Rookie Corner – 162 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 162

A Puzzle by Jaffa (updated)

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Jaffa returns with his 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.

Welcome back to Jaffa.  All the basic skill are present in this crossword and there are some nice clues but there are a few areas where a bit of polish would not go amiss, particularly in pruning out needed words from the clue that are at best a minor irritation for solvers and at word, misleading.

The grid was unusual with two blocks of fully intersecting clues that meant that could could complete some of the answers without solving the clues.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this but it did lead to an imbalance between the number of across and down clues (see below).


1 Rebellion necessary for successful Hot Cross Bun production? (6,6)
EASTER RISING – Cryptic definition of what the dough must do around the end of Lent to produce hot-cross buns.  Not the fault of the setter, but I swear that supermarkets now put out hot cross buns on display on boxing day.

8 Find something Russian in Tom’s kiosk (4)
OMSK – The name of a Russian city / district is hidden in TOMS KIOSK.  Perhaps this would have been reworded as “Russian’s place in Tom’s kiosk”.

11 Devilishly good squash shot oft played at the critical moment (2,3,4,2,4)
IN THE NICK OF TIME – An allusive clue where the name of the good squash shot (the third word) played at the right moment (oft) split OF/ T (= Time) might give a phrase meaning at the critical moment.  I am not convinced that the wordplay leads definitively to the solution.  The allusion is not precise enough for me.

13 A quiet god (4)
ODIN – Split 1,3, this could me no noise (quiet).  The indention article could have been omitted here.

14 Confused as Cagliari provides a source of Scottish stones (5,5)
ALISA CRAIG – An anagram (confused) of AS CAGLIARI from whence come the stones used in curling.

17 A mixed Maths class produces breathlessness (6)
ASTHMA -The A from the clue and an anagram (mixed) of MATHS.  The class here is superfluous and should not have been included.

20 0.125 Not sober (3,4,3,5)
ONE OVER THE EIGHT – Express (in words) the fraction that equals 0.125.  Again this clue does not quite work for me as the fraction would not be described using the definite article required in the solution.

21 The starry quality say of Ms McCartney (6)
STELLA – Double definition, the second being the first name of the daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney.

24 Cook sage stew as a potential source of windiness (5,5)
WASTE GASES – An anagram (cook) of SAGE STEW AS.

26 Moreover it takes the biscuit (4)
OREO – The answer is hidden in (it takes) in MOREOVER.

28 Individual not welcome in the Forum? (7,3,5)
PERSONA NON GRATA – The phrase that would have been use in a Roman forum to describe an unwanted person.

31 The Ethernet is regularly not available in this accommodation (4)
TENT – The even letters (is regularly not available) of ETHERNETThe “The” in the clue is redundant and should have been omitted.  Whilst you can include articles with the solution, wordplay make an/the X, when it comes to the wordplay, it is far better to remove unnecessary articles.

32 Prove it’s wealthy swapping a pound for a note (12)
SUBSTANTIATE – Remove the L (pound) from the end of a word meaning wealthy and replace it with a word for a musical note.  Like the previous clue, the indefinite articles could have been omitted to give “pound for a note”.  Also, I am not convinced that wealthy is synonymous with the word used in the solution.


A brief note on the down clues.  There are many more down clues that across clues.  In a printed crossword, this creates problems with the layout.  It is less of an issue where the crossword is online but editors will not like crosswords where there is a large imbalance between the number of across and down clues.

1 Ms Roe and boss from America create acidic environment (10)
ERICACEOUS – The (misspelled) name of the famous streaker Ms Row followed by the abbreviation for chief executive officer and a two letter abbreviation for America.  The misspelling could have been used to create a homophone “Report of Mr Roe…”

2 Whilst en route to Carlisle perhaps, pay an account in North Yorkshire (6)
SETTLE – Triple definition of the place on the line from Carlisle, a word meaning to pay a bill and a place in Yorkshire.

3 Treatment designed to give you a moving experience (5)
ENEMA – Cryptic definition of a treatment that get the bowels moving.

4 French king originally from Eire (3)
ROI – The IVR code for Eire (Republic of Ireland) gives the French word for king.

5 Obi-Wan Kenobi’s people up from Nigeria, twice (3)
IBO – The name of a Nigerian ethnic group appears twice in reverse form (up) in the clue.  Ideally the definition should be at the end or beginning of the clue.  Here the twice breaks this rule but it works in the context of the wordplay and definition.

6 Dismissed request and suffered failure at the auction (3,6)
GOT OUTBID – A phrase 3,3 meaning dismissed (in cricket) followed by another word for a request.  As a rule, a phase such as this which, although is a phrase that makes sense in a conversation, should not be used as a solution unless it stands in its own right as a definition in the dictionary.

7 Retrospectively I’m into reflective music enthusiast producing heavy metal (6)
OSMIUM – Reverse (retrospectively) the IM from the clue into a reversal (reflective) informal term for a music enthusiast.

9 Dip reflected between extremes (3)
MID – A word meaning to dip or lower (as in dip or … the lights) reversed (reflected).

10 Does he know something north of the border? (3)
KEN – Cryptic definition of the name of a man and the Scottish word (north of the Border) meaning to know

12 What swallows and heliophiles do in winter (5,3,3)
CHASE THE SUN – A vaguely cryptic definition of those who move South for the winter.  Another phrase that does not appear in the dictionary.

15 Airline baggage rules or earlier judicial rulings (4,3)
CASE LAW – Double definition, the first part cryptic.  As a lawyer, I liked this one.

16 Thomson’s African sprinter (7)
GAZELLE – A definition by reference to the fast running African animal named by Mr Thomson.  

18 Lotion following trim, superfluous for Mr Todd (10)
AFTERSHAVEAnother nice ingenious clue.  What Mr Todd would not have needed to use after a fatal visit to his barber’s shop.

19 Use jumpers for these which may be moved (9)
GOALPOSTS – What may be used by children playing football to mark the ends of the pitch that, in the well known phrase may be moved when someone changes the rules.

22 Gyrate with lots of energy included to create dish (6)
TUREEN – A word meaning gyrate includes two Es (lots of energy).

23 The Texas Marauders retain African capital (6)
ASMARA – The answer is hidden in (retain – to maintain the cryptic reading this should be retains but this would mean having Texas Marauder retains) TEXAS MARAUDER.  Another clue where the definite article could have been deleted.

25 Soldier obtained leg of mutton (5)
GIGOT – A two letter word for an American soldier followed by a word meaning obtained.

26 Choose the best without mother and me (3)
OPT – A word meaning the best without the I (me) and a three letter word for a mother

27 A sea eagle with short, fat, hairy legs (3)
ERN – Remove the last letter (short) from the name of a sea eagle to give the diminutive name of a comedian with short fat hairy legs.  The clue does not quite work for me.  Short, not “with short” is needed to indicate the last letter being deleted.   Perhaps “Tailless sea eagle, one wth short fat hairy legs” would have been better and also remove the unnecessary indefinite article at the beginning of the clue.

29 Grab a hat (3)
NAB – Double definition.  The second is given in Chambers as obsolete slang.  Perhaps the obsolete nature of the second definition should have been indicated in the clue as “Grab obsolete hat”. 

30 Eggs hunted for in this movable feast (3)
OVA – The answer is hidden (hunted for in) MOVABLE.  Again the “feast” is padding.  You do see padding more often with hidden word clues but it is better to omit padding words if possible.  Perhaps “Eggs hunted for in Czechoslovakia” would have avoided the need for the additional word though you would have lost the Easter allusion.

52 comments on “Rookie Corner – 162

  1. Jane spotted it first.
    It is the puzzle from Jaffa that we had recently. Had not realised this when we were solving though, like Expat Chris, we found that it all
    went together without much of a fight. Perhaps our subconscious had remembered it.

  2. Thanks Dave! I was looking for Puzzle 162 whilst avoiding reading here first to avoid any unintentional spoilers – and failing admirably!

  3. And before someone mentions it 16d should read

    Thomson’s African sprinter (7)

    Mea culpa – or perhaps it auto-corrected😂

  4. Thanks Jaffa – that was good fun. It’s pleasant to be reminded of Ms Roe (though I thought her name was spelled with a K). The NE and SW corners were a bit odd with answers appearing without the need to read the clues. My favourite (for the laugh) was 3d.
    There are some superfluous words in some of the clues (e.g. ‘The’ in 23d and ‘this’ and ‘feast’ in 30d).

    1. Indeed Ms Roe’s name is spelt with a K. I have fond memories of that day at Twickenham.

  5. Hi Jaffa, well done
    I finished it without help, though as I entered my last I was a bit surprised to find that the ones I’d guessed turned out to be right.
    1a, 18d, 31a I liked.
    6d, 12d, both seemed like odd solutions. 6d is clear enough but doesn’t really stand on its own as a phrase. 12d may, though I haven’t heard it. I guessed the first word, and there was no wordplay to confirm it.
    You have lots of nice cryptic ideas, but many clues were quite loose and relied on general indication rather than specific wordplay.
    Clues I don’t understand fully include: 11a, 19d, 2d, 27d
    …. I think I’ve just cracked 19d. You’ve used two fairly loose cryptic definitions. ‘Use jumpers for these’ and ‘which may be moved’. I think either of these would be OK (the jumpers bit is pretty tenuous), if the rest of the clue enabled the solver to definitely identify the solution. Some traditional wordplay, that identifies actual letters in the word, would have been welcome.
    Thanks for the entertainment

  6. Welcome back, Jaffa.

    Despite the unconventional format of the grid and the occasional dubious construction like 20a, this was extremely enjoyable and there were smiles galore, especially with 3d and 27d.

    My two personal favourites were 28a and 26d. I am struggling to see a cryptic element to 12d though, very Rufusesque!

    Many thanks for a very entertaining solve.

  7. I thought it was apparent that you’d listened to the comments about surface reads, Jaffa, although there’s still a little way to go with the likes of 32a & 5d.
    Specific comments include –
    11a – I would have left it as a straightforward cryptic and ditched ‘oft’.
    17a – ‘class’ is somewhat confusing although I appreciate it enhances the surface read.
    15d – perhaps ‘legitimate airline baggage rules’ would have been better?
    27d – ‘short’ is required to be used twice – once to indicate the truncating of the Sea Eagle and once for the description of the entertainer. Perhaps this clue needed re-wording?

    I did enjoy the solve and ticked quite a few, including 1,13,28&31a plus 4d. Despite the odd surface read, 19d also raised a smile – took me back to the days of seeing local schoolboys playing in the park!

    Many thanks, Jaffa – please keep them coming.

    1. I agree about 27d, Jane. The “a” also seems superfluous, so I was thinking “Short sea eagle with short, fat, hairy legs” would do the trick. A good laugh though!

      I also agree with you about 17a, 32a, 5d & 15d but although “played” seems like surface padding and “devilishly” is superfluous, I don’t think 11a would work without the “oft”.

      1. Wondering whether I’m missing something in 11a which I read as a straightforward cryptic. I can see both the synonym for the devil and the ‘oft’ taken from the clue in the answer but can’t justify the remaining letters.

        1. Jane, “in the nick” is a good squash shot followed by “of” and “t(ime)” leads to the answer defined by “at the critical moment”. I can see the link between “devilishly” and “nick” but I can’t see how it is necessary or relevant. It will be interesting to see what Prolixic makes of it.

  8. In spite of the unusual grid which yields several answers without needing to solve their clues, this was really enjoyable with lots of laughs along the way. Although it would benefit from some more polish (e.g. elimination of superfluous words such as “the” in 31a & 23d and “a” in 27d & 29d; and, even though the same place name exists in Carlisle and Yorkshire, does the first half of 2d actually add anything to clue?), this was a highly commendable and entertaining offering for your second puzzle.

    I’ve also made some comments above in reply to other commentators.

    Many thanks Jaffa and keep them coming please!

    1. P.S. I meant to say that 3d was my favourite but I had ticks by quite a few others.

  9. I have one yet to get and a couple half parsed, but may not get round to commenting later so wanted to pop in now to say that I enjoyed this. Lots of smiles and a nice level of difficulty. My question marks were few and minor, and since I spy the phrase “superfluous words” above I think any extra words I could add here would be likewise. Things like that are easily honed, so I have every confidence in your future puzzles.

    Thanks Jaffa – do come again – and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the expert analysis.

  10. Some verification Googling required for me, but that’s probably a distance thing. I did know 14A, but only as a variety of tomato that my old dad used to grow. 1D required crossword solver. Never heard of the lady. Sorry to see that the dreadful 26A seems to have made it across the pond. All in all, a pleasant solve though I do agree about extraneous words. My favorite was 20A. Thanks Jaffa.

    1. 26As are a very welcome import for my three granddaughters. They can’t get enough of them and we have to ration them to one per child per visit.

      1. Must admit that, despite not having a particularly sweet tooth, I rather like 26as as well – although not the invention of the chocolate bar that purports to contain same.
        Actually, I seem to recall that when I was a child I was also quite keen on Jaffa cakes!

        1. Me too with Jaffa Cakes :smile:

          Mrs RD makes a very nice giant Jaffa Cake. I’ll try and remember to bring some with me next time the naughty corner beckons.

          1. Easy-peasy to get into the naughty corner, RD. Tell Mrs. RD to get the mixing bowl out!

  11. Good fun – I really enjoyed this.
    When I first looked I thought it was going to be trickier than it turned out to be although quite a few had me scratching my head.
    There are some that I don’t quite understand and some more where I just didn’t know what was needed but that’s my problem.
    Like Expat Chris I only know 14a as tomatoes.
    I liked 13 and 28a and 10 and 27d. My favourite was 18d because it made me laugh.
    Thanks and well done to Jaffa and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. The ‘stones’ that all come from 14a are what are pushed on the ice in the sport of curling.

      1. Thanks Gazza but oh dear – yet another sport that I don’t know anything about – must try harder – the story of my life! :sad:

          1. Masses of things (included the themed items in Radler’s NTSPP on Saturday!).

  12. Several people and places that were unknown to us, 1d,14a, 18d so a bit of googling required but we did eventually and belatedly get it all sorted. Lots of smiles along the way.
    Thanks Jaffa.

    1. Incidentally Jaffa is a word that is well known in our part of the world , ” Jaffas is an Australian registered trademark for a small round sweet consisting of a soft chocolate centre with a hard covering of orange flavoured, red coloured confectionery.”
      It is also a less than polite expression used by NZers who live in other parts of the country to describe people from our largest city although this version only has one F. “Just another f****** Aucklander”.

      1. For my part, it always reminds me of Delboy Trotter in only fools and horses. He calls his brother in law a Jaffa as he cannot have children. You know…seedless.. as he puts it.

  13. Thank you for all your comments. I’m glad I managed to bring some smiles to your faces and I don’t feel quite so bruised as after Jaffa1!

    Apologies to those of you who had a false start for which I must take some responsibility. It was a combination of the software I used and poor file labelling that led to the confusion. Hopefully you saw it as a mental warm up for the “big” event…

    I’ll probably leave a more detailed reply after “The Judgement of Prolixic” tomorrow. Just two things. I apologise for the misspelling of Ms Roe’s first name. Clearly I have my mind on other things when I think of her! Also thank you to the 2 Kiwis for the information about my nom de plume. Jaffa was my nick name at school and was a sort of corruption of my surname (I’ll be Rumpelstiltskinish about that). My elder son was then, at a different school, in a totally different part of the country, given the same nick name. I felt that this was an opportunity to reclaim it.

    Once again thank you. It is very humbling that so many of you take so much time to comment.

    P.S. I rather like the idea of being Jaffa(updated) – two new knees would be appreciated BD to help me get around the golf course…😂

  14. That was a very memorable puzzle, Jaffa – plenty of smiles and laughs along the way.
    It had a light & breezy feel about it, as if you’d really enjoyed doing it, so I’m confident we’ll be seeing you again – and hooray for that.

    A pretty quick solve really, with just the bottom row holding me up at the end.
    Favourite has to be 18d – Laughed out loud on that one!

    1. Me too with 18d – loved it and had to show it to husband who is not a cryptic crossword solver – even he understood it and laughed so it must be good.

  15. Thought there was something wrong last night when printing out.
    A kind of deja vu.
    Just printed the new one.
    Back tomorrow.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – very fair and most informative as always. Even I’m getting better at spotting the things that you are most likely to criticise so your comments must be marvellous tuition for our aspiring setters.

  17. Well done Jaffa with creating this and many thanks to Prolixic for the insightful review, as always. Some good inventiveness here; some additional words sneaking in (including ‘the’ at least twice) that can only be justified by the surface rather than the definition or wordplay, as mentioned by others above – I’d work on this as a priority to improve your puzzles still further. The grid had some double unchecked letters in the centre which are to be avoided, in my book. I liked 19d and the idea in 20a is a good one. Thanks again & look forward to the next.


  18. Thanks, Prolixic
    I had no idea about the curling stones – nice to know, and hopefully it’ll find a place in the memory maisonette.
    I’m still none the wiser about the short, fat, hairy, legs. Who is it?

    1. Me too, Mucky. I had no idea about the short fat hairy legs either. Thanks, Prolixic for the enlightenment.

  19. I really rather enjoyed this, Jaffa. My fave was 18d, which really made me laugh. I thought it a very good clue. I also liked 13a, 28a and 15d..

    I’ve never heard of Ms Roe, nor of the Scottish stones. I did manage to work out both, though. The first made me think of azaleas! The second I googled and was very interested to find out what it was. I wasn’t able to parse 11a despite having the answer.

    Many thanks to Jaffa for a fun puzzle. I, too, hope we shall be seeing you again soon. Appreciative thanks to Prolixic for a very interesting and informative analysis.

  20. Thank you once again for all your feedback and especially to Prolixic for his excellent review and advice which I will try to follow in future. If I can clarify a couple of points.

    Firstly the grid! I bizarrely thought that the two corners in question looked a little empty so I filled them. In retrospect I’m not sure what I was thinking of. It led to the imbalance of numbers of across and down clues especially after I’d included 7 long(ish) across clues. It also produced the never to be repeated offer of “solve 3 clues and get 2 free”!

    Secondly 27d. Who would think that such a little clue could generate such lengthy discussion? I was, I have to admit, confused by the controversy I had created. I try very hard to check everything in my electronic BRB or Thesaurus (hence using substantial for wealthy in 32a) but in this case I failed. I was convinced that a sea eagle was just “Ern” so I was mortified when I checked the BRB to see “Erne”. My fault lay in using Wikipedia where both spellings are given as alternatives. This is the same Wikipedia that entitles an article “Erica Roe” and starts the first paragraph “Erika Roe…..” There is a lesson to be learned here.

    I’m pleased Prolixic that you liked 15d. I think it was one of my favourites too and I now have a much clearer understanding of what Case Law is. I think BD once said “most people do crosswords to learn” and I did.

    Thank you, once again to all involved. Jaffa 3 is in the pipe line. Articles, both definite and indefinite, are being expunged as we speak……..😂

  21. Hi Jaffa

    I did this when it (ie the correct version) first came up but didn’t manage to get back to comment.

    I’ve already binned my copy so I can’t remember what I noted. I don’t recall having had any major quibbles. I dare say it’s all been covered by now.

    I do recall that it was very enjoyable and that you had NY Times style solid blocks in each corner – not easy to fill.

    Sorry – I’ll try harder mnext time. Do keep them coming.

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