Rookie Corner – 149 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 149

A Puzzle by AKMild

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

AKMild returns a little sooner than he did last time! 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 back to AKMild.  This was a gentle crossword – it took me less time than Rufus this morning – but no less enjoyable for it.  There was a good variety of clues and some nice touches such as the reversal of even number letters and the linking of the clues in 3 and 4 down.


7 A beige urn turns purple (9)
AUBERGINE – An anagram (turns) of A BEIGE URN.

8 Regularly tell couple to run away together (5)
ELOPE – The even letters (regularly) in TELL COUPLE.

10 The odds Scotsman got on player (8)
THESPIAN – The “the” from the clue followed by the abbreviation for starting price (odds) and an archetypal Scottish male name.

11 Start to contest East End Barnet’s seats (6)
CHAIRS – The first letter (start to) of contest followed by the word for which Barnet is Cockney rhyming slang (East End) maintaining the plural from the ‘s.

12 Is back in motoring organisation, being continent! (4)
ASIA – Reverse (back) the IS from the clue and put it inside the two letter abbreviation for a motoring association.

13 Pariahs caught, maybe, and threw stones at first (8)
OUTCASTS – What you would be in cricket if caught (maybe indicating that there are other ways of becoming this) followed by a word meaning threw and the first letter of stones.

15 Men, in the middle of selection, concealed small flowers (7)
ORCHIDS -The abbreviation for other ranks (men) followed by the middle letter of selection, a word meaning concealed and the abbreviation for small.  The “in” in the clue is misleading as it suggests containment that is not present in the solution.

17 Yellow or amber toucan I frightened (7)
CAUTION – An anagram (frightened) of TOUCAN I.

20 Man or woman who might marry one of Dibley’s precursors (3,5)
THE VICAR – The first two words in the name of the TV series ending Dibley.  As a general rule, unless it forms part of a proper name, you should not include the definite or indefinite article as an answer to a clue.

22 Engage in exercise, perhaps, and use performance enhancing drug (4)
DOPE – A two letter word meaning engage in or perform followed by another word for exercise.  I think that the perhaps could have been omitted from this clue.

25 Use key to give someone a haircut? (6)
UNLOCK – Split 2-4, this would indicate removing the hair from someone.

26 Bring in new sign for sketches (8)
DRAWINGS – A four letter word meaning bring in followed by an anagram (new) of SIGNS.

27 Allude to either way (5)
REFER – A palindromic word (either way) that means to allude to.

28 A way to get rich, though labour doesn’t start after industrial action (6,3)
STRIKE OIL – A six letter word meaning industrial action followed by a four letter word meaning labour with the first letter removed (doesn’t start).


1 Lacy adornment found by companion in Parisian road (5)
RUCHE – The abbreviation for Companion of Honour inside the French (Parisian) for road.

2 Opposed to some clever suspects (6)
VERSUS – The answer is hidden in (some) CLEVER SUSPECTS.

3/24 A profit shown twice? It’s interminable … (5,3,5)
AGAIN AND AGAIN – The A from the clue and a word for profit shown twice with the connecting and added.

4 … so’s this, as cricket side twice holds country without opener (2,3,2)
ON AND ON – A side in cricket twice (we have three twices which is two too many in the crossword!) includes (holds) another word for a country without the first letter (without opener).  The So’s this refers back to the definition in the previous clue. 

5 Odd ones out, Eton fags have slept lying East to West, which is nice (8)
PLEASANT – The even letters (odd ones out) in ETON FAGS HAVE SLEPT all reversed (lying East to West).  As this is a down clue, East to West is not really correct.  Perhaps “slept standing up” would be better.  More smutty alternatives are also available!

6 Process nothing for each country with no leader (9)
OPERATION – The letter representing nothing followed by a three letter word meaning for each and another word for a country without the first letter (with no leader).

9 A Glaswegian‘s tax perhaps (4)
SCOT – Double definition.

14 A wayward challenger loses the French celestial attendant (9)
ARCHANGEL – The A from the clue followed by an anagram (wayward) of CHAL[le]NGER without (loses) the French definite article

16/21/18 Consume Swiss roll, for instance, twice? One cannot do this! (4,4,4,3,3,2)
HAVE ONES CAKE AND EAT IT – Two ways of describing the process of munching on a bakery product.

19 Councillor briefly works on paper that will be shown at the end of a film (7)
CREDIT – The abbreviation for councillor followed be a word meaning works on paper.  The briefly is not required as the abbreviation stands in its own right.

21 See 16

23 Highly regarded after reportedly having used a crowbar (6)
PRIZED – A homophone (reportedly) of a word meaning having used a crowbar.

24 See 3


33 comments on “Rookie Corner – 149

  1. Before writing a comment I had a look back to the last time we had an AKMild puzzle to see what we had thought then. We had enjoyed that one and find it had all fitted together smoothly. Exactly the same with this one. As it says on the label, ‘mild’ but don’t see that as a fault. A very pleasant puzzle to solve.
    Thanks AKMild.

  2. Very mild indeed – my only hold up being checking the clue for 5d was ‘what it said on the tin’

    Thanks to AKMild some nice clues for some very ‘old friends’.

  3. I thought this was very nicely put together – an enjoyable solve, good mix of clue types, and some lovely clues too. I liked 10a, 13a, 17a (where I liked using both yellow and amber), 22a, 2d and more. There was precious little to complain about – congratulations!

    I was confused at first by 11a where I assumed ‘east end’ was going to be an H-remover, but of course it’s a rhyming slang indicator

    16d/21/18 Stupidly, despite the hint in the clue, I bunged in your for the second word – soon corrected

    In 3/24, I wondered whether the middle word was really indicated

    5d, ooh, a reverse even letters – very nice – this reversal indicator would have looked even nicer in an across clue

    so you see – that’s very mild criticism indeed

    Well done AKMild

    1. Just done this morning’s Indy. Given the ‘sneakiness’ of some of the definitions I sense there can only be one Dutch! Congratulations!!!

      1. Well done Dutch – an excellent debut. I particularly liked ‘IT Conference’.
        At this rate the Indy will soon be able to field a whole football team of graduates from the BD Academy.

    2. Hey, looks like I need to head over to the Indy and take a look. Many congrats Dutch, hope it’s a nice easy one like this!

          1. Got there eventually – but they don’t make it easy for you to get a PDF.
            Brilliant puzzle but this isn’t the place to talk about it – apologies, AK Mild.

          2. Thanks MP. I finally got the puzzle downloaded. Something to make today’s train journey to the frozen north more enjoyable. And congrats to you, Dutch.

  4. This was much more solver-friendly than recent Rookie puzzles and more enjoyable accordingly. Perhaps, if anything, some of the answers were a little too obvious (like 3/24), but I’d rather a setter err this side of the line rather than try to make things too convoluted.

    I thought that there were fewer dubious surfaces this time around, and I found much to like, with my favourite clue being 22a. I didn’t warm to 20a unfortunately, and would have preferred a different reversal indicator than “East to West” in a Down clue like 5d.

    Overall I felt that the setter had worked hard to eliminate the previous repetitions and to polish the surfaces, and I think this puzzle reflected that effort. Well done and thanks, AKMild.

  5. Nicely put together and rather more attention given to surface reads than is the norm with Rookies.
    I thought 5d was cleverly constructed and appreciated that there really was justification for the joining of 3/24 & 4d.
    My top three were 10,13&22a.

    Well done, AK Mild – I like that you are honing your setting skills before attempting to increase the level of difficulty.

  6. Hi there AK. If “Mild” refers to a wish to set Quick Cryptic type clues then you’ve done that perfectly. I think it’s very difficult to achieve for a whole puzzle. I was able to fill most of this in as I went along, only a couple of hold-ups in the bottom half, which is very unusual for me.

    Personally I’m not a fan of grids involving clues where fewer than half the letters cross; that’s just the way I was brought up. But for this style of clueing I accept it’s not a big issue. It matters more when clues are full of obscurities or difficult to unravel, or simply badly written, none of which is the case here.

    25a I like the cryptic definition though taking the clue as a whole I’ll stick to my more conventional barber if you don’t mind

    16/21/18 Nicely done

    13a I don’t think “at first” is needed – was it in an earlier version of the clue and then not removed on rewrite (been there, done that…)

    15a I think “in” upsets the wordplay which as far as I can see it is:
    Men + the middle of selection+ concealed + small

    5d East to West only works in an across clue I think

    19d OED has CR as an abbreviation for Councillor so I don’t think “briefly” is really needed

    Very enjoyable – thanks for a puzzle aimed at those who can’t do Toughies and the like.

  7. A nice gentle start to the puzzling week – thanks AKMild. It all hangs together very well – my favourite was 28a.

  8. Thanks for the feedback so far, folks. I am really cross with myself for the use of ‘East to West’ in a down clue. That was a schoolboy error!

    I think I need to learn how to make the clues slightly tougher, but also take on board the comments about the grid pattern so that at least 50% of squares are checked for a tougher puzzle.

    Do all you setters use crossword setting software? To date, I have not used this, but wonder if it’s worthwhile and if so, what recommendations any of you might have.

      1. Ditto. Watch the pricing though – he used to show the price excluding VAT, without actually specifying that (i.e. as is if he were selling to a business that would be able to reclaim it). I only found out when the VAT was added on afterwards. But that was a couple of years ago and may have changed.

  9. I enjoyed this very gentle but well constructed puzzle with nice attention to surfaces throughout.

    Very well done and thank you, AKMild.

  10. Very enjoyable and not too taxing.
    Nice surface and construction.
    Favourite 10a.
    Thanks to AKmild.

  11. Very enjoyable – as others have said, not too challenging but plenty of fun. Not much in the way of quibbles: I feel like the ‘perhaps’ is misplaced in 9a; I don’t think the “in” in 15a is completely ungrammatical but it makes the cryptic reading a little awkward for me; and others have already noted the “east to west” slip. Other than that, it’s all gravy, and there were a lot of nicely constructed clues such as 28a, 11a and 1d. 20a was silly but it made me smile, so no complaint. 22a hands-down favourite. Very well done!

  12. Hi AKM – mild by name – mild by natureit seems.

    Despite my brain having been reduced to putty by Elgar I managed this not quite as a write-in (ie every clue solved cold in the order given) but nonetheless in a single pass – ie taking advantage of crossing letters and going for the “danglers’ as they became available.

    Minor quibbles – very minor – not sure they really matter at all:

    15a “in” is either spare or misleading.
    9d “perhaps” as a definition-by-example indication is either not needed or else it should be applied to Glaswegian – not tax – although you can probably argue that it needn’t be read that way.

    My favourite clue was 5d.

    Despite being very easy this was still an enjoyable solve – there’s an art (or at least a knack) to writing puzzles that are easy but not sappy (this certainly wasn’t that) and still interesting to solver and you seem to have it – so well done.

    I’m just now running a U3A course to convert quickie solvers into “real” ones – we addicts just love to get others to join us in our addictions.

    This will be perfect for them so many thanks for that and the fun just now.

  13. Been having a nightmare with broadband connection so the review is delayed. I have resorted to sending a copy to BD to post when time allows.


  14. Thanks AKMild, for a high quality puzzle suitable for slower solvers like myself and people new to puzzles. If there are lots of old friends, they are mostly new to me. Others have mentioned the grid, which was noticeable, but at least the crossers were generally helpful. I particularly like the cricket side – to me a new twist on a very common crossword convention.

  15. Again, thanks for the comments and observations, everyone, thanks to BD for publishing and thanks to Prolixic for the review. Particular learning points for me are grid pattern, the use of ‘East-West’ in a down clue (which I knew but missed), and the convention not to use a definite or indefinite answer in the solution. I will try and remember these in my next attempt, as well as to try and crank up the difficulty just a little.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I should think that AK Mild will be more than happy with your assessment.
    I do hope that he continues to bring us more puzzles – I believe that he has a good eye for a clue.

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