Rookie Corner – 170 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 170

A Puzzle by Arepo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another puzzle from Arepo. 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 Arepo.  I thought that this was an enjoyable puzzle where a lot of thought had been given to the wordplay.  However, there were a few more minor issues with the wordplay than in his previous crossword, particularly with the use of abbreviations.  These are minor ones and of the kind that would be picked up by test covers / editors.


6 Artist and others welcomed by princess (4)
DALI – At two letter abbreviation of the Latin word “alia” goes inside (welcomed by) the diminutive form if Diana (princess). As the Latin word is only used in its abbreviated form in the expression “et al”, you should not use part only of the abbreviation.

8 Climate change regulator at her most attention grabbing (10)
THERMOSTAT – The answer it is hidden (grabbing) inside AT HER MOST ATTENTION.  The grabbing at the end of the clue just about works but is not ideal.  Perhaps something along the lines of “at her most attractive shedding outer layers” would have been more grammatically correct cryptically but it is a fine point.

10 Film about soldiers infiltrating secret service (6)
CINEMA – A three letter word for soldiers is reversed (about) inside (infiltrating) the abbreviation for the American secret service.  I am not keen on the about going before soldiers as, before the word, it indicates a verbal action and you cannot “about” something.

11 One following elaborate rite with Tibetan meat to produce East Asian delicacy (8)
TERIYAKI – An anagram (elaborate) of RITE followed by the name of a Tibetan animal bred for meat and milk and a final I (one).

12 Grotesque left in album is subtly suggestive (10)
SUBLIMINAL – An anagram (grotesque) of L (left) IN ALBUM IS.

13 Old copper brought up to date in gemstone caper (4)
JAPE – Replace the D with a P (old copper brought up to date) in the name of a green gemstone.

14 Conservative votes to ditch leader over thing she screwed up when in charge (7,3,5)
CALLING THE SHOTS – The single letter abbreviation for Conservative followed by another word for votes with the first letter removed (to ditch leader) around (over) an anagram (screwed up) of THING SHE.  As others have mentioned, I am not keen on the structure wordplay when definition.

17 Cute little model at the front (4)
TWEE – A three letter word meaning little preceded by (at the front) the model number of the first mass produced car.

19 Obi-Wan, R2 and Han Solo initially have time to oust a rampaging Stormtrooper (10)
BROWNSHIRT – An anagram (rampaging) of OBIWAN RR (R2) HS (Hans Solo initially) with the A replaced by a T (time to oust a).

20 Needlepoint and embroidery displayed together (2,6)
IN TANDEM – The answer is hidden in (displayed) NEEDLEPOINT AND EMBROIDERY.  As a personal preference, I think that containment indicators in the past tense are slightly unsatisfactory as the words still display the answer.

22 Belgian reporter’s first piece in Tribune canned (6)
TINTIN – The initial letter (first piece in) of Tribune followed by a phrase 2,3 meaning canned.

23 Replacement of most senior educator (10)
MONTESSORI – An anagram (replacement of) MOST SENIOR.

24 A student in the old university (4)
YALE – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for a student or learner inside the old English word for the.


1 Tyrant caught closing off prison camp beyond Area 51 (8)
CALIGULA – The abbreviation for caught followed by the abbreviation for Area and the Roman numerals for 51 and a word for a Russian prison camp with the final letter removed (closing off).

2 It’s easy to argue against unattractive features raised by Mail’s top article (5,3)
STRAW MAN – Reverse (raised) a word for unattractive bodily growths and follow it with the first letter (top) of Mail and the indefinite article used with word beginning with a vowel.

3 Classic film, directorial debut, stirring emotions about country (11,4)
DESTINATION MOON – The first letter (debut) of directorial followed by an anagram (stirring) of EMOTIONS about another word for a country or state.

4 Unconcerned with being good in morning exam (6)
AMORAL – The abbreviation for morning followed by a word for a spoken exam.

5 Withdraw support (4,2)
BACK UP – A double definition.

7 Sex magazine featuring Muhammad? Sorry, that’s not right… (1,4,1,3)
I TELL A LIE – A two letter word meaning sex followed by a four letter name of a women’s magazine around (featuring) the surname of the boxer Mohammad.  Maybe to avoid creating the possibility of needlessly creating offence to Muslims, “Sex magazine featuring boxer” would have been better.

9 American who acts with flying ace, one undercover (3)
SPY – The surname of the American actor Kevin without (flying) the ACE from the clue.

13 American folk hero’s Terry for England and Thierry for France (4,5)
JOHN HENRY – The first name of an English footballer whose surname if Terry and the surname of a French footballer whose first name if Thierry.

15 Genius in nineties deteriorating (8)
EINSTEIN – An anagram (deteriorating) of NINETIES.

16 Appalling president’s time in office cut short by anger surrounding head of Bureau (8)
TERRIBLE – Remove the last letter (cut short) of the name given to a period of office for a president and follow it with a four letter word meaning to anger around the first letter (head of) Bureau.

18 Opportunity to earn money reported (6)
WINDOW – A three letter word meaning to earn followed by a homophone (reported) of a slang word for money.

19 Bill putting on deep voice to be a tough guy (6)
BADASS – The abbreviation for a bill or advert inside (putting on) the lowest singing voice.

21 Meet at enclosed park (3)
APT – The AT from the clue around the abbreviation for park.  Although the abbreviation can be used for parking, I don’t think it can be used for park.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner – 170

  1. Splendid puzzle Arepo – no complaints!
    Probably a little easier than your others, but none the worse for that.
    Many thanks – I’ll try and give a list of favourite clues later.

    1. Hi again Arepo – it’s tricky to keep tabs on favourites if you don’t print off!
      Anyhow, ticks from me for 24a, 4d, 9d, 16d, 19d and 21d. Double ticks for both the lurkers at 8a and 20a. Double ticks also for the splendidly assembled anagram fodder at 19a, the nifty 2d and the surface reading of 14a.
      Bravo again!

  2. We thought that was an excellent puzzle. It had us working really hard and took us well into Toughie time. 3d might be a classic but we had never heard of it so had to work out a probable answer from the wordplay and then Google check. Very impressed that you managed to make some of the complicated anagrams so tricky. Thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Arepo.

  3. Really good – thanks Arepo. I thought that the two lurkers (8a and 20a) were excellent and I also give top marks to 13a, 7d and 9d. I suspect that there’s a theme here (which is beyond me) because when I was checking that 3d (which I’d never heard of) actually is a film I came across various other references to the contents of the puzzle.

  4. It took me a while to get started, but fell into place quite nicely after that. Lots to enjoy to Gazza’s list, I’d also add 22a which made me smile

    Thanks to Arepo and in advance to Prolixic

  5. Once again I am unable to load puzzle. Can anyone send me a PDF ?
    Has anyone heard of this problem before?

  6. Hi Arepo,

    Another super puzzle – thank you!

    If I had to highlight just a few then 14, 7 and 19 for the dexterity in the wordplay all deserve a mention!

    Like Gazza, I wondered at a theme hiding there but it sounds like he’s been more observant than me!

    And I’m still struggling to parse 9d – I am clearly being thick…

    Some more comments below.

    Loved it!


    13d Interesting mix of GK required!
    16d Controversial surface!
    12a wordplay accurate but surface reads oddly
    8a excellent disguise. Is ‘grabbing’ ideally positioned for the wordplay?
    2d perhaps slightly wordy but another very accurate clue
    13a ‘in’ in the surface reads slightly strangely (I’m being picky here – and I did say slightly!)
    3d only vaguely heard of this. Wiki has just enlightened me!
    14a Very, very clever! I was slightly unsure about ‘when’: clearly ideal for the surface; I wasn’t so sure as a Linkword. Perhaps it works better in the form Definition when Wordplay, rather than this way round? I’ll be interested to see what other think / Prolixic thinks tomorrow.
    7d again very clever!
    1d Does ‘closing’ = the last letter indicator. Just about!
    19a That is one heck of a spot!!
    6a Is AL ok for Others, as part of ‘et al’, presumably? Not sure.

    1. I suppose there are a lot of American’s who act! Not many with ‘ace’ in their name though…

  7. Thanks Arepo, excellent puzzle
    My favourites, in no particular order were 19d, 19a, 16d, 2d, 14a and 13a
    14a was last one in. I was convinced it was a bit of general knowledge, with ‘she screwed up when in charge’ being the definition of a sort of ruder version of Lady Godiva. Thankfully not.
    13a was the subject of the Guardian crossword blog’s cluing competition not long ago. Usually when those words appear in puzzles, I find having thought up loads of clues for them and read 50+ others means that they’re a write-in. Not yours, though, and I thought the elaborateness of ‘old copper brought up to date’ was well worth it for the cinematic surface.
    Of your two ‘lurkers’, as Gazza calls them, I had mixed feelings. They were both impressively and elegantly hidden, but I thought to achieve that you’d sacrificed a bit of clarity in your instructions; ‘grabbing’ coming after the fodder didn’t quite work for me, and in the other, the past tense being unusual and a bit misleading.

  8. Welcome back, Arepo.

    Absolutely brilliant, I commented after your last puzzle that a promotion couldn’t be too far away, well I think it’s even closer now. I was initially a little concerned to see you had reverted to a more verbose cluing style after the commendable brevity of the last puzzle, but any reservations were soon dispelled.

    Like Gazza, I had not heard of the film classic(?) and it’s interesting to find it linked to 22a. My only reservations in a truly excellent creation were, like Encota, the use of “al” to indicate “others” in 6a (“et al” fine, but “al” on its own?), and the unindicated Americanism. as RD would put it, as the answer for 19d. These are but minor concerns however. I can’t recall another Rookie puzzle to have received so many ticks, in this case virtually every clue.

    Many congratulations, Arepo, high-quality stuff indeed.

  9. I have a completed grid…at least I think I do but there are still two 4-letter answers that I can’t parse. I did not know the 3D movie. Did anyone? I have very mixed feelings about the puzzle as a whole; there were some very clever clues and I have several ticks on my print out. There were also some that irritated me, but perhaps that’s because it’s way too early on a Monday for my happy side to be fully awake. I look forward to the enlightenment that the review will bring. Thanks Arepo.

    1. No, never heard of the movie either, and I also have a few bung-ins that I can’t fathom.

  10. A very enjoyable puzzle Arepo, thank you.

    My favourites were 14a, 20a, 7d, and 19d. I didn’t get 9d until reading Maize’s comment above and that is now also on my favourites list. Well done.

  11. Brilliant arepo.

    I liked 6a, though possibly you might have to argue with an editor I also liked 10a, 17a, 22a, 4d, 7d, 19d – those were my favourites, but the rest was great too. I did worry about grabbing, great in surface but not sure it does the trick cryptically. I got 22a and I remember the comic book called 3d. So I’m in the dark as to a theme, thought it might be 22a or maybe just 10a or maybe just over imaginative thinking. Will read the review with pleasure.
    Anyway congratulations, really great stuff

    1. When Googling 3d I found that it was also a track on an album called 13d by an American group called “They Might Be Giants”.

    2. I don’t think there is a case to be made for splitting “et al” if “al” does not have its own entry in the dictionary – if you could then it would open the door to hundreds of impossible-to-solve constructs like a = air, as in Royal Air Force, m = marines, as in Royal Marines or m = mail as in Royal Mail. You could get away with a construct which removes “et” from “et al”.

  12. Thanks to Arepo for this very enjoyable crossword.
    Agree about the lurkers. Very good indeed.
    Loved 9d. Absolute favourite.

  13. Excellent work. Great surfaces made it difficult to know what I was supposed to be looking for a lot of the time, so It took me longer than it takes me to do most crosswords. Well worth the effort, though. Thanks Arepo

  14. I’ve managed about half, mostly in the bottom half. The hiddens were indeed excellent, as was 19d, and being a bad pun fan I enjoyed 18d. 14a was clever, too, required some unscrambling, but I haven’t precisely pinpointed the definition
    Only question for me was park=P, which I can’t find (only Parking).
    I haven’t got the film, but I probably won’t have heard of it.
    Many thanks, Arepo, and to Prolixic in advance for the explanations.

  15. Thanks for all the comments guys – glad it was enjoyed. I had a lot of fun putting this one together, and I do always fret a little that the fun won’t translate from setter to solver, but looks like I mostly got away with it! (The ‘definition fodder grabbing’ structure for thermostat was a good example of one I didn’t quite get away with – I did dither over whether the grammar was acceptable, but let it slide – seduced by a lovely surface, I’m afraid.) Mea culpa on the dodgy abbreviations – P for park and AL for others are ones that I was sure I’d seen repeatedly in the past, but I guess not – fair cop. Live and learn! Thanks to Prolixic as always for his words of wisdom – I always enjoy my day in the spotlight :)

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