Rookie Corner – 161 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 161

A Puzzle by Dill

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have Dill’s latest 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.

Bravo Dill.  An accomplished piece of setting with some very nice devices that lifted the overall level of the crossword.  There are only a couple of minor points in the clues.


1 Tricky hand movement transmitted disrespect (6)
SLIGHT – A homophone of a hand movement used by magicians to conceal a trick.

4 Both sides maintain abroad confused with new found land (8)
LABRADOR – An anagram (confused) of ABROAD inside the abbreviation for left and right (both hands).

10 Gorgeous Hamish went vegetarian through partying wildly (9)
RAVISHING – Remove the ham (went vegetarian) from Hamish and put the remaining letters in (through) a word meaning partying wildly.  The went vegetarian is a clever touch.  Inventive devices like this can lift a crossword.

11 At last, adverse reaction to American rubbish (5)
TRASH – The final letter (last) of at followed by a word for an adverse reaction to something.

12 Roping holy person into negative vote’s horrible (5)
NASTY – A word for a negative vote goes around (roping) the abbreviation for saint (holy person).

13 Croc devoured boy I used to fight (9)
GLADIATOR – The shortened form of Alligator (croc) goes around (devoured) a three letter word for a boy and the I from the clue.  Used to fight is a slightly misleading definition.  Perhaps “one I used used to fight” would have improved this.

14 Not odd that excited referee initially mounted competitor (7)
EVENTER – A word meaning not odd followed by the initial letters of excited referee initially.

16 Maybe Braun and Peron look to the West for back-up (4)
SAVE – The first name (in the plural) exemplified (maybe) by Braun and Peron reversed (look to the West).

19 Note very loud argument (4)
TIFF – A two letter musical note followed by the musical abbreviation for very loud.

21 Meanie gives little credit to goose in a flap (7)
SCROOGE – The abbreviation for credit inside an anagram (in a flap) of GOOSE.  I am not wholly convinced that give A to B means put A inside B.

24 Money owed makes accomplished medic stern (9)
OVERDRAFT – A four letter word meaning accomplished or finished followed by the abbreviation for doctor (medic) and a three letter word meaning stern or rear.  The construction definition makes wordplay is back to front.  Ideally is should be wordplay makes definition.

25 Modern 25d knocks over child with hygiene issue (5)
YOBBO – Reverse (knocks over – perhaps knocking over would read better in the cryptic readin) a three letter word for a child and follow with the abbreviation for body odour (hygiene issue).

26 Belief that Venetian official abandoned England for Morocco (5)
DOGMA – Remove the abbreviation for England from a four letter word for a Venetian official and replace it with the IVR code for Morocco.  I think the “that” jars slightly.  Perhaps Belief of Venetian official abandoning … would word better.

27 Badger follows lack-lustre American bus? (9)
GREYHOUND – A four letter word meaning lacklustre followed by a word meaning to badger or pester.

28 Canines prepared to sacrifice themselves to get what’s wanted? (8)
EYETEETH – Double definition, the first straight and the second to complete the phrase I would give my ***** to get that.

29 Road blocks South African frontier (6)
BORDER – The abbreviation for road goes in (blocks) a four letter word for an old South African.


1 Jerry, for example, presents May time TV drama (8)
SPRINGER – The season in which May time falls followed by the name of an American hospital TV drama.

2 Committed Balls with his underwear on (8)
INVESTED – Split 2,4,2, this could mean in a mangled sentence that Mr Balls the politician is wearing a vest.

3 Heavens above! Supporting Magyar domain sounds rough! (5)
HUSKY – The internet domain code for Hungary (Magyar domain) over a three letter word for the heavens above us.

5 Coats consecutive letters in a short response (7)
AFGHANS – Three consecutive letters of the alphabet inside the a from the clue and the abbreviation for answer (short response).  The surface reading is not the greatest here.

6 Damaged river tree that recovers (9)
RETRIEVER – An anagram (damaged) of RIVER TREE.

7 Start of deforestation’s soil insufficiency (6)
DEARTH – The first letter (start of) deforestation followed by another word for soil.

8 Renfrewshire lost 3-8, but will engage again (6)
REHIRE – Remover the third to eighth letters from the first word of the clue.

9 Victor concedes 4th place goes to German player on the side (6)
WINGER – A word for a victor has the fourth letter replaced by the abbreviation for German.

15 Roughly 33% estimate it’s not very good (5,4)
THIRD RATE – The fraction that is approximately 33% followed by a word meaning to estimate or value something.

17 In poor visibility Spooner discovered where to go (8)
FOGBOUND – A Spoonerism of BOG FOUND – “Discovered where to go”.  I suppose that if you were texting you might say Bog Found even through the wordplay naturally leads to found bog.

18 Seer to have consumed alcohol? On the contrary (8)
BEHOLDER – A word meaning to have goes inside a word for alcohol (the on the contrary tells you to reverse the instruction in the clue.

20 Stressed European woman needs good hormone therapy to start with (7)
FRAUGHT – The German for a woman followed by the initial letters (to start with) of good hormone therapy.  A needs B is not the best join the letters together indicator.  As start has already been used as an initial letter indicator a different indicator could have been used here.

21 Links between basset terrier puzzle Maker (6)
SETTER – The answer is hidden inside (links between) BASSET TERRIER.

22 Purportedly infant defecated on the French lackey (6)
POODLE – A homophone (purportedly) of how an infant might say defecated followed by the French masculine version of the.

23 Blackbird finds old spy (6)
BEAGLE – The abbreviation for black followed by the name of a bird.  Not all editors would accept the need to split blackbird into black bird without further indication.

25 Brute challenges Google (5)
YAHOO – Double definition.  Perhaps challenger to Google would be a better description.

36 comments on “Rookie Corner – 161

  1. Dill has obviously taken note of the feedback from her last puzzle and has given us what we think is a flawless really enjoyable puzzle. Tricky enough to give lots of great penny drop moments, 3d for example, and smiles and chuckles all the way.
    Thanks Dill, That was fun.

  2. Congratulations Dill on a very fine puzzle. Some super inventiveness too – e.g. 5d and especially 8d. 2d made me laugh but has left me with a #SCD image that I could really do without!

    Loved it!!


    P.S. Talking of themes and May :-) , any subscribers to The Magpie magazine can find my latest published thematic puzzle in the latest (May 2017) edition.

  3. This was really enjoyable with a nice theme – thanks Dill. There are some lovely touches (e.g. ‘went vegetarian’ in 10a and ‘in a flap’ in 21a). I laughed out loud at 17d and my favourite was 2d.
    My only minor criticism is that some of the definitions don’t quite work – in 13a for example ‘used to fight’ is a verbal phrase whereas the answer is a noun (unless you take the definition to be ‘I used to fight’ in which case the ‘I’ is doing double duty).

  4. I enjoyed this very much even if I did turn tail and head up a tree when I saw the theme!

    A couple of great deletion indicators: I liked 8d and was highly amused by the vegetarian Hamish of 10. (I do hope Soup sees this!) As Gazza says, this was full of lovely touches like that.

    Many thanks for the puzzle, Dill, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    Now, how do I get down from this tree? …

  5. Thanks, Dill, for an enjoyable solve with a well-worked theme.
    There were lots of inventive touches in the clues – I liked Hamish, Renfrewshire, heavens above.
    On the whole I found that I liked lots of parts of clues more than the clues as a whole – perhaps that is to do with surfaces, or maybe your cryptic grammar.
    Those I ticked were 10a,14a, 25a, 9d, 20d
    Some of those where I thought you had good ideas but the clue wasn’t quite nailed were:
    28a I can see your logic with the wording, but I think the ‘sacrifice themselves’ makes it a bit too convoluted
    2d I’m not sure ‘with his underwear on’ gives both the words and the instruction to put them first. I took ‘on’ to mean ‘put these words on top’, which just leaves ‘with his underwear’ for the description.
    3d A slightly odd surface
    5d I liked the wordplay construction, but the definition doesn’t go very well with the surface
    17d I’m not sure you’ve indicated the Spoonerism accurately. Your clue gives the reverse order for the words, which I think does matter, although here it’s needed for the surface reading.
    18d I revealed this, despite having all the crossers. I knew what the alcohol was, and what the construction was, but I was confused by ‘to have consumed’. Because consumed is in the past tense, I did not take it to be the container – I thought ‘to have’ was the container, and ‘consumed’ was the word contained.
    22d ‘purportedly infant defecated’; purportedly doesn’t really indicate sound, so I’d query its use as a homophone indicator. Also the inclusion of ‘infant’ confuses the grammar. ‘Son cries’ might be ‘sweeps’ but not ‘weeps’
    23d My last one in. I’d probably have found this easier if I hadn’t been wilfully blind to the theme until after I’d finished. As it is, you’ve given an archaic/obsolete definition (you’ve indicated it, but that doesn’t necessarily help with solving it – if anything the old is a misdirection) and used a trick (blackbird) in the same clue. Combined, I think it’s a bit unfair, but that’s only because I don’t like the blackbird device whenever it’s used – and it seems to be increasingly popular.

    1. Useful comments, Mucky. Re. 2d I read the Wordplay along the lines of “Pants-wearing Pete”, or similar, which seems ok to me – but I may well be missing something. I’ll say no more, to avoid spoiling.

      Thanks in advance to Prolixic.


      1. Fair enough. Infant can be an adjective too, can’t it? Must have had my picky pedant’s pants on yesterday. Thanks, Prolixic

  6. I really enjoyed this, although it took me far too long to spot the theme. Once I had, it helped with 3D, my last one in. I’m never comfortable with quibbling because I’m usually proved wrong, but I don’t think that the 13A lizards are interchangeable terms. A goodly number of ticks on my page, but tops for me are 24A, 28A, 8D, 17D and 22D. Thanks Dill. This was fun.

  7. Welcome back, Dill.

    Once again, I think you’ve got the level of difficulty spot on, and I thought that there were plenty of fun moments during the solve. Like Gazza, I too laughed at 17d.

    There were many positives, but against that I found some of the surfaces disappointing, especially 3d, 5d and 21d, and my repetition radar picked up “start” twice used as an initial letter indicator. I also felt that 24a and 1d were both instances of “definition making wordplay” rather than the opposite convention.

    My ticks went to 10a, 12a, 14a, 29a, 17d and 20d. There were several others where I liked the idea, but didn’t feel that you had quite nailed the clue.

    Many thanks, Dill – do please keep them coming!

  8. Thanks to Dill for a most amusing puzzle.

    Loved the “Renfrewshire” one, but top marks go to the wonderful Spoonerism.

  9. I was away for the weekend and to get over my cold turkey caused by CDS (cruciverbal deficiency syndrome) this was my fifth solve of the day after the two Telegraph weekend prize puzzles, BD’s MPP, and today’s back pager. And very good they all were too, as well as all being very different in style.

    Many thanks Dill for an amusing and enjoyable offering. Overall I thought the difficulty level was just right for Rookie Corner although the SE proved harder to crack than the rest of the puzzle. Well done indeed for the clearly indicated American references. My first encounter with 27a was in the late 60s when I was enraptured by Simon & Garfunkel’s wonderful “America”:

    The pedant in me was going to protest about the assumption that crocodiles and alligators are synonymous until I realised that Dill had very cleverly used “croc” and not crocodile in the clue which could be taken as an abbreviation for the “crocodilian” order to which both types of reptile belong.

    Is there a reason for the false capitalisation in 21d or is it just a misprint?

    My favourite was the glorious 10a, but 16a, 17d & 20d also deserve extra special mentions.

  10. Many thanks to Dill for a great puzzle. I found it very entertaining throughout with some incredibly original clueing. My favourites were 2D, 8D, 9D & 29A.

  11. That was good, Dill – sufficiently good that I practically forgave you for the occasional dodgy surface read!
    I gave the top marks to 10a plus 2,8&17d. A bit of humour will win me over every time.

    So nice when our Rookies can demonstrate that they are improving by leaps and bounds – keep up the good work.

  12. Great fun indeed.
    The theme helped me in getting 23d but I need to understand the definition and last in was 28a where I got the def but not the wordplay.
    Liked the two 25.
    17d made me laugh too.
    Thanks to Dill.

  13. Really enjoyed this, any puzzle I can solve and makes me laugh is a winner.


  14. Thanks Dill

    congratulations on pretty good stuff here – i enjoyed it a lot. I liked all the original bits, went vegetarian, magyar domain, consecutive letters, 3-8, seer, etc, all very nice and clever.

    re 20d I can say I have had a singular lack of success over the years suggesting to any woman that hormone therapy was in order (it did make me laugh)

    I don’t think 13a works as Gazza pointed out and the spoonerism seems backwards to me as well – and there is something about 28a that jars, maybe it’s just that the first bit isn’t plural to match themselves. I have to wait for the review to understand 26a, I’m missing where the last letter comes from, probably just me being thick.

    I didn’t find it easy, so thanks for the challenge and congratulations on managing a nice theme.

    Well done again, looking forward to the next one

  15. Many thanks to all of you for your time and feedback. There were some smiles it seems, but also some queries, however due to everyone’s input, I do feel like I am making progress!
    Let’s see what the big P says tomorrow…….
    Regards Dill

  16. Excellent puzzle Dill, many thanks.
    It was quite an achievement to get ten and a half themed words in there (I’m including 26a as the half, of course). Often that can lead to abstruse entries in the grid elsewhere, lots of short words, double unches, or a grid where it’s the even numbers that are checked. None of that here. :)

    I’m a big fan of a ghost theme, so Kitty could, in theory, have done this whilst maintaining her cynophobia ( yes, I looked that up). Said theme helped me, though, with my last two in, 3d and 5d.

    All the clues seemed more or less watertight to me, and pretty accessible too. Some lovely bits of novelty as has been said (10a, 5d, 8d) with my favourites being 10a, 24a and top of the tree 17d – a great find!

  17. Really enjoyed this; nice level of difficulty, varied, clever and amusing clues. I liked the vast majority of them – all for different reasons, which for me is a sure sign of a very good puzzle. I particularly like that you haven’t been tempted to be overly convoluted/obscure just for the sake of it. Impressive stuff, highly entertaining.

    Many thanks Dill. I will certainly keep an eye out for the next one.

  18. Oh – I gather from the comments above that there’s a theme – I missed it.
    I confess to skipping the very long winded comments – way above my pay grade and they take too long to read and, in any case, I can’t add anything useful.
    I really enjoyed it – all of it – with or without the theme – in my case it’s without at the moment but I’ll look again now that I know there is one.
    It took me for ever to work out how ‘Hamish went vegetarian’ – how dim is it possible to be?
    I liked 10, 13 and 21a and the 25a and 25d combination.
    Three cheers to Dill, I say, and thank you for the crossword – thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review tomorrow.

  19. Thank you for the review, Prolixic – I’m sure that Dill will be gratified by your praise.
    I notice that you made no reference to the theme – hopefully Kath has sniffed it out by now!

      1. From Kath’s point of view I think 29a will suffice – just my deerhounds that got left out!

  20. How on earth did I miss the theme – oh dear – hopeless!!
    Thanks to Prolixic for the review and, again, to Dill for the crossword.

    1. Hello!
      I’m glad you found the theme! I was actually worried that it was too blatant, so taking your time to spot it, reassures me! Thank you for your time and encouraging comments!

  21. Thanks to Prolixic for an encouraging and fair review as always. I will continue to work on the wobbly bits ( you know what I mean) and hang on to some of the newer stuff ( for me anyway) that seemed to go down well. It’s funny that those were the ones I was most worried about and my personal favourite clue, wasn’t ticked by anybody.

    That is what is great about this platform that Dave gives us – the opportunity to test your ideas in front of real people, rather than just talking to yourself over a cup of tea.

    1. Talking to yourself over a cup of tea, coffee or other drink of choice is a fine way of spending time too!

      I look forward to seeing you back here soon, with fewer “wobbly bits” (I do know what you mean) – and hopefully more of the experimental stuff too, which I have high hopes for.

  22. Great fun, Dill! I particularly liked your inventive clueing, with 10a being my absolute fave. I also picked out 25d and it’s link to 25a, 8d and 23d, among others.

    When I spotted the theme, I felt that I should be joining Kitty up a tall tree! Definitely no place for a Catnap with those creatures all around, not to mention their 28a…

    Dill, thank you very much for the entertainment and the mental stimulus. I thought this a really good puzzle. Appreciative thanks to Proixic for the excellent review.

  23. Very nice Dill. medium difficulty I thought but plenty to enjoy.

    I ticked 24a, 8d and 18d but many more raised a smile or a nod of approval.

    I didn’t have any quibbles at all.

    Many thanks for the fun.

  24. Having looked at the blog and other comments I see 13a being discussed quite a bit.

    The construction there (descriptive verbal phrase for a noun) is often ascribed to Azed – he didn’t invent it – but he deemed it OK – as opposed to non-verbal descriptive phrases – which he deemed not OK.

    In this instance you can place the answer ahead of the “definition” part of the clue and get a reasonable that keys it.

    Here: [Someone?] used to fight.

    Gladiator used to fight. “Used to fight” suggesting a fighter from the past of course – which nails it.

    So (not wishing to put words into his mouth) I think Azed (whom some hold up as a guru) would have approved.

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