Rookie Corner – 105 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 105

A Puzzle by Encota

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a third puzzle from Encota. 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 crossword by Prolixic follows.

I solved this whilst waiting for an early morning flight to Edinburgh.  As I was late back into London, the review has been delayed, for which apologies.  This was a lot easier than his previous puzzles and there are only a few points on the clues.


1 Arab chief promoted, we hear, and reorganisation follows (5-2)
SHAKE UP – A homophone (we hear) of Sheik up (Arab chief promoted).

5 Endeavour was one sleuth Thaw’s leadership cultivated (7)
SHUTTLE – An anagram (cultivated) of SLEUTH T (Thaw’s leading letter – leadership).  I don’t think that leadership (meaning direction, control or authority) works as an initial letter indicator.

9 Being sexist, hence these two must be topless (9)
EXISTENCE – Remove the first letters (these two must be topless) from sexist and hence.

10 Chap I’m exchanging for a central African primate (5)
CHIMP – Replace the A in CHAP with the “I’M” from the clue.

11 Adds a finishing touch to peridot signet piece (4,1)
DOTS I – The answer is hidden in (piece) PERIDOT SIGNET.  I suspect that this is a made up phrase based on the old expression of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.  The answer is not, as far as I have been able to find, ever used on its own.

12 Steer off-course approaching head – then it’s to the point (9)
TERSENESS – An anagram (off-course) of STEER followed by another word for a head of land.  I am not sure that the answer matches the same part of speech as the definition even if you include the it’s as part of the definition.

14 Ordinary pudding? (5-3-6)
BREAD-AND-BUTTER – A double definition of a traditional pudding and something ordinary as in simple and everyday.

17 Some stain buses appallingly from too much drink? Quite the reverse, quite the reverse! (14)
ABSTEMIOUSNESS – An anagram (appallingly) of SOME STAIN BUSSES.  The clue works as wordplay from definition with the second “quite the reverse” telling us that the correct reading is “definition from wordplay”.

21 Attack! Laugh for the last time! Attack! (9)
ONSLAUGHT – A five letter word meaning attack has the E (last time) replaced with the LAUGH from the clue.  Some editors would not be happy with last time to indicate the final letter of time.

23 Superman actor for ever turning, circling Spain? (5)
REEVE – Reverse (turning) the EVER from the clue around the IVR for Spain.  The construction definition for wordplay seems back to front.

24 Clumsy in every practical task, at least initially (5)
INEPT – The IN from the clue followed by the initial letters of every practical task.

25 Make something of bric-a-brac in future (9)
FABRICATE – Some of the letters (something of or a portion of) in bric-a-brac go inside a word meaning future.  Not all editors would accept a loose construction of take some unspecified number of letters.

26 Back from Berne, Dior rested every second (7)
ENDORSE – The even letters (every second) in BERNDIORESTED.

27 Tremendous Knowledge Dave – perhaps e could be (liberally) so described? (7)
EGGHEAD – You need to know your quiz shows for the team on which “Tremendous Knowledge Dave” appears.  The second part of the clue indicates how the letter E could be clued in a libertarian fashion if the answer were split 3,4.


1 Perversely stayed sober! (6)
STEADY – An anagram (perversely) of STAYED.

2 Through with the Tour, not suitable for all, supporting a Roland Garros for example (7)
AVIATOR – A word meaning through (as in I am going through A to get to B) followed by the TOUR from the clue without the letter meaning suitable for all, all underneath (supporting) the A from the clue.

3 Ate most of extra 99 before rescue! (9)
EXTRICATE – The first four letters (most of) extra followed by the alleged (to crossword setters, as it is not an accurate representation) number 99 in Roman numerals followed by the ATE from the clue.

4 Gaining access to great tenpin bowling (11)
PENETRATING – An anagram (bowling) of GREAT TENPIN.

5 She may take you to court? (3)
SUE – Double definition of a lady’s name and a legal action.

6 Largely dirty old man’s brother maybe (5)
UNCLE – Most (all but the last two letters) of a word meaning dirty.  The use of largely to indicate the removal of an unknown number of letters would not be acceptable to all editors.

7 Third State Secret half-hidden in dry lining (7)
TRISECT – The state code for Rhode Island followed by half of the word secret all inside the abbreviation for dry (as in not drinking alcohol).

8 In finance, overextended commitment results from losing shirt in former position (8)
EXPOSURE – A two letter word meaning former followed by a word meaning position from which the letter T (for shirt) has been removed.

13 Formidable trouble to Bluebeard (11)
REDOUBTABLE – An anagram (trouble) of TO BLUEBEARD.

15 Arsenal informally without wingers is superior to Frenchman’s twenty most intimidating? (9)
UNNERVING – The nickname for Arsenal without the first and last letters (without wingers) above (is superior to) the French word for twenty with the last letter removed (most).  I think mostly would have been better as a delete the last letter indicator.

16 It runs over 8 furlongs, and may supply pots! (8)
CAMOMILE – what may go into tea pots…  The name of a river followed by the abbreviation for over and the distance represented by 8 furlongs.

18 Cost containment makes us delay (7)
SUSPEND – The US from the clue inside (containment) a word meaning cost.  The makes is redundant, the language Yoda like and not the best clue of the bunch.

19 Look at Jimmy playing Guitar Weeping? (7)
SEEPAGE – A three letter word meaning look followed by the surname of the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy.

20 Table foot? (6)
LEGEND – A table containing explanations is also, split 3,3, where the foot would be found.

22 Later found between the rafters (5)
AFTER – The answer is hidden in RAFTERS.

25 Antenna – now half price! (3)
FEE – Half of the word FEELER (antenna).

92 comments on “Rookie Corner – 105

  1. Really good stuff Encota, we did enjoy it. The two that gave us most challenge to work out were 7d and 16d with a real penny drop moment with both of them. However the top clue for us, and we are sure that Kath will be in total agreement, is 5a. Wonderful misdirection. Not a rapid solve but there were enough easier clues scattered throughout the grid to supply a few checkers and keep the flow going.
    Well done and many thanks Encota.

    1. Hi 2Kiwis, thanks for the feedback and pleased you liked 5a! I wasn’t 100% happy with the surface of 16d – I briefly toyed with adding “…(but not of glue)” to improve the surface but quickly decided it lacked taste.

  2. Well that was fun. A really buoyant feel to it somehow. I thought it was going to be easier than your previous offerings after 1a/1d, but I suspect you did that deliberately to give us a foothold… plenty of your usual trickery thereafter!
    Like the 2Kiwis, I also really enjoyed 5a, which pipped 9a to be my favourite clue. The third on my particular podium was 24a.
    Some ‘innovative’ clueing devices in there – I shall leave it to Prolixic to say which should or shouldn’t be allowed, but suffice to say it was all solvable (with a little Google help on 2d), with the SE corner being last to fall.
    Many thanks indeed, Encota. :)

    1. Hi Maize, many thanks for the feedback. Re. innovative clueing I too will be interested in Prolixic’s view – though I ‘think’ all meet the ‘is it fair on the solver?’ test. I won’t comment on any specific clue parsing before tomorrow’s review, however much I am tempted.

  3. Brillaint, well done Encota.

    I managed this before the school run, so if you were deliberately trying to make it easier than your previous puzzle, it worked. You’ve picked a number of words that aren’t the easiest to clue, so respect.

    I really liked 25a and 19d. I thought 13d was very good, as was 7d. Actually, there’s loads to like.

    I’m not sure I’ve got all of the parsing: the first part of 16d confused me, I don’t know why “central african” is needed in 10d, in 18d I see all the components but I’m struggling to read the cryptic instruction as intended, and I might be missing something in 21a and 27a – so I look forward to the review

    Great fun, many thanks

    1. Hi Dutch, pleased you liked it and thanks for the specific f/b on particular clues. Though tempted to comment on specific parsing I’ll hold off until after tomorrow.

  4. Definitely more solver-friendly than your previous puzzle, so many thanks for that, Encota. In certain cases, say 5d and 22d, you perhaps went too far the other way in making the answers too obvious, but that could have been intentional?

    A lot of invention and many clever constructions were evident, so full marks for that, but I did find several of the surfaces either very contrived or at best unconvincing, such as 23a, 2d and 15d. 27a was known to me, but I suspect many solvers would need to resort to Google.

    My favourites have already been mentioned, i.e. 5a and 9a, but I also liked 13d for being an unexpected anagram.

    Many thanks, Encota.

    1. S. 2d parses OK for me: Through = VIA, the tour, not suitable for all = TO(u)R (ie, without the U – the film classification for Universal or “suitable for all”, all supporting A from the clue gives the answer AVIATO(u)R. And the definition “Roland Garros for example” is the famous French aviator. All very straightforward.

      1. I agree, the parsing is fine, my issue was with the unconvincing meaning the surface conveyed (and with Roland Garros being preceded with an indefinite article).

        1. But Roland Garros isn’t really preceded by an indefinite article – it would be if this was a piece of precise literature, but it is a cryptic crossword clue or a word puzzle and you need to place an imaginary comma after the ‘a’ to leave “Roland Garros” for example is isolation. “Supporting a” is just a devise to place the ‘a’ at the top of the word and the exclusion of the comma is just crafty misdirection.

          1. I’m at a loss to understand how the insertion of your “imaginary comma” would help the surface reading or to see what “supporting a” could possibly mean in isolation without anything following it.

            Perhaps we should just agree to disagree, please!

            1. The “supporting a” is an obvious device in the clue merely to place the ‘a’ at the top of the word. “Roland Garross for example” (the definition) needs to be read separately (from the ‘a’) and the imaginary comma or = after the ‘a’ would achieve that. As thus: Through with the Tour, not suitable for all, supporting a = “Roland Garross” for example. I can’t make it any more lucid or obvious than that.

    2. S. 2d parses OK for me: Through = VIA, the tour, not suitable for all = TO(u)R (ie, without the U – the film classification for Universal or “suitable for all”, all supporting A from the clue gives the answer AVIATO(u)R. And the definition “Roland Garros for example” is the famous French aviator. Very straightfoward.

    3. S. Similarly, 15d is straightforward to parse and is an excellent clue: Arsenal informally without wingers = (g)UNNER(s); is superior to = is on top of, in this down clue: Frenchman’s twenty most = most of the French word for twenty: VING(t) and intimidating is the definition, giving the answer: (g)UNNER(s)VING(t).

      1. I suspect you and I have widely differing views on what constitutes a good surface! A clue can be 100% technically sound and able to be parsed satisfactorily, but if the sense and meaning provided in the surface are questionable, then for me (and it seems others), this detracts from the overall quality of the clue.

        1. I see nothing hugely wrong with the surface – the clue is technically sound and parses well, therefore it is a fine cryptic clue. For me, surfaces are not the most important facet of a clue because they are not pieces of precise literature.

          1. I would agree with you Jose that the underlying cryptic grammar must always trump the surface – but ah, what joy when the surface points smoothly in one direction and the cryptic elements lead smoothly to the answer in a quite different direction!

            1. M. I’m not sure if you are being peskily ironic, but if you are not then I agree wholeheartedly with you. A clue where the surface points in one direction and the cryptic elements lead to the answer in another direction? What brilliant misdirection that is!

              1. For example, the classic ‘Bar of soap (7,7)’ for the answer ‘Rovers Return’. Surface reading points one way, but the cryptic reading (literally because it’s hidden) points in another.
                So my point is that, whilst the surface meaning doesn’t matter as much as the cryptic grammar, it still counts for something, so should be as good as possible.

                1. M. I think we’re in agreement and your clue epitomises what I was saying about surface misdirection.

          2. I’ve commented on this below but I don’t think it is “technically” sound – I think it needs to be “mostly”, certainly based on feedback I’ve had myself on clues I’ve written in the last year or so.

    4. Hi Silvanus and many thanks for the constructive feedback. I am pleased you find it more solver-friendly!

  5. Very enjoyable, Encota,
    I’m afraid I’m really short of time this week (so appreciated a much gentler puzzle), but fortunately I agree with everything that everyone else has said, and would go along with what Silvanus said about the surfaces, and with his comment about the invention and clever constructions, and also with his favourites. The wordplay in 16d also tickled me, although it was a pity the definition part was a bit of a non-sequitur.
    Many thanks.

  6. Good stuff – thanks Encota. Lots to enjoy – I particularly liked 9a and 16d. I had to Google the specific Dave in 27a (I thought at first that it might be referring to BD!) and I can’t really parse 18d.

      1. When I try and parse it, my mind can’t get beyond cost containment = containment of cost, which delivers things the wrong way round. “Containment in cost” would work for me.

    1. HI Gazza and many thanks for the feedback. I’m pretty sure 18d works, but won’t comment PP (Pre-Prolixic).

    2. G. 18d: I can’t parse it exactly either – would it be better thus: Cost containing us makes delay = S(us)PEND? But I guess that wouldn’t present a “good surface”, even to me.

  7. Suffice to say as often seems to be the case, I agree completely with Silvanus.

    I can’t fully unravel the wordplay for 21a, 27a and 7d, and look forward to the review tomorrow.

    Many thanks, Encota, for a very enjoyable and amusing puzzle.

  8. Thanks Encota, that was good fun.
    Seem to have the same problems parsing some of my answers but I am sure everything will be explained in the review.
    Tried so hard to make 20d a double def until the penny dropped. D’oh.
    Loved 5a and 9a also.
    Favourite is 16d for it’s great construction.
    Thanks again.

  9. As Silvanus said, this was definitely more solver-friendly than previous Encota puzzles but I still had to look up football teams, guitarists and knowledgeable Dave. Also got thrown by wondering how the French Open was going to figure in 2d!
    Again in line with Silvanus, I wasn’t overly convinced by some of the surface reads, but there were also some excellent clues along the way.
    Not quite completed the parsing of 7&18d.

    My podium places go to 5a,8d and 1a because it made me laugh.

    Many thanks, Encota – for me, this was your most enjoyable puzzle to date.

    1. Hi Jane and thanks for the feedback! Re. guitarists and Tremendous Knowledge Dave I purposely strayed out of my usual attempt to be Times-crossword-rules compliant and included living people this time. I felt a bit out of my comfort zone doing so!

  10. I found this a curious mix – some nice straightforward clues, but also quite tough in places, and had to resort to some revealing (11a, 16d, 21a, 20d)

    Particularly liked 1a, 5a with it’s misdirected hints of Morse, 14a, 17a (though don’t quite see why “quite the reverse” is needed twice) and 26a – tricky to make these work for a full word of that length. I suspect there are few others I would admire if only I could persuade the penny to drop – see below.

    11a I don’t this is a recognised phrase; one generally talks about “dotting THE Is and crossing THE Ts”. I can’t persuade my version of crossword compiler to offer this as a potential answer. Trouble is, with those crossers it doesn’t offer anything else either!

    16d, had to reveal. “It runs” for Cam” is pretty tough, partly because there are about two dozen verbal meanings of “run” and one hell of a lot of 3 letter rivers. I think it’s quite a loose definition too – but perhaps I’m biased as I don’t drink tea in any form and didn’t get anywhere near it.

    5d, I don’t think you really need the question mark, or if it’s there to show it’s a tad cryptic then perhaps make the clue read as a question e.g. “Might she take you to court?”

    27d, love the wordplay, not absolutely sure the definition works – perhaps could be smoother

    I’m struggling to parse quite a lot of answers:

    21a even though LAUGH seems to come straight from the clue
    2d I see someone’s explained that above, fair enough, though personally I wouldn’t call it very straightforward
    7d, get the SEC but not the rest
    8d, UR in EX+POSE? But don’t see where UR comes from or what losing shirt has to do with it
    13d Some sort of anagram involving “trouble” I assume, but can’t see an obvious anagram indicator and don’t get how the rest of the fodder is defined
    15d Like the “Arsenal informally” for gunners, but I didn’t at the time see how you are losing the T from VINGT. I see above that it’s apparently “Frenchman’s twenty most”, but I don’t think that works – I think it has to be “mostly”
    18d, Can see what you intend I think, but not certain it works, but will leave to expert
    20d I get, and like, leg end for foot, but can’t see how table fits in unless it’s DD that I can’t spot
    25d, half of some word meaning antenna I assume, but can’ think of one

    Hopefully more enlightenment will appear as the day goes on!

    Nice puzzle, unusual to find one that’s solvable with so many unparsed, which I guess suggests that if the wordplay was tough the definition wasn’t, and vice versa.

    Thanks Encota

    1. Hi Starhorse and many thanks for the feedback. I won’t comment on specifics until PP (Post Prolixic) though I think I gently agree and gently disagree with you in roughly equal measure! Very useful, thank you.

    2. About 20D, I think that what is called table here is more usually referred to as a key or legend, i.e., the explanatory ‘box’ than denotes the meaning of colors or symbols in a graph.

    3. 8d. The T comes from losing shirt (T-shirt) from the word expos(T)ure (or ex-posture). Exposture is just a synonym for exposure.
      13d. Formidable (definition) = trouble (angrind) to Bluedeard (anag. letters).
      18d. Would the clue be better as: Cost containing us makes delay: S(us)PEND?
      20d. It’s a straight double definition, I think. Legend (leg-end or foot) and legend, a table or list of explanatory matter.
      25d. Antenna, or feeler . Half of FEE(ler) = price.
      Have to go – times up on this computer!

    4. Hi Starhorse,
      Thanks again for the comments. I think most have been addressed by others…
      – re. 20a I agree with both you and Prolixic entirely, ‘mostly’ is correct and better. I suspect in fifty years time (but what do I know!) use of, for example, ‘First mate’ to provide wordplay for M and ‘topmost’ to provide either M or TO will be more widely accepted (e.g. even by The Times!), but the grammatically correct are absolutely right to defend the current position and I would be surprised to see it happen everywhere for a very long time!
      – 11a, I was sure I’d a definition found somewhere I could defend here, but can’t immediately find it. In one of Sympathy’s extended dictionaries, perhaps?
      – 16d, fair comment. Previous discussions about rivers, flowers and fish come to mind – there are often so (too) many to choose from, but with CAMOMILE at least I hoped the ….OMILE would give it away!
      – 5d, I agree with both your ideas, thanks. And I’m trying to cut down on my QMs, following f/b on puzzles I’ve created since this one!
      – 27d, wasn’t sure which you were referring to?

  11. Hi Starhorse,

    21a – think of a 5 letter word for an attack, then replace the last letter of ‘the’ with laugh.
    8d – try splitting the answer 2,6 and then putting the T (shirt) back in.
    13d – you’re using the wrong word(s) to make the anagram.
    20d – look up synonyms for ‘legend’.
    25d – an antenna is also known as a feeler.

    Hope that helps.

    1. Thanks for the hint on 20d. I thought it was a kind of all in one sort of pun thing. Should have double checked the answer.

    2. Oops – sorry, Starhorse. Hint for 20a should have read ‘last letter of ‘time’!

    3. Hi Jane, thanks. All very helpful. I still can’t see any sense or synonym of legend that also means table. What am I missing? I could try combining tale and fable but that’s not really allowed!

  12. That was good fun.
    I have quite a few answers that I don’t understand – mainly the same ones that others have already mentioned.
    Mr Google has been working overtime for me today so thanks to him.
    I liked 9a and 16d but my favourite, as predicted by the Kiwis, was 5a because it just had to be!
    With thanks and congratulations to Encota and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi Kath and thank you for the feedback! I am slightly intrigued by how (the) 2Kiwis were so sure you’d be a fan of 5a!? Is it possible to enlighten me?

      1. Because they know that I love anything to do with Morse – we live in Oxford and I just loved John Thaw anyway.

        1. Hi Kath,
          I thought as much but didn’t want to presume!
          Have you seen or invested already in Paul Taylor’s (aka Towser in The Listener) Inspector Morse – A Literary Companion? He showed me a copy a couple of weeks back and it looked fascinating if you’re interested in some of the Morse detail! Includes some puzzles too. I also read a good review of it at (if that’s not a wind-up for someone living in Oxford)

          1. Thank you – no, I’ve never heard of or seen anything about this but will investigate it further – it’ll probably make me cry! When I occasionally took my wonderful collie for a walk in the University Parks we used to bump into Colin Dexter sometimes.

  13. My printer is dead (buying a new one this morning) so for the first time I tried doing it on line. I was a good halfway through and had to put it aside. I thought it would automatically save what I did, but I came back to a blank grid. Is there a way to save a half-completed puzzle?

    1. Hi Chris,
      Had the same problem with a dead printer last weekend. When you bring up the grid, there should be some little boxes to click on at the left hand side – one of which is marked ‘save’. Worked OK for me.

  14. So 16d isn’t FAVORITE then. “Runs over 8 furlongs & provides pots (of money?)”.

    Good stuff & a great start to my first day of being retired.

    1. Hi spindrift, perhaps the Grand National worked out well yesterday for you ;-) Congratulations on the retirement!

  15. I enjoyed this one and it was much more in my comfort zone than your first puzzle, I ‘m sure you must have deliberately made this one easier as there is such a noticeable difference, so well done on showing that level of versatility . My favourites were 9a and 13d

    1. Hi Beet – thanks for the feedback. Yes you are right, I did go out my way to adjust; I suspect that writing a Listener puzzle in parallel has also allowed me to satisfy my desire for writing tougher stuff!

  16. An enjoyable puzzle with some lovely stuff – thanks Encota. I found it pretty tricky but with enough footholds that I didn’t need any hardcore cheating (like letter hints). I did, however, employ a little cheeky internettage.

    I have a few parsing queries but they can wait for the review. I’m struggling to pick a favourite because there are many contenders. Others have already highlighted the clues I liked, so I don’t really have anything specific to add – sorry.

    Thanks again, Encota. I look forward to your next one.

  17. Evening folks,

    Only just returned home from a day in Edinburgh so review will have to await until Tuesday evening

  18. Hi Encota, thanks for the puzzle, it was a good tussle with some lovely clues, particularly 9, 14 & 26a and 1, 4 & 6d. I finished without fully parsing 17a and 8d, so will be interested to see the review..

  19. I am now the proud possessor of a brand new printer AND I have completed the crossword . Did it on line earlier while waiting for my computer guru , otherwise known as grandson, to come and do the set up so I don’t have my usual scribbled notes. Thanks Jane…don’t know how I missed the “save” tab! There were 3 or 4 I couldn’t properly parse but managed the correct answer (since the online version congratulated me at the end) and I did enjoy the puzzle and thought it was pitched just right. Thanks, Encota. Going back now to read the comments.

    1. Thanks for the feedback ExPat Chris and pleased you liked it. And good luck with the printer setup!

      1. 16-year old grandson sailed through it, remote printing and all! It amazes me how confident and savvy today’s teens are with this stuff.

    2. That made me smile, Chris. When my new printer turned up last week, I was told by both daughters: – LEAVE IT ALONE,MUM until one of us can get over to set it up. Trouble is, I know they’re right to say so!

    3. I think the online puzzles on this web site congratulate you for completion, but I’m not sure correctness is checked (i think i remember getting the message with wrong answers)

  20. Hi Encota,

    I thought this was really good, with some very inventive clueing, and just right for me on difficulty (i.e. a bit toned down from your previous ones! ). Quite a few candidates to pick from but i’ll go with 5a as my favourite.

    1. Hi Sprocker. Many thanks for the feedback – and I’m pleased I got the difficulty level about right!

  21. First of all, many thanks to Prolixic for his insightful review (as ever) and also to test-solvers crypticsue and Steve. Crypticsue also helped by encouraging me to keep my clues not too difficult and to go with the flow when writing them – thanks Sue!
    More thoughts on specific clues and Prolixic’s comments below, as much for my own notes as anything else. Finally thanks to everyone who’ve tried it and commented.


    1. Great idea in the Arsenal one to change ‘most’ to ‘mostly’ – noted.
    2. I need to get more accurate with my start and end indicators!
    3. ‘For’ as a linkword – I’ve been running with the theory that I can use this either way round. What am I missing? Any thoughts?
    4. Be more precise if acting on multiple numbers of letters, to satisfy the stricter editors. Eg 6d.
    5. With 18d my reading is: ‘If cost (SPEND) is in the act of containing US then it turns US into SUSPEND.’ Still seems ok to me, tho the Yoda-ish comment is probably fair? I expect I am just too close to see clearly here!

    1. re 5: The “if…is in….” bit is not visible to the solver, so instead I read ” cost (SPEND) the act of containing US makes US the answer” – if anything, that would tempt me to place US in SPEND. “Containment in cost makes us delay” would work for me.

      i think 10a also works without the central african? seems like extra detail

      many thanks again

      1. Hi Dutch,
        Useful comment on 5, thanks.
        Re. 10, you are of course right, I could have done without it. However, I sometimes feel that, when I check the definition of a word and part of the def. looks highly suitable for crossword-ese misdirection (i.e. the solver then has to consider whether the I in Afr-I-can has a role in the wordplay) then it’s often irresistible to include it! But you are right, I didn’t need it.

      1. Hi Maize, thanks for the pointer. I’m certain I have read it before but I will re-visit and re-absorb as I always find his view extremely valuable and it can sometimes take a few reads for it all to fully sink in
        (anyone would think I was trying to tease the grammarists over in peden’ts corner ;-) Trouble is that I am probably one of them!).

  22. Good to see you back in time to bring us the review, Prolixic, for which many thanks, as always. I wonder whether Edinburgh was a destination of choice or perhaps No.1 son has decided upon it as a uni. location?

    As far as the puzzle is concerned I was relieved to see some of your comments and delighted to get a full parsing of 7d but have to say that I had no problem at all with ‘leadership’ in 5a or ‘last time’ in 21a. If those are just crossword convention issues than I guess we have to live with them for now but, if a middle of the road solver like myself can deal with them relatively easily, doesn’t that give them some justification?

    Many thanks again to both yourself and to Encota. Hope he keeps to a similar level of difficulty in future puzzles for the mainstream of the BD gang!

  23. Thanks for the review, Prolixic. You have answered my questions and brought welcome clarity. All much appreciated, as always.

    (Btw – an extra S has crept into 17a to make some BUSSES.)

  24. Encota – One more question on 2D (sorry!), after reading the exchange between Jose and Maize. What was the surface reading you were actually going for, regarding ‘Roland Garros’? Given the single quotes and mention of a Tour (without knowing why it was capitalised), I interpreted it as the work of an artist (hence the quotes?) and seen during a tour of a gallery!

    So far I only really do the Telegraph puzzles (inc the toughie) and I solved all but half a dozen of these in about half an hour, and a few of those I solved I couldn’t wholly parse – all of which have been discussed at length. I thought there was a striking mix of VERY easy clues … with some pretty gnarly ones indeed!

    Favourites were the lovely Endeavour reference in 5A (brilliant surface, one for me to aspire to in my own clues) and I really liked the wordplay of 21A (Attack! Attack!) even if I wasn’t convinced by the ‘last time’ bit for indicating the T.

    Great stuff!

    1. Hi Riggles,

      Re. 2D I was trying to hint at the world tennis Tour, with the French Open (I think that’s the right term and I’m not getting mixed up following recent golf from Augusta!) being played at the Roland Garros stadium.



      1. Thanks Encota – then why the single quotes for the name of a stadium? I’ll let it go now I promise, I enjoy the surface reading side of writing cryptic clues just as much as creating the cryptic clue itself.

        I’m also a big tennis fan (much more than golf though I do like sport very much indeed) and it’s definitely a bucket list item to go to the French Open… going to the US Open NYC last year was one of my best days ever :)

        1. Hi Riggles,
          With the WP format being A+VIA+TO(U)R, I needed a way of justifying the ‘a’ immediately before the name of the stadium/aviator. The least worst way in the surface to achieve this was the single inverted commas, I felt. Perhaps I missed a better way – more than likely!

  25. Oh another one I liked was 26A – I don’t write many of those ‘every other letter’-type clues because I’m lazy, basically! I thought the surface words you came up with to hide ENDORSE in this manner were really nice.

  26. Hi Encota – sorry to be so late to the party – in real life I’d just be tripping over a load of empty bottles. Despite having spent a large part of the week ruthlessly clearing out my laundry (or utility room – as they’re now apparently called) I managed to retain my copy of your puzzle.

    It was a fun solve. I didn’t have any quibbles.

    I ticked 17a, 2d, 6d, 8d, and 18d.

    27a I got despite Dave’s not having appeared yet down here – but I’ve seen him on YouTube. Eggheads here is about three years behind and now relegated to a graveyard slot because it was getting too popular.

    I’ve only skimmed over the other comments but in answer to your enumerated list in comment #21:

    1: Collins online: most: nearly all – mostly: almost entirely.

    One’s better than the other? Not on the planet I live on. Your version works best (or bestly) in the surface – so for me keep it as is – for ximeneans – look up their slogans – memorise and apply.

    2: Eg leadership as a first letter indication. It does kind of strongly suggest the one at the front to me – maybe I’m funny that way. It may strictly mean the state of being that one (as opposed to the one itself) or imply more than one (I’d certainly buy it for that) but since we were warned ahead of time that the puzzle is “cryptic”, I’ll buy it in this instance.

    3: “for” as a bi-directinal linkword. Collins gives (#14) “as being”, which would indicate equality – hence good both ways round.

    Peter Biddlecomber (in his ST comp write-ups) changed his mind on this one thus (thusly??):
    “I thought ‘for’ only worked as a link between definition and wordplay when the wordplay came first. But looking at the dictionary shows the meaning “as being” as in “We took him for the owner”. Apologies to any contestants whose clues have been ruled out on these grounds in the past.”

    4: I’ll skip that – “not be acceptable to all editors.” – I wonder which one(s).

    5: 18d I read as : Using SPEND (cost) to contain it makes US into SUSPEND (delay). Doesn’t work that way without “makes”.

    Obviously there are many ways to determine what is and isn’t acceptable in cluing. I tend to agree with the great setters of the past – Araucaria and Bunthorne of the Guardian – Barnard of the Telegraph rather than the writings of certain others – so there’s room for more than one point of view..

    Once again thanks for the fun.

    1. Hi JS,

      Very useful and thanks for taking the time to write your feedback – and I’m pleased you liked the puzzle.

      Re. changing words (laundry->utility; did it used to be scullery, or was that some other sort of carrot-scrubbing kitchen annexe?), I’m intrigued by the relatively recent use in the slightly bizarre world of restaurants & cooking programmes that everything now seems to come on a ‘soil’ of something or other. Call me old-fashioned but I can think of more appetising choices of words (let alone substances).

      Hope all goes well in your part of the world!


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