reverse (turning) the name of a motorway (major road) and follow this with a nautical word for the left.

19 Craft of boxers losing importance (8)
CRUISERS – Two possible interpretations of this one!  I parsed it as bruisers (boxers) with the initial letter going down a grade from B to C (losing importance) although it also works as a word for a division of boxers without the weight (losing importance).

21 Fire blazed endlessly somehow (4)
ZEAL – An anagram (somehow) of the inner letters (endlessly) of bLAZEd.

22 Odd saying of City medic, male, is a figure of speech (10)
SYNEDOCHE – The odd letters of SAYING followed by the postcode for the City of London, a three letter word for a medic and a male pronoun.  I think that the “of” here sticks out slightly as padding as “of city” does not lead to the postcode.  Strictly (and this is being really picky) if you are indicating odd or even letters you should use oddly or evenly or some equivalent.

25 Wine-shop fellow backing experience (6)
BODEGA – A three letter word for a fellow or person followed by a reversal (backing) of a word meaning experience or maturity.

26 Match another’s score to a sequel I produce (8)
EQUALISE – An anagram (produce) of A SEQUEL I.  The structure of the clue as definition TO wordplay does not work for me.  I am more relaxed about wordplay TO definition although ideally “to give” or “to find” is better.

27 Connections within the heart are the most substantial (8)
MEATIEST – A four letter word for connections or bonds inside (within) a four letter word for the heart of something.

28 American poet is decapitated by assassin (3,3)
HIT MAN – Remove the first letter (decapitated) from the surname of the American poet Walt…  Not a comment on the wordplay, but in recent times given the execution of hostages in the Middle East, the use of decapitated is a sensitive one and probably best avoided.  I am not too keen on wordplay BY definition.


2 Discredit inconclusive faith (5)
BELIE – Remove the final letter (inconclusive) from a word meaning faith.

3 Some took a picture of an African creature (5)
OKAPI – The answer is hidden in (some) in TOOK A PICTURE.

4 Robber has original but not new branding (7)
BRIGAND – An anagram (original) of BRANDING after removing the N (not new).

5 Foil one’s opponent possibly in sport (7)
FENCING – A cryptic definition of a sport where the competitors use foils or epees to foil or defeat the opponent.

6 Felt discontent that a nail was covered by grass (7)
REPINED – A three letter word for a small nail goes inside a four letter word for a type of grass.

7 Outside broadcast on a staggering scale behind street barriers (9)
OBSTACLES – The abbreviation for outside broadcast followed by (on) an anagram (a staggering) of SCALE behind the abbreviation for street.  The “a” before staggering is a little out of place and has been added as padding.

8 He opposes processing of unfinished yeast grain (9)
GAINSAYER – An anagram (processing) of YEAS GRAIN (the final letter of yeast being removed – unfinished).

14 First officer on top of the charts (6,3)
NUMBER ONE – Double definition.

15 Mistakenly let oilmen create a skin softener (9)
EMOLLIENT – An anagram (mistakenly) of LET OILMEN.  Strictly, the structure should be wordplay CREATES  definition.

18 Willed to perhaps taste sides of tripe (7)
TESTATE – An anagram (perhaps) of TASTE followed by the outer letters (sides) of tripe.  Again, we have definition TO wordplay.  Also, I don’t think that “willed” means the same as the definition which means having made a will.

19 Circumstances to study transcript (7)
CONTEXT – A three letter word meaning to study followed by four letter word for a script or transcript.

20 Coarse relative takes off French article in front of uninitiated teenager (7)
UNCOUTH – A five letter word for a male relative without the French for “the” followed by a word for a teenager without the first letter (uninitiated).

23 Hotel works are up for installation of small hooter (5)
OWLET – The answer is hidden (for installation) and reversed (up) in HOTEL WORKS.  Again on link words, you usually see definition of wordplay but wordplay OF definition is not accepted by all editors.

24 Crowd on top of a garden plant (5)
HOSTA – A four letter word for a crowd on top of the A from the clue.

51 comments on “Rookie Corner – 073

  1. We really enjoyed this one. A couple of fairly obscure words such as 10a and 22a but at least one of us (the one who is a writer) knew both of them. We have searched the grid looking for the last letter of a pangram without success. A good level of difficulty in our opinion and some clever wordplays that took some working out.
    Many thanks Silvanus.

  2. I agree with the 2Kiwis. Pitched just right for the Rookie corner, in my opinion, and some very good surfaces. I still have three or four to go, but I’m thoroughly enjoying this. 28A is leading the field so far.

  3. All complete now. 22A required Google and I can parse all but the “of city” part.”. I didn’t know 10A either, but the clue was clear and it just needed dictionary confirmation. I’m staying with 28A as my favorite, though 19A and 8D gave it a run for its money. Very well done, Silvanus!

  4. Excellent, excellent. Just the sort of clues I like. Had I met this in my paper (the Indy), it would have been a pretty quick solve, but none of the clues would have looked out of place. Indeed I wonder how you go about pitching the level of difficulty… is this similar to the Telegraph main crossword?
    For me, those slightly more obscure words (5a, 10a, 22a, 25a, 15d) were pitched just right to stretch my vocabulary but not require a dictionary, i.e. just right.
    Like 2 Kiwis, I also wonder, was there a pangram planned but then abandoned?
    Fave clues were 22a (brilliant) and, like Chris, 28a (lovely discovery!). I also put big ticks by 1a, 13a, 19a, 2d, 7d, 23d.
    Thank you Silvanus.

  5. Cheers, Silvanus, worth the wait.
    The usual very nice surfaces, combined with a not-too-high level of difficulty made for a very enjoyable solve. I got the NW corner and much of the LHS pretty quickly, although I couldn’t fully parse 11a until a later use of the check button showed I had got the last two letters wrong. Can rising be a noun in this sense? Possibly so, I don’t know. I got much of the rest with lots of electronic help (as always), and there were 3 or 4 words I wasn’t familiar with. I had an awareness of 10a,without knowing the precise definition (Private Eye uses it a lot).
    I don’t see at all why ‘to’ can’t be used as a link word in ‘wordplay’ to ‘definition’, but authorities seem to object to it. A couple of times you have ‘definition’ to ‘wordplay’ which I can see is not quite grammatically right, but doesn’t make it any less pleasant a solve, which is all that really matters.
    I too really liked 28a, although I got it from the definition, as I am more familiar with the yodelling singer. 8d, and is also in my top 3, but 5d was my favourite, I think, nice cryptic definition. Lots more, such as 2d, were just really good, elegant clues.
    Thanks again, hopefully not such a wait for the next one!

  6. Decided to tackle this first before starting my housewifely bit. What a treat just the right level for my ancient brain on a Monday morning. However, I did need some electronic help with 10a and 22a as I was not aware of ever having come across them before – two new works for my vocabulary. As I am a great fan of anagrams there was much to delight me, keep up the good work Silvanus and hope you come back to Rookie’s corner soon.

    1. Of course I meant words not works – despite the cataract operation I still have problems reading the PC screen – sorry.

      1. No problem Hilary, at least it was “works” and not “worms” !!

        Glad to hear that you enjoyed the solve and thanks for your kind comments.

  7. Good morning (to those to whom that applies!) and many thanks for the encouraging comments thus far. 2Kiwis and Expat Chris are two of the greatest supporters of Rookie Corner, and long may that continue.

    I’m delighted that you all seemed to feel that the enjoyment factor was high, since that always is my main aim with any puzzle. To answer Maize’s points, the Telegraph setter to whom I feel the most affinity is Rufus (Roger Squires), the long-serving Monday Telegraph back page compiler. I’ve always admired the simplicity and concise quality of his clues, although four successive three word clues last week was possibly overdoing it a tad! Unlike my debut puzzle, this time no pangram was planned, so like Jay’s most recent Wednesday DT puzzle it was merely a near pangram (“pangra” if you like!)

    Chambers does give “the act of rising” for 11a, so I hope it’s ok, Snape. You are spot on with the frequent use of 10a in Private Eye, I think that’s where I first encountered it actually! It’s amazing to think that it’s been twenty weeks since my last puzzle, such has been the wealth of new material at Big Dave’s disposal over the spring and summer months, but it’s totally correct that novice setters should be given priority over those who have already cut their teeth once or twice! I do hope to make a couple more appearances at least before 2015 is over though, but that’s not in my hands unfortunately.

    For 22a, it was a word that I’ve liked since schooldays, and, never having seen it in a crossword before, I thought that the time was right to rectify that. We use examples of it a lot in everyday life (referring to a car as a “nice set of wheels” for example), but without necessarily being able to identify the correct name for it.

    1. Perhaps 11a could have started ‘The act of rising French comedian…’ which would have made sense in the surface and removed all doubt. It’s a good job there have been few notable French comic actors to have made it over here, as his holiday was over 60 years ago!

      1. I did actually consider that, Snape, but rejected it as the clue was already sufficiently wordy!

        I also wondered if the actor in question is still widely remembered since, as you say, most of his films were in black and white!

  8. Very enjoyable – thanks to Silvanus. 22a was new for me but it looks to be a very useful word to drop into a conversation (if only I can remember it). I thought that there were possibly a few too many anagrams. I liked 5a and 19a but my favourite was 10a.

  9. Very nice. No quibbles. 22a I sort of knew (it’s like metonymy – but subtly different) but had to rely on the WP to give me the spelling – which it did.

    Many thanks.

  10. First class puzzle.
    Really enjoyed it.
    Couple of new words in 10 and 22a for me too.
    The surface of the clues is excellent.
    Congratulations to Silvanus.

  11. As others have already said – it was worth the wait!
    22a & 6d were new words for me, confess to not knowing the meaning of 10a and didn’t know the comic actor.
    Think I may have missed something in my parsing of 27a & 5d – but perhaps I’m trying to over-complicate things (if so, I blame it on yesterday’s Radler!).
    As chance would have it, 8d also makes an appearance in today’s Rufus Quickie!
    Lots of potential favourites here – I’ll pick out 1,16 &28a plus 7d for a mention and 14d for making me smile.

    Thanks, Silvanus – most enjoyable.

    1. Jane, I agree with you about 5d. Isn’t 27a simply a four letter word for connections put inside a four letter word meaning the central part or heart of something?

      1. That’s all I can make out of it but I also tried ‘heft’ and hoped that had something to do with a heart. It doesn’t, as far as I can ascertain.

  12. Nice and straightforward – being a fan of splendid words, I’m definitely going to try hard to fit 22a into daily life.

    THanks to Silvanus and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. I’ll give it a go – if I can pronounce it correctly! Are the last four letters as in ‘cloche’?

      1. Yes – I was also trying to work out how to drop it into a conversation if you don’t know how to pronounce it and I’m not very clever at interpreting what the BRB says about pronunciation.

      2. I’ve always been under the impression that the last two syllables are pronounced “Doc” and “He”, i.e. as it says on the tin really.

        It’s not the easiest word to fit into a conversation!

          1. Good grief – I wouldn’t have guessed that one! Sounds a bit like ‘select a key’ with an ‘n’ replacing the ‘l’.

      3. I shouldn’t worry too much about pronouncing it correctly when dropping it casually into a conversation. 99% of the people hearing it will never have heard of it either, so they won’t know the difference!

  13. I really enjoyed this one – well done, Silvanus.
    I’d heard of 10a but didn’t know what it meant.
    I’d certainly not heard of 19a but it was one of those that it was possible to work out from all the little bits of the clue and then, having invented a most unlikely looking ‘thingy’, look up.
    Needless to say I had no idea what I was doing with 19a but got there eventually.
    I’m not sure about my 27a so will have to persuade what little patience I have to come into operation.
    I thought there were quite a few anagrams – from me that’s absolutely not a criticism – I like them and always find them a good way into a crossword.
    I spent quite a while trying to decide which of the two possibilities was the definition in 13a.
    I liked 1 and 5a and 3d. My favourite was 28a.
    With thanks and more congratulations to Silvanus and, in advance, to Prolixic.

  14. An excellent puzzle, very enjoyable. Good mixture of the fairly straightforward with one or two more testing clues. NE corner proved a bit tricky for me with two unfamiliar across words. 10a is one of those words I’ve seen without knowing what it meant and 5a a total unknown which I didn’t get. Furlongs was the only word I could make fit.

    Normally I forget about looking for ninas etc. so was really pleased with myself to spot, after 19d and 21 had gone in, that there was clearly a pangram today. Not knowing 22a at all, even with the crossers, this led to some interesting combinations trying to get the J in….

    Like Jane I can’t parse 27a. I think 5d is just a cryptic definition; if not I too have missed the wordplay.

    I think 28a is more commonly one word nowadays. It is in ODE3, though not in my much older Oxford Concise. Excellent clue either way.

    May I suggest “out of control” would be a stronger anagrind in 21a? I like “uninitiated” in 20d, might “borrow” that when I think you’re not looking….

    1. Thanks a lot, Starhorse. I’m pleased that you have become a regular contributor since your debut puzzle.

      As I mentioned earlier, a pangram was nearly achieved (unintentionally), but it wasn’t quite there.

      27a is a container clue, so you are looking for a synonym for heart which contains the answer.

      For 5d, the first word is a category of the sport in the answer, so could be one’s opponent in that sport.

      I think you are right with 28a, interestingly it appeared in a DT back-pager as six letters not so long ago, but Chambers seems to stick resolutely with two three letter words, so that’s what I went for in the end.

  15. Thanks to Silvanus for a very entertaining puzzle.

    Nice surfaces! My favourite pair of clues were the very Rufusian 1a (Take in ..) and 13a (Outsider ..)

    One minor quibble – shouldn’t 22a start with “Odds of … ” rather than just “Odd …”?

    Like gazza, I would like to introduce 22a into a conversation but I have no idea how to pronounce it.

    1. Oops … just read the earlier comments on the pronunciation of 22a.

      But think I’ve already forgotten it!

  16. Very well done, Silvanus. I really enjoyed this with a lot of excellent clues with smooth surfaces (but what a pity that the wordplay needed a split infinitive in 18d!). I shall have to remember 5a when applying to Kath for leave of absence.

    I still can’t quite get my mind round the wordplay for 5d, and I’ll be interested to see the review tomorrow.

    It’s difficult to pick a single favourite from this excellent selection but 1a, 10a, 19a, 28a

    1. I have just noticed my final sentence got chopped off in its prime. It should have continued …

      … deserve a special mention (or, should I say, an especial mention).

    2. not sure wordplay requires the split inf, “to taste perhaps” would work, wouldn’t it? and plenty of alternative anagram indicators of the “yucky” variety..

  17. Well done and many thanks Silvanus, a great puzzle, very enjoyable because it is not stupidly difficult. My favourite clues are the ones with elegant surface, 1a, 11a, 17a, 21a, 2d, and more, great stuff. I also quite liked 28a but wasn’t sold on “by” as a link. Like some others, I felt there were a number of options for “heart” in 27a, so picking one didn’t feel very satisfying. Don’t think you need a question mark in 12a.11a (rising) works for me, present participles seem to have a strong nounal flavour and can be interchanged (think “the rising” …). I didn’t know 10a which was my last one in. I didn’t find the checkers as much help as usual, often they were vowels or common letters. 23a is interesting, “are up for installation of” makes for an unusual reverse hidden word indicator.

    Hope these comments are useful, once again congratulations, very nice, looking forward to the review which I expect will be favourable.

  18. Many thanks, Silvanus, I did enjoy this. Funnily enough I was reminded of the Monday backpage style several times, so the Rufus influence is showing. Lovely to see the figure of speech in there, so many of those words we don’t use, like litotes and zeugma – get that into a crossword if you can!

  19. Hi Silvanus. It’s been a long day so I employed a bit of cheating in order to finish in a sensible time frame. In common with others, I got a couple (28a and 24d) from the wordplay and then had to look up the answers. And I, too, knew 10a from Private eye. I wanted some stockings for 16a and took a while to see the right French article in 20d, since there is an UN in the answer. Great stuff. I very much enjoyed it – thanks.

    Thanks also to Prolixic for the review with the useful technical expertise. Much appreciated.

  20. Thanks to Prolixic too for the usual informative review. For 28a, the link word issues could have been avoided just by having ‘Assassin decapitated American poet’, although that doesn’t address the unfortunate real world issues. Regarding link words, Rufus too plays fast and loose with these in order to get a good surface – in the puzzle from yesterday, for example, there were two ‘definition for wordplay’ clues. Nobody batted an eyelid.

  21. I don’t normally have the time to do / comment on the Rookie Corner puzzles. However, I have this an exception – lovely puzzle Silvanus (IMHO) with some really good clue constructs and surfaces. Well done

  22. Reading Prolixic’s review is a bit like watching one of those masterclasses they used to show on telly. So Rookie Corner gives us both entertainment (thank you Silvanus) and education (thank you Prolixic).
    I had assumed the parsing of 19a was as per Prolixic’s second explanation.

  23. Many thanks to Prolixic for his usual in-depth review and analysis. The sensitivities regarding 28a hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s a very well-made point. I am consciously trying to rein in the anagrams a little, and I think that future puzzles will show evidence of that.

    For 19a, I can confirm that the explanation was the second one mentioned by Prolixic.

    A big thank you to all those who attempted the puzzle and seemed to enjoy the experience, and a special mention to those who took the trouble to leave comments.

    Last, but certainly not least, my personal thanks as ever to Beet and Sprocker for their invaluable feedback and extremely helpful suggestions at the test-solving stage. Their previous input does of course mean that they were conspicuous by their absence yesterday in terms of commenting, but I’m sure that they weren’t too far away from the blog! Thanks, guys.

    1. You’re very welcome Silvanus – I’m glad everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, and since it was a good few months ago that I test-solved it the first time I had forgotten all the answers and had the pleasure of solving it twice. My favourites included 5a, 5d and 10a.

      I feel decaptitation is too useful a crosswording tool to give it up entirely. It’s not as if a new meaning has emerged, it has always had a horrible meaning. Perhaps just take extra care with the surface reading to ensure it is not inadvertantly flippant, which I don’t think it was in this instance.

    2. A pleasure as always Silvanus, and very glad to see that it was as well received as I thought it should be. Much like Beet I had also had long enough to forget most of it so was able to enjoy it all again!

  24. Many thanks for your review, Prolixic. Liked your first definition for 19a although it would never have occurred to me!
    I always find it interesting that the clues you comment on are invariably the ones that I struggled to justify – not having your expertise I wouldn’t always understand why.

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