Rookie Corner – 158 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 158

A Puzzle by Mucky

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Undeterred by his earlier ordeal, Mucky returns with a second 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:

Mucky has showed a lot of promise in his first puzzle and has built upon that promise with an excellent crossword.  There are none of the obscurities and (perhaps) stretched definitions.  I found the wordplay a fair bit easier than the first crossword.  I would single out 25a as one of the best Rookie clues I have seen for its elegant simplicity and clever disguised wordplay except that the revision to the clue detracted greatly from that simplicity.  Another crossword of this quality and I think we might have to boot him out of the Rookie Corner.

This review is of the orinal puzzle submitted by Mucky.  I have added his revised clues in green, with new wordplay, where applicable.  BD


1 View a faction quietly held (6)
ASPECT – The a from the clue followed by a word for a faction or group in which you include (held) the abbreviations for quietly.

4 Secret of somehow paying no tax (4-4)
SCOT-FREE – An anagram (somehow) of SECRET OF.

10 Sweet Meg ran Italian stores (7)
10 In Italy, sweet Meg ran Italian stores (7)
GRANITA – The answer is hidden in (store) MEG RAN ITALIAN.

11 Favouring blood to write about, I see (7)
NEPOTIC – The TO from the clue and a word meaning write are reversed (about) and followed by the I from the clue and the letter that phonetically is spelt see.

12 x representing large number? (5,4)
BLOCK VOTE – In an election what a single person has where he represents and cast his ballot on behalf of a larger group of people.

13 Queen’s favourite gilded interior effects (5)
13 Queen’s favourite gold interior effects (5)
CORGI – An abbreviation for gold (gilded) inside (interior) a word for special effects used in film making.  The wordplay here is very clever.  Gilded means covered in gold, so gilded interior means cover the inside with gold.

14 Paris’s gold award for most beautiful food? (5)
APPLE – Double definition of the prize given in the Greek myth to the most beautiful goddess and a type of fruit.

15 Mucky girl’s first sign of lice – boyfriend repelled (9)
REVOLTING – The first letter of girl, the name of the egg of a louse (sign of lice) and another word for a boyfriend all reversed (repelled).

17 Throw punch before public protest (6,3)
17 Throw punch and miss repeatedly, getting dismissed (6,3)
STRIKE OUT – A word meaning to throw a punch followed by a word meaning public.  I am not sure that the answer means to protest.
Double definition, the second being a baseball term

19 Masters main subject? (5)
MAJOR – Double definition of a tournament of which the Masters is an example and a main subject studied at an American university.

21 Confined to small island, start to miss British influence (5)
AMBIT – The first letters (start to) of miss British inside (confined to) a three letter word for a small island.  If you are using start to for two or more words, this should be starts to.

23 First lady’s told: ‘Drink? Use a tap‘ (9)
EAVESDROP – A homophone (told) of EVE’S (first lady) and another word for a drink.

24 Stubborn boils he aggravated (7)
24 Deploying elbow, his wife knocked out revolting Russian (7)
BOLSHIE – An anagram (aggravated) of BOILS HE.
An anagram (deploying) of ELBO[W] HIS without (knocked out) W(ife)

25 Employer of Bob Marley visits (7)
25 Employer of Bob Marley shocks postmortem (7)
SCROOGE – In Charles Dickens Christmas Carol, the person who employed Bob and who was visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley.  Excellently disguised by the need to lift and separate the Bob and Marley to get the meaning of the clue.

26 Separation is untidy arrangement (8)
DISUNITY – An anagram (arrangement) of IS UNTIDY.

27 My extra-large infant school originally having tiny pupils (6)
MYOSIS – The MY from the clue, the abbreviation for extra-large or outsized and the initially letters (originally) of infant school.


1 Solving by rearranging letters? (7)
ALGEBRA – A cryptic definition of solving a maths problem using letters to indicate the variables involved.

2 Pulse very high … um, makes seeing and breathing difficult? (3-6)
2 Pulse great, you’re told, but trouble breathing and seeing? (3-6)
PEA-SOUPER – A three letter vegetable referred to as a pulse followed by a two letter word meaning very, a two letter word meaning high and another verbal hesitation that might be used instead of um.
The same pulse followed by a word that sounds like (you’re told) a synonym of great

3 About fifty nicker (all change) in purse (7)
CRINKLE – An anagram (all change) of NICKER around the Roman numeral for fifty.

5 Represented in vicars’ votes, May’s principal principle? (14)
5 Represented in vicars’ votes, May’s first principle? (14)
CONSERVATIVISM – An anagram (represented) of IN VICARS VOTES followed by the first letter (principal) of May.  Chambers and Collins give the spelling without the “IV” but there is support in the Oxford English Dictionary for the answer.

6 Usual heartless Tory in charge, protected by crony (7)
TYPICAL – The outer letters (heartless) of Tory followed by the abbreviation for in charge inside (protected by) a three letter word for a friend or crony.

7 Element that spins hogwash to men (5)
ROTOR – A three letter word meaning hogwash or rubbish followed by the abbreviation for other ranks (men).

8 Don’t start gagging print (7)
ETCHING – A word meaning gagging or being sick with the first letter removed (don’t start).

9 Political impetus behind unionscontraction? (6,8)
9 Impetus leading to unions’ contraction? (6,8)
LABOUR MOVEMENT – A double definition of the party supported by the unions and a contraction when giving birth.

16 Damaging home, promises to pay for finish to panel (9)
INJURIOUS – A two letter word meaning home followed by a four letter word for a panel of people who decide the outcome of a criminal trial with the final letter (finish) replaced by a word meaning promises to pay.

17 Worked with colleagues out on earth’s crust (7)
17 Protection for wound on bottom worked, despite protest (7)
SCABBED – A word for a crust over a wound goes on top of a word for earth.
A crust formed over a wound followed by the bottom of the sea

18 Doll’s toyboy suppressing urge, making room for washing-up? (7)
KITCHEN – The name of Barbie’s boyfriend around (suppressing) a word for an urge.  Suppressing means to sit down upon or to squash.  I am not sure it should be used in a down clue (at least) as a containment indicator.

19 Left in distress, like 25? (7)
MISERLY – The abbreviation for left inside a word meaning distress.

20 Check on hacks? (7)
REPRESS – A two letter word meaning on or about followed by a word for hacks or journalists.

22 Screws up dances? (5)
BALLS – Double definition.  I don’t think that the first part (as verb) works as part of the definition here as the answer is not used as a verb in this sense.

33 comments on “Rookie Corner – 158

  1. We started off slowly and slightly grumpily with obscurities like 10a and the dubious 5d but the more we got into it the more we found we were appreciating and enjoying it and putting heaps of ticks beside the best clues. The two that really stood out for us were 14a (where we were totally misled for ages) and 23a but 25a deserves a special mention too so where do we stop. We ended up total converts.
    Thanks Mucky.

  2. NIce puzzle Mucky – a lot easier than your last one – although I had to research the explanation for 13a, being convinced of my answer but not sure of the wordplay. some nifty wordplays in there.

    I certainly remember 2d’s – ships tooting on the Thames (when London was still a port) – amazing that they dared to move at all when you could barely see your own outstretched hand. Do they still have them now it’s all smokeless?

    5d I didn’t like – Chambers word wizard doesn’t allow it as a Scrabble word.

    Otherwise no problems – full marks.

    Thanks for the fun – do please keep them coming.

  3. Many thanks to Mucky for a great Monday workout. I liked the overarching political theme and thought that all of the cluing was inventive and fair. SE corner was the trickiest for me, but also ultimately the most enjoyable.

    Favourite clues were 15A, 21A, 23A, 25A, 18D & 19D.

    Look forward to trying your next offering.

  4. This is really good with some great surfaces and lots of ‘penny drop’ moments. I particularly enjoyed 4a, 15a, 16d and 18d but I could have mentioned several more.
    Thanks Mucky – I look forward to your next puzzle.

  5. Thanks Mucky, I thought this was pretty good. I really liked the 19d/25a pair, excellent, and 23a was another stand-out excellent clue.

    My last one in was 2a, took me ages to see the second word.

    I’m not sure about full parsing for 13a,14a & 19a, will await review

    I had to look up 27a, and i’m not sure you’d get away with 5d in the dailies.

    I liked the different use of the namecheck in 15a – another excellent clue.

    Congratulations on a great puzzle

  6. Welcome back, Mucky.

    This one was much more solver-friendly than your first puzzle, and as a consequence considerably more enjoyable. It was still tricky in places, especially for me in the NW corner, but I was glad to see lessons had been learnt from your debut. A very well constructed effort for the most part, I thought.

    Jane and RD will, I hope, be more than satisfied with the surfaces, I know I was, although 8d did raise an eyebrow. My printed page has lots of ticks, and I gave 4a and 2d double ticks, although I think the latter ought really to have “it” before “makes”. There was a handful that I didn’t think quite worked – 12a, 1d (a noun clued as a verb too) and 25a, but full marks for the thinking behind them. I wasn’t overly convinced by the definition in 21a either, but it didn’t prevent that clue receiving a tick as well.

    Well done indeed and thanks, Mucky, and I hope we don’t have long to wait for your third one.

    1. Objection withdrawn for 1d, I think on reflection it can work actually! Apologies, Mucky.

  7. A very clever grid fill on the left/right theme.

    I liked 25 and 27 a particularly. Well done Mucky

  8. I thought it was very apparent that you had taken on board the criticisms of your debut puzzle, Mucky – surfaces were much improved (although you still got a bit carried away on some!) and there was less dependency on slang/vernacular terminology. However, the latter obviously remains one of your preferred options.
    27a seemed a little out of place and needed checking as did the full parsing of 13a – thank goodness the answer to that one was obvious!

    Some definite flashes of brilliance here – 14a in particular along with 16&19d. I also liked the penny drop moment in 25a and 23a would have been up there with the winners apart from the rather odd surface read.

    I do hope that you’ll bring us some more puzzles – I think you have demonstrated that you have plenty of ability.

  9. Mucky provided a version of this puzzle containing some minor revisions, which I have now published.

    The following clues have been changed:
    10a – minor edit
    13a – minor edit
    17a – major edit
    24a – rewritten
    25a – minor edit
    2d – rewritten
    5d – minor edit
    9d – minor edit
    17d – rewritten

    All answers are the same in both versions.

    My apologies for the inconvenience and for originally publishing the older version.

    1. Thanks, BD
      Thanks for the nice comments, everyone, I’m glad it’s not been such a struggle this time. Sorry for the rather obscure 5d. Having got into trouble last time for making up a word, I was determined not to make the same mistake. When filling the grid, 9d went in first, and 5d then occurred to me as something that went rather well with it. It is a word I know (perhaps from reading a lot of 19C lit), but I looked it up anyway in my SOED where it is given as equivalent (albeit in rather small print) to its more common version. Satisfied it was a word, I ticked the box and thought no more about it until a last minute panic on Saturday, when Dave told me it wasn’t in any other dictionary.

      1. It’s enlightening to compare the before and after versions, I’m intrigued to know whether the revisions were made because you weren’t 100% happy with the original clues, or was it that you wanted to try to make them more difficult, or perhaps it was a combination of the two?

        I think 13a and 17a are better as amended, I’m less convinced that the changes to the others necessarily improve them though. 2d was one of my personal favourites before, and I actually liked the “principal principle” juxtaposition in the original 5d. It would be interesting to see what others think.

        With or without the changes this was still an excellent puzzle.

    2. A word of warning. I wrote and posted the review early this morning using the original version of the crossword. As I am otherwise engaged for the remainder of the day, I doubt that I will have time to update it before it goes live.

  10. Hi Mucky – I copied the first version of the puzzle onto my computer last night, and only printed it off for solving at lunchtime today, so my comments relate to that earlier version.
    I absolutely loved it. The straight cryptics at 1d and 12a were both brilliant, I thought, and 15a was a very clever bit of misdirection. Also getting a double tick was 16d, but my outstanding favourite was 25a – what a great clue!
    Fully 12 more got ticks in the margin (including 5d, which seemed fine as a word to me – 400,000 hits on Google), although I didn’t much like the wordplay in either 19a or 22d. Mind you, every time I object to something on this site I find out shortly after that it was me who was being dim, so they’re probably both fine – I shall have to wait for the review!
    The only one I really don’t get is 14a – I can see the definition – nice – but the wordplay eludes me still.

    1. A mixture of reasons.
      24a I thought the boils anagram a bit weak.
      13d I didn’t like originally, and changing it gave me two protests, which led to changing 17a.
      2d – I think I thought the ‘um’ was a bit lazy, but as you say, not sure it’s an improvement
      10a I thought I needed a bit of extra definition, since it is an example without any example indicator
      Probably some unnecessary anxious fiddling.

      1. Ah – thanks Gazza, you’re a well-versed fellow. I had got as far as Troy and assumed the first two words to be the definition, but had got no further!

  11. Interesting to note that some of the first ones I wrote in were clues that have subsequently been amended.

    I did struggle in places, but was pleased that I’d spotted the Left Right divide. My favourite is 18d

    Thanks to Mucky and in advance to Prolixic

  12. Completed this with one hand while using the other to shovel breakfast into grandson’s gaping maw. I found this thoroughly enjoyable & have no complaints about any of the clues with the exception of 5 down. Looking forward to Prolixic’s review.

    Sterling work Mucky.

  13. Greetings from Snape, which is looking lovely in the spring sun (the village – I tend not to refer to myself in the third person). It’s good to get the time to do another Rookie, especially one as good as this. A nice style and turn of phrase, and very engaging definitions. I completed it with my usual method of computer aided cheating (I would never finish a puzzle if I didn’t) and am blank as to a couple of the parsings, but enjoyed it a lot. Good to see well executed cryptic definitions as well.
    Quibbles very minor indeed – does the up in 22d mean the definition is not exact? Should the QM technically be after the Masters in 19a? etc, so you can see how tiny these are. Favourites tough to call – 6,9,15,18,23, I think.
    Thank you, and to Prolixic in advance.

    1. Hi Snape
      re 22d – SOED has the solution as ‘screw up tightly’, so I meant it as a simple DD.
      Since Maize also mentioned it, I thought I might defend myself, since it was one of my favourites – I was obliged to sit through all the Saturday night prancing with my family, and this was my catharsis

      1. Ah, fair enough, ‘screws up into a ball’ = ‘balls’, I hadn’t seen it like that.

  14. A strange parity with today’s Rufus in that I had four left in each when I called it a (very late) night last night. I found I didn’t have my solving head on this morning, so may have made a checkette or two…

    I was completely oblivious (once again) to the theme. Nice touch.

    Celebrations kept interrupting my bloggage today, so forgive me if I don’t have any detailed feedback to give at this late stage. My general comments echo those of Silvanus, Jane et al: much more solver-friendly, and an improvement on your last. When a Rookie shows this much early promise and is this responsive to feedback it bodes well indeed, so I’m very much looking forward to your next one.

    Thanks for this, Mucky, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  15. I worked from the original version also. Theme? What theme? As usual, I didn’t notice until it was pointed out. Maybe that’s why 17D and the second word of 9D took a long time, and I missed the second word of 12A completely. I only got the first word because I was thinking of a number as an anaesthetic. Also, to my shame, I missed out on 1D even with all the checking letters. I leave the fine tuning to others. Suffice to say I really enjoyed this even though I was not 100% successful and 13A remains unparsed. Top of my hit parade are 14A, 15A, 25A and 9D, though I also liked 10A and 18D. Special mention for the 19/25 combo. Thanks, Mucky. This was fun!

  16. Thanks Prolixic for the generous review, and for taking the extra time to add in the revisions.
    On the whole, it looks like I could have left it in its original form. I think anxiety must have played a large part in the last minute changes.
    I have a couple of comments where I read the clues differently:
    17a I had the definition as ‘throw punch’ and the wordplay as before public [ : ] protest
    21a For ‘start to miss British’ I had M for start to miss, and B for British, as an unindicated abbreviation
    22d As I commented above, I think balls can mean screws up in a verbal sense

    This was a very different experience from last time! I think my main objective was to ensure that 2Kiwis didn’t bin it after 10 minutes and put everyone off – thanks 2Kiwis :-)

    It’s so interesting to see which clues turn out to be popular
    My favourites were 15a (mucky girl) 12a (x = large number), and 22d (screws up dances)
    I was quite pleased with 25a, the Bob Marley one, but unfortunately not pleased enough not to change it
    16d (damaging home) got a few ticks, and was the one I really struggled with. It turned out like that because that was the only way I could work out to clue it.

    I really like cryptic definitions. When I know a setter likes to use them (I’m mainly thinking Rufus) I look out for them, and they can get quite easy to spot. I’d be interested to know how easy the ones in this puzzle were.
    1d I thought would be a gimme (rearranging letters)
    25a I hoped would be quite misleading
    12a (x) and 14a somewhere in between?

    1. Thanks again Mucky

      Thanks prolixic, I had had missed the effects, the greek myth, and the golf tournament.

      I read 17a as Mucky intended.

      I found the rewrites very enlightening – I can relate to the anxiety and compulsion to tweak clues when a puzzle appears more or less finished. This is the first opportunity I have had to look at someone else’s final tweaks – The valuable lesson I’ve learned here is that unless you suddenly see some faulty cryptic grammar, the tweaks may not make a lot of difference in the ye of the solver – so just maybe it is ok to chill and stick with what you have most of the time.

      It is also enlightening which clues are the setter’s favourites. My stand out favourite by miles was the Bob Marley clue – genius – I prefer the original for simplicity and shortness, but the revision works fine.

      And since you ask, I share the appreciation for mucky girl: I like it when setter’s alias is used for something other than I or me (I try to do the same). I was less keen on the x, perhaps because it took me so long to see but also i’m not convinced the def is truly nailed. I got screws up dances, but with the word for screws up not being in common usage, it wasn’t a favourite.

      so for the cd’s, 1d was certainly not a gimme for me, – and i thought it a very good cd since the surface so clearly describes crosswords. 25a is stand-out excellent as mentioned. 12a (x) not a favourite, and 14a I missed – things get a bit tricky when you have cd’s depending on GK – well I guess GK can be risky anywhere – for instance I got 25a only after 19d (so that connection works superbly), and had to check the characters because I’d forgotten them. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a Dickens novel, sorry…

      The 17d rewrite is, in my opinion, a big improvement
      10a already hints at italian, so in this case i think the original is better.

      Congratulations again

    2. I would very much recommend reviewing clues after a first draft has been written – unless you’re very experienced or a genius that is!
      If you’re lucky then some of the best will have been created ‘perfect’ at that first draft – others may just need tweaks and then sometimes a complete re-write will produce the best clue in the puzzle.
      With re-written clues and if time allows, I like to keep both versions (or more) side by side, to leave them for a day or two, then return with fresh eyes, whereupon it’s usually easy enough to see which is the best version.

    3. Humblest apologies for contributing to your anxiety levels Mucky. As we said earlier, you totally won us over with this really good puzzle. :good:

      1. Apology not accepted (as quite unnecessary). Your comment last time was the most useful sort of criticism. I am someone who often reacts to sticks more readily than carrots, and if anything, I’m slightly unnerved by the current lack of sticks.

  17. Thanks as always, Prolixic. The full parsing of 21a had eluded me but I suspect I’d simply forgotten that word for a small island.
    12&17a still don’t quite cut the mustard for me but those are fairly minor niggles in an otherwise very good puzzle.
    Everyone seems to be remaining rather PC about 22d. I just saw ‘screws up’ as in ‘makes a 22d of it’!

  18. Not much to add except to say that I found this slightly tricky – but I wonder if that’s because either a] I should print it; or b] not yet used to the style of the setter. Was not as mystified as I was by the last one, so well done for tidying up.
    Many thanks to Mucky and to Prolixic. The rewrites are indeed interesting to consider.

  19. This was most enjoyable and by no means always easy. In fact, there were several penny dropping and head scratching moments along the way. I liked many of the clues. If I have to choose the best liked ones, they would be 14a, 15a, 23a and 25a, and last but not least, 9d.

    Apologies for the late comment. Have been very tied up and couldn’t finish the puzzle until today. I was able to complete it without looking at any hints or comments. I missed some of the of nuances in the wordplay, but otherwise was able to follow it well. And I also missed the theme which is not hard to spot… Oh dear!

    Very well done Mucky and thank you for the entertainment. And thank you too Prolixic for your ever excellent explanations. All much appreciated.

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