Rookie Corner – 167 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 167

A Puzzle by Mucky

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Here’s the latest puzzle from Mucky. 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 come on leaps and bounds since his debut puzzle with a near flawless crossword.  There are a number of clues where the wordplay or the solution makes reference to Swallows and Amazons.  I have no time to list them all individually so I will leave this as an exercise for the reader.


9 Drifter intended for lodging use? (9)
HOUSEBOAT – A cryptic definition of a form of accommodation found on lakes, rivers or canals that is also possibly another word for a tramp or drifter including (lodging) the USE from the clue followed by at (intended for?).

10 Looking terribly worried, like brooding mother (5)
ASHEN – A two letter word meaning liked followed by an animal that is broody when sitting on eggs.

11 Overhaul whistleblower’s technology (5)
REFIT – The three letter abbreviation of a match official who blows a whistle followed by the abbreviation for information technology.

12 Hazard encountered when drivingreplace ball here, making 7 (5,4)
BLACK SPOT – Double definition of a dangerous part of a road and the position on a snooker table where the ball worth seven points would be replaced after being potted.

13 Arsonistsfeatures on 4, reportedly (7)
BURNERS – Double definitions, the second being gas rings found on hobs (a homophone – reportedly – of the answer to 4d).

14 Believe society to be self-indulgent (7)
SWALLOW – The abbreviation for society followed by a word meaning to be self-indulgent.

17 Philosopher‘s property of Davy Jones, if suffering premature end (5)
LOCKE – The sea chest of Davy Jones used in the well-known saying with the final letter removed (if suffering premature end).

19 Roll dad over on left side of bed (3)
BAP – A reversal (over) of a two letter word for dad after (on) the left hand letter in bed.

20 Received with jolly intimidating standard? (5)
ROGER – Double definition of the word used in radio-telegraphy to indicate a message has been received and the word following jolly in the description of a pirate’s flag.

21 People rambling wonkily, left right askew? (7)
WALKERS – An anagram (wonkily) of L (left) R (right) ASKEW.

22 ‘Wife’ in Top Hat dancing in this way by canal (7)
TOWPATH – An anagram (dancing) of TOP HAT with the abbreviation for wife included.

24 Wow, Farah sprinted fast at the end – a black flier? (9)
CORMORANT – A three letter word meaning wow followed by the first name of the athlete Mr Farah, a three letter word meaning sprinted and the final letter (at the end) of fast.

26 Make law that doesn’t apply in European court (5)
ENACT – The abbreviation for not applicable (doesn’t apply) inside the abbreviations for European and court.

28 One of Snakes and Ladders’ essential elements (5)
ADDER – The answer is hidden (essential elements) in LADDERS.

29 Peter Pan’s ongoing period role in Bugsy Malone? (9)
CHILDHOOD – Split 5,4, this might describe the young gangsters in Bugsy Malone.


1 Clean fish and overcook on fire (4)
CHAR – Triple definition.

2 Won with Trump extremely muddled and incompetent (6)
DUFFER – A word meaning having won a hand of cards with a trump with the first and last letters swapped (extremely muddled).

3 Wet here? Aye, a rising sense of imminent gale (7,3)
WEATHER EYE – Take the letter A in the first three words of the clue and move it upwards (rising).

4 Leading highbrow, or burning bright, exhibiting symmetry? (6)
HOBBES – The first letters of the second to the seventh words of the clue.  I am not sure that this clue quite works.  If the definition is the philosopher (leading highbrow), the leading is doing double duty as part of the wordplay and the definition and the remaining words in the clue do not make it an &lit as they are not related to the philosopher.  If the reference is to the cartoon tiger in the American cartoon strip, then I don’t know (from lack of familiarity with the work), whether the whole clue describes the character or whether it is simply by reference to the William Blake description of a tiger.

5 Hiding mate, Wild Cat retreat gets foggy (6,2)
STEAMS UP – An anagram (wild) of MATE inside a reversal (retreat) of a diminutive term for a cat.

6 Fix gear for riding (4)
TACK – Double definition.

7 Notes on ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader‘? (5,3)
SHIPS LOG – A cryptic definition of the book that must be kept on board a boat to record the details of its voyages.

8 Maybe granny‘s a blemish on board (4)
KNOT – Double definition, the second referring to a defect in a plank of wood.

13 Half-heartedly shout ‘down the hatch’? (5)
BELOW – Reduce the LL to L (half-heartedly) in a word meaning shout.

15 Fletcher’s tips for rating facilities at ‘igh-class school? (10)
ARROWHEADS – The name of a posh school in North London as a cockney might pronounce its (‘igh class) followed by the name of toilets (facilities) on board ship used by ratings.

16 Importance of sparrow, or thrush (5)
WORTH – The answer is hidden in (of) SPARROW OR THRUSH.

18 In US, shade trouble for flower deep in canyon (8)
COLORADO – The American spelling of colour (shade) followed by a word meaning trouble.

19 Old Chancellor found in Mick’s Bar, wrecked. (8)
BISMARCK – An anagram (wrecked) of MICKS BAR.

22 Make secure after rubbish staple used by Glasgow chippy (6)
TATTIE – The three letter word meaning to make secure after a three letter word meaning rubbish.

23 For fresh volume, the greatest source? (6)
AMAZON – A cryptic definition/double definition the largest on-line supplier of books and other items and the river with the largest volume of fresh water.

24 A warm glow from this business on a lake (4)
COAL – The abbreviation for company (business) followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for lake.

25 Alternatives mentioned for women in 8? (4)
OARS – A homophone (mentioned) of ORS (alternatives).

27 Trim, dry, regularly shipshape (4)
TIDY – The odd letters (regularly) of TRIM DRY.

36 comments on “Rookie Corner – 167

  1. Well, seems I may be one of the first to check in (had to get up very early this morning, that’s my excuse)! I was resolved, after last week’s somewhat mixed reception, I had to tackle other offerings on this page to learn more about the form.

    A clever puzzle, perhaps the title was a bit superfluous but some excellent clueing – not the toughest I’ve confronted. LOI for me was 2d, ingenious wordplay! I should have got that one earlier on, seeing as it alludes to another of my ‘violons d’Ingres’….

  2. I just wish my sister was still here so that she could solve this one as she was without doubt the greatest S&A fan in the world.

    An enjoyable puzzle cleverly fitting in all the well-known parts of the series. Thanks to Mucky and, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. Welcome back, Mucky.

    This was another quality puzzle, with some first-rate wordplay as exemplified by 2d and 3d particularly. I found it tricky in places, but the theme helped somewhat to guide me in the right direction where necessary.

    Plenty of ticks awarded – 10a, 12a, 24a, 26a, 2d, 3d and 13d, but I gave double ticks to 14a, 29a, and 1d (always great to see a triple definition). My one quibble was the use of “over” as a reversal indicator in an Across clue (19a), “back” would have been my preferred alternative.

    Great work once again, I look forward very much to your next.

  4. Nice to see you back again, Mucky – and with a puzzle that I thought was pitched at just the right level. The theme was cleverly incorporated – not necessary in order to complete the solve but bringing smiles to those of us familiar with the books.

    Took a while to remember that we came across the 2d quite recently, hopefully this second outing will fix him more firmly in the old grey matter!

    Podium places went to 11,14&26a plus 2,13&27d. As usual, I went for the ones I felt had the best surface reads.
    Hope you continue to favour us with your output.

  5. Excellent puzzle which would not be out of place in a national daily – thanks Mucky. I know little of the theme but that was no real hindrance in solving the puzzle. There are lots of clever clues with some great surfaces – I’ll list 20a, 22a, 24a, 26a, 2d and 5d but my favourite is 3d.

  6. I found this nicely challenging and very enjoyable, with generally very smooth surfaces.

    My only questions relate to: 3d, for which I couldn’t find any sign of an anagram indicator; 15d, how does “rating facilities” lead to the second part of the answer; and, I am probably missing something, but I can’t see that 4d quite works.

    I liked your misleading use of 7 in 12a and 8 in 25d – very clever.

    I’ve got a long list of ticks: 11a, 14a, 20a, 26a, 29a, 1d, 2d, 8d and 25d.

    Many thanks for a fine puzzle, Mucky, and very well done.

      1. D’oh! Got it now, thanks Gazza.

        That is a very good reason why I can’t find an anagram indicator! :smile:

      2. 3d is an intriguing clue. I can see how the clue actually parses, but I solved it straight from the “unindicated anagram”. This false anagram is very clever misdirection but unfortunately, in this case, the “misdirection” has made it much easier to solve the clue instead of leading you away from the answer.

        1. 3d was the clue for which I had least idea how it would go down. I’m not sure I properly understand your point about the misdirection. Did I make it easier because ‘Wet here? Aye’ relates to weather? If so, fair enough.

      3. I put in the answer first of all from the unindicated anagram, only later did I make sense of the wordplay. So perhaps not the strongest of clues. One or two synonyms might be an improvement – they would at least dispel the anagram theme (albeit making it harder). Just my thoughts.

  7. Well done Mucky, and excellent and flawless puzzle, and congratulations on the theme. I’ve only seen the movie and don’t remember too much of it, but I do recognise many of the words.

    The only question marks I had, I have resolved – nothing left to criticise. (I had made a mistake early on with the first word of 12a which had made things look a little strange). In 4d some might not like ‘leading’ vs e.g. ‘leaders of’, but i think the &lit makes up for it.

    Lots of great clues, I particularly liked 25d and 26a.

    Can’t imagine you’ll be in Rookie corner very long

  8. Morning everyone
    Thanks for the generous comments. Having started looking at Rookie Corner puzzles because I wanted to have a go myself, I now find that I’m really missing having one to solve today – it’s a real highlight of the week.
    Thanks for having me to Dave, and for sorting out the mix-up with the puzzle title.
    I’m glad some of you are familiar with the theme. I’m only a recent devotee, having been reading through the series with my daughter. When I was a boy, my sisters read them, so I didn’t. I’ve also seen the recent film a couple of times, which, despite the unnecessary Russians, I thought was quite good. 22d is a nod to the film (rather like the producers, I was a bit worried about cluing *I*****)
    @Rabbit Dave: rating facilities = facilities for ratings
    @Dutch, re 4d. Thanks, that’s exactly how I justified it to myself

    1. Thanks, Mucky. I had twigged what you meant by “rating(s)” but it still made no sense to me as I have never come across that expression before. I have now done what I should have done earlier and have found it in my BRB!

  9. Thank you Mucky – I enjoyed that a lot. Some great thematic info hiding in there, not only as the answers but also in the clues! I particularly liked 2,3 and 26. I have written more detailed notes that I took as I solved which are too detailed to put here but which I am more than happy to share by email if you’d like to ask Dave to put us in touch. [Though won’t be offended if not :-)]


  10. I have obviously done something silly because I am stuck with one answer to find so roll on tomorrow.

  11. Thanks Mucky – a very enjoyable and overall well composed puzzle. I didn’t find it to be a perfectly smooth ride – though I think what quibbles I did have were more my fault than yours. I’m not really on board with the wordplay in 12a – looks like it’s supposed to be an arrangement of something snookery but if I’m reading it right it doesn’t quite work (so I’m probably reading it wrong then). I want to love 9a but I’m not sure where the AT is coming from. Like Rabbit Dave I’m unsure about the rating facilities in 15d. 23d – again, want to love it, and love the idea, but I feel as a double/cryptic/whatever def it’s a little bit of a stretch in both directions. I think 7d is slightly weak too (unless there’s some second layer I’m missing).

    That aside though, there really was a lot to love here. I had ticks for 10a, 11a, 14a, 29a, 2d (didn’t twig the wordplay until just now – lovely! and I have learnt a bridge term) and my favourite 26a.

    The theme’s a long way outside my wheelhouse so I can’t comment, but still thoroughly enjoyed it – that’s the mark of a good theme! Keep it up, and hope to see another of yours soon.

    1. I think 7d is probably a bit weak, too. I liked the red herring of the Dawn Treader, but I think I was really trying to see how little I could get away with. I toyed with just ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’. Would that have been fair?

  12. I still have 4D and 12A to go, and I had to work for some of the others, but I had some fun doing it. S & A was a favorite book from my 29A but that was close to 60 years ago so my recall isn’t great. Loved 11A and 23D, and 15D is up there too. thanks Mucky. Hope I can fill the grid before the review.

  13. I usually print off BD puzzles, but had a go on-line for once. Quite a quick solve, but an enjoyable one.
    Like Arepo, I couldn’t parse 2d until after I started writing this – it was his hint that got me over the line, in fact; a new bridge term for me also.
    Many thanks Mucky.

  14. Oh dear – just me then – I found this quite tricky.
    I now have answers for all the clues except 2d – I really enjoyed the whole thing but have quite a few that I don’t quite ‘get’ – being dim probably.
    My favourite was 18d but I liked lot of others too and, once I understand, them, there will be more contenders.
    Thanks and well done to Mucky for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review.

    1. 2d needs a (probably) unfamiliar bridge term – (first 3 words) do to it what the next 2 words tell you to, and end up with the last word (in its nounal sense).

  15. Hi Mucky – great puzzle.

    You’ve packed in a lot of ideas from diverse realms here – I wonder how many people got them all – I only got some on a second look – I bet I missed a few more.

    No quibbles – a few passing comments.

    9a – great all-in-one/&lit – easy to miss the wordplay side, which at first sight I did.

    20a Nifty

    2d Very clever – luckily I knew the bridge term, but the wordplay (very clever) needed a second look.

    4d Brilliant – another great all-in-one/&lit, if I’m reading all the Hobbesian allusions in the second part of the clue correctly – even without that it would work fine for most solvers.

    15d Nice smile here.

    19d – Nice – obviously I was running back through all the UK chancellors of the exchequer before … – ping.

    23d A double-definition-all-in-one. Very good indeed. A rare beast – one side normally being a letter-fiddling type of wordplay.

    A lot to enjoy – can’t wait for the next one.

    1. Excellent insight JS, thank you. I for one had missed the more modern of the two definitions in 23d – very clever!

    2. Thanks. Actually, Bismarck made it into the puzzle because it was a ship. I can’t now remember why it didn’t get a shippy clue.

  16. I did finish first thing this morning before coming to the blog, and the hold up was I had an incorrect answer for 5D. Once I’d corrected that, the other two dropped into place, though the possible second definition of 4D didn’t occur to me. I did need the review for the parsing of 2D and the second definition of 12A. Thanks to Prolixic and congratulations again to Mucky.

  17. Many thanks, Prolixic – looks as though this one has, quite rightly, garnered overwhelming approval.
    I’m still a little unsure about how 4d works – hopefully Mucky will drop in to spell it out for me!

    1. OK. I suppose there’s something a bit odd about it – not really sure which category it fits in. I hoped at least it would be in the ‘there’s enough information to solve it’ category.
      The two Hobbeses are:
      Thomas (1588 – 1679), ‘one of the founders of modern political philosophy’, according to Wikipedia. I am afraid I know very little about him, except that he was a (slightly earlier) contemporary of John Locke, and their work seems to be often compared.
      Hobbes the tiger, companion of Calvin, in an American newspaper cartoon strip (Calvin & Hobbes) created by Bill Watterson. Hobbes the tiger was actually named after Hobbes the philosopher. Calvin is a 6 year old boy, Hobbes is his furry tiger soft toy, who is alive when there’s nobody else in the picture, but reverts to soft toy in the presence of Mum/Dad/Susie Derkins (Calvin’s nemesis). I know a lot about Hobbes the tiger. The burning bright etc. reference is just to the tiger in William Blake’s poem.

      1. Thanks, Mucky, it all becomes clearer now! I didn’t know anything about Hobbes the tiger – the info on him plus your nod to the Blake poem puts a whole new perspective on the clue.

  18. Many thanks, Prolixic, for the review, and again to all kind commenters.
    My general impression is that, on the whole, this was a fairly gentle solve. Last week I had a bit of a worry about the grid – it’s the same one I used for my Devon Loch puzzle, which everyone found very difficult. It’s a Guardian grid, and I’ve started to notice whenever it’s used that it can be quite hard work for solvers. It’s not that there are any isolated corners, but the lack of many long ones means that there’s no point where you feel you’ve broken the back of the puzzle. If the clues are hard, it can be a bit of a slog. On the other hand, it’s great for getting a theme in. Brendan (Brian Greer) often uses it, and so does Rufus (as he did yesterday) though without themes.
    Lots of likes for the ENACT clue, which was the one that probably took least time to come up with. Never mind.
    The one I spent longest on was HOUSEBOAT. I was trying to work in two alternative readings into an &lit. clue – a cryptic definition for the drifter (a fishing boat) being used for lodging, and one for the wordplay, the drifter (HOBO) aiming for (at) lodging/employment (use). I gave up in the end. If anyone can manage it, or knows of a clue like that, please tell.
    Here’s another for ARROWHEADS for those that remember their Swallows and Amazons:
    Flint made offensive points in a right tiff with John in a boat
    This is the scene when John rows to Captain Flint/Uncle Jim’s houseboat to warn him about burglars, and Flint accuses him of damaging his boat and being a liar. I wrote a lot of clues like that, but decided that they were probably too contrived, and therefore likely to be unfair/too hard. I wish I’d kept this one, though.
    I am quite surprised at how unfamiliar a term ‘ruff’ is. I suppose I imagined that all crossword fans must also play bridge.

  19. I liked this a lot, Mucky. Very well done! I found some clues rather more difficult than others, but only one eluded me, and that was 23d. Clues I particularly liked were 17a, 24a and 5d. There were several others as well.

    Big thanks to Mucky for a very enjoyable crossword. Big thanks, too, to Prolixic for the excellent assessment — and, of course, for explaining 23d.

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