Rookie Corner – 144 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 144

A Puzzle by Jeroboam

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a second puzzle from Jeroboam. 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.

Another excellent outing from Jeroboam.  There are only some minor comments on the clues.  They were overall well constructed with good surface readings and with inventive wordplay in places.


1 Heading immediately over to the other side (6)
ACROSS – The heading to this series of clues!

4 By the sound of it Jim’s in charge of having a good  digestion (6)
PEPTIC – Two abbreviations for gym (Jim’s by the sound of it) followed by the abbreviation for in charge of.

9 Apparently used to fire Cupid’s arrow at boyfriend (4)
BEAU – A homophone (apparently) of bow (used to fire Cupid’s arrow).  If apparently is used in the sense of what is perceived, it could refer to what is heard – “apparently he said…”.  I don’t think that the construction of wordplay at definition works.

10 Practices catches in royal society (10)
REHEARSALS – A five letter word meaning catches in a four letter obsolete word for royal and the abbreviation for society.  If obsolete words are used, it is usual to try and indicate this.

11 Kate’s rule is revised to run out of cover (6)
STREAK – An anagram (is revised) of KATES R (rule).

12 Made a list of the brides I met including some on the way  back (8)
ITEMISED – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (on the way back) in BRIDES I MET INCLUDING.

13 It cuts one out at birth to be an imperialist (9)
CAESAREAN – Double definition, the first being a medical intervention in childbirth and the second in relation to Roman imperial rule.

15 Almost shoot up to the point where you fire (4)
KILN – A four letter word meaning shoot up or murder with the final letter removed (almost) followed by the abbreviation for North (the point).  As a minor point, I would omit the “the” as the definite article does not quite sit correctly with the wordplay.

16 Bloods group (4)
ABBA – The letters of various blood types fora musical group.

17 Does it protect you from flatulence on holiday  ? (9)
WINDBREAK – A whimsical definition of something you use as protection on the beach.

21 Doctor can yell about losing last pill in wash (3-5)
DRY-CLEAN – The abbreviation for Doctor followed by an anagram (about) CAN YELL after removing the final L (losing last pill).

22 After work one ingested drug (6)
OPIATE – After the abbreviation for work add the letter representing I and a word meaning ingested.

24 Lewd party leader with common sense (10)
LIBIDINOUS – The abbreviation for the liberal party followed by the name of an old African leader and dictator and a four letter word for common sense.  Perhaps the name of the leader could have been indicated more fairly as the number of potential leaders is vast.

25 Farmyard noise heard from an empty pen? (4)
OINK – Split 1,3, the word whimsically indicates an empty pen

26 One believes German is after article (6)
THEIST – After the definite article include the three letter abbreviation for German. As after has already been used as a positional indicator, perhaps a different word could have been used.

27 Mineral primarily gets you plaster source, usually mixed (6)
GYPSUM – The initial letter (primarily) of the third to eighth words of the clue.


1 Sailor’s further from the outside (2,5)
AB EXTRA – The two letter abbreviation for a sailor followed by a word meaning further or additional.

2 Wine that could make a girl blush (5)
ROUGE – The French term for red wine could be a type of make up.

3 Lineker perhaps gets a match (7)
STRIKER – Lineker is a definition by example of another word for a match.

5 The Spanish goddess departs in high spirits (6)
ELATED – The Spanish for “the” followed by the name of the Greek goddess of mischief and the abbreviation for departed.

6 One giving evidence reports irritable discharge (9)
TESTIFIER – A homophone (reports) of TESTY (irritable) and FIRE (discharge).

7 Pass list broadcast by Siobhan for example (7)
COLLEEN – A three letter word for a mountain pass followed by a homophone of LEAN (list broadcast).  As a general rule, you should avoid having too many homophones and, indeed, hidden words in the clues.  Four is borderline too many.  The construction wordplay by definition does not read very well.

8 Bathe in jail to disperse film (3,7,3)
THE ITALIAN JOB – An anagram (disperse) of BATHE IN JAIL TO.  If disperse is used in the imperative, if should come before the letters to be rearranged as in “disperse ABC”.

14 Put ones name down for replacements. The fifth copy? (9)
SUBSCRIBE – A word for replacements followed by a whimsical expression (4,1) for the fifth copy.

16 First rate flirt carried away by plane operation (7)
AIRLIFT – A two letter indication that something is first rate followed by an anagram (carried away) of FLIRT.  Again wordplay by definition is a little inelegant.  The definition may be given by the wordplay but the reverse is not so elegant.

18 Calls in to see how hat becomes bus (5,2)
DROPS BY – Remove the BY from the name of a hat worn by soldiers.

19 Opposite to how Caesar’s friend may appear in an alphabetical  list (7)
ANTONYM – How Mark Anthony (Caesar’s friend) may appear in an alphabetical list.

20 Special talent for extracting oil initially from igneous rocks (6)
GENIUS – An anagram (rocks) of IGNEOUS after removing the O (extracting oil initially).

23 God’s marriage agreement starts to look secure (5)
IDOLS – The expression incorrectly thought to be the agreement of consent given in marriage (it is I will and has been since the Book of Common Prayer) followed by the initial letters (starts to) of look secure.  The apostrophe here is required for the surface reading but spoils the definition as the solution is not in the possessive.

Hidden in the rows of the grid you will find the phrase “bottle of bubbly” which is very appropriate given the name of the setter.

45 comments on “Rookie Corner – 144

  1. My last two to sort out were the pesky 4 letter 15a which just followed twigging the tricky wordplay for 4a. Lots of really clever clues so i won’t single one out for favouritism. Certainly into “Toughie Time” solving for me but well worth the effort. Lots of fun.
    Well done and thanks Jeroboam.

  2. I enjoyed this a lot – thanks Jeroboam. As KiwiColin says there are lots of clever clues. I solved it pretty much from the bottom up with 1a being the last to fall, accompanied by a loud d’oh which makes it my favourite. I also liked 11a, 7d and 19d.

  3. When I saw that it was a Jeroboam I thought we’d be in for a treat, and so it proved.

    Some of these clues were brilliantly inventive and original, in particular:
    4a – very clever construction
    22a – super smooth construction and surface
    24a – same comment
    25a – nice penny drop moment
    6d – nicely done
    7d – very clever
    18d – lovely device
    19d – great spot and thoroughly original
    20d – super surface & clever construction
    But I have to agree with Gazza in plumping for 1a as the clue of the puzzle – truly memorable.

    Oh, and of course there’s the little matter of the ‘something extra’ which helped solve a few near the end. Loved it, but no spoilers!

    1. Thanks Maize for your kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed 1a so much as I wasn’t certain if, when the position of a non grid word is crucial to the wordplay, it would be seen as allowable.

  4. I think I deserve one of the Nina as I actually noticed it all on my own :yahoo:

    A very enjoyable puzzle thank you Jeroboam. 1a was my first clue solved but it is in line for favouritism. The couple of ‘old friends’ didn’t detract from the enjoyment factor and I have one ? which I will look forward to Prolixic explaining in the morning.

    Hope to see you here again soon

  5. Welcome back, Jeroboam.

    The promise shown in your debut puzzle last year was more than evident once again here, in fact my ticked clues went well into double figures, so many congratulations indeed on a superbly crafted effort. The Nina was carefully concealed and eluded me completely, well done!

    There were lots of inventive constructions and a better balance of clue types – thank you for keeping to your promise of including at least one lurker! Four homophones might have been stretching things a little, but I for one didn’t mind. The surfaces were generally excellent and had a natural smoothness in most cases. Like Gazza, I started at the bottom of the grid and moved northwards, the top half of the puzzle was slightly trickier I felt.

    A small number of minor niggles were observed during the solve:

    In 9a, your weakest clue in my opinion, both “apparently” as a homophone indicator and “at” as a link word to the definition seemed out of place.

    15a had “up” used as a reversal indicator in an Across clue.

    16a might have worked better on reflection as “Group blood types”, but that’s more of a personal preference.

    14d had an apostrophe missing in the clue.

    My overall favourite was 8d, it produced the widest smile and there was a “jail” element to the film as well, so it felt very apposite.

    Many thanks indeed, Jeroboam, I look forward very much to your next one.

      1. 15a. I can’t see a reversal or a phrasal verb, just simple word play: ALMOST SHOOT (a four-letter word for shoot or “take out” with the last letter truncated), UP TO (or preceding) + THE POINT (N) = WHERE YOU FIRE (the clue definition). Have I missed something?

        1. That works but I think using ‘shoot up’ as the verb works better. For ‘shoot up’ Chambers has “to kill or injure by shooting”.

          1. I think “up to” is a better linking device between the wordplay and the definition though. I agree that both work, perhaps Jeroboam will drop in later and tell us which one he had in mind?

            1. My intention was as Gazza surmised to use “shoot up” to mean kill or injure by shooting. Love how this thread shows how one two letter word can bring forth so much discussion.

            2. My intention was as Gazza surmised to use “shoot up” to mean kill or injure by shooting. Love how this thread shows how one two letter word can bring forth so much discussion.

          2. I must admit, I never considered “shoot up” as the verb initially but it certainly does work that way and it may be marginally better. It’s good to have the setter drop in to adjudicate from the horse’s mouth, so to speak – that doesn’t happen very often with the back-pager or Toughie. And thank you for that.

    1. I’m interested to see an idea for how many homophones are about right. I’ve only ever seen limits – generally quoted from those set by The Times – for anagrams and hiddens (5 and 2 respectively if memory serves).
      But I always wonder how many are too many for reversals, homophones, double definitions, containers etc.

      1. Hi Maize,

        My rule of thumb tends to be that if the particular number of homophones or reversals etc doesn’t stand out, then it’s probably about right! It’s interesting that the majority of Telegraph backpagers tend to have more than five anagrams, Mr. Squires’ count on a Monday is prone to even reach double figures.

      2. a really interesting question – i didn’t feel there were too many here, perhaps that is because they are really quite different, and anyway there were only 3, I think. Double that and you’d be pushing it, I imagine – but probably because that would be at the expense of other clue types – so, it’s probably more useful to worry about maximising variety rather than individual limits.

          1. yes, that’s a better count! I still think it’s ok though – possibly because the constructs of 4a & 9a (would ‘allegedly’ work as indicator?) are slightly more involved. But I don’t think you’d want many more…

    2. Thanks for your positive comments, Silvanus. I take on board all your niggles, as it is the little details which I really must learn to iron out.

  6. Many thanks Jeroboam – a most appropriate Nina!

    I thought this was excellent with plenty of variety and originality. I particularly liked 12a. 17a was very nice too, made me laugh, and I thought ‘from’ fit beautifully. There are many other wonderful clues as highlighted by others.

    My last one in was 1a, presumably with the same penny-dropping as others, you’d be rich if you had access to all that coinage.

    I agree with Silvanus, the homophone indicator in 9a doesn’t really work for me (and he’s right about ‘at’ as well)

    25a sounds like a homophone indicator but isn’t – I thought this clue might work better using something like ‘characteristic of’ rather than ‘heard from’

    The 6d homophone is brilliant.

    I wondered briefly about the definition in 21a, is it still a wash when you stop using water?

    Well done, congratulations and many thanks for the enjoyment.

    1. Thanks for positive review Dutch. You may be right about 21a. I don’t know if washing is possible without water!

  7. I enjoyed this very much, many thanks to Jeroboam. I spotted the extra bit, which led me to try to seek out any more goodies which might be lurking in the columns, particularly col 5 (their champagne is consistently ranked quite high in German blind tasting surveys) and column 7.

  8. Thanks to Jeroboam for an excellent puzzle – Tough but fair!

    I missed the Nina as usual – quite a lot if it’s a Jeroboam.

    Many very amusing and inventive clues. Favourite: the 2 Jims.

    One minor quibble: The grocer’s apostrophe in the definition of 23d.

    1. You took the words about 23d out of my mouth. It took the gloss off an otherwise excellent puzzle, although I still have four clues to parse.

      Many thanks to Jeroboam.

  9. Some very original cluing in the likes of 6,7&19d – well done on those, Jeroboam – and a most appropriate extra bit of fizz!
    Like Dutch, I wasn’t too happy with the ‘wash’ element of 21a but that’s a fairly minor quibble.
    Top of the heap for me were 17&25a plus 19d.

    Many thanks for a great glass of ‘pop’.

  10. After reading all of the enthusiastic comments above I felt that I had to have a crack at this. I found it both more difficult and more enjoyable that the typical offering over on the back page. I ended up needing some electronic assistance to finish filling the grid and I will also need Prolixic’s review to explain a few parsings that I haven’t yet unravelled (still waiting for the penny to drop on 1a, for example). Great fun all round and big, big smiles for 16a, 17a, 24a, and 6d in particular. Congratulations to Jeroboam on producing a challenging and entertaining crossword, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for his review.

  11. I enjoyed this very much but I’m being a bit dim about a few of them.
    I don’t understand my 1a and however I try to untangle 10a I seem to have lots of spare letters – something’s gone wrong although I’m sure my answer is OK.
    Needless to say I missed the Nina – I always do – even having discovered that there was one from the comments it’s taken me ages to find it.
    I liked 4a (liked the ‘Jim’s’) and 24a and 6 and 18d.
    With thanks and congratulations to Jeroboam and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. The second meaning of ‘real’ in BRB could well help you to sort out 10a Kath. I also missed the Nina when I was solving.

      1. Thanks for the nudge, ColinK. I’ve been trying to find an appropriate acronym for all those spare letters Kath talked about!

      2. Thanks, Colin – so nice to know that I haven’t gone totally barking mad or stupid – thought I’d looked up everything that would sort my problem but obviously not. :smile:
        As for the Nina – well, what’s new? I’ve never spotted one “all my own self”.

  12. Thank you to everybody who took the trouble to post a comment. I would have liked to have responded to each one individually but I’m having to deal with some ongoing health problems with my Mum and Dad which are restricting both my solving and blogging time. It’s very encouraging to get a positive reaction to my puzzles and it remains my ambition to be a regular contributor to Rookie Corner.

    1. Hope everything turns up alright for you and your family.
      Thoroughly enjoyed your crossword.
      Only 7d to go.
      Biggest smile at 19d.

    2. I sympathise with your problems with the health of your Mum and Dad.
      A very excellent crossword although I can understand that it isn’t your priority at the moment.

  13. Thanks Jeroboam, some clever stuff here! I particularly enjoyed 1ac.
    Look forward to your next one.

  14. Oh, my. I still have a blank NW corner and I just can’t seem to get a foothold at all. I’m thinking I must be wrong on 13A but my answer worked so well. Moribund Monday for me. But on the bright side, I found lots to like on what I did accomplish. Thanks Jereboam!

  15. Late to the party – did this when it first came up but didn’t have time to post – just now (result of New Year resolution not to litter the place with solved puzzles) had to retrieve it from the WPB.

    A nice solve – roaring start but quite a few head scratchers as it went on.

    I didn’t note any quibbles.

    I ticked 11a, 12a,13a, 15a, 17a, 25a, 14d, 19d – quite a tickathon.

    Many thanks for the fun – keep them coming.

  16. Thanks so much for your review Prolixic. A number of points to take in to sharpen up my clue construction. Hopefully I’ll take all these on board when I do my next one. I’d also like to thank everybody who left kind words both about my puzzle and my personal situation. Touching all wood available I think things are gradually improving on that front.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic and particularly the parsing of ‘scrib e’ – that’s a new one for me!

  18. Thanks Jeroboam and Prolixic,
    I’m so late to the party everyone will have gone home, but I’m glad I managed to have a look at this. Plenty of nice ideas, particularly 1a. I think disperse is fine as it doesn’t have to be an imperative: The droplets disperse, for example. The God’s in 23a is something that doesn’t work, as mentioned, but putting the apostrophe after the s would help, although the surface isn’t as good. ‘Practices’ with a c looked quite odd in the surface to me, but as it is used in American English, then no problem (and of course you don’t need an American indicator just for a surface!).
    Nifty Nina, too.
    Thanks again, and glad everything is improving.

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