Rookie Corner – 093

A Puzzle by PaulT

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I was introduced to PaulT [he would have liked to use just his Christian name but someone else had beaten him to it] at the Times Championships back in October.  This is his debut puzzle – I hope you enjoy it.  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 crypticsue follows:


I met Paul T at the October S&B and indeed pointed out to him which of the many people in the crowded pub was BD,  so it is a pleasure  to be able to review his first Rookie Corner puzzle while Prolixic is otherwise engaged with the day job.

The crossword was a fairly tough but enjoyable solve, with a good mix of clue types (I have no objection to multiple ‘lurkers’)  Unlike Prolixic, I won’t be commenting on whether the clues meet the crossword rules – Ximenean or otherwise – as I  follow  the ‘Could I solve it?   Did I understand the clues/does the wordplay work?   Did I enjoy myself’ system  of crossword solving!

Thank you to PaulT for a fine debut  Rookie crossword – I look forward to solving your next puzzle in due course – given the standard achieved with your first puzzle, it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing you in the Saturday afternoon NTSPP slot.


1a           Note describing troubles with iron’s backup mechanism (4-4)
FAIL-SAFE    A musical note going round (describing) another way of saying troubles, the result followed by the chemical symbol for iron

6a           He clears up after spread’s left for the second time (6)
BUTLER    change the second T for an L (left for the second ‘time’) in something you’d spread on your toast, for example.


9a           Mark quarterbacks positioned round player (6,7)
SQUARE BRACKET   The abbreviation for one of the players in a game of bridge inserted into an anagram (positioned) of quarterbacks.


[        ]

10a         Greasy tandoori chicken wraps (4)
RICH  Wraps indicates that a synonym for greasy is hidden in tandooRI CHicken.    When I asked whether Mr CS  thought greasy was the same as the solution, his response was that his mother, a notoriously fussy eater, would have definitely said so!

11a         Bad review that might be kept if wanted (3,7)
LOW PROFILE  Synonyms for bad and review describes something a wanted criminal might keep.

low profile

12a         Act stupidly and scarper quickly (4,2)
BEAT IT    Split the fairly obvious solution 2,1,3 and the first part of the clue will become clear.

13a         Detective supports 25% of offender’s alibi? (8)
DISPROOF    A less common alibi –   the abbreviation for detective, plus a way you could say supports (2, 3) and the first quarter (25%) of the eight letter word offender.

16a         They hold a heart between two spades (8)
STICKERS    An informal ‘heart’ inserted between two abbreviations for spades in a game of cards.

19a         Like raft I’d let slip (6)
ADRIFT  An anagram (let slip) of RAFT ID.

21a         Fawn in cage eats at one (10)
INGRATIATE    IN (from the clue) followed by a ‘cage’ into which is inserted (eats) AT (from the clue) and the letter that looks like a one.  I was held up because  at first I didn’t think the word required meant the same as ‘cage’.  Interestingly all the thesauri I consulted agreed with me, but Chambers Crossword Dictionary and Mrs Bradford both list the alternatives – perhaps it is a ‘crossword thing’.

24a         Brave resistance suppresses state (4)
AVER  This verb is lurking in (or being suppressed by) brAVE Resistance.

25a         Like buttery dessert pastry, soon finished (5,3,5)
SHORT AND SWEET   This expression meaning unexpectedly brief could equally well describe the pastry I use when making mince pies.  [I tried Charlie on cryptic crosswords but he prefers the Quick GK on a Saturday afternoon!]

Mince pies 003

27a         Actor at premiere of powerful film (6)
PLAYER    The ‘premiere’ of Powerful followed by a film in the sense of a thin coating.

28a         Prime Minister’s second-quarter after-tax earnings eclipse normal leaders (8)
NINETEEN   I did spend a ‘gnoment’ wondering if there was an actual Prime Minister whose name started with N but soon worked out the definition.   Interestingly, I only really ‘saw’ the “second quarter” once I’d got the draft review document on my screen as the font is much  larger than that on the pdf used to solve the puzzle.   This clue contains another  eight-letter word where you only need some of the letters, the  ‘second quarter’ which should be followed by the amount you have after all the deductions such as tax have been deducted from your earnings, and the ‘leaders’ of Earnings, Eclipse and Normal.

2d           Playing table tennis, knocking out the European continent (9)
ABSTINENT Nice attempt at misleading with ‘continent’ – here we need the adjective meaning exercising self-restraint which is obtained from an anagram (playing) of TABLE TENNIS, once we have removed LE  (knocking out the in French – a  European language).

3d           Deride US city that’s awful and extremely affluent (5,2)
LAUGH AT     The abbreviation for the west coast US city so useful for crossword setters, an interjection expressing disgust and the ‘extreme’ letters of AffluenT

laugh at

4d           Scottish town dismissed lawyer oddly (3)
AYR   Dismiss the odd letters of lAwYeR

5d           Was pushy working below senior journalist (7)
ELBOWED    An anagram (working) of BELOW followed by the abbreviation for the most senior journalist.


6d           Retreat after starting to bully old leader (5)
BLAIR  The ‘start’ to Bully followed by a retreat used by a wild animal.

7d           Mistake as I follow third attempt to perform scene to an audience? (4,3)
TAKE FOR   To an audience indicates that we are looking for a homophone.   This time the solution sounds like what we might say if we’d already had three goes at performing something, usually when making a film.

8d           Recommend section of index to librarian (5)
EXTOL     Another lurker, this time found in a section of indEX TO Librarian. Not sure ‘praise enthusiastically’ which is the BRB definition for xxxxx means quite the same thing as recommend.   However, if Kath was to ask the 2Kiwis about any good crosswords she’d missed while  she is travelling in the Antipodes, they could xxxxx the virtues of this one and recommend she solves it when she has time!

11d         Placed second detailed Starbucks order? (5)
LATTE  Remove the final letter (detailed) from an adjective denoting the second or second-mentioned of two.

14d         Pole  used when punting (5)
STAKE    This  stick driven into the ground as a marker or as part of a fence has the same meaning as money used when betting (punting meaning gambling here).


15d         Not in the middle of frenetic movement, I scarpered (3-6)
OFF-CENTRE   OF (from the clue) followed by an anagram (movement) of FRENETIC once you have removed the I (I scarpered).

17d         Quick like a mouse? (7)
CURSORY   I was going to be pedantic about the ‘like a mouse?’ but the lovely  cryptic definition made me smile so I won’t.


18d         He studied mathematics  course in Ireland (7)
SHANNON   I did know the river (course) but I have to admit I’d never heard of Claude who apparently was the founder of information theory.

20d         Bond with rhenium as part of chemistry experiment (7)
REAGENT   The chemical symbol for rhenium followed by the word James Bond might use when asked what he did for a living.

22d         Sleeps with Paul regularly without initially paying through the nose (5)
NASAL  Remove the initial letter of Paying from another way of saying ‘sleeps’ and follow with the regular letters of pAuL

23d         Coach tour travels round capital of Turkey (5)
TUTOR An anagram (travels) of TOUR goes round the ‘capital’ of Turkey.

26d         Try and get brown  paper (3)
SUN   This verb meaning to expose oneself to sunshine is also the name of one of the tabloid papers.


  1. Encota
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Hi PaulT and Welcome! – it sounds like we both met Dave at the same event, though I can’t remember if we bumped into each other? Congratulations on your first puzzle here.
    Some neat misdirection in some of the clues. I found a couple hard to parse fully – 9A and 28A from memory – though probably just me being thick! And some nice surfaces e.g. 14D and 23D.

    – Encota –

    • Encota
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Yes, now very happy with 9 and 28, it was me being thick (no surprise there). In 9A I was trying to equate an r with player (duh!) – I think I’ll make that my first and last time trying to solve at the end of a day.
      I especially like 28A – really smart technique nearer the front end of the clue (as well as the misdirection). [I think that’s the clearest I can put it without spoiling.]

      My favourites are 19A, 25A and 17D, and many others are strong too. As an aside, did you consider linking 9 & 27 in some way? [I had a very quick try via wiki to find a famous NFL player who wore 27 to fit with your quarterback theme – but there were no bankers]

      Thanks again

      – Encota –

  2. JollySwagman
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks PT – quite a tussle – much harder than I first thought it would be after bunging 1a in in a flash.

    No major quibbles – I can’t get the first two letters of 28a the right way round – but maybe I need to redistribute my brackets.

    Minor observations:

    11a took me a while to get – the second meaning is very broad – nothing wrong with that in the occasional clue – but do the words “if wanted” serve any real purpose in that context – obviously the other way to go would have been find some words which gave the answer more explicitly.

    18d I got from the crossers as just a place in Ireland and had to google to confirm that both the given criteria were satisfied. At that point I wasn’t sure which conjunction went in 25a (a good clue otherwise with a bit of a smile).

    My favourite clue was 2d – before I cracked it I had made a mental note to say that we don’t these days leave spare definite article hanging around (even if Ximenes did) – then to crack it of course you have to bring that word in as a key part of the wordplay – proof (if ever it were needed) of the importance of keeping an open mind.

    Lots of good clues with well-hidden definitions and wordplay components.

    A good workout but – main suggestion – not enough entertainment value. That said there were a few smiles in there – just not enough for me.

    Thanks again.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Look again at 11a. The solution is something you might keep “if (you were) wanted”. Clear now?

      The first two letters of 28a form the second quarter of the 8-letter word in the clue. The solution is a very neat charade.

      Must say I found both of these clues very entertaining – along with the rest of it!

  3. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Later than usual getting on to it this week. Not a quick solve but with a bit of effort and Google research for 18d we did eventually get it all sorted out. Some nicely disguised definitions, 2d for example that gave a real Aha moment when the penny dropped. Certainly gets a real thumbs up from us.
    Thanks PaulT.

  4. Maize
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Welcome to this wonderful little corner of Crosswordland, Paul. I’m not sure if this is your first ever crossword or just your first on Big Dave’s site, but in either case congratulations! Your grasp of crossword grammar is near perfect, as far as I could see.
    There’s a good spread of clues ranging from easy to intricate, so I got most filled pretty quickly but then had to stop for breakfast before coming back for the last few. A satifying range of clue types and lots of deception too, with my favourite clues being 6a, 21a and 27a, all with double ticks. Also getting ticks (in my not-very-sophisticated appraisal system) were 1a, 9a, 16a, 19a, 25a, 2d, 14d and 17d.
    28a, though intricate, works fine for me, with a nicely disguised definition, so my only problems were with 18d – I needed to look up the mathemetician – and with my last one in, 13a, which for me would have read better as ‘Detectives support’ – although I can see that’s still not perfect!
    As for Jolly Swagman’s suggestion to put a bit more ‘entertainment’ in, he’s probably right, although that’s easier said than done.. I got similar feedback from my first puzzleso just tried pputting in a bit of smut, which seemed to work!

    • Maize
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Just got the parsing of 13a – excellent!

    • JollySwagman
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      Re entertainment value. I suppose part of what I meant was that one of the things that makes this series so interesting is that (probably as a result of most contributors not being prolific setters) most of the puzzles start with some sort of idea which gave the setter the impetus to write the puzzle in the first place. That idea might get thoroughly worked – or given a twist – or both – but one remembers all that after finishing the puzzle. That’s not the only possible component of entertainment value – but it’s one of them.

      I’ve been doing a lot of old Araucaria puzzles recently – both from the three-volume Chambers books, which came out not all that long ago – also digging them out of the Guardian archive – and trying to answer the question: “What made his puzzles, taken as a series, so good?” – in particular so satisfying – so entertaining. It’s a tough one to answer, particularly given the incredible variety and originality in there. Singling out particular clues doesn’t get you far.

      One thing that struck me was that maybe looking at a word to be clued he might often have seen principally ideas – whereas a lot of setters would see principally letters to be fiddled with.

      That’s just the bare bones of an idea . Obviously he was peerless. Some preferred Bunthorne – he was often equally witty. I’m not normally one to complain of what others call GK but personally I found his GK demands a bit OTT.

  5. dutch
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! are you the PaulT from DIYCOW? If so, I am in awe of your crossword insights. This took quite a bit longer than a DT back pager but not as longer as the harder toughies, so the difficulty is perfect. The balance of clue types is great. I enjoyed it a lot. Loved 12a (act stupidly), loved “prime minister” (28a) and “European continent”, loved the beautiful semi all-in-one at 19a, and great surface readings like 5d (was pushy), 14d (pole used when punting). Also really liked 17d (quick like a mouse), 20d (Bond with rhenium – very nice), 22d (sleeps with Paul), and 26d (brown paper). I haven’t even listed all my ticks – there’s also 24a and 3d!

    My last one in was 28a – perhaps I wasn’t alone? – it parses fine for me.

    I wondered whether second was accurate in 11d, would not “last” be better? And I’m surprised no-one has said this yet so I’m probably being very thick, but in 9a I end up with a letter left over that I’m struggling to equate with player.

    Great stuff PaulT – congratulations – surprised it’s your debut puzzle!

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      11d – have a look in the dictionary and the second bit becomes clear’
      9a the letter you have left is one of the fairly common Crosswordland ‘players.

    • dutch
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      ah, just got the player in 9a, I was being thick – funny how you realise things just after you post. Also brb has both last and second for 11d, so that must be fair too. (and thanks CS, we crossed)

  6. Beet
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I only managed half a dozen before I left the house this morning so will return this evening with proper comments. I’m just popping in to ask if you are the person I met briefly in October? Were you there with your girlfriend? I spent some time chatting to her while she was waiting for you to finish competing. I could very well have the wrong person entirely. But if not, then just saying hello to help you put faces to pseudonyms.

  7. silvanus
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a debut! Although it may be PaulT’s first appearance in Rookie Corner, I would be staggered if this was his first-ever puzzle, as it would have fitted fairly seamlessly into a Telegraph Toughie slot, I suspect. Rarely, if ever, can such a professional looking crossword have graced RC for a debut setter.

    I began thinking it was not going to pose too many problems, but how wrong I was. The top half, especially a few in the NE corner, was generally harder than the bottom I soon discovered.

    I have ticks beside so many clues, but I really liked the amusing 17d and the absolutely brilliant 28a.

    My only reservations with this puzzle concerned some of the definitions. I like to pride myself on having a wide general knowledge, but I had never heard of the gentleman in 18d and to clue someone rather obscure with “he studied mathematics” was not very helpful to the solver. A little easier than “he breathed oxygen”, I’ll grant you!! I also do not think “recommend” is a synonym for the answer in 8d. “Commend” or “praise” yes, but “recommend” no. Small quibbles overall though.

    Fantastic effort, PaulT and I’m sure that you will attract a lot of favourable comment. Many congratulations!

  8. Snape
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Welcome Paul T,
    This was very good – quite a struggle, but never too long before something dawned, so perfect. Still a couple I don’t get, though, but I am clearly missing something clever, in 28a, say.

    My main smiles came from 2d, 3d, 16a, 19a and 26d, and I was very happy with the entertainment factor, as I find clever wordplay amusing. I wondered if ‘placed second’ was an accurate synonym in 11d (rather than just second), and I will be interested to see if splitting the cryptic instructions either side of the fodder in 4d is fine – I suspect both of these are actually fine. My only, very minor, quibble was with 7d. I liked the homophone, wasn’t sure about the definition (is it Mistake as I, or just Mistake?) but a large part of the answer appears in the same form as the definition. As I said, very minor. Congratulations on a wonderful debut.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi Snape. In 7d it’s neither I think: the definition is “mistake as”; the “I” is the thing clued by the homophone (the thing that follows the *third* attempt…); and “to an audience” is the homophone indicator. Brilliant, isn’t it? I do get what you mean about the solution being the root word of “mistake”, but for me it didn’t jar.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      In 28a the definition is “prime” – does that kickstart things?

      • Snape
        Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Doh! Very good. Thank you.

  9. Paul T
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Hello everyone! Firstly, thanks all for taking the time to try my puzzle, and for the very kind comments.

    Yes, I’m the same PaulT from over on DIYCOW, and Beet yes that will have been me at the Times Championship pub.

    I guess this is my first ‘proper’ puzzle, though I’ve done personal ones for family and friends and a few thematic ones I’ve put on my own little blog (*cough*, but I’m a veteran hassler of the clue writing judges for the Times/ST/Observer contests as well as DIYCOW, so I have been clueing for quite a long time outside of setting full puzzles.

    I’ll try to reply to comments/questions about individual clues when I can easily look at the puzzle (typing on my phone atm). But thanks again all for playing/commenting!

    • Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Welcome to the blog PaulT

      An excellent début.

  10. Toro
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Hi PaulT – great to see you in these pages. Thanks for this absolutely cracking puzzle which was tough but fair and very entertaining. You have an obvious gift for wordplay plus an instinct for what solvers will enjoy – a potent combination!

    Favourites for me included 13a (my LOI), 19a, 28a, 5d and 7d. 12a induced an embarrassingly loud penny-drop moment in a public place. I like your use of slightly teasing definitions alongside fair wordplay (e.g. 6a, 11a), which makes for nicely balanced clues and an enjoyable moment of illumination when the two come together. I did not object at all to 18d despite not knowing the mathematician – you made it very gettable, and I learned something.

    Quibbles (which were few and which an editor or test solver would have picked up): 26d ‘try TO…’, 27a ‘at’ is not universally liked (though actually it read fine), and silvanus has a point about one or two of the definitions (in 21a to fawn is to ‘___ oneself’, and not sure 14d is quite a pole – though it’s a lovely clue!). But this really is minor stuff.

    Congratulations on a really outstanding debut. When do we get your next one?

  11. Expat Chris
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was a smashing first outing! 28A took a while to parse, but I got there in the end. However, I still don’t get 11D, even with CS’s hint. I wonder if ‘mark’ was a bit on the loose side for the answer to 9A. But this is small stuff that the review will sort out. I have to disagree with those who think there was not enough entertainment. There was plenty for me: 12A was an absolute hoot. I also loved 2D, 3D (because ‘ugh’ is exactly how I feel about that city) and 5D. 17D was my last in and another big smile. Thanks, PaulT, for a great start to the puzzle week.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      In 11d, ‘de-tail’ a word that can mean second or second-mentioned out of two.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Oh!! I was trying to use the second letter of “placed” and build on that. No wonder I had problems. Another great clue. Thanks, Toro.

        • Toro
          Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          It took me a while to parse quite a few – but it’s all the “right sort of difficult”. And extremely entertaining as you say

  12. Jane
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    As others have said – a really professional puzzle and hard to believe that it’s your first Rookie. Certainly not an easy ride but well worth the effort demanded.
    No-one else has mentioned it but I wasn’t too sure about 10a being a synonym for ‘greasy’?
    I did need to look up the 18d gentleman and also check the chemical symbol required in 20d.
    My top four would be 12,19&25a plus 17d.
    Many thanks, PaulT – look forward to your next one and will make sure I lay plenty of time aside to tackle it!

    • Expat Chris
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you about 10A! I omitted to mention it in my comment.

  13. Sprocker
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi PaulT,

    I thought this was amazingly good for a debut puzzle – excellent surfaces, some brilliant misdirection, and (for me at least) plenty of smiles. The only quibble I would have (and it is a ridiculously minor one), is that 3 hidden word clues might be seen as too many. Way too many fantastic clues to list, but I’ll pick 12a as my favourite.

    Superb stuff, thanks! :good:

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Three hidden words is OK as long as Kath is away …

  14. Rabbit Dave
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I think it’s all been said before, but many, many congratulations on an absolutely superb debut, PaulT. This was challenging, amusing and entertaining with mostly very smooth surfaces – everything a first rate cryptic puzzle should be.

    13a was my last one in and I was going to make the same observation as Maize. Given Maize’s follow up comment, I guess I am still missing the correct parsing. :scratch:

    I am not 100% sure about that definition for 16a is OK, but given that it is a very clever clue that is a very minor quibble. I also thought that the mathematician in 18d was a bit obscure, but the wordplay was great.

    Most of the clues deserve a mention but I can’t possibly list them all. The outstanding 28a gets my vote as favourite, and 12a was a real LOL moment.

    Hurry up with the next one as soon as possible please, PaulT.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi RD. 13a took me a while too… If a detective supports or is in favour of something then you could say he or she’s ___ it.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Thanks very much, Toro. I got the “supports” bit, but the seemingly spurious s eluded me. Now that I can see that it is actually ‘s, it all makes sense!

        We solvers are being truly spoilt at the moment – your NTSPP, Virgilius, Rufus and now this Rookie Corner puzzle. It doesn’t get any better than this!

        • Maize
          Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Hear, hear! And where can I find that Virgilius puzzle, Rabbit Dave… I’m a massive fan!

          • Rabbit Dave
            Posted January 18, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            It’s the Prize Cryptic Puzzle from the Sunday Telegraph. Any Sunday’s will do. They are always brilliant, and yesterday’s was no exception!

            • Maize
              Posted January 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink


  15. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    A real cracker.
    The misdirections like “working below” in 5d, the “fawn” in 21a and “prime minister” in 28a were brilliant.
    Loved constructions like “act stupidly” in 12a and “detective supports” in 13a. It gives such good surface.
    Can’t parse 11d even after reading the blog and I usually understand Toro. Unless “order” does double duty?
    I still have 14d to go. Just can’t see it yet.
    Lots of pennies dropping. “continent” in 2d and “old leader” in 6d.
    Learned all about Mr Bit in 18d and improved my chemistry in 20d.
    So thanks to PaulT for that and for a great crossword.

    • Toro
      Posted January 18, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      In 11d, the def is “Starbucks order?”

      14d (if you want a hint, and assuming I have it right) is a pole (sort of) which is also something ventured by a (non-boating) punter…

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted January 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Got them now.
        Re 11d: Could it also be the third or the fourth as long as it refers to the last mentioned or is it only used for two instances?
        14d. Real D’oh moment.

        • Maize
          Posted January 18, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          I’ve always taken the 6-letter word in question to be the second of two, never third or fourth. It goes with ‘former’ of course.

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted January 18, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

            I see that now.
            In French we would say ” ce dernier” but without any limitations to the enumeration.

        • Rabbit Dave
          Posted January 18, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

          Latter can have two meanings: later or second of two. (An example of the former would be Latter-Day Saints!)

          • jean-luc cheval
            Posted January 18, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

            Really started something here.
            I was going to mention the “premiere” in 27a. Better not.

        • dutch
          Posted January 18, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          that’s where I was confused, I somehow thought latter could also mean the last of three or more – but it seems not…

          • Toro
            Posted January 18, 2016 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

            You’re thinking of “lattest”

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted January 18, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

              If we were saying something like: I went out for a drink with Dutch Anax and Toro. The latter paid for everything. Would it be wrong?

              • Jane
                Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

                I should think that Toro would think it was wrong – very wrong!!!

              • Snape
                Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

                According to Collins Online:
                The latter should only be used to refer to the second of two items: many people choose to go by hovercraft rather than use the ferry, but I prefer the latter. The last of three or more items can be referred to as the last-named.

                That’s very good of Toro, though.

              • Toro
                Posted January 19, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

                As long as you pay for our flights and hotel, you’re on!

  16. Beet
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I concur wholeheartedly with all the praise for this puzzle. I know I’m not the most demanding critic when it comes to technical precision, but for me the wordplay was impeccable.

    Difficulty wise, it was up there at the top end of solvable for me – a particularly tricky back pager or a middling toughie level. Very well done on that score because I think that that must be one of the most difficult elements to get right when stepping up from writing individual clues to a whole grid (I would guess, I went straight to trying to set a full puzzle from a standing start, and the results were not good!)

    My favourites were 12a, 28a, 17d and 20d.

  17. Paul T
    Posted January 18, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    It looks like all my intended parses have been reached, the outstanding quibbles I mostly don’t disagree with:

    The def in 10a I agree is a bit loose. I had a different word there to begin with but I thought this made a livelier surface. I think it just about meets definition 8 in Collins, but admittedly it does have very different connotations than the answer.

    8d – I don’t recall if I found support in a dictionary/thesaurus for the definition or if it was just the word that occured to me. Looking at the answer now in a few dictionaries I’m inclined to agree it doesn’t quite fit.

    18d probably is a bit obscure, as a maths person myself I wanted to include him when I saw he fit in the grid.

    16a I think the definition just about works, as in def 2 in Collins rather than (the much more usual) def 1.

    As for having three hidden word answers, maybe some people would consider that a bit much for the easiest clue-type. But I like them, so I shall remain stubbornly unapologetic!

    Thanks again everyone for the very lovely comments!

  18. dutch
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks CS for an enjoyable review

  19. Maize
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the jolly, upbeat review on a cold January day, CS – nice to have some pictures!
    In 2d I had ‘knocking out the European’ as meaning to remove ‘le’ – although pperhaps PaulT meant ‘el’…

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Thank you – – now corrected.

      As I said to the boss this morning (when he was indicating that he wanted me to do some copying for him) it doesn’t matter how many times you look at a crossword review (solving, parsing, typing the review, puttting it on the system, double-checking, there’s always something you miss. :unsure:

  20. Toro
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    CS, the pic of the crossword-loving cat 25a looks suspiciously like it might have been posed. Did you do all that baking specially for it?

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      No he’s just a very nosy cat who is ever keen to see if there’s anything available he could eat.

      I did all that baking back in 2014 for the Church Christmas Fair.

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Miaow Miam. Haven’t had mincemeat for ages. Miss it. :cry:

  21. Jane
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, CS – particularly the pic. for 11a which took me back to the days when my two girls would use exactly the same tactic when ‘hiding’. Hard to keep a straight face whilst pretending that you can’t see them!

  22. 2Kiwis
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Sue, we noted your suggestion in the hint for 8d and will print out a copy of the puzzle to present to her when she arrives here in a few days. We are really looking forward to having her and Chris with us soon.
    In your hint for 13a there is no mention of where the S comes from, although it is discussed in the comments.
    Thanks again PaulT and CS.

    • crypticsue
      Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      ref 13a Someone I tested a puzzle for recently used D as an abbreviation for Detective and I did find ‘proof’ that there was such an abbreviation somewhere on line. So I was going with D (detective) IS PRO (supports) but I suppose what I should go with is DI (detective) ‘S (IS) PRO. I

      • KiwiColin
        Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Sue. I was actually quite surprised when I found that BRB does not support D for detective. I am pretty sure that I have heard of detectives colloquially referred to as ‘The Ds’ . But this is nit-picking, we very much subscribe to your philosophy of solvability being the major criterion. Cheers.

      • Paul T
        Posted January 19, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I was imagining it as the whole phrase “DI’S PRO” for “detective supports” rather than in pieces, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. Thanks for the lovely review!

        • JollySwagman
          Posted January 20, 2016 at 1:31 am | Permalink

          I think that’s how I read it.

          Detective supports
          DI is pro
          contracted to (as in normal speech)
          DI’S PRO

          I didn’t think you’d be so naughty as to strip off a single letter from a multi-letter abbreviation – but I did like detailed for de-tailed in 11d.

          They don’t have Starbucks here much – mainly independents and small chains – but we all (sadly) know what it is.

  23. jean-luc cheval
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to CS for the review and thanks again to PaulT whom I just added to my spellchecker.
    Which means I would like to see him again.