Rookie Corner – 118 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 118

A Puzzle by Cyborg

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Cyborg answered my appeal for more Rookie Corner puzzles – more puzzles are still needed in order to keep this feature going.  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

Cyborg excels with this crossword, particularly with the novel and brilliant construction of 26a.  The rest of the clues weren’t half bad either!


1 Equipment for rapid auto-detection in ticketing system (5,6)
SPEED CAMERA – A cryptic reference to photographic equipment used to catch those driving too fast.

7 Emergency call centres in crusade for costs (3)
SOS – The central letters in the final three words of the clue.

9 Group of stars roughed up burglar and lost clue (8,7)
GLOBULAR CLUSTER – An anagram (roughed up) of BURGLAR LOST CLUE.

10 Start of tape isn’t corrupt (5)
TAINT – The first letter (start of) tape and a colloquial way of saying isn’t.

11 Pause, take seat before a piercing in future (9)
HESITANCE – A word meaning to take a seat and the A from the clue go inside (piercing) a word meaning in the future.

12 Emperor has a scare, taken ill (6)
CAESAR – An anagram (taken ill) of A SCARE.

14 A detailed warrant I preserve from the US (8)
AMERICAN – The A from the clue followed by a word meaning warrant or deserve with the final two letters removed, the I from the clue and word meaning preserve.  Detailed would usually mean the removal of the last letter of the word, not an indeterminate number of letters.

16 Back-stabbers in performing arts trio (8)
TRAITORS – An anagram (performing) of ARTS TRIO.

18 Ancient Roman description of dry wine reaches us (6)
BRUTUS – A word used to describe dry wine followed by the US from the clue.

21 Changes position of soldier one’s pulled out? Yep (9)
REDEPLOYS – An anagram (out) of SOLDIER YEP with the I removed (one’s pulled).  I don’t think that the clue works to bring the YEP into the anagram  as you would need a construction A mixes with B to do this. 

22 Shoe returned to base, mostly (5)
SABOT – The answers is hidden (mostly) and reversed (returned) in TO BASE

24 Angry testimonials from 12a and 18a? (5-10)
CROSS-REFERENCES – A word meaning angry and a word meaning testimonials.

25 Unhappy case of spa weekend’s end (3)
SAD – The outer letters (case of) spa and the last letter (end) of weekend.

26 Famous last words from 12a to 18a (11)
ILLUSTRIOUS – Put together the final words from each of the clues 12a to 18a.


1 Sense position by sound (5)
SIGHT – A homophone (by sound) of site (position).

2 English driver causing strong reactions (7)
EMOTIVE – The abbreviation for English followed by a word meaning a driver or reason for something.

3 Day with relative is put off (5)
DAUNT – The abbreviation for day followed by the name of a female relative.

4 Caught out from a fitful indifference (6)
APATHY – The A from the clue followed by a word meaning fitful or sporadic with the C removed (caught out).

5 Seem disturbed by ex-copper’s pardon (6,2)
EXCUSE ME – The EX from the clue followed by the chemical symbol for copper and an anagram (disturbed) of SEEM.

6 One cheating grown-up runs around earlier (9)
ADULTERER – A word for a grown-up followed by the abbreviation for runs all around a three letter word meaning before or earlier.

7 Set up as devilish antic? (7)
SATANIC – Reverse (set up) the AS from the clue and follow it with an anagram (devilish) of ANTIC.  I think that this is meant to work as an all in one clue but the clue as a whole does not quite define the answer.

8 Officers regularly seek rogue insects (9)
SERGEANTS – The odd letters (regularly) of seek rogue followed by the name of some insects.  I agree that workers would have been better than insects but soldiers would have been an even better one!

12 Vision problem‘s cause for falls (9)
CATARACTS – A double definition.  Not sure that the second definition is the cause of the falls but the waterfalls themselves and cause for does not work as a link word/phrase.

13 Not in favour of previous Italian starters (9)
ANTIPASTI – A word meaning not in favour or followed by a word meaning previous an alleged abbreviation for Italian.  The abbreviation for Italian is It.

15 Spectacular bore always content regarding trees (8)
ARBOREAL – The answer is hidden in (content) SPECTACULAR BORE ALWAYS.

17 Add iron assembly in robot (7)
ANDROID – An anagram (assembly) of ADD IRON.

19 Leaves overly welcoming graduate with carbon copy (7)
TOBACCO – A three letter word meaning overly includes (welcoming) the abbreviation for a graduate and the abbreviation for carbon copy.

20 Annoys with extracted lead chemicals (6)
ESTERS – Remove the first letter (extracted lead) from a word meaning annoys.

22 Curse sun damage (5)
SWEAR – The abbreviation for sun followed by a word meaning damage.

23 Enquires after time for jobs (5)
TASKS – The abbreviation for time followed by a word meaning enquiries.

37 comments on “Rookie Corner – 118

  1. A very pleasant solve Cyborg. You have obviously put a lot of thought into getting the grammar correct and keeping good surface readings and I think you have succeeded. My only criticism might be that that some of the definitions are a bit too obvious but that is minor. I appreciated and enjoyed it.
    Thanks Cyborg.

  2. I’m not sure of a couple of answers in terms of parsing, but I did enjoy this very much . Straightforward, yes, but a welcome relief from what was for me yesterday’s NTSPP nightmare. Absolutely loved 24A, and 19D was pretty darned good too. I am adding 20D to that short list because it was the last one in and I should have solved it more quickly than I did. Thanks, Cyborg.

  3. I enjoyed this – thanks Cyborg. The stand-out clue for me was the very clever 26a. A couple of minor points – I don’t think the wordplay quite works in 14a and the abbreviation for Italian in 13d is not in the BRB.

    1. Thanks Gazza, those are both good points. I reworked 14a too many times and ended up with an extra letter in the wordplay. Apologies to all, and I’m glad it hasn’t slowed everyone down too much.

  4. I agree entirely with KiwiColin and ExpatChris, and with Chris’s favourites too, as both 24a and 19d had the penny-drop moment, 24a brought the smile and 19a had the cleverness of several words being entirely different to how they appeared in the surface, exactly what a good clue should have. I would also add 7a for the super-smooth surface.
    I haven’t understood 26a (I kind of suspect this is really good, especially having just seen Gazza’s comment) or 1d (I think? I assume there must be more to it)
    Anywhere to improve? A couple of surfaces just have a slight eyebrow raise – 8d, for example, seems unlikely to say the least, and would have been so much better with ‘workers’ even though this is a bit of a corny crossword classic. This is finding criticism for the sake of it, though, very enjoyable. Many thanks Cyborg.

  5. I really enjoyed this. The brilliant 24a and 26a earn a 9a of gold stars. Thanks to Cyborg, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  6. Extremely enjoyable and straightforward to solve, with lots of concise, snappy clues that were on occasion very Rufusesque in their deceptive simplicity, I thought. Overall it was a very professional product.

    I found the bottom half easier than the top, and, aside from the relationship between 12a and 18a, it was interesting to note that Cyborg’s previous clue-pairing trademark had been dropped for this one. I was also pleased to see the absence of any repeat indicators this time :-)

    Most of the surfaces were excellent, but I agree with Snape that a few could have been improved, for example “basics” instead of “base” in 22a would have been more meaningful, and “causing” instead of “cause for” in 12d would have jarred less. “End” in 25a could have been substituted by a synonym that avoided the somewhat inelegant “weekend’s end”. These are fairly minor points however. Like Gazza, I also wondered about “detailed” in 14a meaning to remove the last two letters rather than just the last one, but I think it’s ok. Yes, in 13d “I” is the abbreviation for Italy, not Italian, in Chambers.

    My ticked favourites were 24a, 5d and 6d.

    Many thanks, Cyborg. Keep them coming!

  7. Hi Cyborg and thanks for a tightly and accurately clued crossword – very impressive! A bit like Expat Chris it was a welcome break from another nightmare puzzle I’m attempting – last weekend’s ‘The Bard’s Coupling’ Listener where I’m still only about 80% complete :-(

    I have one or two minor quibbles: I really loved the wordplay in 7d but wasn’t sure if the form of the def. was quite right (though this could be my mistake), and I agree with other comments on the warra** being perhaps one deletion too many in 14a. So many clues to like though – I liked 5d and 8d, amongst many!


    1. I have to applaud the excellent 26a!! Let me put it another (similar) way…

      Used to travel by BR. Gave up when I became ill. Wasn’t caused by the sandwiches, say I. Though in one I did once find an ant!!!



  8. Well I’m feeling a bit puzzled by 26a – do I need to brush up my Shakespeare… ot my history perhaps? Never mind, the solution was plain enough.

    Indeed the bottom half positively flew in for me, so easier than your earlier puzzles, I’d say – although the top half did hold me up quite a bit longer before my last one in 4d.

    Podium finishes for 11a, 14a and 15d. Favourite clue was 8d.

    Many thanks Cyborg, and bravo for responding to BD’s cri de couer!

    1. Thanks everyone for the comments so far, they’re all well received and much appreciated. After the answers go up I’ll pop back in to talk specifics.
      For 26a there’s no brushing up needed, but you have to read the wordplay very literally indeed.

  9. Slight hold ups in the SE corner as I’d forgotten the shoes and didn’t know the chemicals. Question over the latter – aren’t we extracting phosphorus rather than lead?
    Could any possible niggle over 14a have been ironed out by cluing it as ‘A detailed warrant – preserve of the US’.

    Like Snape and Maize, I suspect that I might have missed something in 26a unless I was just trying to see too much in it.

    Thank you, Cyborg – it was a most enjoyable puzzle. I really liked 5,8&19d and top spot goes to 24a.

    I do hope BD gets more entries for Rookie Corner, it’s invariably a highlight of the week.

      1. I initially thought the same thing – despite the fact that I’d used exactly the same construction in my puzzle last week!

  10. I’ve resolved my other two parsing issues (silly me) and I’m left with 14A and 26A. In 14A, I don’t understand the detailed warrant bit, and 26A has me totally flummoxed as well.

    1. For 26a you need to concentrate on the range of the clues concerned rather than their answers.

        1. And I just sorted out 14A, too. I didn’t read the comments closely enough there.

      1. 26a – absolutely brilliant. Sorry I didn’t get it. I am sure you will have a fan of this with Beet, too. She loves this sort of thing. For me it has lifted the whole crossword a level.

  11. A lovely crossword – really enjoyed it.
    I got in a muddle with 9a as I haven’t heard of it and thought I was hunting for a specific constellation.
    My main problem is 4d – assuming it’s right then why is it right? I’m probably being dim, again.
    I’m still missing something in 26a but perhaps a wander round the garden will sort that one out.
    I liked 1 and 24a and 1 and 7d.
    With thanks and well done to Cyborg not just for the good crossword but for filling an obvious gap in Rookie corner.

    1. Hi Kath,
      For 4d – try splitting your answer 1,5 and then put ‘caught’ back into the second section to make a word.

      1. Hmmm – thank you. Now I have a couple of alternatives a) my answer is wrong or b) I’m being even dimmer than usual – I suspect the latter – oh dear!
        Thanks very much for trying – off up the garden to turn the water off – maybe the light will dawn although, there again, maybe not. :sad:

  12. many thanks Cyborg – very enjoyable. I struggled with 26a as well, until Gazza helped. Given the last two letters for 18a I was wrongly starting at the range of answers, which didn’t get me very far.

    Very clever – definitely the top clue, the lovely little Boris & Mikey mini-theme is used beautifully. Clever to work 16a also as a themed entry on top of the contribution to 26a.

    I also appreciated the all-in-ones and I thought the hidden was good

    I noted the hiccup in 14a but it didn’t detract from a most enjoyable solve.

    Well done, congratulations on a fine puzzle

  13. Should really read all the clues before starting as I only noticed the theme when I reached 24a. By then, I had almost a full grid.
    But what a finale.
    Absolutely superb.
    My favourite was 5d until I got 26a.
    Thanks to Cyborg for such a great achievement.

  14. Hi Cyborg,

    I really enjoyed this – the only very minor quibbles I had have already been dealt with above. I really liked the CD in 1a which took me a while to twig, but once the penny dropped on 26a that became my clear favourite.


  15. What to do when the weather on a Monday is awful? Rookie Corner, of course.

    Very well done and many thanks, Cyborg. This was great fun and included some inventive ideas, particularly the brilliant 26a (which I wouldn’t have been able to parse without Gazza’s help).

    Many thanks also to BD for encouraging the Rookies and giving the rest of us a regular extra Monday treat.

  16. I’m going to pile on more love for the device in 26a – I needed to read some comments before I understood it, but I got genuinely excited when I did, which is a rare emotion in crosswording. Top-drawer stuff.

    But the puzzle is more than that ingenious device – the general clue quality here is very high. A great demonstration that an easy crossword needn’t be tedious – I was smiling all the way through. 1d, 2d, 5d and 20d all stood out as particularly good.

    Not sure what’s going on in 1a and 24a, though both are very gettable from crossers – think I’m missing something. I look forward to enlightenment from tomorrow’s review…

    Thanks Cyborg, and congrats on a top-notch puzzle!

    1. Oh good – I’m so glad that someone else is missing something. 1 and 24a I get – 26a is still a bit of a mystery to me in spite of all the help in previous comments. :scratch:

      1. Hi Kath,

        It took me a while to understand it too. Imagine reading the clue with the word “inclusive” added at the end perhaps?

  17. I am a big fan of Cyborg and even more so after this puzzle. Lots of lovely clues and a special twist to make it extra special.

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic.
    Over the course of the day my appreciation for the whole construction of the crossword has grown. I did think it was a perfectly decent crossword when I first did it, but the realisation that much of it was constructed around 26a added that sparkle. The previous device with similar clues that Cyborg used hadn’t quite been nailed. This had.
    Soldiers would indeed have been even better for 8d.
    I saw 21a as an all in one clue, with changes position as the anagram indicator, and the out being part of pulled out, but if that is the case maybe it should be an imperative, which would only lead to redeploy.
    Very well done again, Cyborg.

  19. Great review as ever Prolixic – thank you! I like your ‘soldiers’ suggestion.
    Cyborg – I really loved this one – thanks again!

  20. Nice solve Cyborg – medium difficulty for me most of the way through – plenty of gentle smiles.

    Storms here – I managed to get a print-out before the power went off – then came back on – then went off again – still off now so I’m on generator power – but can’t print – and worse still I have a 2000w vac and a 1000w generator – so the cleaning lady has had to cancel.

    I ticked 11a, 21a, 24a (double-tick) 5d, 7d – but plenty of others came close.

    Initially I could only fathom one side of 26a. I couldn’t get ILL US so – looking for ILLUSTRIOUS I thought that on that basis TRIO would get pulled from 16a and US from 14a – so – running through that thought prosess – bingo there it is – all buried in the word “to” – very neat. I have to ask – was that pre-baked in full on purpose or did the possibility arise as things went in?

    No quibbles

    Thanks for the fun.

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and for the enlightenment over 26a. Superb – I’m so annoyed that I couldn’t get there on my own!

  22. Thanks all, and BD in particular for keeping the slot alive. I’d love to claim that I leapt into action and put this together in a week to fill the schedule, but I’m not that quick. I’ll keep plodding along though, and hope that we’ve got enough rookies to stay afloat. The problem is the pesky setters who keep getting too good at it!

    As you might guess, “famous last words” was the idea that started this grid, and all the rest was an elaborate con to make the surfaces work. I did spend a good while wondering whether or not 26a would benefit from an exclamation mark, but concluded that no-one would solve it from wordplay either way.

    Of the slips, I’m most annoyed about letting an extra I into 14a. It was also interesting to hear that the definitions were easier this time – I think I got into a habit when trying to balance out awkward double clues. I have got a defence for CATARACTS: the intended definitions were “vision problem’s cause” and “falls”.

    Much obliged, Prolixic, and if the queue stays this short then I’ll see you again shortly!

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