Rookie Corner – 091 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 091

A Puzzle by Snape

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Snape has waited patiently for his turn to come round. I hope you enjoy his 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.

Most enjoyable and very well put together.  One of the best crosswords of the day.  Even some of the other Rookie setters get name checks in the clues.


1 Unfriendly place to work when drunk? (6)
OFFISH – How a drunk might pronounce office (place to work).

4 Europeans’ top contraceptive (5, 3)
DUTCH CAP – Another word for a European from Holland and a word meaning top or better.

9 Over-adorned, unfinished state (6)
FLORID – Remove the last letter (unfinished) of of the Sunshine State in America.

10 In flight, unfit on a jet (8)
FOUNTAIN – An anagram (in flight) of UNFIT ON A.

12 A gram of bird wee is expressed (8)
CHICKPEA – An informal word for a young hen (bird) and a homophone (expressed) of pee (wee).

13 Possibly what you are sitting on (6)
SETTEE – If the person creating the crossword is a setter that would make the solver this and another word for a sofa.  One of those clues where the whole is less that the sum of the parts but just about works despite the fact that it doesn’t but still feels nigglingly incomplete.

15 Comprehensive school unveils lilac (3-9)
ALL-INCLUSIVE – An anagram (school) of UNVEILS LILAC.

18 Identifiers of veal and split pea soup (12)
APPELLATIVES – An anagram (soup) of VEAL SPLIT PEA.

21 He can farm freely from the old sultanate (6)
YEOMAN – The old English form of the followed by the name of an Arab country (sultanate).

22 Comrade: time to change into an advocate of the free vote (8)
DEMOCRAT – An anagram (to change) of COMRADE T (time).

24 How to make a banaana! (8)
PLANTAIN – A novelty clue – A type of banana can be made from a banana where you plant a in to give banaana.

25 Reported shipworker’s hardship (6)
RIGOUR – A homophone (reported) of rigger (shipworker).

26 Nicaraguan rebels meeting leader of the opposition (8)
CONTRAST – The name of the Nicaraguan rebel group followed by the first letter (leader of) of the.

27 Still caused by friction (6)
STATIC – Double definition of motionless and a type of electricity caused by friction.


1 Verified provider of chemicals once implanted in brain, for example (8)
OFFICIAL – The name of the old chemical company inside another word for the meat from certain organs including the brain.

2 A number of boats float off, poorly restrained (8)
FLOTILLA – An anagram (off) of FLOAT includes (restrains) another word meaning poorly.

3 Stay in doctor’s only remaining emergency room for treatment for minor wound (8,7)
STICKING PLASTER – A word meaning stick followed by the in from the clue, an abbreviation for doctor, a word meaning the only remaining and the abbreviation for emergency room.

5 Soup only provided thereafter (4)
UPON – The answer is hidden in (provided) in SOUP ONLY.

6 Eco-warrior repaired Victorian stones (15)

7 Able to make things sharp (6)
CRAFTY – Double definition.

8 Could it filter out the wordplay jokes, but keep the fruity ones in? (6)
PUNNET – What strawberries are sold in split 3,3 gives the first part of the clue.

11 Answers from salesman: “Misrepresentations of the truth” (7)
REPLIES – Split 3, 4 you get a word for a salesman and an untruth.

14 Footnote: change volume in church (7)
PSALTER – The abbreviation used for a footnote and a word meaning change.

16 Put on too much paint for a protective layer (8)
OVERCOAT – Split 4,4 a phrase meaning put to much paint on give a protective item of clothing.

17 Arcane, frenzied Tories in church, looking up (8)
ESOTERIC – Reverse (looking up) the abbreviation for Church of England and include an anagram (frenzied) of TORIES.

19 Shortsighted Snape’s core of subjects (6)
MYOPIC – A two letter word meaning Snape’s (as the setter) and the inner letters (core of) of TOPICS (subjects).

20 Endlessly nomadic, roaming land (6)
DOMAIN – An anagram (roaming) of NOMADIC after removing the C (endlessly)

23 Helps head off attacks (4)
AIDS – Remove the first letter (head off) from a word meaning attacks.

48 comments on “Rookie Corner – 091

  1. Well done Snape, a very good puzzle we thought. There were a couple in the NE, 10a and 7d that were our last in and really had us beak scratching, but we did eventually get them both. Totally at the Goldilocks level of difficulty for us. So many good clues that we won’t even try to pick a favourite.
    Many thanks Snape.

  2. Thanks Snape – nice solve. Apart from anything mentioned below there was a bit of a smile in almost every clue.

    13a was last in – not sure if I fully understand it.

    Before that 7d – nicely cryptic.

    I ticked:

    1a: Oldest trick in the book but still good for a laugh.
    18a: Nice demonstration of how some nouns work perfectly well as anagram indicators.
    24a: Nifty little trick.
    3d: Nice when a charade works as well as that.

    Just an observation:

    In 19d why not drop the “of” to get the familiar phrase “core subjects”?
    You’ve already upset the ximmies (good) with a few other things. Might as well hang for a sheep as a lamb.

    Best solve so far today. Once again many thanks.

      1. Thanks CS I understand now.
        Snape – sterling work with 24a being a ‘smile’ moment.
        Solved whilst waiting for Mrs S outside Homesense – deep joy!

  3. Nice one – thanks Snape. It produced a lot of smiles. The clues I liked best were 2d, 7d and 8d.

  4. Well done, Snape! There were some absolute gems in here. For me, 12A (I learned something new), 24A, 8D and 20D were stand-outs. Lots of others to like, also. A few surfaces were not quite so smooth, though. 4A is an expression I haven’t heard in many years and brought back memories I’d rather forget! 13A was my last in and I was unsure about my answer, so thanks to CS for the above clarification. I’ve added it to my long list of favorites now. Great puzzle. Again, very well done!

  5. I had been looking forward to your next puzzle, Snape, and it was no disappointment!
    Here’s a list of the clues by which I placed a single tick – 9a, 13a (groan!), 15a (nicely disguised anagram indicator), 21a, 25a, 1d (clever), 8d (groan again!), 14d, 17d and 23d – I liked them all and they producuced a smile.
    I felt moved to give a double tick to three – 1a (new to me, lovely), 12a (great surface) and 24a (innovative, nice).
    However, the pick of the bunch for me has to be the daisy chain charade at 3d – beautifully worked and an extremely rare triple tick – bravo!
    I’ve only mentioned one of your eight anagrams not because they’re not good, they most certainly are, especially 6d, but just because I personally am not a massive fan of them – which is hard luck on me because they’re everywhere in Crosswordland!
    Thanks again. :)

  6. I had been looking forward to your next puzzle, Snape, and it didn’t disappoint.
    all the clues were watertight, as far as i could see and I picked out the following as my favourites:
    I liked these: 9a, 13a (groan), 15a (great disguse of anagram indicator), 21a, 25a, 6d, 8d (groan again), 14d, 17d, 23d.
    I loved these: 1a (new to me), 12a (great surface), 24a (for its innovation).
    But my pick of the crop would have to be the daisy-chain charade 3d which is positively masterful.
    Bravo and thank you Snape.

  7. I seem to have found this pretty tough compared to some, but I’m a bit out of solving practice at the moment (and not that good at the best of times).

    Many, many good and enjoyable clues as others have said. I agree with JS about the nounal anagram in 18a. Thought it more convincing than the verbal one in 15a tbh.

    Didn’t know 24a at all, even with crossers. Very clever though once I’d revealed and googled.

    I thought the anagram fodder in 6d was a very good spot.

    One quibble. Not sure about the apostrophes in 4a and 3d; in particular, why was the European one after the S? Because both are part of the charade rather than the definition they seem to me to imply that there should be in “IS” or another “S” in the answer.

    1. Cheers,
      We crossed, or I would have answered in my main comment.
      I was concerned about ‘school’, (given Prolixic’s comments about A=B and B=C etc last time) but I asked about it on DIY COW regarding another clue, and Anax replied that it was fine – but I gathered that this was as long as the fodder followed the indicator, as it was an imperative verb.

      I use ‘s as a charade indicator quite a bit, (has, in the cryptic reading) but Silvanus made a point in a crossword I sent him recently about whether I was using it correctly, and I meant to do some research and follow it up as I hadn’t quite grasped the point, but then Christmas got in the way and I forgot.
      For 4a I thought if it was before the s it would be Dutchman, but I’m am not sure I am correct. I did consider it for 3d too, but thought it was fine – and also thought I could bluff out if not with ‘I’m going to the doctor’s’ = ‘I’m going to the GP’ but that is a bit of a cop out!

  8. Hi, thank you for all of the nice comments so far.
    This was an early one I gave to Dutch soon after meeting him at the gathering in London in May, and it was a bit of a dog’s dinner, but I redid it using his helpful comments, but it had changed so much I actually sent it to Beet, Sprocker and Silvanus (I’d built up quite a testing team by this point) for more comments, and their help is greatly appreciated. Even after that I fiddled with it quite a bit, and had too many anagrams (8 is still more than I would prefer) so changed a couple – 3d was one so I was delighted to find a better clue.

    Regarding JS’s point, two of my more libertartian testers said I should omit the ‘of’, but I resisted that. I try not to be too libertarian unless I think it adds to the clue, and doesn’t unfairly hinder the solver, so I thought the nounal anagram indicator I used, for example, was clear and fair (I tried to use other indicators, but had to use the plural ‘split peas’ to make it sensible). However, ‘core of subjects’ indicates the central letters, whereas in ‘core subjects’ the core is acting as an imperative verb in the cryptic reading, and suggesting the central letters should be removed, precisely the opposite of what I want. So to me, that was unfair, so I left it with the slightly less fluent surface.

    Having said I try to be Ximenean when possible, I do realise 24a breaks every rule, so I hope it can be described as a novelty clue in order to get away with it.

    1. Snape,
      I have to query 13a. ‘Possibly what you are’ is an amusing cryptic definition, but then we’re left with ‘sitting on’ as what I presume is meant as a second definition. So, unless we use ‘what you are’ twice I don’t think that the clue works.

      1. This got many rewrites! The final version was meant to be a semi-all in one with the whole clue being the definition and the first four words being the wordplay but maybe the definition is too woolly

      2. Yes, wearing my double duty cap(!), I confess I also saw 13a as a double definition with “what you are” being used for both (possibly what you are & what you are sitting on) – a fun clue, but I agree with Gazza. My only niggle!

        Also in a semi&lit, whatever is not used by wordplay should work as a definition in its own right somehow

    2. Always a pleasure to be able to help with the test solving, and I’m very pleased to see this getting deservedly good feedback. I really like what you did with 3d.

    3. Always a pleasure to help with any of your puzzles, Snape, as they are always filled with humour and invention and are great fun to solve. The downside with helping is that it prevents commenting in one’s usual way, but that is a small price to pay.

      Since it was quite a while since I saw this one, and couldn’t recall all of the clues, I pretended that I was solving it for the first time, and it was just as enjoyable as I remembered :-)

      1a reminded me of the old Sean Connery joke:

      Q. At what time does Sean Connery enter the grounds at Wimbledon?
      A. Tennish!

      Many congratulations on the well-deserved plaudits which you are receiving.

  9. Well done, Snape – that was most enjoyable.
    Like Chris, I learnt something new about 12a and the penny didn’t drop as to the parsing of 13a until I saw CS’s explanation.
    Just to pick a few out of so many good clues – 1&24a plus 3,8&14d take the top spots for me.
    Hope we see more puzzles from you in the very near future.

  10. I thought this was very good indeed, Snape. Many thanks for a lot of laughs and the great entertainment.

  11. Really good fun. Thanks to Snape.
    Every clue brought a smile too.
    Loved the banaana and the fruity ones in 8d.
    No problem with gram either. It’s an ingredient that I use a lot.
    There I am again just talking about food.
    Thanks again for a great crossword.

  12. Hi Snape, I really enjoyed your puzzle today! And Happy New Year to you and all! My probably too wordy feedback attached below.

    – Encota-

    1a like it!
    4a bit corny!
    9a tidy
    10a the surface almost works but is slightly untidy?
    12a nice clue …and 3.64 calories per gram, I’ve just learnt from Google!
    13a nice definition
    15a surface slightly ‘crosswordy’
    18a neat
    21a wondered if there was a better linkword than ‘from’ – but couldn’t think of one
    22a good
    24a almost worked, but not quite for me (which probably means I haven’t parsed it right!)
    25a good
    27a does this need a QM? The more clues I write the less sure I am(?)

    1d like it – good abbrev (though some from outside UK might be less happy?)
    2d perhaps original too similar to the answer?
    3d Nice surface!!
    5d good
    6d good
    7d I was fooled by the definition for a while!
    8d actually LOL when I solved this one
    11d good
    14d good. Did you consider alternatives for ‘change’?
    16d meanings a bit similar?
    17d surface a bit ‘crosswordy’
    19d perhaps an alternative to ‘core of’ might slightly improve the surface?
    20d good quality clue
    23d good quality clue

    1. Cheers, all feedback appreciated. A few responses

      4a yes, it is. Originally I had something to do with footballers from European, but it was a bit ‘over-ambitious’ and didn’t work, so I had to try to get something adequate
      10a, perhaps slightly – I was considering that the anagram indicator had to come before the fodder to work, but I have just realised I could have had ‘Unfit on a modified jet’ or something like that (my Ladybird book of anagram indicators does come in useful). I chose in flight to try to misdirect towards the jet that flies.
      15a yes, sometimes the clues make perfect sense to me, but I’ve been staring at them for months and I’m the only one
      21a In would work too, I didn’t consider there was much difference. I didn’t realise when I wrote it how chestnutty this was.
      24a Thought this might divide opinion
      27a Don’t think so – my worry was that ’caused by friction’ wasn’t enough, and it should be ‘Still it is caused by friction’ (which would still work in the surface), but I think it is acceptable following Azed’s ‘wags it’s tail’ = ‘dog’ rule. Possibly.
      2d I considered this, but liked the surface too much to discard it
      8d This was another slightly quirky one I thought might not work for some.
      14d I don’t think I did, it’s a long time ago now!
      16d I don’t think so, but I’m prepared to bow to other opinions
      17d, Maybe not a sentence you’d generally encounter
      19d yes, but I can’t think of one- maybe I shouldn’t have hung on to the idea

      1. I know you love discussing minutiae Snape, so here goes:
        I too hesitated on 27a. I once sent Alberich, a strict grammerian, a crossword with ‘Topless game of cards on a rooftop’ as a clue for ‘ridge’ and he made me change it to ‘Topless game of cards seen on a rooftop’ whilst commenting that he often saw this sort of error amongst setters in the dailies who should really know better! Hence I would say ’caused by friction’ does the same thing as ‘seen on rooftop’ and I would give it a thumbs up.
        16d was okay for me as a solver – painting and clothing are very different things – but I am haunted by Cyborg’s comment a few weeks back about ‘etymological crossover’ being infra dig in some foreign crosswords, which would probably stop me from using it myself as a setter, if that makes sense.
        Re 19d, I often sit with an idea for a while, tweak it a few times and then run a quite different idea in parallel, tweaking both, sometimes even a third or fourth! All very sad and time consuming, but I love it… who knows what might eventually emerge!
        The rest were all great. :)

        1. It is just because I want to get things right, and not for the sake of being a pedant, honest!

          I’m coming round to your (and Encota’s) point of view about 16d – I remember the point Cyborg made and I think you are right. While it’s not a desperate crime, it makes for a slightly unsatisfying clue.
          Apart from the backing for 27a (ta!), I was interested that you’d posted to Alberich. I’ve read all his posts, but not attempted the crosswords (mainly because they look difficult!). I was tempted to submit one as well (I have about 20 complete now) but was put off by the low likelihood of getting much feedback. Did you get any? Even if the cryptic grammar is right, I am still learning what people like and dislike – in my last puzzle on here I had a couple where the general knowledge required was a bit too obscure, so I will try not to do that again.

          Cheers for your thoughts

          1. Well really I started with Alberich – first as ‘Nico’ then I changed my name to Maize and had 3 more published by him. The level of difficulty is not that different to here for the most part, although some are definitely quite a bit more challenging than all but the odd Radler!
            Each time I submitted he was very gracious and said to change a few things, but left me to decide how. He’s much less active on his site nowadays than a few years back – although his latest guest puzzle was by our very own Wiglaf just last month…
            The trouble with his site is you get no full review of the sort Prolixic gives so kindly and no feedback from solvers. I also think he’s somewhat lost his desire to edit clues for the likes of you & me, so here is better from that point of view. The trouble with here is that we have to ‘wait our turn’… Fine if you only compose 3 or 4 puzzles a year, but otherwise one inevitably wonders if there are other outlets. I’ve submitted twice to ‘OneAcross’ without reply, but wonder where else exists…
            Does DIY Cow publish puzzles, or is it just the clue writing competition and threads?

            1. I thought so, but I can’t find any if so. Hoskins has started publishing submitted crosswords on his site, maybe that will take off and lots of people will leave feedback. You can’t beat the Rookie Corner community, though!

            2. I started Rookie Corner because I had a backlog for the NTSPP series – now I have a backlog on both!

              I’m not averse to publishing more puzzles, but the main problems are a) each puzzle takes a while to set up, particularly if the setter doesn’t provide a file in Crossword Compiler format and b) it would be unfair to expect a full review from Prolixic who already does all of the Rookie reviews and most of the NTSPP ones.

              Perhaps we could compromise and say that all submissions for the “new” series should be in .ccw format, that only those who have had at least one Rookie puzzle published are eligible, and the analyses would be provided by volunteer “guest” reviewers. All of this would be dependent on a supply of suitable puzzles.

              Any thoughts?

              1. Whilst I’d echo Snape’s comments below about not wanting to cause you any extra work, then I must say that I do quite like that as an idea. As much as anything I feel slightly guilty of getting in the way of others having already had the privilege of having 8 puzzles published and expertly reviewed by Prolixic on Rookie Corner.

                I’d also be happy to help out with transcribing puzzles into .ccw format for those that don’t have Crossword Compiler.

              2. Firstly, that’s a really kind offer BD, thank you. I am aware that some of us are not quite as Rookie as we used to be, whilst on the other hand NTSPP is seemingly pretty full with willing contributors, (and maybe we’re not yet ready for that anyhow), so there does seem to be a gap, so to speak.
                If it were to happen, then its running would have to be a burden that fell upon willing shoulders – is there some way people could volunteer? Put their names on a list somewhere? I agree it would have to be a ccw only type of thing and there would probably be lots of details which would need to be thrashed out at a get-together somewhere, rather than on this thread!

              3. Hi Big Dave and All,

                Re. publishing more puzzles, I’d be happy to help wherever I can – e.g. I’d be very prepared to be a guest reviewer, if that helps.

                Re. ccw format, I intend to buy a copy of the Sympathy software in the near future: is anyone else on here a current user? [I think Prolixic said he used both when we met, but I may be mistaken?] If yes, is there any form of intermediate output format (ipuz??) that I could use to simplify the creation of .ccw format from it? All advice welcomed!

                – Encota –

                1. Crossword Compiler allows .js (javascript) for the interactive puzzle, .jpz (java) for the Crossword Solver version and .puz for the AcrossLite version to be easily created. I don’t know if you can do this with Symphony. I believe that the Indy allows setters to submit puzzles in .ccw format. The Telegraph has its own system, related to the old hot metal requirements, and has yet to come into the 21st century.

                  Crossword Compiler does seem to allow .ipuz input, but I don’t have a sample file to try.

                    1. Sounds positive! If I can email you a supposed .ipuz conformant export created from Ross Beresford’s Sympathy, might you have time to confirm it works at your end?

            3. On DIY COW you have to be registered and log in to see the submitted puzzles section.

              Registration is easy – it will also enable you to enter the cluing comp – mind you – the competition is stiff. :-)

              1. Ah, JS, I just had a quick look without logging in, thanks.

                BD, it is a possibility, but I remember being told that just before I submitted my first one you sent an e-mail round saying the Rookie Corner cupboard was nearly bare, so to have a bit of a queue is great. I am in awe of how much time and effort you and Prolixic (and others) put into the whole site, not just Rookie Corner, and wouldn’t want you to have more work even if the submitters made it as easy as possible. Perhaps also, more than one Rookie-ish corner a week would dilute the effect and lessen contributions to each. For me, it’s the one crossword a week I make time to try to do, the others I try if I have time. Others may think the more crosswords the better, though.

                Unless you feel your queue is unmanageable, I think everything is spot on – when the only problem is that something is too good it is not much of a problem.

                Thanks to Prolixic for the latest review – I’m chuffed with that – and to everyone for their comments.

            4. Maize/Snape I would definitely recommend DIY COW. If you submit a puzzle there you will normally get 3 or 4 reviews, some from a strictly Xim point of view, some less so. All of the feedback I have had on there has been very helpful and informative (as it is here too). All the reviewers are also setters so the approach is perhaps slightly different from on here. The only thing I would say is that if you submit it’s only fair to review as well (which is why I nip in here from time to time). There have been one or two people who put puzzles up, receive lots of feedback (which takes a fair bit of effort to provide) but then somehow never make the time to return the favour. Actually there hasn’t been a new puzzle on there for a while, it would be nice to see one!.

              You might also want to offer a puzzle to Hoskins – as you’ll see from his site he’s becoming quite successful as a setter. He’s posted 2 guest puzzles so far (I wrote the second under the name “Pulham”) – although DIY COW would probably be a better starting point.

  13. Goldilocks , definitely.14d stands out for me as the “What on earth ?” for a long while.
    Thanks for a fun puzzle.

  14. I think that it’s all been said.
    I confess that I haven’t read all the very long comments from beginning to end but they are the ones from the people who know what they’re talking about – i.e. not me – and so are useful to new(ish) setters.
    I enjoyed it – I got completely stuck in the top right corner – 13a and 7 and 8d.
    I thought 3d was brilliant and any clue, such as 1a, which ends in ‘ish’ always makes me laugh – don’t know why but it just does.
    With thanks and congratulations to Snape and, in advance, to Prolixic.

  15. Thanks Snape. I really liked this. Some really nice out-of-the-ordinary clues – my favourite is 8a. The (few) nits have already been picked so it only remains for me to congratulate you on a fine puzzle. Well done :).

  16. This puzzle has been subjected to more detailing than my car undergoing platinum valet service! Sometimes, it’s good for the setter to just sit back and enjoy the well-deserved plaudits, and for the commenters to leave something for the hard-working Prolixic to address in his review.

  17. Thanks Proloxic for the review, and thanks again Snape for a brilliant puzzle – the level of praise speaks volumes.

  18. Looks as though my thanks to Prolixic has disappeared somewhere! I did post it, Prolixic – your review was, as ever, much appreciated.

  19. On the topic of more Rookie puzzles, selfishly I would love to have another puzzle to solve on a weekend, but I’m mindful of all the work put in by Big Dave and his team already. However, if that can be worked out, I do like the idea of a “transition” category for those who have already been published in the Rookie Corner but have not yet reached NTSPP status. It would free up the Rookie Corner for the new setters while giving the older hands an opportunity to further hone their skills before a friendly audience. Maybe some of the graduate Rookies ( Beet and others) could serve as reviewers?

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