Rookie Corner – 110 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 110

A Puzzle by Wolfgang

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Some of you may have met Riggles at the Bridge House recently – well he has decided to us Wolfgang as his alias for setting so it is Goodbye Riggles and Welcome Wolfgang with his debut Rookie puzzle. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

Prolixic has updated his document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Wolfgang makes an excellent debut.  There were perhaps a few too many verbal phrases as definitions that did not quite hit the spot but there were come very good clues to savour.


1 Vicious fan? (4,6)
PUNK ROCKER – A cryptic definition of someone who is a fan of the music of Sid Vicious.

6 Hold on to beef, having thrown away sausage at last (4)
GRIP – Another word for grip or complain with the final letter (at last) of sausage removed (having thrown away).

9 Crack within two months in frozen ruin (10)
INSOLVENCY … financial ruin.  Another word for crack (as you might a crossword) goes inside a repeated letter that is used in the NATO alphabet and represented by the name of a month and these letters go inside another word for frozen.  The use of month requires a two stage solving process which perhaps goes a stage too far.  You have to get from month to November and then make an additional connection to the phonetic alphabet.

10 South Pacific capital has, first of all, a problem – inmate absent… (4)
APIA – … the capital of Samoa.  The initial letters (first of all) of the final four words of the clue.

12 … i.e. where is ‘23’? (2,5,5)
IN OTHER WORDS – A cryptic reference to the hidden word nature of the clue to 23d.

15 Genre ripe for reinvention – see flier (9)
PEREGRINE – An anagram (for reinvention) of GENRE RIPE.

17 Tends to be black and white, endlessly brazen in a silly way (5)
ZEBRA – An anagram (in a silly way) of BRAZEN with the final letter removed (endlessly).  Although you can have verbal phrases to lead to the answer, this might still be better as “It tends…” to indicate that you need a noun and not an adjective as the answer.  Also, the animal is black with white stripes, it does not tend to be so.

18 Horrid anagram: ‘back to front, covering up bottom’ (5)
NADIR – The answer is hidden and reversed (back to front, covering up) in HORRID ANAGRAM.

19 Provoke gallery over computing trouble (9)
TITILLATE – The name of a UK art gallery goes around (over) a two letter abbreviation for computing and a word meaning trouble.

20 He may set straight those that might chatter (12)
ORTHODONTIST – A cryptic definition of someone who works to correct the alignment of teeth.

24 “Relax,” a thunderous God said (4)
THAW – A homophone of Thor, the Norse God of thunder.  The homophone works for me.

25 Blair, one out of sorts in role, showing wear (10)
DURABILITY – An anagram (out of sorts) of BLAIR I (one) inside another word for a role or responsibility.

26 Vulgar clip’s intro is cut – it’s still vulgar (4)
RUDE – Remove (is cut) the first letter (intro) of clip from a word meaning vulgar to leave a word meaning vulgar.

27 Possible to revise test score? That’s conspicuous (10)
REMARKABLE – Double definition of a word meaning that something could be marked again and something conspicuous.


1 Father at home – bother! (4)
PAIN – A two letter word for father and a word meaning at home.

2 North is French’s refuge (4)
NEST – The abbreviation for North and the French verb meaning is.

3 Open venue offering slices, Parisian style? (6,6)
ROLAND GARROS – A cryptic definition of the France venue for tennis open.  I think that referring cryptically to the venue of a French tournament is possibly to much of a stretch for solvers who don’t have an interest in tennis.

4 Bust filled with treasure, possibly (5)
CHEST – A double definition of the bust and a container in which treasure may be found.

5 Rex’s cement mixing makes mess (9)
EXCREMENT – An anagram (mixing) of REX CEMENT.  Perhaps A has B mixing is not quite as elegant as A with B mixing.  Perhaps “Cement mixing with Rex creates a mess” would have been better.  Even then, as the only letter needing to moved is the R to after the C, it is not much of an anagram.

7 Clergyman, pub eater, tipsy character living in Nutwood (6,4)
RUPERT BEAR – An anagram (tipsy) of PUB EATER inside the abbreviation for a bishop (clergyman).  There is no containment indicator to tell you put the anagram inside the abbreviation for bishop.  The alternative construction of including the abbreviation as part of the anagram letters would create an indirect anagram which would not be acceptable. 

8 Form of fruit on the downturn? (4-6)
PEAR-SHAPED – A cryptic definition of a description of a situation that has gone downhill.

11 Manhattan may be stirred by such a thing? (7,5)
SWIZZLE STICK – A cryptic reference to that with which you would stir a cocktail such as a Manhatten.

13 Change under revolution creates a positive take on things (4,6)
SPIN DOCTOR – Another word for change after (under) a word meaning revolution or turn.  Perhaps “with one creating a positive take on things” would have been better.

14 Praise paper for pay-off (6,4)
CREDIT CARD – Another word for praise followed by the name of a stiff type of paper.  Another clue where the descriptive phrase might better be phrased “getting one paid-off”.

16 Add opening music before tennis tie for the audience (9)
INTRODUCE – A word for the opening music followed by a homophone (for the audience) of deuce (tennis tie).

21 Girl pockets one headdress (5)
TIARA – The letter representing one inside a girl’s name.

22 Member might be going it alone when out on this? (4)
LIMB – A part of the body used in the phrase “out on a ????”.

23 Unit stashed in grubby tent (4)
BYTE – The answer is hidden inside GRUBBY TENT.

58 comments on “Rookie Corner – 110

  1. A very competent debut offering from Wolfgang. A nice level of difficulty for us, quite a bit of head-scratching required but nothing diabolical. Several chuckles along the way but the LOL was when we twigged 1a.
    Thanks Wolfgang.

  2. Hi Wolfgang, and well done on your first Rookie puzzle. I seemed to be on wavelength, and moved through fairly quickly – perhaps which part of the clue was the definition was fairly easy to spot, I’m not sure. That’s no bad thing.

    I did like the cryptic definitions though, even though I got them quite quickly (such as 20a). 1a, 6a I liked. 9a reads well, but month=n? 12a looks like a clue I would really like, but I don’t yet understand. Many other likes, too 26a (prob my favourite), 3d, 11d, 21d, 23d.
    There were a few clues where I wasn’t convinced the form of the definition matched the form of the answer. Some of these were of a form that Azed would be quite happy with (I think) ,but others wouldn’t (wags it’s tail = dog). I would put 13d, 17a (easily changed by adding ‘it’) and 4d in this category.
    Collins only has 15a as an adjective, but Chambers has it as a noun, so it is fine. The see I was dubious about (it would make a good clue for the plural, though, as s is an abbreviation for see – albeit in Collins only)
    7d went in without parsing. Looking at it again, I’m not completely sure of the parsing. Is eater doing double duty (I’m not convinced by the surface either – do many clergymen eat pubs? I suppose it means people who eat in pubs).
    1d I thought was fine, maybe would have been slightly smoother and more deceptive with Bother as the first word in the clue?

    Great start, Wolfgang, many thanks.

    1. I think month = N has been used as a result of a misunderstanding as to why Chambers lists November as being abbreviated to N – it is there not because it is a month but because it is in the NATO Phonetic alphabet.

    2. Have another look at 7d -it is a fairly straightforward anagram clue. I’m not sure what you are on about with regard to 15a either.

    3. Ah, cheers.

      Yes I do like 12a, enough for it to take the spot as the favourite, very good.

      I’d forgotten about the phonetic alphabet – and failed to check Chambers. Perhaps month to November to n is a fraction indirect?

      Apologies, and thanks to CS. My ability to talk nonsense fully in evidence – I blame the late night.

  3. A very enjoyable debut, thank you Wolfgang. I’ve marked several favourites

  4. An enjoyable debut puzzle – thanks Wolfgang. As Snape said there are a few clues (e.g. 17a and 14d) where the form of the definition doesn’t really match the answer and the 24a homophone doesn’t work for me. I particularly liked 12a, 3d and, my favourite, 1a.

  5. Well done Wofgang – an enjoyable puzzle with lots of great clues. I particularly liked 1a, 6a, 15a, 18a, 19a, 20a, 5d, 11d, and 23d.

    It took me a while to get 9a (I think because of the unusual months) and 12a, which I think I only fully understood on reading the 2Kiwis comment above – nice one!

    There are (only) a few definitions that i thought weren’t nailed completely, as Snape mentioned. 17a (needs to be a noun, and do they only ‘tend’ to be b&W?), 25a (I wasn’t sure the answer is really the same thing), 13d (needs to be a noun), 14d (is this a noun, and does it mean the same thing?), 22d (is this a double def? if so the second needs to makes sense independently)

    7d is indeed a little strange, if you are including the clergyman in the anagram folder that is 2-steps for the solver = an indirect anagram – so I think you need an insertion indicator to avoid that.

    I didn’t think you needed ‘clip’ in in 26a

    I thought the def in 8d needed a ‘going’ before the answer?

    I missed the significance of the ellipsis between 10a and 12a

    I didn’t get the French venue, but that’s just me. I don’t even know the UK ones.

    I’m hoping these are useful comments, and thank you very much for your puzzle, it was a pleasure to solve.

  6. Hi Wolfgang,

    Lots of promise on display in your debut puzzle which suggests to me that you have what it takes to produce some top rate efforts once you have a little more experience. I thought that your forte was the cryptic/double definitions, these were definitely the stars of the show I thought.

    The clues were generally snappy and concise and I was pleased that you avoided trying to make the clues too over-ambitious. This week’s ticks went to 1a, 20a and 13d, although I also liked the invention shown in 12a, 18a, 3d, 8d, 11d and 16d even if these could perhaps have been polished a little more.

    My advice for your next puzzle would be to avoid anagrams like 5d where over half the answer appears in the same order within the fodder and to eliminate unnecessary words like “add” in 16d and “clip’s” in 26a (not sure why it’s there when “is cut” is doing the same job?).

    Very well done, Wolfgang. Look forward to your next one :-)

    1. 26a -I thought ‘c(lips) intro is cut’ was an indication to delete first letter of clips from ‘vulgar’.

      I was thinking you could just have ‘vulgar intro is cut..’ but then you have to be careful how you word the rest

  7. Cracked it while waiting for OH to decide he would like some breakfast. Found some of it rather convoluted but as I have often been accused of having a twisted mind it suited me. Ticks against several but 12a once the penny dropped is high on list. I shall be interested to see analysis tomorrow.

    1. Hello Hilary, sorry that it’s taken me 4 days to respond but I really haven’t been well! I think (and very much hope) I am now returning towards normal health.

      Could you please help me out for future puzzles by elaborating on the ‘convoluted’ comment? Is this similar to other comments about clues needing a good dose of polish?

  8. Nice solve Wolfgang – well done.

    Lots to like – especially in some of the minor clues. In general some of the wordplays were a bit more obvious than usual but clever and less obvious definitions compensated.

    RR in 7d is indirectness in anagram fodder – some editors (where have I read that before?) won’t allow that at all beyond single letters. Ximenes’s rule was that it should be indicated so that there is no alternative to what’s required (eg “the cup that cheers” for TEA). Here that’s not the case – clergyman, in cryptic puzzles, has a few possible interpretations – REV, DD, RR being just a few obvious ones. On the other hand with an easy definition and the rest of the anagram begging for those letters maybe a bit of flexibility can be given. We’ll see in a day or so whether you cop a “some editors” from Prolixic on that one.

    Likewise (already picked up above) month for N (relying on N as November) is a double jump. Fairly obvious what was needed but not strictly kosher in most setting styles.

    Are you Rufus fan? You’re not a million miles away from his style – although not quite the same. As with Rufus’s puzzles – people say they’re easy, just because they don’t have intricate wordplays – but I don’t find them so every often. I’m a wordplay cruncher by nature – so they offer me a different challenge – as indeed this did.

    Anyway it was fun to solve – so thanks once again.

    1. Hello JS, interesting question about Rufus…. I do like his puzzles but I’m probably a fan of Giovanni most of al. If my clues are coming across as straightforward (which they are), I think it’s just my inexperience – I need to do a lot more puzzles (setting and solving) and across a range of publications instead of just the DT!

  9. What a great first(?) puzzle – congratulations! As soon as I saw 1ac I thought I was going to like this one, and I wasn’t mistaken. I did slow up for a bit in the SW corner then noticed that I’d missed 15a and then all fell into place. Great range of clue types, some really strong surfaces. And stopping by for a beer first and then puzzle second – I like your priority calls ;-) Hopefully see you again at a future event. A few more detailed comments below.



    12 – like it!
    9a 2 months? I’m missing something here… [ah, I’ve just read others’ comments…]
    14d ‘paper’ synonym? OK but not quite sure.
    22d word removal to improve surface – I can see why you did this but slightly damages the cryptic (but you’ve obviously already seen that and made that call!)

    1. Hello Encota – yes this is my first, bar one making it onto Alberich’s site very recently, though he certainly takes the credit for advising some major revisions on a few clues there.

      This one had no outside input apart from taking Snape’s advice to read many previous RC efforts first of all, which was great advice. And i’m really glad for all the feedback – ready for the next one!

  10. I liked the cryptic definitions too.
    8d (form of fruit), 22d (member), 20a (he might set straight) , 11d (Manhattan) and of course 12a (ie).
    Wasn’t keen on 5d as the word appears a little too easily in the clue and didn’t know what to do with the “s”.
    Great debut.
    Thanks to Wolfgang.

    1. Hi Jean-Luc, re 5D, I did wonder if the ‘s’ was fair game here or not and I’m surprised there haven’t been more comments about it?!

  11. As a couple of others have commented, I felt that the cryptic definitions came out on top in this one.
    Off to a good start, Wolfgang – I’m sure you’ll take on board the words of advice from Prolixic et al.
    Pick of the crop for me were 1,12&20a plus 11d.

    By the way – if you’re taking a vote on it at some stage – put me in the ‘Riggles’ camp!

    1. Jane – thanks for the thoughts on the name, but Riggles is too close to my name. I’ve always liked the name Wolfgang since I saw a (West) German centre-forward with this name in the Panini Mexico ’86 World Cup sticker album!

  12. A very impressive debut – thanks Wolfgang.

    My only serious question mark was about the month in 9a and that has now been answered. I found it not too difficult but not a walkover either. My favourites are 1a and 12a.

    Many thanks to Riggles/Wofgang, and also in advance to Prolixic.

  13. I’m just coming back from my stag do, I’m getting married in July on Bournemouth beach. I shall reply properly once I’m home, but THANK YOU already for all the feedback!

  14. Hi Wolfgang,

    I thought this was a very good debut – as per some of the comments above there seem to be a couple of issues, but that didn’t distract from an enjoyable solve, and there were some excellent definitions on display.

    As an IT bod then I assumed that 12a and the relation to 23 was computer architecture related, but I can see from the comments above that there is another interpretation – it would be interesting to know which one you had in mind (or was it both, in which case bravo!).

    My LOI also happened to be my favourite, which was 1a.


  15. Nice quick puzzle, several very enjoyable clues. I’m very glad I managed to dredge the sportsball location up from somewhere in my memory, despite my notorious lack of facility with such clues…

  16. I had bond (which is a kind of paper) as the second word of 14D. Together with the first word, doesn’t that give a type of pay-off or loan? As a consequence, I had ‘relax’ as the definition for 24A which made me think the clue was the wrong way round. Along with others, I liked 1A but also 8D. Thanks Wolfgang.

  17. Thanks Wolfgang!

    Some very nice cryptic definitions.

    The 24a homophone works for me … but apparently, not for everybody else?

    1. all seems to depend on whether you pronounce your R’s. Gazza always says he pronounces his; me, I try to but when your speech starts to sluh…

  18. Very accomplished and enjoyable Wolfgang – thank you!
    Excellent surfaces, admirable brevity, a user friendly, well-filled grid and it’s impressive to come up with any ‘straight cryptics’ at all, yet you had several. What’s not to like?
    Among my favourites were 18a, 19a, 13d and 23d, but the prize for ‘Clue of the Day’ must surely go to 12a – what a cracker!
    I’m certainly not a fast solver – it takes me an age just to find the right space to write the answer down (!) and, like most of us, I have to struggle when faced with a Radler… but this was over in a jiffy. Whether I was just on your wavelength or whether it’s because they were easy clues I’m not sure. I think it might be described as ‘Rufusian’, but I’ll bow to regular Telegraph solvers on that.

    1. I had to laugh when I read you had to find the right space – I spend half my time doing that – and then when I’ve found it, I’ve lost the clue again.

      1. That reminds me of the puzzle given out in Macc where the down clues were on the left and across on the right.

    2. Thanks very much Maize – as I’ve said elsewhere, to date I am almost exclusively influenced by the DT crosswords. No bad thing I know, and the various references to Rufus throughout the comments are also very interesting. I’m expecting this will changes as I try solving more varied works, but we’ll see I guess!

  19. Tough but doable. I liked1a 9a, 20a, 8d and many others.
    I liked the cryptic definitions and the homophones, which worked well.
    Thanks Wolfgang.

  20. Oh dear – I’m really quite badly stuck with my last few answers – think I’ve gone seriously wrong somewhere. Oh well . . .
    Lots of these made me laugh which is always good so well done to Wolfgang.
    I look forward to the review tomorrow – thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. You’ve got us intrigued Kath as to which ones! SW corner perhaps – that is where I took the longest?

      1. A few here, there and pretty much everywhere really – think I’ve got four across answers I can’t do and a couple of downs – not my day . . .

    2. Sorry for being so late to the party Kath but did you crack them all in the end?

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. It never ceases to amaze me how you can just pick out the minor adjustments that would make all the difference to some clues. Smiled over your confident ‘black with white stripes’ re: the zebra clue – I always have to check it out. One of those bits of info that never quite sticks in my brain!
    I should think that Riggles/Wolfgang will be quite pleased by your encouraging remarks.

    1. It has taken me well over 24 hours since returning from my stag do marathon (not an actual marathon of course – though the London Marathon last month was actually easier on me than three days in Butlin’s) to feel good enough to respond to the review and comments, combined with some flaky internet.

      Jane – I am indeed pleased with the reviewer’s remarks and also with everybody’s feedback. I really appreciate the comments and the respectful manner in which feedback is dished out which makes this setter feel at home on Rookie Corner – I’m here to learn from you all as such avid setters and solvers…and such friendly ones too.

      I started trying to solve the DT back-pager about five or six years ago courtesy of the Wellington (NZ) local paper and discovered this wonderful website shortly after which helped me immensely. I certainly haven’t sprung from a cryptic crossword-loving background of parents, grandparents etc (which I seem to read of quite often), and I wasn’t even a great lover of words until my early twenties; so I do think I’m playing catch up a bit when it comes to achieving a good, consistent clue-setting ability. I’ve also recognised that solving a wider range of crosswords will help me, and Snape introduced me to ‘fifteensquared’ at the BD birthday bash, so thank you, Snape!

      I’ll post responses on individual clues of interest after work today – I’ve got three days to catch up on though I’d much rather be on here in all honesty!

    1. My ambition is to be good enough to come up with lots of clues like that per grid! That one came quickly too :)

  22. I seldom comment on Prolixic’s reviews (except to say thank you when it’s my puzzle!) but I did think his dismissal of 3d as just “a French tournament” was somewhat unfair on the setter. It is one of the four Grand Slams after all, and to suggest it was obscure when making no mention of any obscurity when Encota used it recently to clue, by example, the name of an aviator (far less well known) did raise my eyebrows.

    1. The difference between Wolfgang’s clue and Encota’s is that even if you had not heard of Roland Garros as an aviator, you could arrive at the answer “aviator” from the wordplay given by Encota and be reasonably confident that you had the right answer. Roland Garros appeared in the wordplay as a definition by example. In Wolfgang’s clue, the answer was Roland Garros and the solution was defined cryptically. It meant that if you did not know the venue for the French Open tennis tournament, you had no chance of arriving at a solution. It is a question of balancing fairness to the solver and the wordplay used to get to the answer.

      If you look at Don Manley’s crosswords, he often uses unusual words or scientific names as solutions. When he does so, Don always provides clear wordplay to get to the solution so that you can be confident that you have the right answer.

      Clear wordplay is subjective. What is clear to one person may be wholly obscure to another. Creating an anagram to an unusual word may help some people and may hinder others – for my part I try, not always successfully, not to use anagrams for obscure words as, depending on the length of the word and the cross-checking letters you can still be left with four or five possible solutions.

      The setter’s role is to give everyone a fair chance of solving the crossword and I felt that a cryptic allusion here was not perhaps the fairest way of cluing the word.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to respond, Prolixic.

        Your points are well-made and it’s certainly valid to highlight the difference between the two clues, although interestingly I don’t think a single person cited the answer to 3d as being obscure!

      2. — intended as a reply to Silvanus’s original post – somehow it has appeared here.

        I got it immediately (open and slice being the keys) and if a sportophobe (special subject televised-tennisophobia) like me can get it surely anyone can – in this case because even normal people turn on the telly to watch their schedued programme and it’s not on because the tennis is over-runing and the powers that beeb assume we are all delperately ineterested int he outcome.

        It’s just one person’s opinion. One person’s commonplace is another person’s obscurity. I would imagine it’s most difficult to comment on something that *is* in one’s own area of special interest – commonplace for you – but how to determine whther others might be familiar with it.

        1. Sorry about the typos – the mere mention of tennis reduced me to a palpitating nervous wreck.

      3. I agree. The only reason I got the answer was because the venue featured recently in another puzzle and for once I remembered. I would not have had any idea otherwise.

      4. — this is in reply to Prolixic’s post.

        True – but not really relevant here. The clue was a cryptic definition, replete with double meanings. Manley (aka Giovanni, Pasquale etc) calls himself a ximenean – as such he should not be doing cryptic definitions at all. Ximenes didn’t approve of them.

        I don’t know whether he does or not in practice – I never do his puzzles – maybe the odd Timeser when I don’t know who the setter is – but there they go light on all forms of obscurity.

        Cryptic definitions usually depend on two meanings – the less obvious one being th eone that gives you the answer. Familiarity with both meanings has to be assumed – otherwise you simply can’t have them as a clue type. Where would that leave Rufus?

        1. Wow this thread is interesting!

          I’ll respond on individual clues later but I wanted to say at this point that it was indeed Encota’s use of Roland Garros, the aviator, in a recent RC clue that ‘inspired’ me to use it as a solution – plus I’m a big sports fan in general.

          I recall there being a LOT of comments back and forth on Encota’s clue, mainly around the surface reading, and that was a very interesting thread for a newbie like me to take in :)

  23. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and for sorting out several of my silly mistakes that made it impossible to get other answers – oh dear, again!
    Thanks again to Wolfgang.

  24. Thanks Wolfgang – lots to enjoy here here. Echoing the love for 12a – I do love a good meta clue.

    Roland-Garros was a new one on me (ignorant of sport as I am). It came down to a Google suggestion situation where I took a punt on the first word, typed ‘roland g’ into Google and went with the first completed phrase in the drop-down menu. Cheating? Most definitely. But somehow it feels a lot less grubby than sticking the letters into a solver…

    Anyway, thanks for the fun – looking forward to the next one.

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