Rookie Corner – 083 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 083

Rookie Regulars by Sprocker

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I’m sure that you will all enjoy Sprocker’s latest 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 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.

Normally, I would review a crossword by reference to what would appear in a national newspaper’s crossword.  I cannot do so with this crossword as it is one that is intended for a very specific audience  for whom it was compiled.  To include so many references to setters and commentators on the Rookie Puzzles is quite an achievement.


1 Class of young children misbehave after drinking some 12a (4,5)
PLAY GROUP – A phrase (4,2) meaning to misbehave includes (after drinking) the first three letters of 12a.  Depending on the editor, a construction such as “some X” to indicate the selection of an unknown number of letters from the front (or any other part of the word) would not be allowed.

6 Cover part of Expat Chris (5)
PATCH – The answer is hidden in (part of) EXPAT CHRIS.

9 Ready to join international organisation? No (5)
UNFIT – A three letter word meaning ready after (to join) the abbreviation for United Nations (international organisation) – the answer being the reverse of the first part of the clue.

10 Reformed communist outside, almost very outgoing type (9)
EXTROVERT – A phrase 2-4 that could describe a reformed or former Trotskyist around (outside) the word very with the final letter removed (almost).

11 2kiwis are useful sources of knowledge on the web (5)
WIKIS – An anagram (indicated by the answer to 2d) of KIWIS.  The construction of wordplay are definition could have been avoided by omitted the “are” to give 2kiwis’ useful…

12 Dutch courage? (7)
GROLSCH – A Dutch make of beer – dutch courage being a term for alcohol.

15 Selfish person takes note how to end segregation (9)
INTEGRATE – A word for a selfish person includes (takes) a two letter musical note.

16 Poisons noble perhaps (5)
GASES – A double definition, the noble ones including helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon.

19 You can take these from Miffypops to create manuscript (5)
SIDES – Another word for the outer letters (which form the abbreviation for manuscript).

21 Creeps out Crypticsue? (9)
PROSECUTE – An anagram (cryptic) of creeps out to give word meaning Sue.  As mentioned in previous reviews, even if lift and separate clues (where you have to take one word and separate it into two words) are allowed by the editor – and practice varies – it would be unusual to allow the wordplay and the definition to be concatenated in this way.  

23 Look, Beet accidentally drops drug pamphlet (7)
BOOKLET – An anagram (accidentally) of LOOK BET (Beet with one of the letters E removed – drops drug).

25 Tied up Big Dave after downing beer (5)
BALED – The informal abbreviation for Big Dave includes (after downing) a three letter word for beer (the word for beer is the same as the answer to 29d).

28 Retiree at party causes stress (9)
REITERATE – An anagram (party) of RETIREE AT.

30 How Jean-luc Cheval says to God – “goodbye” (5)
ADIEU – The French (how Jean-luc Coeval says) for “to God”

31 Maxes out tests (5)
EXAMS – An anagram (out) of MAXES.

32 Don’t stop showing how Una can become Northern (9)
ENDLESSLY – A word that would describe the removal of the outer letters in a cryptic clue from which we get an N (Northern) from Una.  I am not convinced that the answer is a direct synonym for “don’t stop”.


1 Gazza is a Saint (4)
PAUL – Double definition, the Gazza being of footballing fame.

2 Stricken after terrible date with Cliff (9)
AFFLICTED – An anagram (terrible) of DATE CLIFF.

3 Viola has this raunchy underwear (1-6)
G-STRING – Double definition, the first being part of a musical instrument.

4 Balls, this could be the end of Penko or Franco (4)
OVER – A term for 6 balls in cricket that is abbreviated to the final letter (end of) either Penko or Franco.

5 Kitty‘s cannabis could spell the end for Rabbit Dave! (3)
POT – A triple definition for a kitty, a slang word for a rabbit and what could spell the end for a rabbit.  I am not sure whether the “Dave” has any further function other than to keep the allusion to commentators on the blog.

6 Prolixic’s half wrong, missing odd word – carry on (7)
PROLONG – The first half of Prolixic followed by the word wrong after removing the odd letters in word.  Some editors would prefer oddly rather than odd to indicate the odd letters.

7 Rows causing signs of distress say (5)
TIERS – A homophone (say) of tears (signs of distress).

8 Decapitate Kath violently with church door (5)
HATCH – An anagram (violently) of ATH (Kath with the initial letter removed – decapitated) followed by the abbreviation for church.  The sensitivities over the use of the word decapitate have been discussed in earlier reviews.

12 Enters stage and talks incessantly (4,2)
GOES ON – Double definition for entering the state to perform in the theatre and to chatter endlessly.

13 Spindrift bites! (4)
NIPS – Another lift and separate clue to give an anagram (drift) of SPIN.

14 Seize central positions to provide cover (6)
CARPET – The Latin for seize (as in the maxim …. diem) followed by the central letter of positions.  If you are going to use a Latin word as part of the wordplay, it would be usual to indicate this in the same way that you would indicate French words or American spellings.  

17 Stuns with spells that Snape might teach in ‘Defence against the Dark Arts’ (9)
STUPEFIES – I think that this is a simple double definition but the two meaning are the same and the effect of the spell is to stun.

18 That girl had an outbuilding (4)
SHED – The answer split 3’1 would indicate that girl had.

20 Silvanus and Pommers go top-to-tail for small change (7)
SILVERS – Another term for loose change in the same way that you might refer to coppers.  The first half of Silvanus (top) followed by the final three letters (tail) of Pommers.  In the same way that “some” to indicate an unknown number of letters, top and tail to indicate unknown numbers of letters from the wordplay would not be acceptable.

22 Emerge from man-eater in a mess with end of finger missing (7)
EMANATE – An anagram (in a mess) of MAN EATER after removing the R (end of finger missing).

23 Carried opponent with Alchemi (lead turning into gold) (5)
BORNE – A four letter word for a poison or opponent with the A (Alchemi’s lead) changed to a heraldic word for gold.

24 Nice, yes, Jane leads the board? (5)
OUIJA – The French (Nice being a city in France) for yes followed by the first two letters (leads) of Jane.

26 Radler freakishly loses both hands in study (4)
READ – An anagram (freakishly) of RADLER after removing the abbreviations for left and right (loses both hands).

27 Tax burden (4)
DUTY – A simple double definition.

29 Shropshirelad swallows up drink (3)
ALE – The answer is hidden and reversed (swallows up) inside SHROPSHIRELAD

61 comments on “Rookie Corner – 083

  1. 10:00 pm. Just printed this out, saw the title, had a quick read through and I’m already smiling!

  2. Thanks Sprocker. Enjoyable solve. Lure them in with the easy ones – then tighten the thumbscrews seems to have been the approach – that’s how it played out for me anyway.

    Double-tick for 21a. What you did there went to another level from the obvious gift of jumbling the last three letters.

    Also ticked 10a, 21a, 23a – but I’m a stingy ticker.

    At the time I didn’t understand all the allusions in 17d – I just bunged it in from the definition and was reasonably convinced – kind of guessed the likely source (a closed book to me) – and Mr Google has tied it all in for me. Pretty neat on relection.

    A couple of minor quibbles:

    32a I think the parts of speech between definition and answer are a bit too far apart even for me – unless there’s another reading I’m failing to make. Likewise 20a – the plural in the answer doesn’t quite seem right.

    No other quibbles – and overall a fun solve in which the theme didn’t interfere with the other qualities – as they sometimes do when pushed too far.

    Many thanks.

    1. Hi JollySwagman,

      First off – apologies I couldn’t work you in there (and to any other regular commenters I couldn’t fit in!).

      Thanks for the comments, very glad to hear you were able to get 17d without knowing the source – I did worry if that one would be seen as too unfair to those that didn’t know the reference.

      32a is definitely very libertarian so I’ll take any criticism on that one. I think you meant 20d about the pluralisation – it is a slang definition (which is not in Chambers), but certainly whenever I’ve used it, it would have been in the plural.



  3. We have been busy on other things today, so are later than usual getting on to this. The last one for us to enter and sort out the wordplay was 23d. Truly amazed that you managed to work so many of us into the puzzle, can only guess at the number of hours of head-scratching that must have gone into the compilation. It had us chuckling all the way through.
    Thanks Sprocker.

  4. Enjoyable and not that tricky – perfect for the spot between solving Rufus and having to start work.

    There are a couple of clues where I don’t think the tenses are right but I’ll leave the quibbles to Prolixic in the morning.

  5. Thanks Sprocker – enjoyable and impressive to fit in so many names. My podium contained 10a, 14d and 21a (although I think that the surface of 21a would be improved by changing the word order to ‘Out creeps crypticsue’).

  6. What fun! And how very clever of you, Sprocker, to get so many of us in. My main hang-ups were making the right ( I hope) connection in 1A, sorting out the source for 17D ( my grandson would have known straight away), trying to parse 23D (not there yet), and justifying my answer for 19A (got there, I think). There will be a few quibbles brought up in the comments and review no doubt (The plural 20D! And the pedants among us might take exception to 28A) but I enjoyed this too much to sweat the small stuff. Among my favorites are 12A, 21A, 25A 13D and 24D. Of course, I’m partial to 6A, too. How could you possibly have known that I’m prone to middle-of-the-night solving in my skivvies?

    1. Thanks! 23D is perhaps the tricksiest clue (if that’s even a word), so I’d expect a few problems to be had with the parsing. As to 6A then let’s just call that an educated guess!!

  7. This was lots of fun indeed! Many of the Rookie regulars seem to be enjoying themselves in the clues too – though may I request that in 8d “Ditzy Kath loses head by church door,” please! Otherwise, I can’t bear how that one reads

    With limited time, I’m having to leave a few bits half-parsed for the moment. I shall be returning to finish later, but I just had to pop in and say thanks for the smiles, Sprocker. Brilliant

    1. Yes, on reflection Kath didn’t come off too well, and as you say most of the other regulars do seem to be having a good time, so that’s a much better suggestion for 8d! Thanks.

  8. Brilliant. I was smiling the whole way through. What fun, thank you.

    The brand in 12a is highly recommended. It is the only dutch brand that obeys the german purity laws. Forget the other famous brand advertised by James Bond.

    Some brilliant clues as well. 21a is ace, good suggestion from gazza, I also liked the simple 7d – original, surprised i haven’t seen something similar. i did think 8d & 16a were a bit dark.

    Thanks Sprocker, great fun.

  9. Thanks! I’m much more partial to my 29d’s, but if I’m going to switch camps then I’d have to agree that 12a is one of my favourites. As to that other brand you allude to, then I’m afraid I’m very much of the opinion that they should ‘put it back in the horse!’. Thanks!

  10. Brilliant – I loved it and I really didn’t mind being decapitated one little bit!
    I’ve counted the clues – there are thirty-seven of them and Sprocker has managed to get a “Rookie Regular” into twenty-one of them – in some cases there are two in one clue. Does anyone think that I should get out more?
    I don’t understand a few of my answers but that hasn’t spoilt the enjoyment at all and I don’t know enough about what’s OK and what isn’t in setting crosswords to criticise.
    I could go on for longer but, for now, will just say again what fun this one was.
    With thanks and congratulations to Sprocker and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. Kath, I hate to be pedantic (I love it really) but after many recounts I make it 36 clues … I think.?

      Many thanks to Sprocker for the entertainment – 36 clues is well above the average!

      1. Thanks Kath, glad you weren’t offended by my rather gruesome clue. I see above that Snape has provided a very amusing alternative, though I do wonder if you approve!

        And Thanks stanXYZ, my inner pedant forced me to do a count up, and I think it is 36 (though what’s 1 clue between friends!)

        1. The image conjured up by Snape’s alternative clue might have been OK a few years ago but could put people off their supper now!!
          Sorry about my inability to count!

  11. Lots of fun certainly.
    When setters reference each other in national papers I’ve always thought it’s not okay, but here, why not?
    21a probably my favourite amongst many. Well done Sprocker, great stuff.

  12. I just couldn’t wipe that smile off my face while solving.
    Such a refreshing crossword and a joy to see so many people around.
    Just hope that Franco reads this and comes back to the fold.
    We were all so well treated except for dear Kath. Well, she seems to have recovered.
    My favourites are 19a (Myffypops) and 4d (Penko or Franco) even though I hate cricket and 21a (CS) of course.
    Need also the review to parse the second part in a couple of clues. Namely 32a and 23d.
    Thanks a lot to Sprocker and I shall not say adieu but just au revoir as I hope to see more from him.

  13. Having had a very minor role at the test-solving stage precludes me really from commenting as I normally would, but I’m absolutely delighted that this fun puzzle has been as well received as I was certain it would be back in the summer when I first saw it.

    From a personal point of view, I’m very grateful (and relieved) that Sprocker decided to use my “top” rather than my “tail” for use in the puzzle ;-)

    Many congratulations Sprocker!

    1. Thanks Silvanus, though I have to disagree in that you had very much more than a minor role in the test solving, as your input was (as always) very valuable. Whilst I’m at it let me also thank both Beet and Snape for their equally valuable contributions.

      1. I’m glad people are enjoying it as much as I did – congratulations to Sprocker. Although having forgotten most of it I can enjoy it again (and still not having read the books I’m struggling as much with the Snape one as much as I did last time!). Was hoping I might rush through it second time round and catch up on the excellent looking ones I missed while I’ve been away. Might be a while!

        The comments about decapitation have been discussed before, but Sprocker submitted this before that, and we missed that it might not be in the best taste.

  14. Thanks Sprocker! Some really accurate clueing which I enjoyed a lot.

    My favourites were:
    11a – it took me quite a while to spot the relevance of the 2,
    19a – loved the definition,
    2d made me smile,
    and of course 23d parenthetically – very clever!!

    A couple of small points:
    – In 23d I might have used ‘poison’ in place of ‘opponent’ but I may be missing something?
    – In 32a is the initial def. quite right? I love the second half of the clue! I probably haven’t parsed it properly (plus I can’t now get the Muse song out of my head and have had to resort to a quick play via YouTube, hoping for inspiration!).

    Feel a bit left out for not being in the puzzle ;-) Serves me right for not posting on here months ago (to at least be in with a chance)!

    A fantastic even heart-warming idea for a puzzle and well executed!

    – ACTEON * –

    * Potential ego-clue: Mildly-obsessed fan of Porcupine Tree’s “Octane Twisted” ** (Second detour to Youtube occurs here)

    ** An apology to other Rookie Regulars: this perhaps explains why I (somewhat rudely) didn’t rush to answer the ‘Why Acteon / Encota?’ question a fortnight ago in the comments shared under Rookie Corner 82. Put it down to faint embarrassment. The name(s) seemed quite a good idea when I first picked it (them)! I suspect at the very least Moonlapse will recognise, given some of the info shared in Rookie Corner 79, as I saw Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth on as special guest at a Royal Albert Hall concert a month or so back.

    1. Hi Encota / Acteon,

      Yep, afraid you were too late to the party for inclusion! Thanks for the comments – for 23d I think that’s a great point, that would have been a better definition for that part of the clue. For 32a that’s also a great point – doesn’t stop would perhaps have been better.


  15. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle Sprocker – I had the blogger themed idea a bit ago, but was waiting for the right people to start contributing

    Also many thanks for the mention in the puzzle

    1. Thanks! I did toy with the idea of working in the fact that your moniker also happens to be the name of a real 29d, but I ended up deciding it wasn’t really well enough known to be fair.

  16. Thank you , Sprocker for a very amusing puzzle, and for including me in it, though I can’t parse 32a.
    I look forward to the review.

    1. Thanks Una – as per the comments from Prolixic (and from Encota) I didn’t do a great job with the definition on ‘your’ clue, so that wouldn’t have helped with the parsing!

  17. At about the 50th attempt the ancient stand-in laptop has finally consented to cough up the puzzle.
    Will get back to you ‘ere long. By the way – really ‘chuffed’ that I got a mention. Thank you, Sprocker.

    1. That was great fun – miles of smiles!
      So hard to pick out a podium list – all I can do is to opt for the ones I ticked as I went along, namely 1,9&10a plus, of course, best of the bunch 24d.
      Thanks so much, Sprocker, although I hope you realise that you’ve set a precedent and will now be expected to name check the rest of the Rookie gang in the next puzzle.

  18. Very well done to Sprocker on such an enjoyable crossword. Getting all those names into the clues so that as many people as possible got a shout-out must have taken you absolutely ages. CrypticSue was my favourite clue.

  19. Back again. What I forgot to say was that the 1D clue is how some of us see “our” Gazza. Well, if not quite a saint, an angel at least! The Gazza in question, more of a fallen one.

    I’m still concerned over which bit of me needs to be covered, but maybe I should draw a veil over that!

    1. Yes to your comment about the clue for 1d and “our” gazza – he is certainly a very patient saint.
      As to which bit of you needs to be covered – well, I shouldn’t worry too much as you’ve at least still got your head which is more than I have!

  20. Thanks for the thorough and excellent (as always) review Prolixic. Thanks also to all for the comments, and once again apologies to any regulars I didn’t manage to fit in there.

  21. Well done, Sprocker. I really enjoyed this wonderful piece of fun – apart from my sticky end in a cooking pot after partaking of Kitty’s cannabis!

    20d was a new expression for me, and I needed Prolixic’s excellent review to understand fully the wordplay for 10a, 11a & 23d.

    Many thanks to Sprocker and to Prolixic.

  22. How wrong can one be??? For 19A, I bypassed the very obvious ( just plain missed it, if truth be known) and went straight for the creative option! I decided that manuscript was folio, arrived at by removing all the letters from either side of ‘ff’. I did worry that the number of letters on either side was uneven and not indicated in the clue, but shamefully put that down to a wee Rookie error. Profuse apologies for doubting you Sprocker!

    Thanks for the review Prolixic. I would never have parsed 23D by myself.

  23. Many thanks, Prolixic – I hadn’t quite worked out the parsing of 23d, too tied up with using ‘lead’ as a metal!
    Must admit that I haven’t come across the plural at 20d before – is it a regional ‘thing’?
    Also fell into the same trap as Una by just removing one ‘end’ from her name and trying to make UN into something northern.

    Thanks for all your feedback, Sprocker – much appreciated.

  24. Thanks to Prolixic for the review which cleared up a couple of things, including the parsing of 23d. Well done again to Sprocker. I look forward to your next one.

  25. Thanks to Prolixic for explaining all the missing pieces and for teaching me a new word: Concatenated.
    I probably would mix all these syllables if I try to pronounce it.
    Thanks again to Sprocker for the fun.

    1. Thanks for the new word ‘heads up’ JL. My eyes and brain had managed to slide over it!
      Not sure that I’ll remember it but you never know.

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