Rookie Corner – 114 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 114

A Puzzle by loonapick

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Loonapick’s first puzzle was published here over two years ago – I’m sure you will agree that the wait was worthwhile. 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 by Prolixic follows.

Loonapick’s crossword was a toughie in places but with a few exceptions, the cluing was good.  Perhaps there were a few too many places where you simply took the word from the clue and used it in the answer and some of the synonyms were a little loose but could be got with a little effort.


7 Hoodwinked sailor with a couple of quid, and enjoyed it! (3,1,4)
HAD A BALL – A three letter word meaning hoodwinked followed by the abbreviation for able seaman (sailor), the A from the clue and two letters indicating a pound or quid.

9 Whence Hardy strode out… (6)
DORSET – … The county associated with Thomas Hardy.  An anagram (out) of STRODE.

10 …and where Lincoln’s found after a second trip up (6)
ASCENT – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for second followed by (found after) the coin on which the image of Abraham Lincoln appears.  Knowledge of the images on foreign coins may be a little too specialist for solvers to be expected to know.

11 Performer – one blowing his own trumpet? (8)
MUSICIAN – A very mild cryptic definition of a performer who plays a trumpet (or any other instrument).

12 Every member of the crew playing cards?  Call them together now! (3,5,2,4)
ALL HANDS ON DECK  – … the naval call could also cryptically be a picture of the crew playing with a deck of cards.

15 Bread on the table is just a starter? (4)
ANTE – A cryptic definition of the amount of money initially put on a gambling table.

17 Finds me at French and Saunders premiere (5)
MEETS – The ME from the clue followed by the French for “and” and the first letter (premiere) of Saunders.  A very minor point but “Saunder’s” premiere would be technically the construction to use.

19 Boss breaks down and cries (4)
SOBS – An anagram (breaks down) of BOSS.  Depending on the level of difficulty you want to achieve, anagrams of four letter words are not much of a challenge.

20 Play on divided boards (8,6)
SEPARATE TABLES – … the name of a Terence Rattigan play.  A word meaning divided followed by another word for boards.

23 Bore visiting sub-standard fair (8)
BALANCED – A word meaning bore or spike inside (visiting – in the sense of popping-in) a word meaning sub-standard.  I am not convinced that the word for sub-standard is precisely the same as the word in the answer or that the word for bore is the same.

25 Fearless eccentric not loud, but small and quiet (6)
SPUNKY – A word meaning eccentric has the initial F (loud) replaced by the abbreviation for small and quiet.  Given the use of the abbreviation for small in clothing sizes, it is odd that the abbreviation is not given in Chambers.

27 Whistler I’ll restore (6)
REFILL – A person who blows the whistle in a football match followed by the ILL from the clue.  Again, I am not entirely convinced that the two words are synonymous.  I doubt the landlord of the local pub would ask if you wanted your glass restored.

28 Rick has rope to secure front of yacht (8)
HAYSTACK – The HAS from the clue and another word for a rope (a nautical term) includes the first letter (front of) of yacht.


1 Lawyer is at podium (4)
DAIS – An abbreviation for an American lawyer followed by the IS from the clue.  I am not too keen on AT as link word with wordplay AT definition being the structure. 

2 Father abandons heathen before he’s converted to god (6)
GANESH – Remove (abandons) a two letter word for Father from a word meaning heathen and follow this with an anagram (converted) of HES.

3 Criticise religion?  Not I! (4)
SLAM – Remove the I from the religion of the followers of the prophet Mohammed.

4 Originator of the light-bulb moment? (6)
EDISON – A very mild cryptic definition of the inventor of the lightbulb.

5 Nibbles nuts? (8)
CRACKERS – A double definition, the first maybe accompanying a Chinese meal and the second meaning mad.

6 Spectacular band on ship with talented following (10)
REMARKABLE – The name of a 1980’s American rock band followed by the name of Noah’s ship and a word meaning talented.

8 Slave to master this? (7)
ANTONYM – The grammatical term for two words that are diametrically opposed.

13 Gardener painting redstart (10)
LANDSCAPER – The name of a type of painting of an outdoor scene followed by the first letter (start) of red.  As pointed out in the comments, some would not permit Redstart to indicate the first letter of red.  The root of the answer and the painting are perhaps a little too close.

14 Making his comeback, golfer played terribly at first, so rested (5)
SLEPT – Reverse (making his comeback) the surname of the golfer Ernie and follow this with the initial letters (at first) of played terribly.

16 Demolishing pies and mash  leads to stress (8)
EMPHASISE – An anagram (demolishing) of PIES MASH.

18 Please appeal before the end of August; I shall file your entries (7)
SATISFY – The abbreviation for sex appeal followed by the last letter (end of) of August and the initial letters (entries – as in openings) of I shall file.

21 Remember to request returns (6)
RECALL – A double definition, the second often applied to faulty products.

22 Craft eventually mastered by Christian (6)
BOUNTY – A cryptic definition of the ship on which there was a munity led by Fletcher Christian.

24 Note: answer is “Capital city” (4)
DOHA – The three letter note at the start of the musical scale followed by the A from the clue.

26 High boot (4)
KICK – A double definition, the first being a drug experience and the second a verb describing what a footballer will do with the ball.

26 comments on “Rookie Corner – 114

  1. Some tricky stuff in there which took us into what we would call “Toughie time”. 18d put up a real fight before we sorted it all out and we’ll give it our vote for favourite but there are plenty of other contenders. Lots of clever stuff and we really enjoyed it.
    Thanks Loonapick.

  2. An enjoyable puzzle with lovely smooth surfaces – thanks, loonapick.

    I found this tough in parts and as I don’t have huge amounts of time on Mondays I used a few shortcuts. If I had had huge amounts of time, I’d have used a few shortcuts: I am an uncultured kitten who didn’t know the 20a play and doesn’t even know all her capital cities.

    It took me a while to parse 25a because I wanted the eccentric to be the middle four letters. Great word.

    8d was clever. That penny was stuck up high for a long time.

    I liked 13d because it was so elegant and simple, yet it stymied me until I had plenty of checkers.

    It was nice to see crosswordland’s favourite golfer make an appearance (standing on his head in 14d).

    I knew what the first two letters of 18d had to be but did verify that the abbreviation is in Chambers.

    My [loona]picks are: 9a, 17a, 25a, 2d, 8d, 13d.

    Well done and thanks again to loonapick for the fun and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review, which will be well done as ever.

  3. Very enjoyable – thanks loonapick. I’ll select 7a, 10a and 15a for honours but my favourite, for the penny drop moment, is 8d.

  4. Plenty to savour in this offering, loonapick, many thanks indeed.

    I found your use of 5 ‘straight cryptics’ really interesting; 15a (bread), 8d (Master/ servant) and especially 22d (Christian) were all brilliant but both 11a (performer) and 4d (light-bulb) used an everyday idiom which we had to take literally give a simple definition. Alberich once advised me that there is the great danger with straight cryptics – that they come across as simple definitions more suited to a quick crossword; for me those last two fell into that trap.

    Apart from those already mentioned I also really enjoyed 18a (astonishingly I liked a 4-letter anagram!), 25a, 27a, 2d (brilliant!), 3d (excellent), 5d, 16d and 18d. Perfectly happy with the play and capital city as both were familiar.

    A super puzzle, let’s hope it’s not so long to wait until the next!

  5. I thought this was really good. My comments would be pretty much entirely the same as Maize’s especially regarding the cryptic definitions.
    I too noted how good the 4-letter anagram was, despite itself. I found parts tough, (mainly in SE and NW) and had a couple of reveal letters towards the end to get going again. Still a couple unparsed.

    I’ve not seen at as a link before. As a position indicator in wordplay I like it, and will remember it. Less convinced by it as a link to definition. I took a long time to parse 23a – I didn’t consider visiting as an insertion indicator, (I guess it’s OK?) and with what I thought was a stretched synonym I struggled.
    I had just about the same favourites as Maize, and my overall favourite was one of the cryptic definitions, 22d.
    Many thanks loonapick – excellent stuff – and in advance to Prolixic.

  6. There was much to commend in this puzzle, on the whole it was fairly gentle in terms of difficulty, but that didn’t prevent enough head-scratchers to prevent it being a read-and-write. I thought many of the cryptic and double definitions would have fitted seamlessly into a Rufus Monday back-pager, namely 11a, 4d, 5d, 21d and 26d.

    Snape has raised a couple of minor quibbles that I also share, i.e. “at” in 1d, and “visiting” in 23a, but overall I don’t imagine that Prolixic will find too much for comment tonight. Unlike Kitty, I’m not a huge fan of 13d (the surface seemed unconvincing) and “appeal” in 18d was a pleasant new abbreviation for me.

    My ticked clues were 27a, 28a, 2d, 5d, 8d and 22d, the latter being my favourite too, Snape!

    Congratulations and many thanks, loonapick, I’m intrigued as to why it’s been over two years since your last puzzle? I hope you won’t leave it so long for your third….

  7. Many thanks loonapick –

    the top half went in readily then I came to a painful grinding halt towards the bottom. I couldn’t remember the play. I had worked out 25a but wasn’t getting any further and was beginning to doubt my entries. I was considering revealing letters (but didn’t). Then I finally saw the ending of 18d and I was able to use my recently obtained chambers dictionary of crossword abbreviations to look up appeal – and things opened up again.

    Quite a contrast between the straightforward and the devilish, I thought.

    My favourite penny drop moment was 10a, didn’t see that for ages. I thought 15a was clever. I didn’t know the capital but should have. And in retrospect I should have seen the play earlier.

    All very impressive technically and surface-wise, with plenty of inventive clueing.

    Many thanks and congratulations

  8. Very brave, printed this off and decided come hell or high water I would make an effort to get a few answers in. Several guesses and only Mr P tomorrow will confirm I am on the right track or it’s back to the drawing board. :phew:

  9. Very good surface and some nice penny drop moments and even a dime drop moment in 10a which was my last one.
    Thanks to Loonapick for the fun.

  10. I enjoyed this although got stuck in the NW corner, couldn’t get 1 or 2d, or 10a, and had 8d wrong, only being able to think of acronym, and obviously wondering how it parses. Answer: it doesn’t. Very clever clue though now I know the answer,

    Should have had 1d, but didn’t know the God in 2d, unfortunately. In 10a I assume Lincoln must appear on cent coins, and in many other places – but I’ve never seen one so was never going to get that from the wordplay. Mind you I can’t think without looking what’s on the reverse of a penny….

    Like others I thought a few were just simple cryptic definitions, 11a, 4d, 22d and I assume 15a.

    I don’t think 21a reads quite right as a surface. What would you play on “divided” boards? “Unconnected” or “individual” perhaps?

    14d, well ever since his disaster at the Masters Ernie’s been my favourite golfer as I can now honestly claim to putt like a professional ….

    23a is fine by me (sorry Snape) in fact one of a number I put a couple of ticks against – in no particular order 19a, 25a, 26d, 18d and 28a were others.

    Thanks for this puzzle, hope it’s not so long before your next one appears.

    1. Sorry but am I being dim? My reading of the clue was a play (by Terence Rattigan) with the title which is the answer to 20a.

        1. Not dim at all.
          Starhorse meant, I’m sure, 20a. And the suggestion is that the surface reading could be improved along the lines suggested. Parsing would remain the same, and the answer as you’ve got it!

    2. Starhorse,

      I hate to be pedantic … but it always really annoys me when someone criticises a clue that doesn’t exist.

      Where is 21a?

      Sorry! Very grumpy today!

      1. Oops, ’twas a senior moment Stan, they happen. Couldn’t read my own handwriting. And yes, as Maize says it was more a suggestion (hopefully constructive) that might just make it a better story, rather than a criticism. I can’t speak for everyone of course but that’s certainly the kind of feedback I’m glad to receive.

  11. I missed out on 2D and having subsequently checked I’m kicking myself. I didn’t much cotton to 4D, though I have visited his laboratories in New Jersey which were marvelous. Not convinced that the synonym for bore works in 23A. I don’t think I’d like to have a boil bored! I have a feeling 20A has appeared in a DT puzzle recently…may have been a GK. On the plus side, lots to like and my picks are 9A, 25A, 8D and 14D. Thanks Loonapick.

  12. Definitely had to chat with Mr. G to get a few of these and I’m still short on a couple of bits of parsing which no doubt Prolixic will explain in due course.
    Quite a list of ticks – 7&12a plus 6,8,14&22d. Favourite is 7a.

    Many thanks to Loonapick. Started out assuming that you were female (just from the name I suppose) but by the end of the puzzle was firmly convinced that you’re a male. How odd is that? OK – maybe it’s just me that’s a bit odd……….

  13. Hi Loonapick & many thanks for a tough and very enjoyable solve. Late commenting today after a day out in the river and out to sea here in East Anglia [Following Orwell on “The Row To Walton Pier” (well, sail really)]
    22d was definitely my favourite, with 8d and the Lincoln one in the top few too. Some lovely surfaces and largely very accurate clueing.
    A few minor comments and f/b:
    – In the not-so-rare debate here around Ximenean/non-Xim, from what I recall Xim declares cylinder-head ok as a start indicator for ‘c’, cos head of cylinder means something; however redhead/redstart he was less satisfied with. I’m sure other experts on here will correct me if I’ve misinterpreted this!
    – nice to see Mr. Stipe’s mob making an appearance!
    – def1 in 15a – not so sure about this one.
    Hope these are useful!

    1. Not wishing to appoint myself an expert but I can read and your summary of Ximenes’s bizarre troubles with “head” is an accurate one. A great many of his acolytes misread this, maybe basing their understanding on just one of his comments on that subject:

      “redhead” is not “red’s head.”

      whereas his problem is that the colour red cannot be said to have a head – although I believe the cornet player Red Nichols did have one – so – just as you have stated – cylinder-head for C escapes his wrath..

      Obviously for normal solvers redhead precisely is “red’s head” – more explicitly it’s R-E-D’s head – ie the first one of the letters R E D – moving seamlessly between words as meaningful words and words as a string of letters to be played with being a major component of normal wordplay evaluation.

      Some of his acolytes go even further and say that eg “Middlemarch” cannot indicate R even though the name of George Eliot’s fictional town (if typical of names like that generally) would indicate that it was located in the middle of a place known as March (probabley a corruption of marsh) – indeed the month March has amiddle (around the 16th) but then Middlemarch doesn’t refer to March as a month.

      Why should we be troubled by that?

      Grammar, soundness, fairness etc they’ll say. Sorry – that’s just spin.

      In a world where bankers are rivers (because we generalise the -er suffix to make bank-ers mean “things that have banks”) I’m not.

  14. I thought this was all very smooth and a nice smattering of cryptic definitions. I didn’t know the play or the golfer, but I managed to figure them out fairly easily from the rest of the clues. 23a is my only real question mark and that’s probably just me. “Pies and mash” was my favourite. Many thanks indeed

  15. Thanks Loonapick – that kept me busy for a good while – much longer than I thought it would when the first few went in so easily. I did this yesterday, when it first appeared, but I haven’t looked at the other comments yet.

    I liked the clear and frequently amusing surfaces – also the various clues where the solution depended on thought and allusion rather than letter-fiddling – something that Rufus does a lot – but for me there wasn’t a Rufusian feel to this at all.

    I ticked:

    17a – “French and” for ET neatly hidden – juxtaposing premiere is fine for me as a first letter indication – indicating a possessive (which would be Saunders’s – or Saunders’ (yuk)) would have been less smooth.
    19a Very slick – any easy anagram – but I needed a few gimmes.
    28a Rick – yes – I fell for that one hook line an dsinker – pondering over which famous Ricks there might have been.
    27a I liked Whistler – maybe I was having a slow day but I took a while to sack the painter and appoint the sports official.
    13d A conscious snook cocked at Ximenes (and his acolytes) I hope.
    14d Long after he’s been forgotten in the world of golf Ernie Els’s name will live on in crosswords.

    Minor quibble – 23a was my last one in and I thought “bore” was a bit of a stretch for LANCE.
    No other quibbles.

    Thanks again – but I think I’ve picked your wavelength now – if you put another one up (which I hope you will) I’ll expect to get through it a lot faster than I did with this one.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and for clearing up my missing bits of parsing, both of which were simply down to not taking the thinking quite far enough – the heathen in 2d and the particular type of appeal in 18d.
    I take your point over the apostrophe in Saunders, but it would have rather spoilt the ‘French and Saunders’ reference, so was perhaps forgivable?
    Hope we don’t have to wait another two years for the next one, Loonapick!

  17. Thanks for all the comments and the review.

    I will try not to take so long getting my next effort ready.

    I don’t want to go over every clue, but there are a couple I feel I should comment on.

    17 a – I think “French and Saunders premiere” is OK, although maybe I should have put French and Saunders in italics instead, so that it was the show premiere rather than the individuals’ premiere that was alluded to.

    13d – not an intentional snook cocked at Ximenes, as I tend more towards Ximenean principles than against them, however, “start” is not the same as “head” in my view, as RED does have a start, all words START with their first letter.

    23ac – I take the point on “bore ~ lance”, no pun uintended.

  18. I rather enjoyed this puzzle! My favourite was 8d, but I also particularly liked several other clues, including 22d. I didn’t much like 23a for the same reasons others have already given.

    For the most part, I had no difficulty following the wordplay of the respective clues. Nevertheless, I needed Prolixic’s excellent review for 10a, and 15a (which I should have got).

    Appreciative thanks to Loonapick and to Prolixic.

  19. A puzzle of two halves – found the top half a doddle, barring a few tricky ones in the NW, but had to spend a lot more time unpicking the bottom. The capital city, the rick and the craft were all new knowledge for me and I admit I had to cheat – the last perhaps ungettable unless you happen to be aware of that little piece of history, but I do like the cryptic def – maybe putting some wordplay in as well would have been kinder. I think it was a little heavy on the straight cryptics and DDs overall – personal taste.

    12a doesn’t quite work for me – it seems to be suffering from some etymological crossover – ‘every member of the crew’ meaning exactly the same as the ‘all hands’ in the answer. Which is a shame because ‘playing’ and ‘cards’ work beautifully for ‘on’ and ‘deck’, so there’s definite potential there.
    15a I’m on the fence about – I really love the idea but I feel it could have been tweaked to read a little better.
    17a nice to see F&S cropping up again – weren’t they in a rookie puzzle a few months back? And I’m with Swagman on this one – X premiere for first letter of X is fine (and redstart and redhead are both A-OK in my book while we’re about it).
    20a was more new knowledge for me but perfectly gettable (though having looked it up I feel the def should be ‘plays’ – but that’s getting very pedantic!)
    25a – I’m not sure funky and eccentric are synonyms, but nobody else seems to mind so it’s probably just me.
    27a has a nice surface and idea behind it, but I’m not sure I like ‘restore’ as a def (to have the ‘re’ prefix in the def and solution is just a little unsatisfying).

    Only minor quibbles really. There were a bunch of really nice clues – 2d, 3d, 8d (begrudgingly, since it took me far too long to get!), 14d and 16d all lovely. 10a is sublime – my pick of the bunch.

    Thanks for the puzzle Loonapick – very enjoyable. And thanks Prolixic for the review as always.

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