Rookie Corner – 156 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 156

A Puzzle by Metman

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Metman’s latest puzzle completes three years of Rookie Corner. 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:

Are we really at the end of three years of the Rookie corner.  The series is a fantastic showcase for new setters, several of whom have move on to the NTSPP and to be published in the national press.  It is a testament to Big Dave’s vision and encouragement to new setters that it has been so successful.  A big thank you to all our Rookies who have contributed to the series.

This was a good puzzle from Metman which kept me entertained.  Despite a few niggles, the quality is improving.


8 Suspect Irish flower loses luminance and energy (4)
IFFY – Remove (loses) the abbreviations for luminance and energy from the name of an Irish river (flower).

9 Large mammal approaching airstrip to find source of entertainment (10)
HIPPODROME – A five letter diminutive form of an African river animal followed by (approaching) a five letter diminutive word for an airstrip or airport.

10 Can be viewed by land or sea sprouting from garlic (6)
SCAPE – Double definition of the word that can follow land or sea in painting and the name of a botanical shoot that could come from a garlic bulb.  As the second part of the definition is not specific to garlic, this should have been indicated as a definition by example.  The surface reading could have been improved with something like “Column that may be seen by land or sea”

11 Small bird is snuggling down (8)
NESTLING – Double definition of a small bird and a word meaning to snuggle down.

12 Own a Limo? Not on your Nellie! – it engenders boredom (8)
MONOTONY – The answer is hidden (engenders) LIMO NOT ON YOUR.  Ideally, hidden word clues should not have extra padding words that do not contribute to the wordplay.  Here, there are three additional words.

14 Roy employs a twisted singer for this club (6)
ROTARY – The ROY from the clue includes (employs) a reversal (twisted) of another word for someone who betrays someone else – singer.

16 This does it with caution (4)
EASY – The word that goes before “does it” to make a phrase meaning with caution.

17 Racecourse symbol loses head (5)
ASCOT – Remove the first letter (loses head) from the name of a Berkshire racecourse.  As loses has already been used as a deletion indicator, a different indicator should have been used here.

18 Manage with little rangefinder, not having a second (4)
COPE – Remove the abbreviation for second from the diminutive form of a word for a rangefinder.

19 Good French car test is just a joke (3,3)
BON MOT – The French for good followed by the annual test that all cars must have.

21 Small Executive Officer too old to blend in gives an informal farewell (6-2)
TOODLE-OO – An anagram (to blend in) of the abbreviation for executive officer EO TOO OLD.  Chambers and Collins do not give the abbreviation required.  As the first three letters of the answer are the first three letters of the anagram fodder, it feels a little unsatisfactory.

23 A period brought to a close (4,4)
FULL STOP – The punctuation mark known as a period in the USA used to end a sentence.

26 Sir, the confusion is not yours (6)
THEIRS – An anagram (confusion) of SIR THE.

27 Relish choosing a type of orchid say (10)
PICCALILLI – A homophone (say) of “pick a lily”.  The wordplay leads to picking a lily.

28 Complaint? Well spotted! (4)
ACNE – A skin complaint leading to a spotty face.


1 A1 food I can cook for connoisseur (10)
AFICIONADO – An anagram (cook) of AI FOOD I CAN.

2 Easy MPH on your motorbike may show composition (8)
SYMPHONY – The answer is hidden in (may show) EASY MPH ON YOUR.  Again, the motorbike is padding.  As Gazza has pointed out, replacing your motorbike with Yamaha would have cured this.

3 He will shortly help you move (6)
PHYSIO – The diminutive form of the person who helps you to recover from muscular injuries.

4 Small word play is twisted (4)
SPUN – The abbreviation for small followed by another word for a play on words.

5 To genuflect before rough trip is fitting for a sailing ship (8)
BOWSPRIT – A word meaning to genuflect followed by an anagram (rough) of TRIP.  I think that to genuflect leads to the singular, not the plural which means that the S in the answer is unclued.

6 Provide with weapon and sanction the band (6)
ARMLET – A three letter word meaning it provide with a weapon followed by a three letter word meaning to sanction.

7 Venom encountered reveals a warning (4)
OMEN – The answer is hidden in (reveals) VENOM ENCOUNTERED.

13 Chay managed to a T in this vessel (5)
YACHT – An anagram (managed) of CHAY followed by the abbreviation for time.

15 Red-hot support for rent – it’s exhilarating (3-7)
RIP-ROARING – A word indicating something is red-hot hoes after (supporting) a word meaning a tear or rent in something.

17 American lawyers missing from last Tuesday manoeuvred wisely (8)
ASTUTELY – Remove (missing from) DAS (American lawyers) from LAST TUESDAY and make an anagram (manoeuvred) of the letters that remain.  As letter letters DAS are not removed in order, a secondary anagram indicator should be provided.

18 End of the road for complex CD clause (3,2,3)
CUL DE SAC – An anagram (complex) of CD CLAUSE.  The structure definition for wordplay does not work.  It should be definition for wordplay.

20 Academic held up by parasites displays animosity (6)
MALICE – A two letter abbreviation for a degree (academic) followed by (held up by) a word for parasites.

22 Not in but you are able to wear it (6)
OUTFIT – A word meaning not in followed by a word meaning you are able to.

24 Variable supports Cambridge perhaps for PC speak (4)
UNIX – A letter representing a variable followed by a diminutive form of the type of institution that Cambridge represents.  As supporting has already been used as a positional indicator in 15d, a different indicator should have been used here.

25 Survey that is considered on the way out in elections (4)
POLL – A cryptic definition of a type of survey carried out after people have voted.  I think that to work, this should be on the way out. [The clue was missing “out in elections” which I accidentally dropped when cutting and pasting from the pdf.  It’s there now.  BD]

I have rushed this out early morning before heading to work.  Any errors and omissions will have to await the evening shift for correction.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 156

  1. We learnt new words in 10a and 24d and took a long time to work out 16a. Lots of good clues to enjoy and several where we had todo a bit of head scratching.
    Thanks Metman.

  2. Great puzzle, Metman. I thought all of the clues were stylishly constructed, fair and of a similar level of challenge. Particularly liked 2D, 3D, 15D and 26A. 10A taught me something new too. Many thanks!

  3. Good fun throughout – thanks Metman! I struggled with the wordplay on a couple of clues – I think they were 14a and 24d – though could see they had to be right.


  4. Thanks Metman – I enjoyed this. There are some clever “hidden” clues but in both 12a and 2d there are ‘extra’ words which ideally shouldn’t be there (in 2d, for example, “Yamaha” might be better than “your motorbike”). My favourite, for the laugh, was 28a.

  5. Whilst enjoyable to solve, it was disappointing to see certain of the niggles that had beset earlier Metman puzzles reappearing.

    Surface padding in hidden clues remains an issue, particularly with 12a, but also with 2d. A few of the surfaces themselves were again a little strained, but perhaps less so than before. The letters to be removed from the anagram in 17d (“American lawyers”) do not appear in the same order as in the fodder, unfortunately, and my repetition radar bleeped with “loses” used twice as a deletion indicator, and “supports/supporting” repeated as a positional indicator in Down clues.

    I ticked 11a and 28a, both neat and succinct clues. My least favourite definition was 26a – although the answer was obvious, “not yours” could equally mean “his”, “hers” or “mine” for example.

    Thanks, Metman, I do hope you’ll eventually be able to iron out these little glitches and move to the next level.

  6. Thought this was your best puzzle to date with greatly improved surface reads – well done Metman. My only complaint was over 24d but that may well be due to my lack of knowledge in the realms of PC!

    Pick of the bunch for me were19& 27a plus 4d.
    Looking forward to your next one.

  7. Overall this was an enjoyable solve, and I have ticked 11a, 19a and 27a as my top picks.

    Silvanus has mentioned several of my concerns about some of the surfaces, the padding in 2d & 12a, plus the problem with order of the letters to be removed in 17d.

    In addition I can’t make 5d work. Where does the “s” come from? Wouldn’t simply “genuflects before rough trip …” be fine?

    Many thanks for the entertainment, Metman.

  8. Thanks Metman
    I stared at it blankly for 5 minutes, then it suddenly clicked and they all went in pretty smoothly.
    I liked 3d, 4d (favourite) and 13d.
    Superfluous words not my favourite, so would go along with Silvanus’ and Gazza’s comments, on the whole.

    1. My thanks to all so far for your kind and helpful comments. They are really appreciated. I’ll go through your comments Silvanus and take them all on board. I have done several more since this one and I think they are better, but we will see. The ‘s’ RD surely must be there because of ‘bows’ followed by an anagram of trip?

      1. Metman, surely “to genuflect” means “to bow”, or am I missing something?

        1. The answer to the clue is ‘bows-prit. if one genuflects surely one bows? that’s how I see it anyway.

        2. RD, you must think I am nuts considering my first two replies! On my own hard copy of this xword I had indeed written j’ Genuflects before rough trip etc’ but must have edited it again just before I submitted to BD. My apoligies for the misunderstanding. All my own mistake.

          1. Thanks very much for owning up, Metman. I’m just glad I wasn’t going barking mad.

  9. Thanks Metman.
    Only 16a to go. I’m sure that once I’ve done the whole alphabet the answer will fall. Just need more time as I can’t really see the definition yet, let alone the wordplay.
    Need also to understand 25d properly.
    The rest made perfect sense and even learned a few thigs along the way like the second word of 9a on it’s own and the garlic stems in 10a… and I’m french! Should know everything about these bulbs.
    Noticed the missing S in 5d and found the US lawyer in pieces in 17d but these are minor hiccups to my eyes.
    Just have to check if choosing can be substituted to the first word in 27a.
    Liked the lurker in 12a.
    See you after the review.

  10. Many thanks Metman. I enjoyed this and for the most part found it fairly gentle. That said, the garlicky bit of 10a was new, I had to cheat to get 5d, and I have one I can’t quite untangle. I will wait for the review for that as well as to see what Prolixic has to say about the few minor issues I had. So many thanks also in advance to Prolixic.

  11. Thanks for the puzzle Metman, very enjoyable. Solved it yesterday morning, wanted to comment yesterday evening but the site was down – did anyone else have this problem?

    Some notes:

    1d – the cryptic grammar doesn’t quite work for me, as ‘cook’ seems to be doing the job of ‘cooked’? My understanding is that ‘imperative verbs for anagram indicators ought to go before the fodder. If you had something like ‘stew’ instead, you could make the argument that it’s a nounal indicator, but I don’t think ‘cook’ works.
    19a – thought there was some etymological crossover here
    18d – definition didn’t hold up for me. (Surely the phrase refers to the road as a whole, rather than the end of it?)
    23a didn’t really work for me (a full stop brings a sentence to a close rather than being brought to a close, right?)
    9a – thought the def was a little vague (though the wordplay was clear enough for it not to be a problem)

    Minor issues but worth thinking about perhaps. Overall I agree with the others that this is your best so far. Liked the singer in 14a (though I thought it referred to the ___ Pack) and the cute image in 11a. Favourite was 26a. Thanks for the enjoyable solve and keep it up!

    1. Many thanks Arepo, and thanks again to all who have commented, and, of course, a vey big thankyou to Prolixic for his excellent review and another huge thankyou to BD for getting the site back in circulation. It must have taken up his whole day.

      1. I have also just noticed that 25d is missing an ‘out’ It was meant to be there and I have no idea where it has gone. It6’s got to be my clumsy editing. My apologies.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Now that the wording of the clue has been corrected, I can finally understand 25d.
    Rather glad that Metman didn’t use your alternative clue for 10a – that could have taken me quite a while to unravel!

  13. Hi Metman – nice puzzle – once again on the easy side (the ones I got, at least).

    3d you beat me with, but on reflection it’s very good indeed.

    25d though (even with the update) I can only see one side to – maybe I’m missing somthing there. 16d also – I got OK – but although slightly crytic for me it’s really only got one side to it.

    20d I parsed differently from others – I had MICE around a reversal of LA (Licentiate of Anagramming) a degree any worthwhile university must surely be issuing by now.

    Otherwise plain sailing – and enjoyable. Many thanks for the fun.

    1. Nice of you to look in JS. Glad I made you work for a couple at least! 25d refers to the exit poll taken at a polling station. But the ‘on the way’ should have read ‘on the way out’ Thanks for the comments anyway.

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