Rookie Corner – 117 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 117

A Puzzle by Snape

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

In his review of Snape’s last puzzle Prolixic wrote “I think we have another graduate here and that the Rookie Corner’s loss should be the NTSPP pages gain”. You can expect his debut NTSPP puzzle in a couple of weeks, but meanwhile he has answered my appeal for puzzles for Rookie Corner with this, his final appearance.  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.

Nothing in this crossword reverses my earlier opinion that Snape belongs in the hallowed halls of the NTSPP.


9 Understanding two teens crazy about drink (7,8)
ENTENTE CORDIALE – An anagram (crazy) of TEEN TEEN (two teens) around the name of a type of drink.

10 What Boris and Nigel crave is a romantic dinner together (not gay or owt)? (7)
MANDATE – Split 3,4 this could be a romantic meal between two men.  Combined it is politically what either Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage might have hoped for in their wildest fantasies but just as a meddlesome factor, even Nigel has resigned!

12 Move favourite plant around following tip from Titchmarsh (3- 4)
TWO-STEP – After (following) the first letter (tip from) of Titchmarsh reverse (around) words meaning favourite and plant (as a verb).

13 Blair bombed Iran? Appallingly, he tries to hush things up (9)
LIBRAIRIAN – An anagram (bombed) of BLAIR followed by an anagram (appallingly) of IRAN.

14 Polar opposites, both sides separated by a menacing comment (5)
SNARL – The abbreviations for South and North (Polar opposites) followed by the abbreviation for right and left (both sides) with the A from the clue between them (separated by).

15 Where to get transport from boob job, say (3,4)
BUS STOP – A homophone (say) of BUST OP (boob job).

18 Pressure behind part of horse’s foot (7)
PASTERN – The abbreviation for pressure followed by a word meaning behind.

21 How to end a fight in the style of a bear (5)
KOALA – The abbreviation for knockout (how to end a fight) followed by an expression (1, 2) meaning in the style of.

23 Including lead-free lead, perhaps, is harsh (9)
INCLEMENT – A three letter for including followed by the type of thing of which the metal lead is an example (perhaps) with the first letter removed (lead-free).

25 Precious coin provides sustenance for the Welsh? (7)
RAREBIT – A four letter word for precious or scarce followed by a slang word for a coin.

26 Beneficiary‘s expression of surprise over tirade (7)
GRANTEE – A three letter word used to express surprise around (over in an across clue) a four letter word meaning a tirade.

29 Mix hot sauce with some nearly cold bananas for dessert (9,6)
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE – An anagram (bananas) of HOT SAUCE SOME COL (nearly cold meaning remove the last letter).  I think that the mix could have been omitted here.


1 Split seen in hardwood steering mechanism (4)
HELM – Split hardword to give hard wood and then provide the abbreviation for hard and a type of wood.  Full marks from me or indicating the word split.

2 ‘Priest unzips trousers’ shock (4)
STUN – The answer is hidden (trousers) in PRIEST UNZIPS.

3 What requires an intake of breath? Hint: Anal tear (8)
INHALANT – An anagram (tear) of HINT ANAL.

4 The old soldiers meeting current inhabitant of the Middle East (6)
YEMENI – The old English spelling of the followed by a word meaning soldiers and the abbreviation for current.

5 13-3 ahead after initially scoring outrageous fluke to weaken the opposition (6,2)
SOFTEN UP – Another way of saying 13-3 ahead after the first letters (initially) of soften outrageous fluke.

6 Abruptly dismissed in cricket matches? That’s abominable (6)
ODIOUS – A word meaning dismissed has the final letter removed (abruptly) and the letter go inside the abbreviation for one day internationals (the s at the end being the plural form)

7 Santa and elf surprisingly providing BMWs here, most of the time (4,4)
FAST LANE – An anagram (surprisingly) of SANTA ELF.

8 Short Marx Brother joins line-up, and means to travel round Germany once (8)
ZEPPELIN – The name of one of the Marx Brothers with the last letter removed (short) followed by an anagram (up) of LINE.

11 Former war correspondent starting to utter ‘Goodbye‘ (5)
ADIEU – The surname of Kate (the former war correspondent) followed by the first letter (starting to) of utter.  A minor point, but grammatically, starting to A does not indicate the first letter as well as start to A.

15 Purchase drug, reportedly, in parking facility (4,4)
BIKE RACK – A homophone (reportedly) of BUY CRACK (purchase drug).

16 Working radiators are missing in bar on flight (5-3)
STAIR ROD – An anagram (working) of RADIATORS after removing the abbreviation for Are (a metric measure). 

17 Stop chap becoming head of patrol (5,3)
POINT MAN – An American term for a full stop followed by another word for chap.

19 That woman goes on to shop for neoclassical furniture (8)
SHERATON – A three letter word meaning that woman followed by a phrase (3,2) meaning to shop or betray.

20 Most peculiar to lose two good men in field (5)
RANGE – A 9 letter word meaning most peculiar without (to lose) the abbreviation for saint (good men) at the start and end.  The form Wordplay in Definition is so well entrenched as a device, I doubt it will raise an eyebrow.

22 Half-naked bishop I originally ogled nervously in Great Britain (6)
ALBION – The central two letters of half (naked) followed by the one letter abbreviation for bishop, the I from the clue and the initial letters (originally) of ogled nervously. 

24 Swan‘s seal sounds (6)
CYGNET – A homophone (sounds) of signet (seal).

27 Try some minute steak (4)
TEST – The answer is hidden in (some) MINUTE STEAK

28 Hazard, possibly, of drug study (4)
EDEN – …The first name of Mr Hazard, the footballer.  The abbreviation for ecstasy (drug) followed by another word for a study.  Again, full marks from me for indicating the definition by example.

42 comments on “Rookie Corner – 117

  1. We needed Google to explain to us why we had 28d correct. The last two to go in were 1d and 10a. Excellent fun with lots and lots of cleverness to keep us both scratching our heads and chuckling at the same time. We can’t decide whether 10a or 15d is our favourite but there are so many competing for the podium. A good level of difficulty and quality clues throughout.
    Many thanks and well done Snape.

  2. Thanks Snape – nice puzzle – sorry to hear you’ve been kicked upstairs – I’ll have to develop the habit of adding NTSPP to my weekly round.

    I ticked 9a, 12a, 23a, 1d, 2d, 6d (my last one in)

    17d I got but I didn’t really know what it meant – it turns out that it’s an American term.
    28a I got from the wordplay and guessed that it must rely on someone’s name. Bingo – it did.

    1d I thought would have been better without “split seen on”. A shame to spell out such a good word-split.

    No quibbles.

    Once again many thanks.

  3. Very enjoyable – thank you Snape. I do like a Rookie that fits in nicely between Rufus and the time I have to start work.

    I agree with JS about 1d.

  4. I agree with Swaggie about 1d. A nice puzzle, but not perhaps one to solve with Aunt Agatha over a cream tea due to a couple of fairly high readings on the smutometer. I really like 15d, (although the word “in” doesn’t really belong in the clue); 17d less so.
    If you google “8 flights”, you’ll see they are very much still part of the scene over the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and I see them often in this area (Black Forest).
    Thanks a lot, Snape

  5. I really enjoyed this – thanks Snape. I had to google the 28d Hazard but the wordplay was clear so it wasn’t really a problem. I chuckled at both 15a and 15d and I thought that both long anagrams were very good but my favourite has to be 13a which is superbly topical in the week that the Chilcott report is due to be published.

      1. Thanks – I’ll print it out later (although I always find it a real bind to print their puzzles).

  6. It is just over a year since I test-solved this one, and therefore I had forgotten most of the clues which allowed me the opportunity to tackle it as if it were completely fresh.

    I was soon reminded what a fun puzzle it is, and that there are some real corkers in there, particularly 9a, 15d and 13a (extremely topical as Gazza says). It was also interesting to see that Cameron and Clegg in the original 10a had morphed into Boris and Nigel today!

    Congratulations, Snape, a very fitting valediction to Rookie Corner before you move seamlessly into the NTSPP ranks.

  7. Absolutely brilliant Snape. Bags of fun, cleverness and invention, I think this is probably my favourite of your puzzles so far though, to be fair, I’ve loved ’em all!
    I have ticks by virtually all of the clues and I gave double ticks to 9a, 13a, 14a, 2d, 15d and 28d.
    Definitely not easy, so I was pleased to finish unaided, so Goldilocks zone for me.

    Can’t really see the problem with 1d; I took it as a clear instruction to split the fourth word in order to create ‘Ximenean’ wordplay, and the surface was excellent.
    My only question came with 10a, which I liked a lot but I wondered whether we really needed the parenthetical bit at the end – I think it works better without.

    By the way, and following on from my comment on Hoskins puzzle on Saturday, the long anagram at 29a is the kind I like because the anagram fodder has been made relevant (with a twist of course) to the solution.

    1. Hi Maize

      Re 1d ” a clear instruction to split the fourth word”

      That’s my point – a clear instruction. It takes the fun out of the clue.

      Surely the idea should be that we have to work it out for ourselves. Where does Ximenes come into it?

      1. Ha! It wasn’t that easy for me! One of my last ones in, in fact…
        Ximines comes in because ‘hardwood’ without the ‘split in’ would, I think, be non-Ximinean. We see it all the time at the Guardian, but less so elsewhere. Hard wood, however, would be Ximinean, at least that’s my understanding.

        1. Where does Ximenes say you can’t do that?

          In slip 61 he gives VHC (very highly commended) to the clue:

          Increases of clothing? Perhaps in 100 years! (6) for CREASY

          (i.e. in creases; anag. incl. C; ref. clothes rationing)

          Barnard (in his book – listed in Prolixic’s bibliography) indicates that it’s OK.

          1. Interesting – thanks for that. I had assumed that ‘hardwood’ would be like ‘redhead’ for R.
            I should say, JS, that I’m not saying I would have objected to the clue had it been along the lines you advocate, I’m only saying that either way works for me.
            In his review Prolixic seems glad of the extra indication having been supplied by Snape.

            1. Word-splitting is not Ximenes’s objection to redhead for R – eg he writes:

              “masthead” for M would be perfectly sound

              1. Oka-ay… I need to check up on my crossword history, it seems.
                Perhaps, then (he says, clutching at straws) I was thinking of Afrit’s injunction ‘You need not mean what you say, but you must say what you mean’. By this maxim, 1d cannot be faulted!

                1. I don’t find fault with 1d (as is) at all. What I say is that without the split indication it would have been a better clue – but others would find fault with that and claim that Ximenes supports them in that view. I cannot find evidence anywhere that He does – only one example to the contrary.

                  Ximenean does not mean: rigorous, well-formed, grammatical, fair (that one’s priceless – try one of His crosswords) etc – although many of its adherents would like us to believe that it does. It’s simply one of many possible styles of clue-writing – just as Rugby Union is one of many equally viable codes of football. As a religion (which is what it has become) it shares with many other religions the attribute that most of its followers don’t understand their own theology.

                  1. I have no religion!
                    But I do accept that I often use ‘Ximinean’ as a shorthand for exactly those qualities you list.
                    Perhaps I need a new adjective… Afritian?

  8. Got off to a cracking start and then slowed down considerably. Still a couple that I haven’t fully parsed, one of which I assume is down to lack of cricket knowledge.
    Needless to say, I hadn’t heard of 28d and also had to check 17d.
    Plenty to smile about – podium places go to 13,15&21a plus 5&15d.

    Many thanks, Snape, you definitely deserve that promotion.

  9. Another brilliant Rookie Corner puzzle which was nicely challenging with smooth surfaces throughout spiced up with lots of humour and topicality, Very well done indeed, Snape.

    Having praised Rufus to day for clearly indicating a US term, my only (very minor quibble) with this puzzle is that the answer to 17d is an unindicated US expression.

    I was going to take issue with “up” as an anagram indicator in 8d, and then I remembered this had come up recently. I searched this site, and, lo and behold, it made an appearance in Snape’s last offering (Rookie 103)!

    Isn’t is amazing that we seem to have had an epidemic of stair related clues in various puzzles recently?

    18a was a new word for me but readily derivable from the word play, and my only gap is that I will need to wait for the review to parse my answer to 23a.

    My page is littered with asterisks, with double asterisks for 9a, 10a, 13a, 15a, 25a, 2d, 5d, 6d & 7d.

    Many thanks, Snape, for the wonderful entertainment.

  10. Lots of fun to be had here. I particularly liked 10A, 13A, 23A, 2D, 4D and 15D. I did manage to parse 6D (I think!) with the help of Google to check a term, and also Googled to confirm 28D. Having read the comments, I can tell that I am way off beam with my answer to 1D. Oh well. Great job, Snape! Thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Independence Day here and lots of rain in the forecast.

  11. Thank you for all the comments so far. As Silvanus mentioned, this is a very old puzzle that just survived the cull I had a while ago, so I tried to rewrite the weak clues and get it serviceable (so it almost is a new puzzle to Silvanus!). Interestingly (to me), the ones people have picked as favourites (the long anagrams, the homophones and 13a) were the unchanged ones, although the definition in 13a was Beet’s suggestion – mine was less inspired. (Apart from some of JS’s favourites: 2d, 12a, 23a were complete rewrites). Thanks to Beet, Silvanus and Sprocker for the original test solve a year ago, and Dutch for doing the updated one last week.

    I submitted it the day before Boris changed his mind/was knifed in the back. The parenthetical addition was pretty superfluous, I ummed and ahhed about the wording, but the phrase amused me (was it Mark and Lard’s?)

    1d originally didn’t have the split indicator, I was trying too much to please all of the people all of the time, and a few don’t like it. Here, it is so mild few would object,, I think.
    17d I hadn’t realised was an American term – I suspect RD might not like it if he pops in. It wasn’t a great clue, but efforts to rejig the grid didn’t work either.

    EDIT: We crossed, RD! ;-)

    I didn’t know about 8 flights – I could be tempted, (though not at the price I saw!). I could also have saved a word in quite a long clue! I didn’t think it was a particular smut-fest – I would try to avoid that. I was a little worried about 3d – Harry (Hoskins) advised me to be careful about clues that just make you go ‘Yeugh’, and I thought this might be that, but no-one has mentioned it, and I wouldn’t say it was smutty. Perhaps 2d is slightly.

    I read Don Manley’s book in which he justified ‘in’ as a two way link. I notice some don’t like it, but can never remember which way it is they don’t like (I can see the justification either way round)’, so I tend to use it thoughtlessly, which is not ideal. It seems to be accepted either way in the papers.

    1. Always a pleasure to help out with test solving, and happily that was so long ago I only had the faintest recollection of the unaltered clues, so I got to enjoy them all over again. Great work with the updates, some absolute corkers in there. My overall favourite is the superb 13a.

    2. Hi Snape. Here’s a copy & paste from Alberich’s website:

      The use of “in” as a link word was the basis of Monk’s e-mail. I have always blithely used it, as many setters do, as a non-directional link – in other words, being unconcerned about the order of the wordplay and the definition. He suggested that as a link word, “in” implies “found in” so clues of this type should read [DEFINITION] in [WORDPLAY]. I think he’s right, and shall bear that in mind when clueing in future. The only exception is when “in” links two definitions of the answer, in which case the order doesn’t matter.

      1. Ah, yes, I have seen that. I’d forgotten, but there had also been a discussion of it on the DIYCOW forum

        The quote from Don Manley is
        “The little word ‘in’ is often used as a link word since it means ‘consisting of’ or ‘contained in’ so you may often find clues that are ‘S in D’ or ‘D in S’.”

        The Independent certainly allows it, as someone gave an example from one of Eimi’s own crosswords.

        1. Interesting thread there Snape, many thanks. I’m not completely convinced that Eimi really did use ‘in’ as a link word in the example given, because his link was ‘involved in’ not just ‘in’. Can we really be so sure that he would say the ‘involved’ bit isn’t doing anything? He might say it adds directionality, so to speak.

          Anyhow, my feeling, taking all that you’ve said into consideration, is that whilst ‘in’ probably can be used in either direction, I’ll probably stick to using it for WP to D only as a last resort. And here’s a recent one of mine where I did just that:

          Small child cut from limestone pillar in prison (6)
          (answer below)

          I really must start visiting DIYCOW, it looks like it has just the sort of ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ type discussions I enjoy!
          Oh, that’ll be Stalag(mite)

      2. “in” implies “found in”

        The trouble with arguments like that is that “in” may well *sometimes* mean that – but it also has lots of other possible meanings. In the vastness of the English language you only have to find one example to support it and (by Afrit’s injunction) you can claim that to be the one you meant.

        1. I think that, in the case of link words anyway, that is a good justification. At least enough for me to continue to use it.
          I’m pretty sure I read that Peter Biddlecombe had decided the ‘of’ could be a link either way, and provided the reasoning, although I haven’t seen it much as WP of D.

          1. Not sure about “of” – he changed his mind on “for” thus:

            ‘… 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”.’

  12. Thanks to Snape for the great fun.
    Had to check a few of the answers on the net but I have to do that with most setters too.
    Didn’t notice 17d was American but after all, they are your next best friends.
    Loved the homophones in 15.
    21a made me laugh and 10a favourite.
    Glad that Dutch validated the two teens in 9a. He obviously prefers them to rats.
    Have to wait for the review to understand 6d.
    Thanks again to Snape for a very pleasant crossword.

    1. He wasn’t keen – but rats appeared the day after he’d sent his comments, so I kept the teens.

  13. I’m going to have to leave this for an evening treat, but wanted to pop in quickly to congratulate Snape on the well-deserved promotion. The surfaces already have me smiling, so I can already thank you for that. :)

  14. Many thanks to Snape.

    I loved the very interesting and very topical Surfaces – (Boris & Nigel), (Chilcot & Blair) & (The Welsh vs Hazard)

    Unfortunately, I had to cheat quite a lot.

  15. I loved it all, apart from the two that I’m completely stuck on – they’re two of those that if I could get one I might stand a chance of getting the other.
    I’m really not sure why Aunt Agatha could possibly be scandalised about any of these, specially if you’ve bought her a cream tea – nothing at all is registering on my smutometer.
    I thought 10 and 13a and both the 15’s were great clues.
    Thank you and au revoir to Snape – see you soon in your well deserved place on Saturdays – and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  16. Not a quick solve for me but time much enjoyed.

    When I looked up my guess for 18a I was pleased to find it was a real word. I’m still to parse 23a and 6d but I’m sure Prolixic will be happy to be useful.

    3d earned an “eww!” I did wonder why the bit in brackets was needed in 10a but Snape has already addressed that. Still a top clue. I also loved 13a and 21a which just tickled me.

    Nice bit of alliteration in 24d. I call 24ds swanlings. (Naturally, baby ducks are ducklets.)

    Thanks to Snape, and congratulations on the promotion. I’m looking forward to your Saturday debut.

    Thanks also in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  17. I don’t normally comment on Rookie Corner puzzles – but when I see Snape, I always have a dabble. Not an easy solve for me, but enjoyable nonetheless – well done that man.

    The interesting thing (and I’m sure somebody will post to the contrary) is you don’t appear to have a ‘trademark’ clue style. That’s not a complaint – a lot of the professional setters have a particular style. Ray T, Mr Manley, Excalibur come to mind so you can always expect those type of ‘clue constructs’. However, you always keep me on my toes :)

    Thanks for the enjoyment in the puzzle and many congratulations on your ‘promotion’ – well done. I’ll buy you a beer when we next meet – or is it your round? Have I ever seen your wallet? More to the point – do you have one? :whistle:

  18. Thanks Prolixic! I’m just happy that with the glaring exception of 1D, I managed to parse everything correctly.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic.

    I was aware I didn’t need 2 indicators in the long anagram because of the ‘with’, but hadn’t noticed that the first could quite happily been removed in the surface. Omission would improved it.
    Ironic that the clue written over a year ago was topical, but the one written a few days ago was out of date.

    Regarding ‘starting’ as a noun, would ‘beginning’ be an improvement, as in beginning of time (both are listed as nouns in Chambers, beginning explicitly so in Collins) or are they just the same thing?

    SL,does that mean I still owe you for a drink from the London meeting last year?

    1. I was thinking of suggesting that same word – very useful indeed (although I probably use it too much!)

    2. Personally I’m happy with either but I think the distinction some pedants make is that “beginning” can mean (physically) the first part of something. “Starting”, like any gerund, can also be treated as a noun but the meanings I can think of (eg “the starting of the car”) don’t mean precisely that.

      Maybe there is a suitable meaning for “starting” – I can’t think of one.

      It works for me anyway because it *clearly suggests* what is required. Those who want everything to be nailed to the floor require that it must *exactly mean* what’s required

      1. Yes, although if there is a better alternative that makes no difference to the surface, I may as well use that.

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