Rookie Corner – 147 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 147

A Puzzle by Deuce

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Deuce returns with his third puzzle. 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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

This third crossword from Deuce shows aa great deal of improvement on the first two crosswords.  The wordplay is much more polished and there is a better variation in the clues.  There are only a couple of minor niggles in the wordplay.  This was much more enjoyable to solve as a result.  Many thanks to Deuce for the challenge.


8 One with no name, in short? (4)
ANON – The shortened form of the word that describes an unknown author.

9 Cold environment results from tip of iceberg leaving Titanic a wreck around bow (10)
ANTARCTICA – An anagram (wreck) of TITANIC A after removing an I (tip of iceberg leaving) around a three letter for word for a curve or bow.

10 Taken in, faked with oddly cheap contents (8)
ACCEPTED – A five letter word meaning faked or put on around the odd letters of cheap.

11 The bar supply’s probably exhausted when out of this (5)
BREATH – An anagram (supply – in a supple manner) of THE BAR.  The enumeration here should be (6).

12 Unwind or untie for creation of Nirvana (2,5)
IN UTERO – An anagram (unwind) of OR UNTIE.  An album title by the group Nirvana.

13 Quick hand movement from first elements of sign language with number of fingers (7)
SLEIGHT – The initial letters (first elements of) sign and language followed by the number of fingers (but not thumbs) on your hands.

15 Ape in middle of copying after restriction in duplication (7)
BARBARY – A repeated three letter word meaning restriction followed by the middle letter of copying.

17 Set forth by taking resistance off (7)
PROFFER – A three letter word mean by includes (taking) the abbreviation for resistance and the OFF from the clue.

19 Poem about ship after Troy’s finish? Yes, in short (7)
ODYSSEY – A three letter word for a poem goes around (about) the last letter (finish) of Troy and the abbreviation for steamship with a final Y added at the end (Yes, in short).  The whole clue gives a definition of the solution.

21 Dons outfit to be Oscars presenter (7)
ACADEMY – The place where dons might be found give the organisation that presents the Oscars.  I agree with the comments that dons here needs an apostrophe.  Dons outfit has a completely different meaning to Don’s outfit.

24 Lame men running, male escaping with skin of teeth (6)
ENAMEL – An anagram (running) of LAME MEN after removing one of the Ms (male escaping).  In an ideal clue, the fact that only one male is removed would be indicated but it is a minor point that not all editors would be too pedantic about.

26 Without regard she’d see line blurred (8)
HEEDLESS – An anagram (blurred) of SHE’S SEE L (line).

27 Test for grammar or bit of arithmetic (6,4)
ELEVEN PLUS – The old exam used to select those who would go to grammar school is also part of an addition.

28 Perhaps nutmeg right inside goal when curling (4)
TREE – The abbreviation for right goes inside the name of the target or goal in the sport of curling.


1 Each new prosecutor takes a prisoner for strangler (8)
ANACONDA – A single letter word that means each (an in per head) and the abbreviations for New and district attorney (prosecutor) include (takes) the A from the clue and a three letter word for a prisoner.

2 As found on wheels of Central Line trains? (5,5)
INNER TUBES – A word meaning central followed by the name of London Underground trains.  The line here is a little out of place as it does not contribute to the wordplay and provides a link between the Central and trains for the surface reading.

3 Gently strike to the empty end of soccer pitch (6)
PATTER – A three letter word meaning gently strike followed by the outer letters (empty) of the and the final letter (end of) soccer.

4 Regularly set out day’s exercise (5)
STUDY – The odd letters (regularly) of SET OUT DAY.

5 Short drive on banks of river, one with limited water flow (8)
DRIBBLER – The two letter abbreviation for drive around (on the banks of – either side) the name of a river.  With on the banks meaning either side of, this would work better in an across clue.  As we have two other clues using short to indicate an abbreviation.

6 Sexual advance coming from mouth or index (4)
FTSE – A homophone (coming from the mouth) of footsie (sexual advance) to give the name of a financial trading index.  Abbreviations are not usually used as answers where the letters are individually pronounced – BBC might be an exception – but are sometimes used where the can be pronounced in their own right, like NATO.  However, where possible, abbreviations are best avoided as solutions.  The surface reading here is not the greatest.

7 Teacher’s maybe from school where child sleeps inside (6)
SCOTCH – A three letter abbreviation for school includes (inside) the name of a child’s bed.

14 Lack of belief in following a God having Levantine origin (10)
INFIDELITY – The IN from the clue followed by the abbreviation for following, another letter meaning A and a five letter word for God with the first letter (origin) of Levantine included (having).  Having is a very weak word for a containment indicator.

16 Annoying to inhale bits of earthy scent e.g. Alsatian must produce (8)
RIESLING – The name of a wine (produce from must (crushed grapes) in Alsace) comes from a six letter word meaning annoying around (to inhale) the first letters (bits of) earthy and scent.

18 Topless enclosure for pigs and one for cows have me trapped (8)
ENMESHED – The name of a three letter word where pigs live (not sty) with the first letter removed (topless) and the name of the place where cows live around (trapped) the ME from the clue.  Unless the have is being used as a weak containment indicator the trapped is doing double duty as the definition and part of the wordplay.

20 Trump in two diamonds on ace initially led (6)
DONALD – Inside two abbreviations for diamonds include the ON from the clue, the abbreviation for Ace and the first letter (initially) of led.

22 Might be made up, unlike 23? (6)
CHEESE – The opposite of the answer to 23d is indicated as a definition by example give by the reversal (up) of made.

23 Heads of court have annulled law Kansas used with Board of Education? (5)
CHALK – The initial letters (heads of) the third to seventh words of the clue.

25 Shift in paradigm overturned (4)
MOVE – The answer is hidden in PARADIGM OVERTURNED.

47 comments on “Rookie Corner – 147

  1. A good puzzle that had us scratching our heads on quite a few of the clues. The stand out favourite for us was 16d with its wonderfully disguised definition. A real penny-drop moment when we got that but there plenty of other very good clues too.
    Well done and thanks Deuce.

  2. This was really enjoyable – thanks Deuce. There are some super clues here – I’ll just pick out 8a, 19a (excellent), 6d (my last answer, provoking a loud d’oh), 7d, 16d and 22d. I also really liked the ‘Board of Education’ in 23d. I had to look up the Nirvana in 12a.

  3. Welcome back, Deuce.

    This took me quite a bit of time to unravel, especially on the right-hand side of the grid, but it was extremely enjoyable, very well done. There were some very clever ideas and you definitely have a setter’s eye for a good clue.

    I was particularly impressed that you have responded to the criticisms of your last puzzle in November and substantially reined in the number of anagrams and tried to improve the surfaces, although I feel there is still some work to do in that particular area, but credit where credit’s due.

    My print-out had quite a number of ticks and half-ticks (where I liked the idea but felt either the construction or surface was lacking). You made a great start with 8a, although I think you could afford to dispense with “in short” to make it an all-in-one, and that would have the added benefit of avoiding the duplication of “in short” in 19a, where it is needed. My other full ticks went to 10a, 27a, 2d , 4d, 5d, 7d (lovely disguised definition), 22d and 23d.

    I wasn’t convinced about the definition in 12a, and thought at the very least it needed a question mark at the end, and without an apostrophe for “Dons” in 21a (which would have ruined the surface), the wordplay didn’t work.

    It’s clear that the surfaces remain your Achilles heel, but if the same level of improvement shown in this one can be replicated in future puzzles, then you will have gone a long way to overcoming that particular hurdle.

    Congratulations and thanks for a fine puzzle, Deuce. I look forward to your next one.

    1. Thanks! Yes, you’re right to point out the repetition of “in short” , now very annoyed I didn’t spot that! (I’m not quite sure I understand you’re comment about making it an all-in-one, though – I had intended the term to apply to both definition and worldplay)

      1. Hi Deuce,

        I think we’re on the same page, I just thought “in short” pointed the solver in the direction of an abbreviation (a semi-definition if you like), but since the answer is an accepted sign off name for a poem, for example, the “in short” isn’t really necessary and makes the clue less succinct. It works fine as it is too!

  4. I haven’t done any of your previous puzzles.
    I found this enjoyable and pretty well judged.
    I started in the top left and got about half straight away, but found enough trickier ones to keep me thinking as I progressed.
    My favourites were 16d, 5d, 27a, 7d. 6d was the last one left, and I revealed it. I think it’s fairly clued (surface rather clunky) and a nice solution, but it came a bit out of the blue in what was otherwise quite a conventional set of solutions.
    I’m not sure about the def for 22d, but that might just be me missing something.
    The def in 21a also made me pause. I don’t agree with Silvanus about the apostrophe – ‘an outfit made up of dons’ wouldn’t need an apostrophe. I also think ‘dons outfit’ is fine as a definition per se, but I’m not sure it’s that good a definition for your solution (college, uni, ok). A minor quibble, and it’s a nice clue.
    I found 15a, 17a, 18d hard.

    I think I’ve just spotted the 22d def: ‘made up’? If so, I think it’s below the belt. You can’t use ‘up’ to modify ‘made’ since made is not in the solution.

    1. Hi Cateralla,

      The definition in 21a is actually “Oscars presenter”. It would work as a double definition if the apostrophe I mentioned was added, but I’m sure the setter’s intention was to make the solver think that “dons outfit” means to put on clothes. This construction could work if a homophone indicator was included.

      As a minor point, I forgot to add earlier that the enumeration for 11a should have read (6) and not (5).

      1. Dons outfit is a cryptic definition, and needs no apostrophe (yes, it does, no, it doesn’t etc. …) I understood the surface.

        1. Hi Catarella, I think you mean because it is effectively wordplay for a synonym rather than the solution itself? To be honest I was also in two minds about whether that was allowed….

          1. Not that (although that, too, mildly): it’s the ‘up’. Up as an indicator refers to grid entries. Made/Edam is not in the grid, so has no up/down characteristic. Some people (not me) dislike up/down indicators, full stop.
            As for wordplay indicating a synonym – mixed opinions, I think. I’m not too keen on it.
            There was a Graun clue a while back for which the def was ‘another animal’ and the wordplay indicated a word embedded in ‘camel’s arse’ (I can’t remember the exact wording) giving ‘Elsa’ , and thus ‘LIONESS’ as the solution. As far as I remember, it was much admired and much hated.

        2. I can’t see anything wrong with it. It’s not the definition, it’s part of the wordplay.

  5. I found this quite tough in places – hence my only commenting now as finishing it off took me into ‘work’ time

    I have a few ? that I’m sure Prolixic will explain in the morning. I also have quite a few * by clues I liked.

    You’re definitely on the right track with puzzle 3, I look forward to puzzle 4 in due course

  6. Hi Deuce

    Congratulations on an excellent achievement. This is quality stuff. It took me a while to get into, which I hope is just me being a bit slow after a rather excellent weekend.

    There is lots to like: I had ticked 8a, 11a (enumeration typo has been mentioned), 12a when I looked it up, 13a when I remembered how many fingers I had, 17a (though I’m always get foxed by ‘per’), 24a, 1d, 7d and the 22/23 combo.

    i think Dons can work as a sort of plural adjective for outfit, bit whimsical i guess. i’m happy with made up in 22d (since you say ‘might be’) – you’ve added a great twist to a chestnut.

    I did bung in 5d and 14d, I’ll have to check the exact parsing later on – ah just saw 14d.

    You did choose quite a hard grid with 8 entries less than 50% checked, which adds to the difficulty – nothing wrong with that (some editors may not find it ideal) but it is something to bear in mind when you are writing the clues for these lights, maybe put in a few easy ones there..

    Many thanks again, brilliantly done

    1. I did ask myself a number of times if “dons” works here as an adjective, but I wasn’t totally happy that it did, as per my earlier comment, I may be in the minority though, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Prolixic takes a similar view to yours. To avoid any confusion, perhaps “don outfit” might have been better with hindsight?

      1. yes maybe – as mentioned, it (the adjective) remains a whimsical interpretation even if the singular is more palatable

  7. As usual I concur with Silvanus’ in-depth comments. I agree with CS that this was quite tough in places, for me particularly in the SE corner, although, like Gazza, 6d was my last one in – a true “d’oh” moment.

    There were two clues which particularly jarred with me. 9a, which I think is too verbose and clunky, and, just to show we are all different, unlike the 2Ks I didn’t like 16d at all. The surface is very clunky and one of my bugbears is the use of “bits of” to indicate first letters, but that’s probably just me!

    A question regarding 24a, which I am sure Prolixic will address tomorrow, is should you have specified “one of two males escaping”?

    Overall this was an encouragingly good puzzle, Deuce, with lots to like. Many thanks for a fun challenge.

    1. In 16d, I wasn’t sure about ‘must’ in the surface -really? – ‘might’ could have prevented the need for ‘e.g.’ which is less smooth in the middle of a clue (although we already have a ‘might’ – in 22d)

      1. Hi Dutch,

        Nice to see you on Saturday.

        The setter has very cleverly disguised “must” and “produce” as verbs, but they’re actually nouns! The surface is fairly clunky overall, a RD says, but the clue earned a half-tick from me for the ingenuity of the second half.

      2. Silvanus and I are two different people – honestly. You did see both of us in the same pub at the same time on Saturday.

      3. ah, I had completely missed the wine must reference, very clever

        yes, I recall seeing both of you – which could just mean there was one of you…

  8. 8 across is very clever, I didn’t realise how clever at first, and I also very much liked 13a, 21a, 2d, 7d and 23d. Nice level of difficulty on a par with a backpager for me in that it lasted most of lunchtime and I’ve still got a couple of pesky ones that I can’t parse. Some lovely touches here, very well done.

  9. Just popped in to see if this is a “just me” crossword because I’m seriously stuck. :sad:
    I’ve done most of the bottom left corner and have a splattering of other answers but I’ve now ground to a complete halt.
    I’ll finish the ironing and see if that helps – back later.
    In the meantime thank you to Deuce.

  10. Finally cracked my last two…12A and 6D. I’m not at all sure that the answer for 12A really fits the definition. I checked the grid and my answer for 6D ( arrived at in a flash of inspiration, me being an expat and all) is correct, thought I have no idea where the “sexual advance from mouth” comes in. Could it be I’ve led a sheltered life? Also, is it strictly kosher to use an acronym and not indicate it as such in the enumeration? My picks are 19A, 2D, 7D and 20D. Thanks, Deuce. I did find some of the surfaces difficult to follow but overall I enjoyed the solve.

    1. Don’t know if there’s any rule in principle against acronyms, but 6D does appear in most dictionaries (though sometimes with a hyphen) – if you know how it’s pronounced it might help judge the clue :-)

  11. All of the ‘in depth’ comments I might have made have already been covered by Silvanus and RD – who I can confirm are definitely two different people!
    I tried very hard to get ‘sty’ into 18d and was extremely slow with the wordplay of 22d but all is sorted out now, with the exception of 6d which is still eluding me.
    Podium places going to 8&17a plus 22d – top slot reserved for 2d – loved it!

    I very much enjoyed solving this one, Deuce, keep up the good work and bring us another one soon.

  12. Deuce might be told off by Prolixic for a few potential mistakes like using have as a containment indicator but I really enjoyed it.
    And that’s what counts.
    Liked 22d a lot.
    Agree with Dutch about 16d. Although it was good to say that the answer is possibly Alsatian (having had some lovely late harvest ones from Oz and NZ) but “might” would have made the surface smoother.
    Many ticks next to clues.
    Thanks to Deuce.

    1. In 16d ‘must’ is necessary since the definition is what’s produced from Alsatian must (‘must’ being unfermented grape juice).

      1. In that case wouldn’t it be product rather than produce. Or even produces for proper grammar?

      2. I’m saying that and I didn’t even sit down in the pedant’s corner at the bridge house.

  13. Terrific, inventive and original clue writing. Bravo Deuce, you’ve done it again.

    Loads of clues I loved – maybe 8a the best of the lot. If I was to make a request for next time it would be to design a grid with more connectivity and without those less-than-50% checkers please.

    Looking forward to the next one already!

  14. Nice puzzle Deuce.

    For me it was on the easy side but a long way short of a write-in – in fact some nice tricks in quite a few clues to ensure that the brain needed to be engaged. A puzzle which would liven up the DT “back-page” series no end.

    I ticked 9a, 15a, 16a (double), 17a, 19a, 2d, 7d, 23 (double – not many acrostic clues work as well as this one – the definition of course was the fun part.

    At least – that’s what I think I ticked – I cross off clue numbers so enthusiastically when I’ve solved one that I can often barely read the original number against the ones I’ve ticked.

    “Alsation must produce” (in 16a) is brilliant – witty and exact.

    I’ll look forward to the next one – many thanks for the fun.

  15. Thanks, Prolixic!

    I indeed tried to pick up on your helpful comments from last time – giving up the anagrams habit is not easy but cold turkey worked :-)

    Agree with Silvanus that “don outfit” works better.

    Amazing how even after multiple checking little things slip through (enumerations, repetitions of “in short”, etc) – always good to have friendly but critical eyes look at it. Anyway, glad you enjoyed.


  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, also for the parsing of 12a & 14d and filling in the gap I had at 6d. Can’t decide whether or not I like the latter but have certainly forgiven myself for not knowing the group involved with 12a!

    Hope you managed to stay awake through all three of your Sunday commitments – I was definitely struggling to keep my eyes open on the train journey home!

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