Rookie Corner – 098

A Puzzle by The Partygoers

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

In a departure from the usual Rookie Corner format today we have a puzzle set by The Partygoers, those who attended the recent 7th Birthday Bash.  I hope you enjoy this one-off puzzle as it is unlikely that the same group will ever meet together again.

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 follows, with apologies for the delay, as real life took over from crosswords (which sadly means no time for pictures either)


1a           Summer activity? (11)
MATHEMATICS    An activity undertaken by ‘summers’ or people who add up.

7a           Regularly astute cryptic lady (3)
SUE   Look at the regular letters of aStUtE and ….!   I know that another ‘cryptic lady’ set this one!

9a           Snub queen who’s more charming (5)
CUTER   Snub or ignore followed by the cipher of our current Queen.

10a         Before top of plant dies away (9)
PRECEDING  The ‘top’ of Plant followed by another way of saying dies away (or should that be dying away?)

11a         Animal lover abroad in Burgundy? (9)
WOLVERINE   An anagram (abroad) of LOVER inserted into the drink of which Burgundy can be an example.

12a         Singular person, also mother involved in dynasty (5)
HUMAN    An informal word for mother involved in or inserted into a Chinese dynasty.

13a         Maddens Egyptian god, surrounded by topless monuments (7)
ENRAGES     The Egyptian sun god ‘surrounded’ by some stone monuments without their first letter (topless)

15a         One of Neville Brothers‘ tracks on Georgia (4)
GARY   The abbreviation for railway (tracks) goes on the abbreviation for the State of Georgia.

18a         See 28
20a         Playing maracas might give one a black eye (7)
MASCARA   Make up that might make your eye (lashes) look blacker can be obtained from an anagram (playing) of MARACAS

23a         Leo, maybe, in uniform wearing stockings (5)
HOUSE    Leo being one sign of the Zodiac.  Insert the abbreviation for Uniform into some stockings.

24a         My parents at it?  Family! (9)
RELATIONS  The first and last definitions are less risqué than the middle one!

26a         Teeside resort’s favourite way of welcoming celebrities (3,6)
RED CARPET    A Teeside resort split 3, 3 and followed with a favourite.

27a         A sporting ballsup? (5)
SKIER   Not Dutch on his holidays this time, just a cricket ball hit high in the air.

28/18     Give bad review to our superhero? (3,4)
BIG DAVE   An anagram (review) of GIVE BAD.

29a         Arrives a bit wobbly after noon? In any event we’ll celebrate  (11)
ANNIVERSARY   Put into ANY (from the clue) N (noon) and an anagram (a bit wobbly) of ARRIVES.



1d           Strange brew follows note to accountant for Dickens character (8)
MICAWBER    A musical note, a chartered accountant and an anagram (strange) of BREW.

2d           Utterly confused about one belonging to a guardian (8)
TUTELARY  An anagram (confused) of UTTERLY put ‘about’ A (one)

3d           Pint has no head, that is strange (5)
EERIE   Remove the ‘head’ from a pint of bitter and add IE (that is)

4d           Domestic servants, with gold braces (2,5)
AU PAIRS   The chemical symbol for gold followed by some braces.

5d           Main risk seen when one cold beer is drunk before the end of morning (7)
ICEBERG   I (one) C (cold) an anagram (drunk) of BEER and the ‘end’ of morning.

6d           They gather hogs, to make a pie (9)
SHEPHERDS   Hogs being young sheep yet to be sheared.

7d           It’s about good degree, shame! (6)
STIGMA   A reversal (about) of ITS followed by the abbreviation for Good and an Arts degree.

8d           For example, drinking Dutch spirit is borderline (6)
EDGING The abbreviated way of saying for example ‘drinks’ or has inserted the abbreviation for Dutch and an alcoholic spirit.

14d         United team playing in special event for country (9)
GUATAMELA   The abbreviation for United and an anagram (playing) of TEAM inserted into a special event.

16d         Girl in a state, or two? (8)
CAROLINA    There are two States with this name in the USA –  follow a girl’s name with IN A (from the clue)

17d         Classic TV show literally features pasta? (4,4)
DADS ARMY   As Gazza said yesterday, split PAS TA and have a bit of a think!

19d         Bring on two Cockney birds clutching cleavage (7)
ENRIPEN   Insert a cleavage between two ways a Cockney might say/spell a  mother chicken.

20d         To fit in endless love after a short while can be incendiary (7)
MOLOTOV    The name of a nasty ‘cocktail’   –  a short while followed by the first three letters (endless) of LOVe into which is inserted TO (from the clue).

21d         Innocent young woman’s impregnated (6)
CHERUB    A young animal ‘impregnated’ by the he female pronoun (woman’s)

22d         Good old solve, finally cracking setter? (3,3)
GUN DOG    The abbreviation for Good, an old-fashioned way of saying solve, and the final letter of cracking.

25d         Stunner did some modelling once more, making comeback (5)
TASER    A reversal (making comeback) of how one might say modelled for eg,  a painter,  again.

Thanks to all our lovely setters – I do know a couple of ‘who set what’s’ and can guess at some of the others, but an excellent joint effort coordinated by Tilsit, so thank you to him too.


  1. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    That was great fun. Considering how it was put together we would not even suggest having a favourite. Let’s just say that they are all brilliant clues. Hope that at some stage we will see a list of who’s who.
    Thanks Tilsit for bringing it all together and all who made a contribution. :rose:

  2. silvanus
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    A nice gentle solve with an appropriate sprinkling of birthday references. Despite the numerous different contributors (myself not included!), had it not been mentioned how the puzzle had been assembled, it could have easily passed as being the work of one setter.

    I’ve ticked several clues I particularly liked, namely 26a, 29a, 17d and 22d (although isn’t the word “old” there superfluous?). 18/28a also deserves a mention of course!

    I’m usually fairly bad at guessing who did what in these Hydra-style puzzles, although 20a did look very much to me like a Snape clue, and 19d was reminiscent of Gazza, but I suspect I’m probably wrong on both counts. I hope they don’t mind my incorrect attributions!

    I’m assuming that several of our regular Rookie solvers at the bash had some input? If so, I hope it might encourage them to try their hand at setting a whole puzzle in the future, go on don’t be shy!

    Congratulations to all concerned, especially to Tilsit.

    • JollySwagman
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      Re 22d Yes – I couldn’t work that one out.

      For me UNDO for “solve” works. It may be a very slight stretch but “old” doesn’t make it any less so.

      Maybe a certain dictionary has it marked as archaic.

      • dutch
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        yep, brb has it as archaic

        • JollySwagman
          Posted February 22, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          Collins online has that too – marked as obsolete.

          ODO doesn’t but it has “Cause the downfall or ruin of”, which Collins doesn’t have.

          In Shakespeare “undone” usually means “done for”.

  3. JollySwagman
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Nice solve. The top half I found to be fairly easy – the bottom half less so – mainly due to cryptic (ie rather than letter-fiddling) clues intersecting.

    Anyone skipping this for fear that it might be too “in-house” need have no worries on that account. The two that are (7a and 28a, 18a) are easy enough to get knowing that you need a person’s name.

    A great many nice crunchy regulation wordplay clues.

    My favourite was 29a – very effective use of deceptive punctuation and a lovely lift-and-separate in “in any event”, which almost begs to be taken as a complete whole, even when you’re on the qui vive for oldest-trick-in-the-book cluing devices.

    I also liked 20d but wondered whether more could have been made of Endless Love – ie the song – to the strains of which we are told a large proportion of the population was conceived.

    6a I read as triply indicated – is that the indention.
    10a The way I’m reading it the parts of speech don’t quite match.
    17d I didn’t understand the pasta bit.

    I won’t reveal which clues I might have given a single tick to because it’s often a close-run thing and obviously some had a more difficult row to hoe than others – but all round a great job – and a surprisingly well-balanced puzzle, considering its provenance.

  4. Maize
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    How wonderful! I only wish I’d been a part of it!
    Top half, starting with 7a, flew in, bottom half took a little longer – last to parse with an audible penny-drop clunk was 17d.
    Remarkably well-balanced, as has been said. I had fully 8 ticks and 5 double ticks by the clues so, if you contributed, then just assume yours was one of those :)
    Unless that is you wrote 29a, which had a rare triple tick because it had everything – great surface, topicality (of course), humour, complexity yet solvabilty – marvellous!

  5. dutch
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    What splendid fun! Thank you Tilsit for making this happen. It has all come together rather brilliantly, with a sense of humour that captures the day. The solving is all the more amusing as the brain (vaguely) starts to recollect all the fun we had discussing some of the clues.

    And some top notch clues I hadn’t seen yet, I loved “animal lover” and “in any event we’ll celebrate” to name just two – plenty to enjoy.

    I’m pleased this appeared after I returned from holiday – I really did not want to miss it.

    I hope everyone else enjoys this as much as I did.

    • Jane
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Hi Dutch,
      I’m sure I remember you working hard on a clue for ‘avocados’ – no sign of it in the puzzle!

      • dutch
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        did I?

        • Jane
          Posted February 22, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          Yep, you did. Anything else from the day that you want to be reminded of………? :wink:

  6. Cyborg
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I’d also like to award an extra :good: to 29a – I wish I could have been there.
    I have to ask about 20a because I’m completely bewildered: are “Skiing maracas” a thing? It’s just begging to be “Playing maracas”.

    • Posted February 22, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Not only is it begging to be “playing maracas” – it was intended to be “playing maracas”. Tilsit should have gone to Specsavers! I’ll change it now.

      • Beet
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        I thought maybe it was “shaking” maracas and someone’s handwriting got a bit dodgy after a few pints.

        • Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          Tilsit will check when he gets back home – he has confirmed that it wasn’t “skiing”, or the version he originally sent which had “skaing”. If anyone remembers writing the clue, perhaps they can confirm the original intention.

          • Rabbit Dave
            Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            Perhaps the setter had been drinking?

            • dutch
              Posted February 22, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

              From recent observations, I’d say skiing is a pretty good anagram indicator

              but shaking would seem the likely intended one.. (no idea who’s clue it was)

  7. crypticsue
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    A very enjoyable solve – unlike many multi-setter puzzles, this “flowed” very nicely. Thank you to all involved.

    It was interesting on the day to see the reactions of setters, both professional and amateur, when Tilsit presented them with a word to clue – ranging from the ‘you want me to do it now?’ to the ones who just got on with it. I’d particularly like to mention Weekend Wanda who worked hard at her clue, enlisting advice as she went along from some lovely helpful people

    • Weekendwanda
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! It was fun but I had no idea how hard it would be.

  8. Jane
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    That was fun, but I wouldn’t presume to try and guess who clued what. Actually, it was far less risqué than I thought it might be – given some of the suggestions I overheard! Maybe Tilsit did an editing job in the sober light of day?
    Top three for me are 23&26a plus 17d.

    Many thanks, Partygoers – it was a great day.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Oh dear. Just me then. After all the build up, I was disappointed. I found it a bit clunky overall. I did not get 17D and having now revealed a letter I know the answer but have no idea what pasta has to do with it. I have what I believe is the correct answer for 6D but again have no idea why it’s correct. Maybe it isn’t. And I have no clue who the Neville brothers are. Perhaps I’m grumpy because of my own failings. I did like 1A a lot, though. And if 16D is intended as a triple whatsit, then I like that too.

    • Gazza
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      17d You need to split ‘pasta’ into its two syllables.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        D’oh! Thanks very much Gazza!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Oh! Clever, that.

  10. Rabbit Dave
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Let’s get the pedantry out of the way first! I was fooled initially by 26a because I assumed the spelling of Teeside was intended in order to make it anagram fodder when coupled with resort. It wasn’t! It was simply misspelt.
    Or do I mean “mispelt”? :wink:

    That apart, this was a wonderful compilation, and everyone involved deserves unreserved congratulations.

    A couple of queries. Why “hogs” in 6d? What is the relevance of pasta in 17d?

    It’s a good job Kath’s away because I want to select all the clues as my favourites. But my favourite favourite has to be 29a.

    • Jane
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi RD,
      17d -try splitting the last word of the clue 3-1-1 and add a few bits of punctuation.

      • Jane
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, Gazza – you beat me to it!

    • Gazza
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Some hogs are not pigs.

      • Rabbit Dave
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Gazza. I did wonder about that but decided it was easier just to Google “hog” rather than getting my BRB down from the shelf. I even checked several online dictionaries, including Collins to no avail. Googling “hog sheep” however delivers the goods, as does (eventually) looking in my BRB.

        My new catch phrase, plagiarised from Specsavers, will be “he should have gone to his BRB”.

      • Jane
        Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Nicely put, Gazza!

  11. Hoskins
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Tilsit and BD for organising the puzzle.

    I was very definitely in Sue’s ‘you want me to do it now?’ camp and even managed to swap my answer word for an easier one (naughty me!). Well done to all the clue-writers who got the tough-to-clue words and didn’t shirk from the task at hand. As ever, was a good do and great to meet everyone in meatspace.

    Here’s to another great year for BDCB and all who sail in her!

  12. Encota
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Following on from others’ comments, I agree that it does read very well as a combined effort. [Perhaps Tilsit has done some very serious editing behind the scenes to make it so?] It was definitely a very enjoyable day!
    I was a little unsure on reading about the verb tense in 10a – what am I missing? I was also initially thrown by the hogs(!)

  13. snape
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I woke up on the Sunday after, and thought ‘That doesn’t work at all for one I’d put in’, hurriedly put together an anagram, and sent it with an apology, then realised I’d misremembered the word I’d clued anyway! (plus, it was one with some other poor soul’s name on it!) Apologies for having to cope with me – although if that’s the worst thing I ever do because of drink, it won’t be too bad.
    I guess this might have required quite a bit of editing, as no-one had dictionaries, etc, so many thanks to Tilsit for his efforts in getting a very enjoyable crossword out of it, especially as it managed to somehow be very well balanced. Even some of the clues I’d seen being written took a while to get – of the ones I hadn’t seen before, my favourites were 29a, 3d and 22d.
    Thanks again to Tilsit, BD, and the setters.

  14. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    What a great get together.
    Very coherent finished product.
    It was good fun to participate and my name might appear on some clues which were a concerted effort with those present at the time. Fabulous team spirit that Tilsit had to decipher despite all the scribbles and red wine or beer stains.
    Thanks to everybody involved.

  15. tilsit
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Compilation puzzles are quite difficult to put together as you are dealing with 30 different styles.

    Seriously, there was very little editing. I deliberately published the clues exactly as they were written. That shows the quality of everything that was written, despite the quantities of alcohol around! Not all the clues had names on, and so I couldn’t remember who wrote which clue. One or two submitted numerous clues and I chose the one that best worked.

    I have a feeling the ‘skiing’ typo must have been an auto-correct thing on my computer as I was typing. Will try to find the slip with the clue on.

    Apologies for the delay as well, I have been relocating fully from the Calder Valley to Warrington and am surrounded by a great many boxes of books and papers. I also managed to throw myself down a flight of stairs and have been nursing some pretty nasty bruises!

    • snape
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Ow, I hope you’re recovering well. I read (in Bill Bryson’s book about the home, I think, among other places) that stairs are the biggest killer in the land other than disease, so dangerous things.

    • Hilary
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Poor you, get well soon. When I had a fall in September it seemed to take forever for the bruises to fade and I was ashamed go go out because I felt as though everyone was staring. Not helped by people saying What on earth have you done when I thought it was patently obvious what I had done – fallen flat on my face.

  16. Hilary
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Cracked it, I think. Went to bed with one corner unfinished and if I had not misspelled the SA country I would have got there much quicker. Can now go off go shops with clear conscience. :yahoo:

  17. Kitty
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed solving (most of) this. It was very interesting to see how it turned out, and in the event it was pretty well-balanced and great fun.

    Many thanks to Tilsit for organising it all. A lovely idea and well-executed.

    Thanks to crypticsue for the review. No need for any apologies – I completely understand about the real life bit, and pictures (as well as everything else) take much longer to do than many people appreciate.

    And thanks to my fellow partygoers – not least for writing “my” clue for me. I have to admit I was struggling and offered my word to the table. They made short work of it – I don’t think I even wrote it on the paper myself. I promise to do better in future.

    • Rabbit Dave
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Miffypops would approve of not writing it down especially if it was an anagram.

      • Kitty
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        Haha. (It was not an anagram. It was an unsupported cryptic definition!)

  18. Jane
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the review, CS and particularly for the parsing of 20d. Think I’d fallen into the same trap as Hilary and not checked my spelling!
    Shame that we don’t know who set what, although doubtless there were several combined efforts. I shall assume that the ones I struggled with the most were set by Radler and Encota :yes:

  19. Maize
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the review Cryptic 7a – I find I’m itching to know who set 29a… would anyone happen to remember?

    • Jane
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink


      • Gazza
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Not me. I’d like to know who set that clue too – it’s excellent.

        • Jane
          Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, Gazza – just thought that you, out of all of us, would have been sober enough to observe that the rest of us were getting ‘a bit wobbly’ – be happy to celebrate anyway and be absolutely certain that ‘n’ is an acceptable abbreviation of ‘noon’!

    • crypticsue
      Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      A man who wasn’t there, but his wife was, she said cryptically :wink:

      • Jane
        Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

        Umm………in that case, either Mr. CS or Mr. Henderson.