Rookie Corner – 121 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 121

A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another fime puzzle from Silvanus. 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

Review by Prolixic follows.

I agree with my noble and learned friend Crypticsue that the time for Silvanus to graduate from the ranks of the Rookie corner to the heights of the Not The Saturday Prize Puzzle has come.  This was a great crossword with not much to comment upon.


1 Extreme virus affected international seafood (6)
SCAMPI – The last letter (extreme) of virus followed by a word meaning affected or effete and the abbreviation for international.

4 I follow journalists in Alaska to highly-placed social event (5-3)
APRES-SKI – Another word for journalists inside the international code for Alaska followed by the I from the clue.  To make the cryptic grammar work, I may follow, would be a better way of phrasing this.

10 Coalition behind Germany is an idle waste of time (9)
DALLIANCE – The International code for Germany followed by another word for a coalition.

11 Raises the spirits of the lads, one hears (5)
BUOYS – A homophone (one hears) of boys (lads).

12 Strength of faculty requiring Frenchman to take son’s place (5)
MIGHT – Replace the S (son) with an M (Frenchman) in one of the senses (faculty).

13 Rigid theorist sets aside volume of film diary every other June (9)
IDEOLOGUE – Another word for a now obsolete means of showing films without the V (sets aside volume) followed by another word for a diary and the even letters (every other) of June.

14 Place for enhancing both youthful awareness and growing expertise? (7)
NURSERY – A cryptic definition for places where the young are taught and plants are grown.

16 Understand that whitebait is great for starters (4)
TWIG – The first letters (for starters) of the second to fifth words of the clue.

19 Cheek of judge to sit beside symbol of wisdom (4)
JOWL – The abbreviation for judge followed by the bird that personifies wisdom.

21 Lively musical piece by US singer after beginning of successful Australian comeback (7)
SCHERZO – The first letter (beginning of) successful followed by the perennial crossword land American singer and a reversal (comeback) of the two letter word for Australian.

24 Stain said to test out decorative wood patterning (9)
MARQUETRY – A homophone (said) of mark (stain) followed by a word meaning to test out.

25 Joint complaint having no apparent source (5)
HINGE – Remove the first letter (having no apparent source) from a word meaning a complaint or beef.

26 Oil mixture in the centre of trunk road is mayonnaise (5)
AIOLI – An anagram (mixture) of oil inside the name of one of the main North to South roads.

27 Hire out content of home to first rightful beneficiary of legacy (9)
INHERITOR – An anagram (out) of hire inside (content of) a word meaning home, the TO from the clue and the first letter of rightful.

28 Range of Cockney child’s terminology, say, for the end of 18? (3,5)
THE ANDES – The part of the anatomy at the end of one arms as might be said by a Cockney child. 

29 Demands law to intervene in sex-change (6)
EXACTS – Another word for a law inside (to intervene) in an anagram (change) of sex.


1 Confused mindset about energy deposit (8)
SEDIMENT – An anagram (confused) of mindset around the abbreviation for energy.

2 Symbolic tale of nearly everyone with a toy railway (8)
ALLEGORY – A word meaning everyone with the final letter removed (nearly) followed by the name of the world famous Danish building bricks (toy) and the abbreviation for railway.

3 Particular fielding position (5)
POINT – Double definition.  

5 Stop advertising competition (7)
PREVENT – A two letter word for publicity or advertising followed by another word for a competition.

6 Letter by former England batsman is hard to illustrate (9)
EMBELLISH – The phonetic spelling for the letter M followed by the name of a former English batsman, the IS from the clue and the abbreviation for hard.

7 Shed deep dislike of Betjeman (6)
SLOUGH – A definition and cryptic definition of the city that Betjeman wanted friendly bombs to obliterate.

8 Part of the foot which ensures correct marching? (6)
INSTEP – Split 2,4 this would ensure correct marching.

9 Shy Tim nervously gives rise to some hostility (6)
ENMITY – The answer is hidden and reversed (give rise to some) inside SHY TIM NERVOUSLY.

15 Live out on new development (9)
EVOLUTION – An anagram (new) of LIVE OUT ON.

17 Centre, if poorly positioned, can be distracted (8)
FRENETIC – An anagram (poorly positioned) of CENTRE IF.

18 Prepares one in advance to discover mineral buried within smallholdings (8)
FOREARMS – Another word for a mineral inside (buried within) another word for smallholdings. 

20 Greek style seen inside the French window (7)
LATTICE – The name of a Greek style inside the French masculine form of the.

21 Article at the foot of Southern Cyprus used for cutting (6)
SCYTHE – The abbreviation for Southern followed by the international code for Cyprus and the definite article.

22 Morse I viewed in Düsseldorf, marking a change in pronunciation! (6)
UMLAUT – Another name for the dots (Morse) seen in Düsseldorf that indicate a change in pronunciation.

23 Love amongst the trees creates a furrow (6)
GROOVE – The letter representing love inside (amongst) another word for a group of trees.

25 Merthyr axeman is at heart an animal (5)
HYRAX – The answer is hidden inside (is at heart) MERTHYR AXEMAN.

57 comments on “Rookie Corner – 121

  1. An excellent pangram. Our last one in and the one we will nominate for favourite is 22d. However it feels churlish to pick out just one for favouritism among so many really clever good clues.
    Congratulations and thanks Silvanus.

  2. Nice puzzle Silvanus.

    Plain sailing for me except that I wasn’t sure how to resolve the first part of 13a – a few ideas but not quite home there yet.

    Lots of interesting clues.

    My favourite (being a Betjeman fan) was 7d. I had 11a in wrong until that one put me right.

    15a I thought was smarter than the average acrostic.

    27a – very good – nifty use of “content” I particularly liked – amongst lots of other good clues.

    No quibbles.

    Thanks for the fun.

    1. I was also about to say can’t fully parse 13a, I’d got the last two letters as I guess you had. But I see it now – split the answer 4-3-2 the 4 starting as a 5 with a letter deducted. I think that’s it anyway.

      1. Thanks S&D – I did get it in the end – after along stare. I had the answer misspelt in my scribbles even though I had it correctly spelt in the grid entry.

  3. A really good crossword which I much enjoyed and found a nice level of challenge for a Monday morning. Thanks Silvanus.

    I share the Kiwis’ favourite – 22d – but will add my shortlist: 14a, 25a, 29a, 5d and 23d.

    Thanks in advance also to Prolixic for the review.

  4. Time for Silvanus to be promoted to Saturday afternoons, well I think so anyway.

    A lovely read and write pangram apart from 28a which was my last one in, made me groan when I did get it , and I’m also not entirely sure works as a homophone. 22d was my favourite too.

    Thanks to Silvanus and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review.

  5. Thanks to Silvanus for a very enjoyable puzzle pitched at just the right level. I laughed at 28a but my co-favourites are 7d and 22d.
    I’m not keen on ‘extreme virus’ for S in 1a and I think that, grammatically, it should be ‘I follows’ rather than ‘I follow’ in 4a (although that wouldn’t work for the surface).

  6. Many thanks to everyone who has commented so far, it’s quite a long time since I drafted this one and I had actually forgotten it was a pangram! I’m very glad that you all seem to have enjoyed the solve.

    “Extreme” as a final letter indicator seems to find favour with the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, but I concede that it can divide opinion.

    It will not surprise any regulars to know that I did have Kath in mind when creating 22d – whether she will like the clue or not is another matter of course! We’ll find out later I expect….

  7. I loved it. Pitched just right again. 28A raised a smile. I’m not very familiar with the poet in 7D, something I now plan to rectify, but that didn’t hinder the solve. A new word for me at 25D. Like others, my favorite is 22D. Thanks and congratulations to Silvanus.

    1. Thanks a lot, Chris.

      There is a delightful statue of Betjeman at the redeveloped St. Pancras International railway station in London, which – incredible to think now – he was influential in saving from potential demolition in the 1960s. As well as being famous for his poetry, he was a determined campaigner to preserve architectural heritage at a time when it wasn’t fashionable to do so. We owe him a lot.

    2. Alas, unfamiliarity with Betjeman did hinder the solve for me – along with my lack of stored synonyms for ‘shed’, clearly! :(

  8. Hi Silvanus, it’s a lovely puzzle and for once I spotted the potential pangram in time to make use of it (to resolve 6d/11a which were stubbornly not giving themselves up. )

    I needed a couple of bits of electronic help to complete but most of it went in fairly fluently

    In particular I ticked 14a, 8d, 7d, 20d, 4a (love “highly-placed”), 28a (big groan), 11a and 9d – nice potential misdirection with what looks at first like an anagram.

    Minor quibbles –
    2d is neat but I think Lego is really a collective noun for the whole box of tricks rather than being a “toy” in itself; I don’t think you can say “I have bought a Lego”.

    I wasn’t quite sure how each element of 27a gets in the right position from the wordplay.

    17d, Chambers gives this definition (OED doesn’t ) so I suppose it’s legit but wasn’t totally convinced- I can’t think of a use where you could substitute one for the other

    I can’t parse 1a, or 22d, which was my last one in and then only by trial and error of what fitted.

    Overall though it’s an enjoyable puzzle, every clue has a smooth surface and there are plenty of “of course!” moments as you work through the solve.

    Thanks Silvanus

    1. Many thanks, Starhorse.

      Very glad you enjoyed it. Another Starhorse puzzle must be due soon, surely?

  9. I reckon you ramped it up a level with this one, Silvanus! Managed the first of the cricket clues OK but just took a calculated risk over the batsman (there was bound to be one by that name!).
    Still wrestling with parsing the first part of 13a but all the rest is done and dusted.
    So many potential favourites but I’ll mention 1,11,21&25a plus 5d in particular. 28a probably gets the Cockney cringe of the year award!

    Many thanks for a great Rookie puzzle – as CS says, I sense a promotion coming along.

    1. OK – I’d have done better with the parsing of 13a if I’d spelled the answer correctly………..

    2. Many thanks Jane. Believe me, I did think “how will Jane react to not just one but two cricketing references in the same puzzle?” at the drafting stage, but I thought that as I have rationed them fairly sparingly in the past you would forgive me! Indeed, so much time has elapsed since I was preparing it that the “former England batsman” was then still a “current England batsman” :-)

  10. Thanks Silvanus

    I adored 22d. Not sure you need the italics, but they do help the solver.

    I shared Starhorse’s thoughts about lego and also enjoyed the anagram mislead in 9d.

    I had to go and find the poem before the penny dropped for 7d.

    also loved 4a, 16a, 29d.

    thought mayonnaise was a give-away in 26 and spoiled a promising surface

    thought pangram alert while solving then forgot about it.

    I had entered (r)ankle in 25a – I thought it worked fine but didn’t fit with checkers.

    All great stuff, many thanks

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Dutch.

      I do like your alternative option for 25a – I might well use it in a future puzzle!

  11. That was good fun.
    I still have a couple of answers that I think are right but not quite sure why – 1a and the first bit of 13a.
    Needless to say I loved 22d even if it took me ages to work out how or why the wonderful Morse got in there. Dim, or what?!
    Also, and again needless to say, 9d fooled me for a very long time once an anagram became impossible.
    The 28a/18d combination made me laugh and were among my last answers.
    I completely missed the pangram – I always do.
    Too many good clues to mention all of them so I’ll keep it short, for once – 4, 16 and 19a and 8d.
    With thanks and congratulations to Silvanus and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  12. Superb surfaces, really enjoyable, well done

    You might well get the ‘Some editors…’ comments for the extreme in 1a, the first in 27a, and the every other in 13a, but it is clear what you mean, and I know you know this, so just find the right editor! The same is true for the verbal definitions of nouns, which you’ve used a couple of times. The ‘I follow’ is easily rectified by using ‘One follows’ or ‘I will follow’ etc.
    Many favourites, my list is similar to everyone else’s, and I particularly liked 21a.
    Cheers, Silvanus.

    1. Well I can’t see the parsing of 1a at all, so it’s definitely not clear to me what “extreme” is meant to be on this one.

        1. But it just says ‘extreme” in the singular. I just took it to be the last letter…but then I’m not given to sweating the small stuff!

    2. Actually I thought the “I follow …” in 4a was intended to cock a snook at the ximeneans – Radian/Crucible does that occasionally. Nothing ungrammaticla about it – normal solvers just keep I as a word and only change it to a letter when it’s in place.

      Reading the other comments it seems more likely that S is trying to become one.

  13. Cheers, Snape, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    As I’ve alluded to above, I tend to use indicators that are approved in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, although their lists are not comprehensive by any means.

    The one instance where I usually differ from the CCD is that they seem to think “even” and “odd” are acceptable as alternate letter indicators, whereas my preference is for “evenly” or “oddly” or equivalents thereof. I confess that my view on this has changed since I started compiling, and I think Prolixic has definitely nudged me in this direction.

    Sorry, I should have posted this as a directly reply to your comment, Snape.

    1. Apparently Araucaria didn’t like “regularly” as an alternate letter indication – not sure why – seems OK to me.

  14. My poor little ancient brain hurts. Having an odd 30 minutes until man arrived to sort the water softener out I foolishly printed this off and say down with my trusty pencil. Not sure how I have done but thanks to Silvanus, roll on tomorrow. :phew:

    1. Hi Hilary,

      Thanks for printing it off, it wasn’t a foolish move at all! Maybe have another go at it later? It often works for me that answers become much clearer second time around :-)

  15. This was the second of two splendid puzzles today with very contrasting styles . There are those, including myself from time to time, who think that Silvanus and I are one and the same, but I can assure you that this Rookie Corner submission disproves that hypothesis; there is no way that I could have composed such an accomplished puzzle.

    I thought this pangram was first rate from start to finish – just the right level of challenge with smooth surfaces and penny drop moments a-plenty. I slowed myself down by misspelling both 11a & 13a initially but I eventually realised the error of my ways. 28a was my last one in.

    There are so many good clues here and I will mention just two. 2d is a Lego clue which actually contains the L word! 22d is, quite simply, brilliant, and my runaway favourite.

    Very well down, Silvanus, and many thanks for the great entertainment.

    1. You are far too kind, RD, and it’s never too late to try and assemble a puzzle yourself (as Kitty might say!).

      Very pleased you liked it :-)

  16. Great stuff Silvanus. Favourites for surface readings are the provocative 23D (though I haven’t solved this yet) and 29A.

    6 clues to go … I haven’t found this to be a quick solve but I think it’s a just a sluggish Monday brain for me. These clues are generally of a style that I would normally rattle through. I’m not going to read the comments (or add of my own) until I’ve at least slept on it – tomorrow I’ll be more awake, surely. If not then I’ll be surrendering!

    1. Thanks a lot, Wolfgang.

      I’m sure that after a good night’s rest you’ll polish off the remainder without any problem!

      1. Thank you Silvanus, I’m down to five now. 6D just became clear once I stopped thinking so hard…and realised what ‘is hard’ was actually doing :)

  17. Thanks as ever to Prolixic for his review and I’m glad that over the course of the last eighteen months or so I’ve been gradually taking up much less of his Monday evenings than I did with my inaugural puzzle!

    Thank you of course to Big Dave for setting everything up and to Beet and Sprocker for their invaluable test-solving all those months ago. They both deserve a fair chunk of any credit coming my way for their suggested improvements which, in several cases, involved complete remodelling of certain clues. Last, but definitely not least, thank you to the regular solvers of my puzzles, whose feedback is always so gratefully received, and which has been a great encouragement over the ten puzzles I’ve submitted so far.

    If such respected judges as both Prolixic and Crypticsue feel I’m now worthy for promotion, then who am I to argue?! Seriously, I’m very honoured and delighted in their faith in me. I will, however, have mixed feelings about leaving Rookie Corner behind, especially if BD finds it difficult to maintain the slot without more would-be setters coming forward. It would be a great pity if this incredibly valuable outlet is no longer around for future Beets, Snapes, Maizes and others to cut their cryptic teeth on, so I do hope that it will not disappear any time soon.

    1. Ultimately, I failed on 7D, 21A and 18D. I’m kicking myself for trying to put the ‘Australian’ bit of 21A in the wrong place! And prior to this I had 26A spelt wrongly, scuppering my ability to solve 23D, which I realised just past midnight last night. So I made things far too had for myself!

      I can learn a lot from your clues Silvanus. I don’t think my style is a million miles away from yours, and you clearly have a great handle on the craft. I sometimes struggle with using certain link words like ‘of’ and how to disguise the wordplay-definition join better. I thought this puzzle was notable for the latter; often I wasn’t sure what I was looking for at first.

      I’ve only had one crossword on RC so far, and the past two months have been swallowed up by wedding planning and ‘the big day’ and turning 40 in Ibiza! Now that these events are past, I’m turning my attention to honing my setter’s craft and will be submitting more grids to RC in the very near future.

      Well done Silvanus, I look forward to solving all of your future efforts, wherever they are!

      1. Thanks again, Wolfgang.

        If it would help you, and if you think our styles are similar, I’d be more than happy to test-solve some of your future puzzles. I’ve benefited greatly from having Beet, Sprocker and Snape as test-solvers for me over the past eighteen months and learnt a lot in the process. I’m sure BD would give you my contact details if you ask him.

        1. Silvanus, I would be truly honoured if you’d test-solve my crosswords – I shall contact BD for your details. Thanks again and I’m already looking forward to your NTSPP debut :)

    2. Hi Silvanus,

      Sorry, bit late to the party on this one. Really enjoyed this one second time around (and it was long enough to still be a challenge!), and very pleased to see the well deserved praise here.

      Congrats! :0)

  18. Congratulations to Silvanus for an excellent crossword, totally deserving all the praise and promotion talk!

  19. Super puzzle Silvanus.
    I think you were, for the most part, being gentle with us, but still managed to put some devilment in there. 22d was my standout clue – a terrific idea – but I also loved the string-like charades at 6d and 21a.
    Apart from those three podium finishers I have ticks by 1a, 4a, 11a, 24a, 25a, 29a (super-smooth), 7d, 20d and 23d.
    Didn’t notice the pangram, but enjoyed it very much. Many thanks.

  20. I definitely join in all the praises to Silvanus for this wonderful crossword.
    The lurker in 9d was the last to yield. D’oh.
    Loved 7d and 22d too.
    Thanks again to Silvanus and to Prolixic for the review.

  21. A very enjoyable crossword from Silvanus.

    Loved the Betjeman clue … coincidentally I have just been watching “The Office” repeats.

    1. Thank you, Stan. I think Ricky Gervais grew up in Berkshire so knew the town very well!

  22. Many thanks as always for the review, Prolixic. I think 27a requires the inclusion of ‘to’ from the clue?

    Well done again, Silvanus – looks as though we’ll be seeing you on a Saturday ‘ere long. I’ll happily forgive you for the two cricket clues this time but, be warned, I’m counting………

  23. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and thanks again and more congratulations to Silvanus on the promotion.
    No wonder I couldn’t sort out my answer to 1a – being barely computer literate I thought the ‘extreme virus’ was a ‘scam’ – oh dear! :roll:

  24. Thanks to Prolixic for explanation and thanks to Silvanus for a super, splendid crossword which after a certain amount of doubt I finished. :rose:

  25. Well, I printed this off in the library the other day and have to say it was excellent – very enjoyable and quite tough with good cluing. I have no problem at all with “Extreme virus” as an indicator to trigger S in the answer. Compared with average weekday back-pagers, I’d rate it 3*/4*.

  26. Thanks Silvanus for a Great puzzle! Hugely late this week but hopefully you’ll still see this.
    Some brief comments below. As usual I completely missed the fact it was a pangram.
    [And note to self, having read some of your comments: I must get around to submitting another one puzzle]
    Plus thanks to Prolixic!

    25 fooled by ANKLE/RANKLE for a while rather than HINGE/WHINGE
    21 seen this one somewhere else today – was it The Times – don’t recall. Great clue.
    13a nice
    22d Morse i? Took me a while to get this!! Very clever! My favourite.
    28 ho ho. pushing it a bit!

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