Rookie Corner – 099

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Apologies to Silvanus for the delayed publication of his latest puzzle, but you should by now be able to access the website in order to solve 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 Prolixic follows.

A classy crossword from Silvanus.  It was not to tricky and nicely filled in the journey to work after the backpager and the Toughie were done and dusted by Richmond. No real niggles on this.   As next week see Number 100, will our Rookie produce an anniversary crossword?


1 Its crossing means no return by black role model after game (7)
RUBICON – After the abbreviation for Rugby Union (game) add the abbreviation for black and another word for a role model.

5 Tuft of grass stupid fellow placed in German wine (7)
HASSOCK – A three letter word for a stupid fellow inside (placed in) a type of German wine.

9 Arab son in front of car (5)
SAUDI – The abbreviation for son before (in front of) a make of car.

10 Beggar confesses inability to reform, Yoda style! (9)
MENDICANT – The answer split (4,1,4) would be how Yoda would say he cannot reform.

11 Former US president’s wife‘s spotted small creatures (9)
LADYBIRDS – A double definition for the first name of Lyndon Johnson’s wife and an insect.

12 Weird-sounding inaccessible location (5)
EYRIE – A homophone (sounding) of EERIE (weird).

13 Make one’s way to Soho, for instance? (4)
WEND – Soho is in the West End.  Take the abbreviation for West and the end to get the answer.

15 Defamed French nobleman involved in criminal trade (8)
TRADUCED – The French for Duke inside an anagram (criminal) of TRADE.

18 Demand object and invite trouble (3,3,2)
ASK FOR IT – A double definition.

19 Former morning paper (4)
EXAM – A two letter word for former and the abbreviation for morning.

22 In about-turn millionaire solemnly admits failure (5)
LOSER – The answer is hidden (admits) and reversed (in about-turn) in MILLIONAIRE SOLEMNLY

24 Ignite wild snog in sentimental ballad (5,4)
TORCH SONG – Another word for ignite followed by an anagram (wild) of SNOG.

26 Instrument to perform (9)
IMPLEMENT – A double definition.

27 Custom sees half of ham sausage removed (5)
USAGE – Half of the letters in HAMSAUSAGE.

28 Time to rage off at old method of execution (7)
GAROTTE – An anagram (off0 of T (time) TO RAGE.  Perhaps “at” is not the most elegant of links words

29 Hollow sincerity set tricky writing techniques (7)
SYSTEMS – The outer letters (hollow) of sincerity followed by an anagram (tricky) of SET and the abbreviation for manuscript (writing).


1 Heard boy take stock (6)
RUSTLE – A homophone (heard) of a boy’s name.

2 Unconfined but take fewer leaps (9)
BOUNDLESS – Split (5,4) the answer means to take fewer leaps.

3 Start cutting branch to scale (5)
CLIMB – The first letter (start – not all editors would accept this construction) to cutting and another word for a branch.

4 Fractional part of true Roman ruin (9)
NUMERATOR – An anagram (ruin) of TRUE ROMAN.

5 To begin with, hoped I’d neglect these simplistic clues! (5)
HINTS – The initial letters (to begin with) of the fourth to eighth words of the clue.

6 Old mathematical aid for control of luge? (5,4)
SLIDE RULE – The answer taken cryptically could mean a means of control for a luge.

7 Broadcasting manner working at first (2,3)
ON AIR – A two letter word meaning working before (at first) a word for a person’s manner.

8 Equipment bag returned to young Tom (6)
KITTEN – A three letter word for equipment followed by a reversal (returned) of a word meaning to bag.

14 Fed up at the Queen’s soldiers’ ultimate transport delay (9)
DEFERMENT – Reverse the fed from the clue and follow it with the abbreviation for the queen, a word meaning soldiers and the final letter (ultimate) of transport.

16 Painful affliction IRA t-shirt bizarrely illustrated (9)
ARTHRITIS – An anagram (bizarrely illustrated) IRA T SHIRT.

17 Back Welsh footballer to speak in detailed fashion (9)
ELABORATE – Reverse (back) the name of a Welsh footballer an follow it with a word meaning to speak.

20 Chopper’s purpose is short-lived (6)
FLYING – A double definition, chopper being a helicopter.

21 Lock fails to open for example before departure (6)
EGRESS – The abbreviation for ‘for example’ before a word for a lock of hair with the first letter removed (fails to open).

23 Diminutive senior policeman is excellent (5)
SUPER – Double definition for a short way of saying the rank of a senior policeman and a word for excellent.

24 Subject of a little tooth emergency (5)
THEME – The answer is hidden in (of a little) in TOOTH EMERGENCY

25 Time at work, wearing two different suits, belongs to us (5)
HOURS – A word meaning belongs to us inside the abbreviation for two suits of cards.


  1. 2Kiwis
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Well crafted and good fun. 20d was our last one in and we really expected an answer to do with dentistry, so we were well fooled.
    Thanks Silvanus.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:08 am | Permalink

      Very good to see you back! You were missed. I hope your access problems are fully resolved.

      • 2Kiwis
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        It is good to be back in communication. We have our fingers crossed that the fix is a permanent one.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Many thanks, I’m glad you both enjoyed it.

      I wasn’t expecting my puzzle to hit the airwaves today so this has caught me a little by surprise, even if BD did send me his usual e-mail alert after I had gone to bed last night!

      Today is obviously a very sad day in New Zealand following the announcement that Martin Crowe has lost his battle with cancer. I had the pleasure to see him in action in England on two or three occasions and he was an exceptional talent. RIP.

  2. Expat Chris
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    All done before lights out, and good fun. I’m not a fan of 1D or 20D, but I did check 10A, 15A and 2D, with 10A coming out on top. Still have a pocket 6D lying around somewhere! Many thanks, Silvanus.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Hi Chris,

      I’m pleased that you found it entertaining. Many thanks for the kind comment.

  3. Kitty
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    An accomplished crossword which was enjoyable to solve – thanks Silvanus. It wasn’t too difficult (even after an insanely late night and too early morning, the latter courtesy of the heard of elephants we have staying with us), but nor was it a walkover. The only question mark I have is that I don’t think “ultimate transport” for T (14d) quite works.

    My top three are 13a, 15a and 5d.

    It was good to see a 6d in the grid. I have one of those somewhere. And I can never have too many 8ds, but that’s by the bye.

    Thanks again Silvanus, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Hi Kitty,

      Very pleased to hear that you enjoyed it. I hoped that 8d would appeal. My Burmese one is eight months old this week and sitting on my shoulders as I’m typing…

      I do hope that your elephants behave better than the infamous Blue Peter one did!

      • Kitty
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        I hope so too, Silvanus – the elephants are sharing my bathroom! :(

  4. Maize
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Silky smooth from Silvanus – very accomplished in all departments, I thought.
    Even by my pondorous standards I found this quite a quick solve, despite a bit of head-scratching at the end for 13a and 20d – both excellent clues, by the way – but one with lots of fun and invention. Also amongst my favourites were 5a,10a (nice, never seen that before), 27a, 29a, 1d (I liked it!), 3d, 8d, 14d, 21d, 25d. My overall favourite though – which would have gone very nicely on Monday March 1st of course (!) was 17d.
    Lots of homophonous lovely words in the answers, which is always a bonus for me. Many thanks Silvanus, a real treat!

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Thanks a lot, Maize.

      Your comments are always welcomed by me, especially following your recent well-deserved rise in status!

  5. Gazza
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Silvanus, for a puzzle on the gentler side with some amusing clues. I particularly enjoyed 10a and 8d – and 19a is beautifully succinct. I agree with Kitty on not liking ‘ultimate transport’ in 14d and I don’t think that the answer to 13a on its own means to make one’s way.
    I thought that you were perhaps being a bit too helpful to the solver in some of the clues (e.g. the inclusion of ‘German’ in 5a and ‘Former US’ in 11a).

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks a lot Gazza. I think you are absolutely right that I am sometimes guilty of wearing my solver’s hat more than I should when setting the puzzles, and occasionally providing too much assistance. I believe it will become less evident in future crosswords that I submit, since it is one feature I have already identified myself.

  6. dutch
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Well done Silvanus, a very enjoyable puzzle which was over too soon – though I’m missing 13a I’m afraid, I’ve put in an answer but I’m not sure yet what it has to do with Soho.

    It was fairly easy which is good – some of the definitions were very helpful 1a, 6d, 28a, 4d – and there were others that were marvellously off-beat (20d). I was thinking you could get away with just one suit (the first one) in 25d, and not sure you really need diminutive for 23, the answer is in brb in its own right. The expression in 24a is new to me; I learn something every day. Like kitty, I picked up on ultimate transport, but there were very few niggles – one or two links perhaps.

    I smiled most at 5d 10a and 18a

    Many thanks for sharing, congratulations

    • Gazza
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      You have to split your 13a answer 1,3.

      • dutch
        Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        right, thanks, that probably means i have the wrong answer

        • dutch
          Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          ok got it now, thanks. brb lists the answer as the 4th entry in intransitive verbs “to make one’s way (archaic)”. Not sure i like the clue, but it’s hard to separate that sentiment from not getting it. Seems to me it would have been easy to put simpler words in the grid (head, lead, lend, tend, etc)

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Many thanks, Dutch, I’m glad you found it enjoyable.

  7. Rabbit Dave
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I loved this. It was not too difficult but great fun from start to finish with smooth surfaces throughout. 24a was a new term for me, but the answer couldn’t have been anything else. I liked the word diminutive in the clue for 23d – what a shame its use has become so common that it is now in the BRB with that meaning in its own right.

    Lots of potential favourites to choose from, but I’ll settle for the marvellously succinct 19a.

    Very well done Silvanus and many thanks for the entertainment.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Many thanks, RD.

      Great to hear that you liked it. It feels very strange commenting on a Rookie puzzle on a Thursday instead of a Monday, my time clock needs adjusting!

  8. pommers
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Splendid stuff and certainly not a mind bender. Favourite was 10a but it’s a bit unfair to single out one clue from all the other good stuff.

    Well done Silvanus, bring on another as soon as you like.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Thanks a lot, Pommers. Much appreciated :smile:

  9. Beet
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I test solved this one yonks ago so it was nice to be able to solve it again this morning. Glad to see everyone seems to have enjoyed it as much as I did. Very well done Silvanus. :good:

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      It was ages ago, I agree, but it was much the better for your valuable input at the time for sure. :smile:

  10. crypticsue
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Hooray my tablet works at work and I can comment :yahoo:
    Thanks to Silvanus for an enjoyable if short-lived crossword. My few quibbles have already been mentioned above so I will press comment and see if this gets through

    • crypticsue
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Oops I forgot to say thank you to the very nice men who each sent me a pdf of the puzzle so I could print and solve it :rose: :rose:

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks a lot, CS – sorry to hear about your various access issues this week.

  11. spindrift
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Nothing to frighten the horses here but enjoyable nonetheless. Completed on a print out while rebooting for the 5th time this morning – bloody computers – if my car was as bad as my computer it would now be confined to the scrap yard. – time to bite the bullet & flash some cash.

    Thanks Silvanus, you probably helped in me not going next door to kick their cat ( we haven’t got one)

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Thank you very much, Spindrift, glad that you enjoyed the solve.

  12. Young Salopian
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I’ve not attempted a Rookie before, but I obviously have too much time on my hands this afternoon waiting for an electrician to call, as he promised he would. I am old enough to know better really.

    A nicely balanced puzzle. Gold star, Silvanus.

    • spindrift
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      The Rookies tend to be more accessible than the weekly back pagers which (IMHO) get harder as the week progresses – especially most Fridays (no names, no pack drill).

      Keep with ’em as it’s a “special service” BD introduced following a campaign for a Toughie on Mondays & he came up with this belting idea.

  13. silvanus
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, YS, but please don’t wait for another 99 Rookie puzzles before you try your next one (even if your time is limited). I’m sure I can speak for my fellow setters in saying that we hope you’ll become a regular solver from now on.

    • Young Salopian
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I shall certainly include it in my list of crosswords in future. As long as a puzzle is accessible in terms of being fairly clued and enjoyable, I am always up for it. Hence my obsession with the back-pagers for so many years.

  14. Hilary
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    5a foxed me as I had not met it with that meaning before, liked 13a because I spotted it, needed some electronic help with several answers but for relative beginner I felt happyish. Perhaps I will be brave and add the Rookies to my repertoire from now on. Roll on answers to see how many I have got right. Thank you to Silvanus. :phew: off to have restorative cup of tea.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Hilary,

      Many thanks for having a go. Rookie Corner would be pleased to welcome you whenever you choose to drop by, so I hope that on future Mondays you will pay us all a visit. :smile:

  15. jean-luc cheval
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t expecting to solve a third crossword today but Hey Ho, a man has to do what a man has to do and all that jazz.
    I’m stuck on 6d and 12a.
    Otherwise I only needed to check the Real Madrid footballer.
    Loved the Yoda in 10a. Very clever clue IMHO.
    19a is very smooth indeed.
    Great fun.
    Thanks to Silvanus.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks a lot, JL.

      I’m glad that this temporary move from Monday to Thursday didn’t deter you!

    • Maize
      Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      With 6d, you could pretty much draw a line across the page between those old enough to remember this contraption and those too young – you may well be in the latter camp Jean-Luc, in which case you have no sympathy from me!
      12a is a strange clue, but try to soar to the necessary level…

  16. Jane
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Good grief – it took until this afternoon to persuade the site to cough up the pdf, until midnight to get a posting up and then…….it completely disappeared. I’m so sorry, Silvanus, I wouldn’t dream of not doing your puzzle.
    Not all quite the walk in the park that others have mentioned. The ‘hiddens’ at 22a&24d took far longer to emerge than I’m prepared to admit and I’d never come across the sentimental ballad before. As for the Welsh footballer – yes, I know I live in Wales but that doesn’t mean that I’m remotely interested in football!
    Really don’t want to play favourites – so many more got added in retrospect – but I’ll be fair and go with the original tick list – 10,11&18a. I know the pro’s tend to go for the more ‘difficult’ clues – I just pick the ones that made me smile the most.
    Many thanks for a great Rookie on an unexpected day, Silvanus, and thanks to Prolixic for the extra tour of duty.

    Now – will this go through……..

    • silvanus
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      I knew you wouldn’t disappoint, Jane, many thanks!

      Sorry to hear that you’ve encountered such problems with the site recently, especially when for most of us it seems to be working the best it has for ages. Fingers crossed that the gremlins leave Anglesey well alone from now on!

  17. silvanus
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Many thanks as ever to Prolixic for his review and to everyone who tackled the puzzle even if they didn’t specifically comment.

    I’m also indebted once again to both Beet and Sprocker without whose test-solving abilities and helpful suggestions the puzzle would have been very much the poorer.

    My intention going forward is to try to crank up the difficulty level a notch or two with future puzzles, but I hope this will not mean a diminution of either the surface quality or the enjoyment factor.

    Finally, a special mention to Big Dave as we approach the end of a particularly trying week for him personally, and as we look forward to a century of Rookie puzzles next week, thank you for everything sir!

    • dutch
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Thanks as well to prolixic and congratulations again Silvanus. If you want to up the difficulty (be careful!) perhaps having not-quite-so-helpful definitions would be a sufficient step for your next effort. Remember there is nothing wrong with an easy puzzle; I imagine the audience is far greater. And careful with your links, e.g. 6d i thought “for” was the wrong way round. But most of all, enjoy – and keep sharing your fun, it’s a real pleasure. Thanks again.

  18. snape
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the late arrival. I did enjoy this, there’s nothing wrong with a slightly easier puzzle, it’s how much enjoyment there is, and this had plenty.
    10a in particular caused a chuckle, and I liked the elegant reverse lurker, but there were many other crackers, 23d reminded me of the sketch which might have been Monty Python, or written by Terry Jones for another show, where a policeman walks in to the station.
    “Morning, super”
    “Morning, wonderful”

    Good to see, too, that you are luring new people in here, hopefully they will come back now they have seen this. Lots of great crosswords. Hilary, YoungSalopian, try the back catalogue too. I’d particularly recommend Maize’s latest, and Beet’s Glastonbury, but they are all worth trying. Perhaps submit one yourself?

    Many thanks, Silvanus, and Prolixic for the review.

    • silvanus
      Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks a lot, Snape.

      I think the sketch you mentioned featured Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in one of their first appearances together on The Frost Report in the 1960s before they teamed up for The Two Ronnies a few years later. In the same series they combined with John Cleese for the legendary sketch about class (“I look up to him (Cleese) because he’s upper class, but I look down on him (Corbett) because he’s working class” etc.). Classic stuff.

      • snape
        Posted March 5, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        That is a classic, but not the one I was thinking of. I’ve been dredging my memory, and I don’t think I’ve actually seen the sketch I’m talking about, just an interview with Terry Jones in which he described it, and said it was the first sketch of his to appear on telly, and it was on The Ken Dodd Show.
        This may be nonsense, I don’t know whether there was even a show called the Ken Dodd show. Strange what random things you remember/make up.

        • silvanus
          Posted March 5, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

          Morning Super!

          On further research, it seems as though it was the first-ever sketch involving the Two Ronnies (as they later became known) and it was on The Frost Report in 1966. You are right that it was written by Terry Jones (and Michael Palin). Their writing partnership continued of course into Monty Python and beyond a couple of years later.

          • snape
            Posted March 6, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

            That’s good detective work – I haven’t found it yet, although it does seem they wrote for the Ken Dodd show, I guess he also talked about that in the same interview and I just mixed it the details.

  19. Pulham
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Having been on hotel wi-fi for a few days I’m another who’s looked in late this week, but it was well worth the wait.

    I’ll go for 6 down as my favourite, with 21d a close second for the less common synonym for “lock”. Liked a lot of other clues too, especially the double definitions; I always think they are hard to pull off smoothly. Had a bit of trouble in the NW corner, being convinced that the homophonic boy taking stock must have something to do with Robin. Only when I spotted that the car in 9a is the one I was driving for 3 hours this morning did I get moving again…. Last one in was 10a, only vaguely aware of the definition (thought it was only an adjective actually) and having no knowledge of Yoda don’t really get it.

    Thanks Silvanus, lovely puzzle, looking forward to your next one.

  20. silvanus
    Posted March 4, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Much appreciated, Pulham. Very glad you enjoyed it.

  21. JollySwagman
    Posted March 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Nice puzzle Silvanus. Not difficult – about like an Everyman – but still plenty to chew on. In the real world there’s probably more demand for puzzles like that than for the ones at the trickier end of the spectrum.

    I didn’t identify any real peaches but I found most of the clues very enjoyable to solve – and no quibbles..

    I thought 19a was particularly neat.

    Sorry to be so late. I only got hold of it on Saturday – solved it on Sunday – but I’ve had trouble getting in since then.

    Many thanks.