Rookie Corner – 133 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 133

A Puzzle by ShropshireLad

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today’s new setter is our very own ShropshireLad. Some of the answers will be familiar to those who follow the blog!  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.

Welcome to the poacher turned gamekeeper as Shropshire Lad moves from blogging to setting.  This was entertaining spotting  the well known bloggers’ names.  There were a few rough edges but overall the quality was there.


1 Our Spanish expat sailor takes a dip, naked! (7)
POMMERS – The abbreviation for petty office (sailor) followed by a word meaning to dip with the outer letters removed (naked).  The “a” should have been omitted from this clue as “a dip” implies a noun but the verb to dip is required in the wordplay.

5 Famous Channel showcases website founder (3,4)
BIG DAVE – Another word for famous followed by the name of a comedy channel that shows endless repeats of terrestrial TV shows.

10 Is twitcher seen in Germany?  Yes, and New England (4)
JANE – The German for Yes followed by the abbreviations for New England.

11 Commonly, they’re briefly seen down by spring water before moving on (10)
EPHEMERALS – A cryptic definition of short lived insects  that appear in the spring by water sources.

12 Time to give out some material (6)
TISSUE – The abbreviation for time and a word meaning to emit or give out.

13 “Work with colour” announced visual expert (8)
OPTICIAN – A two letter abbreviation for work and a homophone (announced) of titian (colour)

14 Unholy son ceased to see church official (9)
DEACONESS – An anagram (unholy) of SON CEASED.

16 Bunk off to Anchorage? (5)
BERTH – A double definition of  bed and a place where ships may be anchored.  I think that the off to are misleading here and don’t help the clue other than massage the surface reading.

17 Test case (5)
TRIAL – Double definition.

19 Wow, Dad’s cuddling a loud female behind the ‘Green Man’ bar (9)
MIFFYPOPS – A two letter word meaning wow and a word for dad’s around a letter for one (a) and the abbreviations for loud and female.  Although one can be used to clue an A or an I to use A to clue I is a clue to a clue A = one = I.

23 To draw level in match is excellent start! (7)
EQUALISE – A word meaning match, the IS from the clue and the first letter (start) of excellent.  Perhaps the overlap between the word to match and the definition is a little too close.

24 Perspire, as no longer in good health (6)
EXHALE – An prefix meaning no longer and a word meaning in good health.

26 Nearly time to rise and deliver bedroom furniture (10)
NIGHTSTAND – A word meaning nearly and the abbreviation for time followed by a word meaning to rise.  Ideally, you would not repeat the wordplay of using time for T (it was used in 12a).

27 Do, ra, me, fa, so, la, do? (4)
NOTE – How you would express the note missing from the scale.

28 A stopover spot for German shepherd (7)
KENNELS – Cryptic definition of where a dog may be boarded.  Perhaps German Shepherd should have been indicated as an example of someone who uses facility but as the dog is not a direct example of the answer, this is less important than when you are using an example of the answer

29 I’m starting to buy Indian beer on every first and second Friday…to get drunk? (7)
IMBIBER – The I’m from the clue followed the initial letters (starting to ) for buy and Indian, the first letter of every and the second letter of Friday.


2 Silica’s description say, covers a limestone’s origin (7)
OPALINE – A word meaning to state an opinion around the A from the clue and the first letter (origin) of limestone.

3 Convenes at National Championships (5)
MEETS – A double definition for organising a gathering and a group of matches. 

4 School’s English Head of Faculty gets run out first (7)
ROEDEAN – The abbreviation for run out followed by the abbreviation for English and another word for the head of a faculty.

6 Prisoner’s confidante loses preposterous appeal (6)
INMATE – A word for a confidante has a reversal (preposterous) of a two letter word for sex appeal removed.

7 Floppy hat priced to sell? (4,5)
DIRT CHEAP – An anagram (floppy) of HAT PRICED.  The priced is doing double duty here as part of the anagram and as part of the definition.

8 Determined that a social worker supports Mr Doonican (7)
VALIANT – A word for one (a) and an insect that works in social groups goes underneath (supports) the first name of the singer Mr Doonican.

9 “Oh, harder” lisps excited county youth! (10,3)
SHROPSHIRE LAD – An anagram (excited) of OH HARDER LIPS.

15 Whisky laced sweet controlled Scotsman’s miserable outburst in US prison (9)
CRANACHAN – Inside an American word for a prison put a word meaning controlled or organised and a word that the Scottish say as a miserable outburst.

18 Repay Engineers? – they’ve got enough! (7)
REQUITE – The abbreviation for Royal Engineers followed by a word enough.

20 Release bold party leader of militants (7)
FREEDOM – A word meaning bold, a two letter word for party and the first letter (leader of) militants.

21 Could have been a Smorgasbord of colour for Picasso (7)
PALETTE – A cryptic definition of the board upon which an artist mixes paint.  Perhaps Picasso should have been indicated as an example of someone who uses the board but as he is not a direct example of the answer, this is less important than when you are using an example of the answer.

22 At first, engine idles erratically – get fuel! (6)
DIESEL – An anagram (erratically) of E (the first letter of engine) IDLES

25 Article follows leading horsewoman’s new independence – she’s riding out over the moors (5)
HANNI – The indefinite article (in the form before a vowel) after the first letter (leading) of horsewoman followed by the abbreviations for new and independence.   As the abbreviation for New England is a self contained abbreviation, the use of new as an abbreviation on its own here is not really a repetition of the wordplay.

43 comments on “Rookie Corner – 133

  1. We’ve just got home after being away for a few days and the first thing we did was print out and solve this one. We enjoyed watching the familiar names popping up and then we were introduced to a new (for us) culinary delight in 15d..
    Well done and thanks ShropshireLad.

  2. Aha, so this is how you’ve been spending your time, Jim – all is revealed!

    This was great fun to solve, lots of amusing clues including my stand out favourite, 9d of course. Nice to see the various name checks (slightly reminiscent of Sprocker’s previous puzzle in similar vein). I’m inclined to think you also threw in a few repeat abbreviations just for me, like “new” in 10a and 25d and “time” in 12a and 26a ;-)

    There were a few rough edges as one might suspect, but many fewer than I originally thought. 15d was new to me as well. A commendable debut in Rookie Corner.

    Many congratulations, SL, I’ve missed your regular comments on the blog, and hope that this is an encouraging sign that “normal service” will be resumed soon.

      1. yes, that was the one I had picked up on, perhaps because it isn’t a favourite of mine since it seems to involve two steps, a=one=I

  3. Nice to see a puzzle from you ,SL , and very enjoyable seeing all our friends appear – I thought is was particularly clever clueing our Monday friend.

    It took me a while to get on your wavelength – SW was last – the grid isn’t very friendly (with rows 1, 7, 9 and 15 having <50% checking). I have only a few minor comments in the hope they are useful to you, and as always you can take them or leave them as you wish.

    I am not sure of the intended parsing of 1a (I have an idea but it doesn't quite work with "takes" and "a") and I think I'm missing 11a and 21a – perhaps they are cryptic definitions – so I eagerly await the review.

    Some good misdirections: I was surprised at first with the plural in 28a, but then realised the establishment does get used in the plural. It still needs a definition by example indicator though. I was trying to end 29a with D until I realised we weren't talking about drunk past tense! I was trying to start 9d with TH (for the lisp)! and I was looking for a prison in 15d.

    4d chambers doesn't seem to have that abbreviation for out

    7d: do you have part of the anagram fodder doing double duty as part of the definition?

    18d – I'm not sure the "they've got" is helping to point to the right part of speech, or perhaps it would need to be single for the cryptic reading

    So, all in all pretty good! Congratulations and thanks a lot for the entertainment.

    hope hear more from you soon, very best wishes

    1. The first two letters of 4d are an abbreviation for a method of dismissal in cricket, Dutch.

    2. re 1a.: The first two letters are a rank in the navy (sailor) and the rest is a word for “to dip” without it’s first and last letters (naked). “Our Spanish expat” being the definition.

      1. Regarding 1a, isn’t the point that the “a” in the clue is superfluous?

        By the way I couldn’t find the answer to 1a in my BRB :wink:

      2. yes, ‘a dip’ would clue a noun, and ‘takes a dip’ would clue a verb but with the wrong tense. removing ‘a’ would fix it.

    3. D. Isn’t 7d an all-in-one clue, incorporating an anagram? It doesn’t quite work as a standard cryptic, with it’s overlapping roles.

  4. Is this a welcome sign of SL’s impending return, or is it a puzzle which BD has had in the pipeline? I do hope the former – we’ve missed you, Jim.

    I thought this was a terrific Rookie debut, a great pleasure to solve and nice to see several very familiar names popping up. I liked your inventive use of indicators such as “unholy” in 16a and “preposterous” in 6d, and thank you for signalling “US” in 15d. I agree with Dutch about 1a, which I think would work if you simply leave out the “a” and the comma.

    I can’t fully parse the answer to 11a so will wait with bated breath for the review.

    Great stuff, Jim. Let’s hope we’ll be seeing more contributions from you soon.

  5. This was fun to solve – thanks, SL. It’s always good to see friends. I will need the review (for which thanks in advance to Prolixic) to answer some outstanding questions, which are broadly the same as Dutch’s. And like Dutch, I found the SW the hardest. 15d is a new one on me – sounds rather good.

    Thanks again, ShropshireLad – very well done.

  6. It’s good to see you contributing to the blog once more ,SL, and well done on your debut puzzle. I hope that this signals an imminent return to blogging duties. Thanks for the entertaining puzzle (though I can’t parse 11a). Top clues for me were 9d and 22d.

    1. I may be wrong (I often am) but I took the ‘spring water’ to indicate the mayfly and dragonfly which flit around ( appears briefly) on ponds etc. around that time and is of the general (common) class of those insects referred to in the answer.

  7. I do not usually attempt Rookie corner but seeing the setter’s name I decided to be brave and have a go. Delighted I did, seeing the name checks I soldiered bravely on until I came to NW corner when I ground to a screeching halt. Only RD’s hint got me out of trouble and I completed the grid. Congratulations to SL, lots more please and thanks to the reviewer.

  8. Very enjoyable. A bit of a mix…some great clues and some not that appealing (28A and 21D) but a terrific debut. My favorites are 13A, 7D and 9D. I have to try making 15D. Blended or single malt, I wonder, or perhaps one of the recently emerged honey whiskeys. Thanks SL!

  9. Finally made it to print, SL – well done indeed!
    Hope this heralds your return to the fold, you have been much missed.

  10. Thank you all for your very kind comments on my puzzle. Several months ago I had promised Kath and a few others that I would set a puzzle using the names of as many commenters as I could. I tried – but I think it is an impossible task, especially as I don’t have a programme to assist me in forming a grid (EXCEL only). I would have loved to have got Paso Doble, Cryptic Sue, Rabbit Dave and many more squeezed in – so apologies to those that didn’t get a mention.

    I have no aspirations in becoming a ‘proper’ setter I’ll leave that to the others in this neck of the woods – you know who you are. I just enjoyed doing it for a bit of a laugh – so I’m glad to see the word ‘fun’ appearing in quite a few of the comments. I have read all your comments and I think they are perfectly fair – so thanks for the feedback.

    Finally, many thanks to my group of ‘testers’ for the encouragement and sound advice. I wouldn’t have completed it without your help.

  11. Great to see SL in action – and what fun! I wasn’t too picky about any of the clues; I managed to finish it so it must make some sort of sense to me! (… doesn’t mean it makes sense; just to me.)

    Hope to see SL back on board soon. Thanks!

  12. Another comment with ‘fun’ in it, SL, because this crossword was very good fun – well done to you.
    Not too tricky although there are a few that I don’t quite ‘get’ – 11a being the main one and I think I’m missing something in 21d.
    I’ve never heard of the 5a ‘channel’ but guessed and asked Mr Google.
    I liked most of the clues that led us to the well known ‘bloggy people’.
    Thanks, well done again, and a little rose and a thumbs up to ShropshireLad – I would have done piccies for those but can’t today – damn!

  13. PS – to anyone who hasn’t ‘met’ 15d you’re missing absolutely nothing, in my opinion anyway. I like all the ingredients individually but put them together – well, you must be joking – yuk!

    1. Looks like my ideal dessert; love all the ingredients except the cream – Greek yoghurt, maybe… and rice crispies instead of oats… with banana, perhaps.
      Maybe just the whiskey would do..? Probably.

  14. Well done you, SL. I don’t usually do any other puzzles other than the regular cryptic but I could hardly resist the temptation of this one. Loads of fun.
    I hope you’re doing well and will be back again soon, we miss you.

  15. Lots of fun to be had here albeit with a lot of head scrathing. The completed grid took me a lot longer than usual. Thanks to Shropshire lad for the mention and for the rest of the puzzle.

    1. Thanks for mentioning the puzzle on your Back Page blog – much appreciated. I do hope you enjoyed it.

      1. I completed it SL and in my book that means that it worked. I liked 29 ac because it worked so well but disliked it for its wordiness. It mentioned beer didn’t it? Of course I would like it. Thanks for the inclusion. thanks for the puzzle. I am impressed that you used excel to compile a grid. Try crossword compiler. it worked for me although my first Rookie puzzle was written on a Grauniad grid whilst lying on a sofa.

  16. Couldn’t get to this until quite late today but having got here I found much to enjoy. I’m fairly new to the blog but it sounds from those who know you, that your past contributions are well appreciated and so I look forward to reading more of them in the future. Thanks and well done SL.

  17. Hey SL,
    Good to see you. I’m afraid Mondays are now so busy I’ve only just managed to pop in, but I hope all is good with you. I know I still owe you a drink. I will try to look at your puzzle tomorrow, but I see it has gone down well, well done.

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – honest and fair as always, I’m sure SL will be appreciative.
    Maybe your ‘the quality is there’ comment will inspire him to have another go in the future?

  19. I only just finished this one on the commute this morning, being stuck in the North West corner, for some reason not twigging that 1a could be a regular here – despite that theme having been well established. And yet another sailor to add to the list. A lovely puzzle with a nautical flavour and particularly nice clues I thought were 27a and 22d.

    Many congratulations on your debut SL.

  20. Final comment – thanks again for your comments and thanks to Prolific for the rather flattering review. Hope to see you guys again soon. Jim

  21. Well done Shropshirelad, we have certainly missed you. I have never even opened a Rookie puzzle before, but as it was yours thought I would give it a shot last night. Found it tough in places,but fun nevertheless. Never heard of 15d. Fave clues were13a, 19a and 27a, very clever. Hope to see more of you on the blog.

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