Rookie Corner – 130 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 130

A Puzzle by Encota

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week’s puzzle is another excellent contribution from Encota. 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 pdf

Encota delights with this puzzle.  It more polished than previous puzzles and only a few minor matters to raise on the wordplay.  Perhaps 9 anagrams was a little on the high side but worse has been seen in the daily papers!


1 Unfaithful Frenchman maybe aged disgracefully (8)
RENEGADE – A French masculine first name followed by an anagram (disgracefully) of AGED.  The maybe could have been omitted here as Frenchman is not an example of Rene.

5 Vegetable rust? (6)
CARROT – Split 3-3, this would indicate a form of corrosion that affects old vehicles.

9 He stared improperly – part of seat being visible behind (8)
HEADREST – An anagram (improperly) of HE STARED.

10 Ignoring the odds, reverses Armageddon Hex Charm (6)
ENDEAR – The even letters (ignoring the odds) of ARMAGEDDON HEX reversed.

12 First-rate politician’s parting excuse (5)
ALIBI –A two letter expression indicating first-rate includes (parting) the abbreviation for Liberal (politician).

13 Loathsome old boy next door to Number 10 indicating debts? (9)
OBNOXIOUS – The abbreviations for old boy and number followed by the Roman numeral for 10 and an abbreviation for debts.

14 The result of choosing between sad and overjoyed psychics? (1,5,6)
A HAPPY MEDIUM – The mid-point between sad and overjoyed applied to another word for a psychic.

18 Reading for one accepting gangster’s wide-ranging state (12)
UNIVERSALITY – An educational establishment of which Reading is an example includes (accepting) the first name of the gangster Mr Capone.

21 Unsafe ship, for example, had pet rat swimming (5-4)
DEATH-TRAP – An anagram (swimming) of HAD PET RAT.

23 The conclusion reached before cracking cipher (5)
OMEGA – Before a word meaning cracking or superb put a letter that indicates the character 0.

24 Running order from Ms Lovelace squeezing General (6)
AGENDA – The first name of the computing genius Ms Lovelace includes (squeezing) the abbreviation for general.

25 Feature of Python Eric’s sloth? (8)
IDLENESS – A semi-cryptic reference to the second name of Eric of Monty Python fame.

26 Tear exchanging articles for lead (6)
TETHER – Replace the indefinite article in tear with the definite article.

27 Untaxed cost could be so accounted for (4-4)
SCOT-FREE – A reverse anagram clue where the answer gives a cryptic clue that gives cost.


1 Rifles are the means to gain power (6)
REHEAT – An anagram (rifles) of ARE THE.

2 Vitamin C in regular treatment for angina, initially (6)
NIACIN – The C and the IN from the clue before (initial) the even letters (regular treatment) of ANGINA.

3 See topless below deck: one’s warned not to pay! (9)
GARNISHEE – A word meaning to deck or adorn food followed by the word see without the first letter (topless).  This type of order instructs a bank not to pay money in an account to the account holder but, instead, to pay it to a third party who is owned money by the account holder.

4 Upset with disclosure when old member’s out for fifty (12)
DISCOMPOSURE – The word for upset would become disclosure if you replaced the abbreviation for O and member of parliament with the Roman numeral for 50.

6 Mobile tool perhaps with bearings inside is appropriate (5)
ANNEX – The American name (Mobile) for a cutting tool include three compass points, the first being repeated.

7 “Charioteers staggered when sea parted” – such eloquence (8)
RHETORIC – An anagram (staggered) of CHARIOTEERS after removing (parted) the letters in sea.  As the letters in sea are removed in a different order, some editors would require a second anagram indicator such as rough sea.

8 Supply moistener ignoring new routine (8)
TIRESOME – An anagram (supply – in a supple manner) of MOISTENER after removing the abbreviation for new.

11 Full of information, film about nursing revolved around work (12)
ENCYCLOPEDIC – A four letter word for a film is reversed about and includes (nursing) a word meaning revolved around a two letter word for work.

15 Outgoing rambler receives garbled text?  Quite the reverse! (9)
EXTROVERT – An anagram (garbled) of TEXT includes another word for rambler.

16 Rave support for team not heading fourth division (8)
QUADRANT – A word meaning rave goes underneath (support for) a five letter word for a team without the first letter (not heading).

17 Fixed gilt – name for bond (8)
LIGAMENT – An anagram (fixed) of GILT NAME.

19 Show space to turn round (6)
VENEER – A word for a printers space has a word meaning to turn or swerve around it.

20 Trouble results from uneven heats? A Silver! (6)
HASSLE – The odd letters (uneven) in HEATS A SILVER.

22 Dodge‘s centrally meshed gears (5)
HEDGE – The answer is hidden centrally in MESHED GEARS.

68 comments on “Rookie Corner – 130

  1. We’re away from home so not in our usual place or time for solving and did find this quite a slog. However now that we have got it all sorted we can appreciate some of the cleverness that we had skipped over when solving. Still not sure about ‘rust’ being a fair synonym in 5a, 24a lady somewhat obscure, and a few other points that we know others will expand on.
    Thanks Encota.

    1. Thanks 2Kiwis – though I’m sorry you found it a bit of a slog. It was aimed to be hard but not stupidly so, with much reduced ‘Guess What I’m Thinking’ items of which I was guilty in my earliest puzzles.

      With ‘car rot’ I particularly had in mind the British Leyland Cowley Road efforts of the 1970s (wasn’t one called the Austin All Aggro or similar?), which unfortunately seemed to be more rust than car after a stupidly short period of time – probably why one sees so few of them now, even in the UK!

      And with Ada Lovelace, she is one of those perfect examples of geniuses who would have been 100x more famous still if ‘only’ she had been a man at the time of her early computer science breakthroughs! Having said that, there are few people who have a computer language named after them, so she has had some stalwart supporters. You might have guessed that I’m a fan ;-)

  2. I liked the lateral thinking involved in 5a. The lady in 24a I recall I didn’t know until I met her in an earlier rookie corner puzzle – they are so educational! A few I needed to reveal a letter on, but in retrospect they all make sense to me apart from 19? 13a was my favourite – many thanks to Encota

    1. Hi Beet and thanks for your kind comments.

      For ‘car rot’ I particularly had in mind the British Leyland Cowley Road efforts of the 1970s (wasn’t one called the Austin All Aggro or similar?), which unfortunately seemed to be more rust than car after a stupidly short period of time – probably why one sees so few of them now, even in the UK!

      With Ada Lovelace, she is one of those perfect examples of geniuses who would have been 100x more famous still if ‘only’ she had been a man at the time of her early computer science breakthroughs! Having said that, there are few people who have a computer language named after them, so she has had some stalwart supporters. You might have guessed that I’m a fan ;-)

      And not sure about 19? Wasn’t sure if you were caught out by the EN for space (I find it hard to resist EM and EN for ‘space’ – the widths of a letter m and n in proofreading/typesetting, I’m told) or by VEER?

      Thanks again for the feedback.

  3. I found this quite tricky but very enjoyable – thanks Encota. The top half was easier than the bottom for me. I’ll list 23a, 6d and 16d for the penny drop moments when the wordplay revealed itself. I agree with 2Kiwis about ‘rust’ in 5a although the answer had to be what it was.

    1. Hi Gazza and thanks for the feedback. With ‘car rot’ I particularly had in mind, when setting, the British Leyland Cowley Road efforts of the 1970s (wasn’t one called the Austin All Aggro or similar?), which unfortunately seemed to be more rust than car after a stupidly short period of time – probably why one sees so few of them now!

  4. Many thanks Encota! Brilliant stuff. I just seriously hope I’m not the only person who went for Linda at first. Anyway it seems Oct 11 is her day.

    I took rust to be a (3,3) split of the answer. Quite nice, actually. One of my ticks. I also really liked 14a, and 7d. (and many more). I am hoping this will be one of those puzzles where people will choose many different clues as their favourites – which is always a good thing – it’s when everyone likes the same clue that you worry about the rest.

    I thought this was a bit easier than some of your previous puzzles – if that is intentional, respect – I think that is not easy, so to speak. I’m imagining it was intentional, for example I think I found an example where you held off using a synonym that would have added an extra step of deviousness. It still took toughie rather than back-pager time, which was great.

    Very few comments, which are just personal taste really: I’m not sure you really need ‘maybe’ in 1a. 9a, the definition seems a little complicated though I realise it’s trying to work in surface, 24a the abbreviation seems not to be in brb but it is in collins, 27d if you use ‘explained’ you don’t need to end the clue with a preposition. 3d was a new word.

    Many thanks, most enjoyable, congratulations!

    1. You weren’t the only one to think of Linda initially! Thanks for explaining 5a – it makes a lot more sense now.

    2. I won’t comment too much at this stage but many thanks for the feedback, esp. on 27. I am I the only one who recalls from school (yup, back in an earlier millennium, I confess!) being told: “A preposition is something that you should never end a sentence with”? ;-)

      And who is this Linda of which you speak? No, only kidding, please don’t answer that (and your brackets are correct)!

      1. Was it a Churchill quote? “I have been accused of ending a sentence with a preposition – that is something up with which I will not put!”

        I don’t know if it is a strict grammar rule, but to me it affects the elegance, so why not. Anyway, you know you’ve made it when the criticism gets to that sort of level…

      2. Our Younger Pet Lamb, i.e. daughter, once said to her Dad who had clearly taken the wrong book upstairs for the bedtime story, “Why did you bring that book I didn’t want to be read to out of up for?”

    3. Hi Dutch and many thanks for the detailed and kind feedback. It was a good early spot from you that there might be a range of favourites for this puzzle. And it never occurred to me that Gen wouldn’t be in Chambers! You’ll be telling me that L(arge) and S(mall) are missing next ;-)

      Loved the Churchill quote, too. I have a clue I’m working on in another puzzle with exactly the same trailing preposition problem: your comment has renewed my energy to find a solution to removing that one too!

  5. Am I the only one who’s finding it extremely difficult to make any headway with this one?
    It gets worse now that you’ve all said that there is another Ms. Lovelace!

    1. Hi Jane,

      I think what makes the puzzle deceptively difficult (probably Encota’s deliberate intention) is that many of the definitions are not the most obvious ones – they’re legitimate but not the first synonyms you’d immediately think of. It was for that reason I had many question marks during the solving process.

      As you cope so admirably with RayT’s stretched synonyms, I’m sure you’ll eventually find these less strained ones a doddle once you begin to make inroads!

  6. Hi Encota,

    Your best puzzle to date in my opinion, I enjoyed it very much indeed.

    I was delighted to note the absence of some of your earlier wordy or, if you’ll forgive me for saying, long-winded type of clues, and the result was a marked improvement I felt. Whilst solving, I had initially put seven or eight question marks beside definitions I thought were dubious, but in virtually every case you were correct and my doubts were groundless! I’m still not convinced about the definition in 1d however, (doesn’t it need “again” to be added at the end?) and a few of the surfaces, particularly 26a and 20d, did seem a little strained.

    I gave single ticks to 12a, 14a, 2d, 4d, 16d and 22d, with double ticks going to 13a, 21a and 15d. 5a was a slow burner, the more I thought about it, the more I liked its cleverness.

    I still can’t parse a couple, but I’ll wait for the review for those.

    Great stuff, Encota, many congratulations.

    1. Thanks Silvanus for the kind feedback. As an aside and re. long-winded clues, I’m desperately hoping you’ve missed my attempt at DIY Clue of the Week last week for GRUMBLING APPENDIX (which I saw more as comedy than a serious submission). Apart from that I have been working on improving the surfaces so I’m pleased you liked them.

      Anyway, back to the plot – I’m pleased you ticked so many clues! And re. 1d I recall seeing a Tornado jet in a jaw-dropping vertical climb when driving past Duxford airfield once, and it was definitely using its reheat.

      Thanks again!

  7. Umm – I’ve now got words to fit into all the boxes but am so unconvinced by some of them that I think I’ve probably gone astray somewhere along the way.
    3d was a new word for me – must discover its derivation – and my favourite is 13a.

    Thanks, Encota – I’m obviously way off your wavelength but will be most interested to read the review and learn from it.

    1. Thanks Jane. I’ve been pushing myself to use some less obvious definitions and it sounds like from your feedback I may have stepped too far with those, from your pov?

      Re. 3d, if one decorates your food with a salad in front of you I was wondering if one might be described as a GARNISHEE? Didn’t have the cheek to try and include it in the clue though!

  8. Took a while but found it quite pleasurable.
    10a not filled in yet.
    Still have some problems with parsing 6d unless it is one of these indirect anagrams again.
    Correct me if I am wrong but I think 4d should be “in for fifty” rather than “out”.
    Used Google only once to check Ms. Lovelace.
    Learned a new word in 3d too.
    Favourite is 2d.
    Thanks to Encota.

    1. 6d is not an indirect anagram – it’s not an anagram at all. The capital M in Mobile is necessary.

      1. I thought it was partly an indirect anagram – but not an unfair one. Can’t see a parsing involving the M or an indicator that would justify M from Mobile.

        J-L C. 10a works on similar lines 20d, well I think it does! I thought 2d did too, but I can’t make it do so and I’m lost on that one. I’m with you on 4d (see below)

        1. 6d is not an anagram. You need to think of which country Mobile is in and their peculiar spelling.

    2. Thanks Jean-Luc for your kind feedback. Re. 4d, I thought quite hard about it and, after reading some of ‘The Don’s’ Chambers Crossword Manual, decided that I could also define it in this reverse way – JS has defined it exactly as I intended it in his comment below.

  9. Hi Encota

    Started off OK but in the end had to reveal quite a lot, and there are several unparsed. (I think I put that every week actually – should probably assign a special CTRL+ something instruction on my PC to post that phrase automatically!)

    Best clues for me were 12a, 14a, 25a, 27a and 20d.

    4d, “when old member’s out for fifty” implies to me that letters representing “old member” go “out” for (“ in favour of”) the letter for fifty, but it seems to be the other way round. I don’t see how you can read it that way – I guess it’s the “out” that (for me) makes it dubious. But I think that’s the only technical quibble – and I may be wrong anyway.

    I agree with others that the toughness comes mainly from the definitions.

    I think where that’s fine in a clue such as 17d. “Bond” is quite a general definition for the answer, though undoubtedly accurate.
    But the wordplay is straightforward, which helps no end.

    Elsewhere, 3d for example I’ve never come across, despite a career in finance. And the synonym from “deck” isn’t one of the more obvious ones either, well not to me. Others, like 2d (again, a total unknown) and 23a (usage unknown to me and not in OED) I couldn’t unravel the wordplay and still can’t. But others can clearly parse them so that’s fair enough.

    But as ever these things are partly subjective based on what you know – which in my case isn’t a lot! I came to the conclusion I had heard of both Lovelaces, but knew more about one than the other …. well, she is rather more recent, so fair enough eh?

    Nice puzzle all round, hard but fair, thanks for putting it up.

    1. You’re on the right track for 2d. The odd letters of angina go before the two words following the definition.

      1. Ah, OK, think you mean even (odd would be AGN) but I’d taken the C as being part of the definition without googling to check. Cheers.

    2. Hi Starhorse and many thanks for the useful feedback.

      Re. 4d I think it’s ok in this reverse (‘were you to replace X with Y you’d get Z’) form; not the norm I know.

      Re. GARNISHEE I confess it was new to me too! Re. GARNISHdeck, I think the line “Deck the halls with boughs of holly” has this context.

      Re. 23a I have used O for cipher in the past (though not here) and it feels slightly cheating. Couldn’t resist its combination with MEGAcracking (as in “Cracking toast, Gromit”!) though!

      Thanks again

  10. I thought that was quite difficult.
    I’ve now got answers for everything but still only half get 6d, I do now understand 5a, thank Dutch, and I don’t get 23a at all – I’ll look forward to the review.
    I’ve never heard of 3d but eventually guessed and looked it up.
    I’ve never heard of Ms Lovelace – either of them.
    I liked 16d and my favourite was 13a.
    With thanks to Encota for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review.

    1. 23a is the letter that looks like cipher followed by an adjective meaning cracking or excellent.

      1. Thanks Gazza – I didn’t know the cipher bit and always forget that kind of cracking or brilliant.

    2. Thanks Kath for your feedback. I think most of your points are answered in Prolixic’s review. Re. Ada Lovelace, I feel duty bound to repeat my advert for her…

      She is one of those perfect examples of geniuses who would have been 100x more famous still if ‘only’ (grrr!) she had been a man at the time of her early computer science breakthroughs! Having said that, there are few people who have a computer language named after them, so she has had some stalwart supporters. You might have guessed that I’m a fan ;-)

  11. :phew:
    That was tough, but very enjoyable.

    I still can’t parse 23a, and I’m struggling with the definition in 3d. The answer means someone who is ordered to pay, so shouldn’t the “not” be removed?

    I agree with Silvanus about the definition in 1d, and with Jean-Luc and Starhorse about 4d needing the old member to be in and not out. I could add a slightly risqué comment here, but I will refrain from so doing.

    Great stuff, Encota. Well done and thank you.

    1. Thank you, Gazza, for your answer to Kath about 23a. Cipher meaning zero is a new one for me (even though it is described as an archaic definition!)

    2. P.S. There were lots of great clues here, but 5a was my first one in and favourite. I love brief clues as long as they are clever, as this one is.

    3. Interesting point about 3d.

      I’d not heard of it and saw in Chambers:

      “A person warned not to pay money owed to another, because the latter is indebted to the garnisher who gives the warning”

      but on the other hand OED has:

      “a third party who is instructed by way of legal notice to surrender money to settle a debt or claim.”

      I think that must mean that Chambers is saying A must not pay B, because B owes C. But OED is saying A is told to pay C directly i.e. not pay B.

      I’m sure Prolixic, wearing his legal hat, will be able to advise which is right – or even find a way to prove that both are.

    4. Hi Rabbit Dave and thanks for the feedback – ‘tough but enjoyable’ is exactly what I was aiming for! Most of your comments are addressed in Prolixic’s review, I think…

      Re. 23a I have used O for cipher in the past (though not here) and it feels slightly cheating. Couldn’t resist its combination with MEGA=cracking (as in “Cracking toast, Gromit”!) though!

      Re. 4d I think it’s ok in this reverse (‘were you to replace X with Y you’d get Z’) form; not the norm I know.

      And as for the potentially risqué comment, I don’t think I’ll ask (especially if it involves the other Ms Lovelace ;-) )


  12. Not sure why, but I got on Encota’s wavelength immediately and solved without too many problems. I thought the cluing was excellent in its conciseness and as a result both very fair and enjoyable. It’s great to see so many answered BD’s plea for fresh submissions to Rookie Corner. Thanks Encota.

  13. Not the easiest puzzle but satisfying to solve. I started quite slowly, picked up pace, and then struggled with the final handful (which were scattered around, not clustered in, the grid).

    3d was new to me and I can’t parse 19d.

    14a raised a smile, though I think if I had to choose between those psychics I’d pick the sad one – more likely to be honest (if that’s not an oxymoron), or at least have a conscience.

    My picks are 24a – and not just because it was one of my first in – together with 13a, 21a and 16d.

    Thanks Encota and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    1. Hi kitty.
      Don’t know if you’re still around but 19d is a four letter verb for turn as in a car around one of those pubishing spaces to give us something that shows off a bit.

      1. Thank you! It’s all so clear in the rear-view mirror. Yes, I’m still around, getting ready to cross swords with Excalibur shortly.

        1. I’m off to Aix en Provence tomorrow morning to have lunch with my hard studying daughter.
          Shall do it on the train journey.
          Look forward to the kittiest of reviews.

    2. Hi Kitty and thanks for the feedback. ‘Not the easiest but satisfying to solve’ is pretty much exactly where I was aiming for, so thank you! 19d will have been answered by Prolixic’s review, I trust.

      I also enjoyed your psychic insight (but perhaps you knew I was going to say that :-) ) !

  14. Hi Encota – many thanks for the puzzle – very enjoyable. For me it was probably just on the hard side of medium difficulty – but no hold-ups.

    No real quibbles – a few observations.

    1a I think “maybe” is good – not as a definition-by-example indication, but because Rene might usually be a Frenchman, but he might not be.

    3d – the answer was obvious – the definition (whether that or its opposite) took a bit of thought but I think it’s OK.

    4d the letter swap looked at first sight to be the wrong way round but reading it as OMP out (= at large) for (= in place of) L it works fine.

    7d – as there are three (or more) different schools of thought subtractive anagrams always make good quibble generators.

    In my school to remove SEA I remove S – then I remove E – then I remove A – so jumbling SEA (which some might think is needed) doesn’t help me, and I rarely expect to find it hidden as is in the main fodder. Your approach there has the biggest following amongst those who consider themselves to be pedants. The order is critical. As you have anagrammed (or jumbled) the main fodder first that can give you the answer plus SEA – SEA is then removed without further jumbling. So most of us are happy.

    My favourites were 13a, 14a and 2d.

    1. Hi Jolly Swagman and thanks for the insightful feedback as ever – very useful.

      1a – yes, that was my train of thought too. I mentioned in some earlier f/b the delightfully entitled “11 Belgian artists who aren’t Rene Magritte” as a counter-example.

      4d – thanks for reassuring me! It felt right though clearly not the more obvious way round of flagging the substitution

      7d – hmm, this looks a tricky area! I think in this case changing the clue to read ‘rough sea’ or ‘stormy sea’ is easy so I’d just do that. Less sure what I’d do if such a relevant adjective was much harder to find. I think I’m coming down (just) on the side of the ‘pedants’ here though you are quite right, the anagram first then the deletion does allow for much more flexibility.

      1. Re 7d – my point was that the pedants are divided on this – they fall into opposing camps. If you added an extra anagram/jumble indicator one of those camps would call that a spare word.

        Talking of spare words, what is “perhaps” doing in 6d? TOOL clues AX (subject to the US indication) fine – it’s not an example of one (one use of “perhaps”) – nor is anagramming needed (another use). I think it’s spare.

        Sorry – I missed that first time through.

        1. Thanks JS.

          Re. 7d – I get it now, thank you.

          Re. 6d I just re-checked my notes in Sympathy (I wrote this a while back) and I’ve written “AX (an American tool such as could be found in Mobile, Alabama)”. So my intention was that it’s Mobile that benefits from the Definition By Example indicator. I’d be interested to know if that logic works for you.

          1. Re 6d – there are two issues there;

            1: Can the scope of “perhaps” extend to Mobile when “tool” is in the way – I don’t think it can.
            2: Does Mobile (as an American city) need a definition-by-example indication. Just looking around at common examples – NIce, Lorraine’s etc for French – I don’t think it does. Thinking it through from first prinicples leads me to the same conclusion. I realise that Mobile might be said to be just one example of an American city but that would only matter if Mobile was being used in the clue as a proxy for “American city” or (more likely) “city”.

            Mobile may be an arbitrary example of an American city but it’s not a *definition* by example.

  15. Thanks Prolixic for your review – and to you and all for your kind comments! Re. some points:

    Number of anagrams at nine – OK, it’s a fair cop! I do like anagrams! And thanks for the explanation at 3d for GARNISHEE!

    1a. I was thinking Rene Magritte (there’s a superbly entitled article on the ‘net, “11 Belgian artists who aren’t Rene Magritte” or similar) as a counter-example, which I think justifies the ‘Frenchman maybe’ for Rene? JS noted the same early this morning.

    7d. Yes, I like rough/stormy etc sea – I’ll use that another time, thanks.

    More individual feedback to follow.

    1. And many thanks to CS and SG for test-solving this puzzle what seems like … a fair while ago!

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m now sorted with the couple of parsing difficulties and the one wrong answer!

    Encota – I think, with hindsight, I was actually more on wavelength than I’d thought – just had a few issues with some of the surfaces.
    Question about 6d – surely it can simply be parsed as a tool (AXE) becoming ‘mobile’ around two compass bearings?

    1. Hi Jane,

      Pleased about the wavelength bit!

      Logically you are right re AXE, though I think that would take us into the taboo territory of the ‘indirect anagram’. I’ve a copy of both the original “Ximenes on the art of the crossword” and D.Manley’s Chambers Crossword Manual and neither speak highly of it (quite the reverse).

      1. Apologies to the pedants, but some of those ‘rules’ make me despair at times – rather like all the ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘on’ thingies in across/down clues. ‘AXE’ is only a very small word to mobilise!

  17. Thanks Encota and Prolixic. A slow solve (after an initial rush in the northeast) but an enjoyable one. The four long ones (except for 14a, which was a much-needed gimme) were all a case of ‘stare at them until they fade into view’, but no less satisfying for it.

    23a was almost a total mystery to me: never heard of cipher = 0, not readily familiar with that use of ‘mega’ (must be a regional thing) and the grammar in the clue is weird enough that I couldn’t see how the elements were supposed to fit together anyway. (I have heard of omega, though! :) ) Didn’t get 26a without Prolixic’s help, which is a shame because it’s a lovely device. Lovelace in 24a was fine for me – as you say, it’s a shame she’s not quite the household name she deserves to be. I like the double nesting going on in 11d.

    My favourites were 13a, 9a and 16d. Jolly good fun, thanks again :)

  18. Hi Encota.

    Busy few days and I’ve clearly missed the party. but I know you’re keen(!), so thought you might like my penn’orth even at this late hour.

    Very enjoyable with lots of cleverness in the clues. My favourites were 5a, 13a, 14a, 24a (Ada’s well enough known down our way!), 27a (I’m a sucker for a reverse anagram), 6d, 8d, 15d and 22d, but my ‘Clue of the Day’ was the expertly assembled 11d – brilliant!

    I had the same point that Prolixic mentioned for 1a – I’d have been happy without the ‘maybe’, and I also agreed with the stricter grammar suggestion for 7d (I’d even written ‘rough?’ in the margin) so maybe some would call me a pedant. I would just say if you’re capable of creating a clue which is both entertaining and also follows those ‘stricter’ rules, then why not? But I still enjoyed both those clues :)

    I also wondered where you stand on ‘etymological crossover’. Now loads of established setters have this all the time in the UK, so obviously lots of editors don’t mind it. But since this subject cropped up on these pages a few months ago I’ve been trying to avoid clues where definition and wordplay share the same root. In your puzzle this was evident in 3d (Garnish/ Garnishee) and 18a (University/ Universality).

    Interesting to read you have Sympathy – I’m well-jel. Recommended?

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