Rookie Corner – 081 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 081

A Puzzle by Maize

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Maize offers his second puzzle – did he learn any lessons from the reaction to his first? 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:

As Craig Revel Horwood would say in one word A-MAIZE-ING.  Well done to Maize for a highly accomplished crossword.  A very few minor thumbs in the air but this would not have been out of place in a national newspaper.


1 Drive too furiously (6,2)
OVERDO IT – An anagram (furiously) of DRIVE TO.  The whole clue gives a definition of the answer.

5 Service provided for Highland area (6)
MASSIF – Another word for the service of Holy Communion followed by a word meaning provided.

10 A red mutant was rejected Marvel superhero (9)
DAREDEVIL – An anagram (mutant) of A RED followed by reversal (rejected) of a word meaning was.

11 Bug excretion starts to vacate earwig (5)
PEEVE – A liquid excreted from the body followed by the initial letters (starts to) of Vacate Earwig.

12 Pain of every leader overtaken by followers (4)
ACHE – A word meaning every with the first letter moved to the end (leader overtaken by followers).

13 Nude, ogled outside zero-carbon facility (5,5)
STARK NAKED – a word meaning ogled or looked at intently around (outside) a word meaning a facility or ability with the C removed (zero-carbon).

15 Going to allow, irregularly, this lover to be paid for (6)
GIGOLO – The odd letters (irregularly) of GoInG tO aLlOw.  As the odd letters appear on a regular basis, I am not keen on irregularly to indicate them!  “Regularly going to allow this lover to be paid for” would work better for me.

16 T-tangles brought about by king’s speech impediment (7)
STAMMER – Reverse (brought about) a word meaning tangles with the first letter repeated (T-Tangles) and follow this by the abbreviated form of King Edward.  Nothing technically wrong with this clue but note that some editors do not like stuttering clues of this form.

19 Reinforce troops to replace us in a month (7)
AUGMENT – In the name of the eighth month of the year replace the US with another word for troops.

21 Betray nervousness on the phone to Arab leader (6)
SHEIKH – A homophone (on the phone) of what you do when displaying nervousness.

23 Without its middle third, Donne’s maxim is neither here nor there (2,4,4)
NO MANS LAND – Remove the central give letters from the phrase “No man is an island” (John Donne’s maxim.

25 Make vague jacket advertisement detailed (4)
BLUR – Remove the last letter (de-tailed) from a word for the advertising on a book jacket.

27 Diogenes mostly courteous? Beyond the bounds of credibility! (5)
CYNIC – A word meaning courteous with the final letter removed (mostly) after (beyond) the outer letters (bounds of) credibility.  A minor point but I am not sure that all solvers would necessarily know that Diogenes typified this answer.  Although the ? indicates a definition by example, is it too far from the word that is the definition by example.  My preference is to keep the indicator by the word but practice differs.

28 Essentially futile draw in Iceland upon which developing players cannot build? (9)
UTILITIES – The central letters in futile followed by the IVR code for Iceland inside which you add another word for a draw.  The answer refers to the squares on a monopoly board where you cannot put houses or hotels.

29 Cut out physical work without hesitation (6)
EXCISE – Remove a word meaning a hesitation from a word meaning physical work.

30 Central megalith could stay, at the end, extremely powerful (8)
ALMIGHTY – The central letters of megalith followed by a word meaning might (as in a possibility) and the final letter (at the end) of stay.  I think that the original clue was fine and had a better surface reading.


1 Dated the chaperone? (3-3)
OLD-HAT – Double definition, the latter being an item of clothing worn on the head in the Middle Ages.

2 You or I to ET live in object under attention (9)
EARTHLING – An abbreviation for live (given in Collins but not in Chambers) inside another word for an object underneath a word for ear.

3 Avant-garde movement with origins in dance and dramatic art (4)
DADA – The first letter (origins in) of the final four letters of the clue.

4 Variation at sea excluding areas where life, for some, began (2,5)
IN VITRO – An anagram (at sea) of VARIATION after removing the abbreviation for area from it each time it appears.

6 Members of parliament primarily write in moralising clichés (10)
APPENDAGES – The first letter (primarily) of parliament and a three letter word meaning write go inside a word for moralising clichés.

7 Utter bliss, finally, on mountain-top (5)
SPEAK – The final letter of bliss on another word for a mountain top.

8 Some cricketers are little more than half-fit senior citizens (8)
FIELDERS – The first two letters (little more than half) of fit followed by another word for senior citizens.  As definition are wordplay jars slightly, perhaps “Some cricketers – little more than…” would work better.

9 Endless trouble arising about Latin lovers at play (6)
FLIRTS – Reverse (arising) a word meaning trouble with the final letter removed (endless) about the abbreviation for Latin.

14 Care of Jupiter’s moon removed from malign astronomer (10)
COPERNICUS – The abbreviation for care of followed by a word meaning malign (as an adjective) with the two letter name of a moon of Jupiter omitted.

17 Director, fond of improvising, “As am I!” declares error-prone reverend (4,5)
MIKE LEIGH – A Spoonerism (error-prone reverend) of Like Me (as I am).

18 Insert salt scientifically into undressed shellfish (8)
BARNACLE – The chemical formula (scientifically) of salt inside a word meaning undressed.  It would have been fair game simply to have clued this as “Insert salt into …”

20 Mineral quarried from coastal Cumbria (6)
TALCUM – The answer is hidden in (quarried from) COSTAL CUMBRIA.

21 Star with face which shows the passage of time (7)
SUNDIAL – The name of our star followed by another word for a face.  Dutch is correct that “that shows … ” would be grammatically correct but this is a nicety that very few people observe these days!

22 In the mood for love but beginning to feel insecure (6)
FRISKY – The first letter (beginning to) of feel followed by a word meaning risky.

24 Person in charge is desperately busy (5)
MANIC – Another word for a person followed by the abbreviation for in charge.

26 Man plus ego equals voice of a know-it-all (4)
SIRI – The title given to a man followed by the letter for oneself or ego.  I think that the answer is probably not well enough known to have such an oblique form of definition.

46 comments on “Rookie Corner – 081

  1. Some good stuff in there, Maize – best for me were probably the more straight forward cryptics such as 19,21&29a plus 1,4,6&21d. Tempted to include 15& 25a but the surface reads didn’t flow quite as well as the afore-mentioned.
    Favourite penny-drop moment was 13a – thought for a while that it included a really obscure reference – nice one indeed!
    I think you have the ability to frighten a solver half to death – on a first read through it seemed as though a great deal of specialised knowledge could be required – what a tease you are!
    Thank you very much – this insomniac will now retire in peace.

  2. Late onto this today as it is a holiday long weekend here, Labour Day, and we have been with family.
    Great to come home and tackle this top quality clever puzzle. Not a walk in the park by any means but all clues seemed scrupulously fair and well put together. Hard to pick a favourite from so many good ones but think that 23a deserves special mention.
    Well done and many thanks Maize.

  3. Wow! I thought this was terrific. So many clever clues and a good few smiles. Learned a new definition in 1D. However, I cannot parse 16A or 25A yet. Still working on that. I did think the ‘”scientifically” was a bit too obvious in 18D and wonder if it was even necessary. 17D was a bit too specialized, I thought, especially for we over-the-ponders, though I was able to work it out and verify with Google. Now for my last one…26D. I had no idea. I resorted to revealing the two missing letters and still had no idea. The BRB 9th ed. was no help. Google eventually enlightened me. Perhaps it’s time I upgraded from a flip phone. But the great and the good outweighed the not-so-good by far. Among my many favorites are 11A, 12A, 13A 1D and 6D. Great job, Maize!

  4. Thanks Expat Chris, you gave me my last clue 26d.

    Well done Maize, brilliant. The clues are technically flawless as far as I noticed during the solve (we’ll see what the review unearths…) and I thought great care must have been taken to provide an interesting variety of clue types. Lots of originality. This took me toughie time, which is fine.

    Very impressive starting with a short and powerful all-in-one at 1a. Tons of great clueing. I like 11a with the bug/earwig connection (and vacate sounds like it could be a cryptic instruction), I liked “zero-carbon facility”, I thought “reinforce troops” was very good, 27a, a pity I had to look up Diogenes to remind me what he’s known for, 28a: the definition was more cryptic that the clue! but fits so very nicely, 29a is an old familiar friend but there is nothing wrong with that.

    30a, megalith is almost an anagram of the answer which (to me) is an unnecessary distraction, a hint at the answer displaying the letters, a minor inelegance – people will differ on that I’m sure, I don’t know if it was intentional – makes we wonder if you almost went the anagram route.

    2d, great clue but the abbreviation is not in Chambers
    6d “Members of Parliament”, brilliant! 7d “utter bliss” brilliant!
    Like Expat Chris, I was not familiar with the director in 17d but could find him easily enough. Also like expat chris, I think “scientifically” is overcautious in 18d, the (rather excellent) clue would read very nicely to me as just “Put salt in undressed shellfish”.
    20d “quarried” is brilliant 21d – i’m not an expert on that/which grammar but I imagined here that “that” would give a less formal, smoother read – I think this is my favourite clue by the way, “face which/that shows the passage of time” is just great.

    What wonderful stuff! I bet this took a while! I think it is at least as good as most newspaper puzzles. Congratulations!

  5. A nice challenge for Monday morning – I haven’t got time to check at the moment (I’m supposed to be working!) but there did seem to be quite a few of the ‘take something away’ clues in this puzzle. I’ve also checked to make sure that my thought that the Donne maxim is usually represented as five words – never with an ‘s for the second word – so that clue doesn’t quite work for me, although I liked the idea, especially the definition.

    Thanks to Maize and, in advance, to Prolixic too.

    1. We see the original quote as 2,3,2,2,6 making 15 letters. Remove the central 5 and the answer is left when written as 2.4,4

    1. I’m afraid I just had to ‘get’ the entire word and then research the middle bit, so ‘scientifically’ was a great help!

  6. Hi Maize,

    I found this a little trickier than your first puzzle, but definitely no less enjoyable for that. No theme this time from what I could determine though.

    As others have said, the cluing was extremely fair, the surfaces generally excellent and a very professional and well-assembled product overall. Many congratulations.

    I had to do the same as Expat Chris in order to solve 26a, otherwise I would never have got this one. Even with the answer in place, it meant nothing to me I’m afraid, but then I’m not an Apple customer. I felt that a “for instance” or a “say” was required in 27a, as it is a Definition by Example. Also (unlike Dutch), I thought that “quarried” was somewhat tautological in 20d – the clue in my view works equally well without it.

    Although I have no stand-out favourite, there were a number of clues I really liked (21a, 23a, 1d, 6d and 21d). It took a long time to see the Spoonerism in 17d, even when I had the answer, d’oh!!

    A great follow-up to your inaugural puzzle, Maize, I thoroughly enjoyed it. More, please.

  7. Hi Maize,

    I thought this was terrific – seems a little unfair to pick a favourite as there were so many great clues (e.g. 1a, 10a, 13a, 23a, 27a, 6d, 7d, 14d, 20d, 21d), but I’ll go with 8d for the wonderful surface (and having played a little bit of village cricket I can attest to it being true!).

    I don’t understand the ‘jacket’ in 25a but I presume I’m just being dumb, and the only red flag I spotted was the abbreviation in 2d. I’d also echo the comments above that ‘scientifically’ was a bit too much of a give away in 18d.

    Fantastic stuff – thanks & well done!

      1. Sorry Sprocker.
        I thought I was answering Kath. Your Avatars look the same.
        Must get some stronger glasses or a bigger screen.

    1. For 25a, if you add the same letter from the start of the word to the end you end up with a word associated with publishing.

      1. Oh. Went right by me, and and that’s a word I use often because I write a lot of them for company marketing, website and magazine publications. In my world, it’s not specific to a jacket or to content teasers.

  8. Great crossword Maize. Thank you.
    Liked everything. Even the Spooner.
    Managed to parse everything. Only wondering about 28a (essentially futile), has it got to do with the famous board game?
    Not sure about the ending of 16a ( T tangles) does it stand for king also? Or am I missing something?
    Favourite is definitely 23a ( Donne’s maxim).
    Great stuff. Keep it up.

    1. Hi JL,
      Yes, I think you’re right about the board game – you’re not allowed to put either a house or a hotel on a 28a square.
      As for the ending of 16a – I also wondered whether I’d missed something. If so, I have yet to find it!
      I really liked the Spooner as well, but I did have to check in with Mr. Google to verify his existence.

      1. Unless it’s the sound of the first letter repeated. As we have T tangles, we get M mats.

  9. Yes – I was fine with M mats it was the last two letters that worried me. I reckon it’s down to King Edward – I guess George VI wouldn’t fit!

  10. Thanks for the feedback everyone – very encouraging!
    Yes this did take me ages.. I started with three clues taken from my little list of clues awaiting puzzles (1a, 17d and 18d) then took the grid with me on holiday, walking the coast of Northumberland back in August. The word ‘scientifically’ in 18d was added in later to make that SW corner slightly less forbidding, but maybe that was unnecessary.
    Dutch, I never noticed the near anagram in 30a – interesting! I had had a different clue altogether for that one: ‘God alone, not I could say why’ but felt unsure about the last two words. As for 29a, I’m not surprised it’s been done before – kinda obvious really. Re that/which, I would welcome some guidance myself on that if Prolixic is reading this…
    Jean-luc, in 28a I was hoping that the surface reading would make solvers think of football, if that makes any sense, and in 16a the initialised form of a certain king does indeed form the last two letters.
    Finally the abbreviation in 2d (as seen on a plug for instance) is in Collins, which is good enough for me!
    Heartfelt thanks to all for taking time both to do the puzzle and to give feedback, and of course to BD for giving me the opportunity.

  11. High expectations after your first effort, and you certainly didn’t disappoint. I found the LHS quite a bit easier than the right, (I cheated a bit on the right, and a couple I don’t understand) and almost every one on the left was a gem of a clue. 1a, 1d, 4d, 7d, 8d, 12a (a way a haven’t seen before to indicate that device), 13a, 17d, 18d, 20d. (I’d say 29a too, as I used the same clue in my early effort, but it’s not a surprise to see it’s an old favourite)
    Most of the surfaces were excellent, too – at worst it merely required a squint to get a sensible story.
    My only question, (which hasn’t been asked already, so I guess it is my lack of English!) is about the use of ‘irregularly’ in 15a. Can irregularly mean regularly as well (as in ‘the letters left when you take the regular ones out’?). I thought it would not have meant the 1st, 3rd, 5th etc letters. It’s a lovely clue, though – I’d have thought it would be fine just with ‘regularly’, perhaps at the beginning.
    Many thanks Maize, your third will be eagerly anticipated.

    1. Cheers Snape.
      I always squirm slightly when I see ‘regularly’ used to indicate odd numbers.
      Irregularly is the opposite of regularly so I hope I have, as they say, ‘said what I mean’ :)

      1. To my mind, regularly could be 1st, 3rd, 5th etc, or 2nd, 4th, 6th etc, or even 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th etc, so could be either odd or even or neither. Irregular means not regular (not occurring at expected or equal intervals is def2 in Collins online), so would be something like 1st, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 12th. Which would be tricky.
        It may be there is some interpretation of the word I don’t know, though.

        1. Sorry, I’ve just read my first comment again – I meant to say that all those clues listed were the ones I thought were brilliant, I just missed that bit out!

          1. Maybe it’s just me; I think of ‘regular’ as a synonym for ‘even’ and I guess you could think of odd numbers as being even… but that would be odd!

  12. I am working on an unfamiliar laptop and I keep making mistakes with the touch mouse. Twice I accident ally hit revert and wiped all my solutions.It also keeps increasing and deceasing the size of the print.I am not writing out the whole thing again, even though I was really enjoying it. If there is an undo button , I can’t find it.
    .Great cluing, which shows when you solve things you never heard of before, such as 25d and 27a.My favourite is 23a.
    Thanks Maize, looking forward to your next opus.

  13. 10a, 6d, 7d, 8d, 18d, 20d and 22d is my long list of favourites. Very nice indeed Maize, thank you very much

  14. I enjoyed what I could do but I’ve failed miserably on seven answers, all in the left hand side, so looking forward to the review.
    I loved 1, 10 and 21a and 14d. I even managed 8d!
    The main things that I’ve noticed, which aren’t to do with the crossword at all, even though I do know that this is the main point of the blog, are the odd hours of some of our commenters – not the Kiwis and Expat Chris as they’re on different times to us in the UK but Jane – still awake and first to comment at 3.25am – are you nuts and shouldn’t you be by then?
    The other thing that strikes me is gazza’s absence – he always comments on NTSPP’s and Rookie corners and he hasn’t.
    With thanks and congratulations to Maize and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. Damn it all and oh dear! I failed miserably on seven answers and they’re not in the left hand side at all – they’re in the right hand side!

    2. Gazza has been hors d’internet. I believe he is back on-line but has a backlog of stuff to deal with.

      Review is set to roll at midnight.

    3. Jane is a night owl. She’s usually last (wo)man standing when I am on line at 7 PM or so EST. Hanni joins her sometimes, too. Me, I’m a go-to-bed-by-eleven-and-wake-up-after four-hours-sleep and-can’t-get-off-again person. So what do I do to pass the time instead of having hot milk and counting sheep? I tackle the toughie! Hardly relaxing.

    4. Well, I think my odd time-keeping dates back to my late teens/twenties and living in London, but that’s a story for another time!

  15. Well, that was good. The definition at 26d tickled me, and 23ac was a nice spot. Too many good clues to list. :-)

  16. Thanks Maize – great fun – not too hard but plenty to enjoy.

    In a mad rush now but I see that I ticked:

    1a. 13a. 19a, 14a and 18a

    I actually did it yesterday so can’t remember why – but in general I enjoyed the crunchy but accurate wordplays in many clues.

    28a I failed to twig the definition but looking at earlier comments I see it now – doh.

    Maybe the odd surface didn’t produce a really graphic image but on average they were good. Araucaria’s surfaces, particularly back in the day, of course varied wildly – from clear pictures with numerous added layers to er somewhat ordinary – whether that was intentional (to highlight the difference) I don’t know but folk are less forgiving these days. BTW A was also on record as disliking “regularly” as an alternate letter indication – don’t have a problem with it myself so I enjoyed your “irregularly” as a round-the-houses way of doing effectively the same thing – an extra bit more cryptic – which is after all what it says on the tin.

    Thanks again.

  17. Many thanks indeed for the review Prolixic; nice pun and very precious feedback indeed – I shall try and keep those thumbs in line. :)

  18. High praise indeed from Prolixic – and well deserved, Maize. Looks as though long walks in Northumberland are the way forward from now on!

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