Rookie Corner – 172 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 172

A Puzzle by Dill

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a new puzzle from Dill. 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 Dill.  This was a good crossword but one that shows the fine line between good and great one.  A little more attention to detail (both in terms of proofreading and some – admittedly minor – points on the cryptic grammar) would have given this a professional polish.  This is where test solvers are a great asset in spotting the things that the blinds themselves to with over-familiarity with the crossword.


9 Unfold screen to make space outdoors (4,3)
OPEN AIR -Word meaning to unfold followed by a word meaning to screen or broadcast something.

10 Lay a carpet before 3 heads of Europe (
AMATEUR – The A from the clue followed by a three letter word for a carpet and the first three letter (3 heads) of Europe.  Perhaps half of Europe or European (whose abbreviation is EUR) would be better than three heads of Europe as a word has only one head and 3 heads implies EEE.

11 In the morning, you and I shared romantic love (5)
AMOUR – The abbreviation for morning followed by a word meaning you and I.  You and I leads to “we”, not the the letters required.  I don’t think that you and I shared helps to get the word required.  Perhaps “I the morning we object to shared romantic love, as the object of we is our.

12 Pity a clue resorted to plants (9)
EUCALYPTI – An anagram (re-sorted) of PITY A CLUE.

13 Sing first and last note in C to evoke Mediterranean waters (6,3)
AEGEAN SEA – A homophone (sing) of A G (first and last notes) IN C.  The original typo in the clue was corrected during the day.

14 Rushes belonging to English river (5)
DARTS – The possessive form of the name of a river (belonging to).

15 Daft when lost, so Greece wants theirs back (7)
MARBLES – Double definition of, the second relating to those of Elgin.

18 Faith ought to embrace consideration (7)
THOUGHT – The answer is hidden (to embrace) in FAITH OUGHTAlthough there is no specific rule of which I am aware that the hidden word should not include the whole of one word without overlapping other letters, it is unusual to find a hidden word that terminates at the end of one of the words in which the answer is hidden.

20 Italian shouts “Stick your oar in mate!” (5)
ROMAN – A homophone (shouts) of ROW (stick your oars in) MAN (mate).  Perhaps shouted would be better as an imperative indicator for the homophone.  Shouts does not quite work.

22 Motor association thoughtful to swap back end to front for speedster (6,3)
RACING CAR – The abbreviation for Royal Automobile Association (motor organisation) followed by a word meaning thoughtful with the first half of the word moved to the back.

26 Ballet or English dancing is all right (9)
TOLERABLE – An anagram (dancing) of BALLET OR E (English).  The original clue did not have the right letters to make an anagram of the answer and was corrected during the day.

27 Common etiquette to welcome painter? (5)
MONET – The answer is hidden in (to welcome) COMMON ETIQUETTE.

28 Score for the opposition one’s personal objective (3,4)
OWN GOAL – Double definition, the first in footballing terms.

29 Kinky sex an ally to feeling sleepy (7)
SANDMAN – S&M (kinky sex) spelled out followed by the AN from the clue.


1 Musical piece now showing in South America (6)
SONATA – The abbreviations for South and America include a phrase now showing in.  There is a problem with this clue as to get the “ON AT” as in the film is now showing in/ on at local cinemas, you cannot then use the IN as the containment indicator.  If the ON AT comes from “now showing” on its own, it does not mean “on at”

2 Running through Asia, big ape reveals his identity (6)
MEKONG – How the cinematic gorilla might have introduced himself to Faye Dunaway!

3 Spooner’s animal lobby makes Kitty sick (8)
HAIRBALL – A Spoonerism of BEAR (animal) HALL (lobby).  I think that “kitty sick” with kitty being an adjective works as the definition here.  “Makes kitty sick” would not work as a definition.

4 Places for putting veggies? (6)
GREENS – Double definition, the first be reference to golf.

5 Graphic presentation of pub rules Queen doesn’t support (3,5)
BAR CHART – A three letter word for a pub followed by a set of rules with the abbreviation for the queen removed (doesn’t support).  Perhaps Queen struck out would be a better removal indicator.

6 Sickly-looking because Dad turned me upside down (6)
PALLID – A reversal (turned) of a two letter word for a dad followed by a reversal of DILL (me as the setter as in “it’s me here”, “it’s Dill here”).  I think that the construction definition because wordplay does not quite work.

7 Jump jumper jump over (8)
LEAPFROG – A four letter word meaning to jump followed by an amphibian animal that jumps (jumper)

8 Surprising treats in toy collection (5,3)
TRAIN SET – An anagram (surprising) of TREATS IN.

15 Jogging matron has no head of steam for the long run (8)
MARATHON – An anagram (jogging) of MATRON HAS without the S (no head of steam).

16 Going on and on about male’s flashy jewelry (8)
RAMBLING -A three letter for a male sheep followed by a word for flashy jewellery.  Another proof reading point, but jewellery is misspelled in the clue.

17 Doodle changes 4th place for a 7 letter word (8)
SCRABBLE – A word for doddle with the four letter changed to an I (changing 4th place would be better as doodle is the object of the change).  If the definition is supposed to be the term of using all seven tiles to make a word in the eponymous game, the definition would be better as “bingo”.

19 Mint note distilled to make lotion soothing (8)
OINTMENT – An anagram (distilled) of MINT NOTE.

21 Knight with one arm is limited (6)
NARROW – The chess abbreviation for knight followed by the singular of the weapon or arms that an archer would use.

23 Line of credit relief (6)
CREASE – The abbreviation for credit followed a word meaning ease.

24 Films US agents locking people up (6)
CINEMA – Reverse (up) a three letter word for people inside (locking) the abbreviation for US agents.

25 Mountain climbing German joiner is plump (6)
ROTUND – Reverse (climbing) a three letter word for a mount and follow with the Geman for “and” joiner. I think that to describe the three letter word as a mountain is pushing it.  A hill would be better. 

34 comments on “Rookie Corner – 172

  1. Hi Dill & All,

    That was fun: there are some great clues here. My favourites are 12, 24, 8 & 7 – three of them because of their excellent surfaces and the last for its sheer originality! in my notes I’ve written, for example:

    12a very often my feeling too about plant-based clues! Great clue

    A couple of other thoughts:

    15d reads ok; ’Jogging matron has lost head of steam in the long run (8)’ or similar might be better for the subtraction of the S & the disguise of the linkword. Else ‘has’ is doing double-duty

    2d a ‘this’ after Asia might help tighten the definition

    7d had me fooled – I like it a lot! Very original.

    As usual I have written notes on all clues which I won’t overfill here with as I don’t want to spoil but am happy to email on to you if you’d like Big Dave to put us in touch.

    And it was great to meet Dutch again at the IQ1500 celebration on Saturday. I look forward to buying you a beer at the next one!



  2. Thanks for the entertainment, Dill – there are some novel ideas here. I particularly liked 12a, 29a and 20a (which made me laugh out loud).
    I can’t get the anagram in 26a to work and I think that there’s a typo in 13a.

  3. Lots of fun here and a couple of groans..Gazza is right about 26a and 13a …I have just discovered the spell-checker in Crossword Compiler; for some reason I find crossword clues hard to proof-read

  4. You are quite right that 26a didn’t work. Thanks to Big Dave for making a correction, and sorting the typo in 13 too.
    Thank you for your time!

  5. Some really good clues here, Dill. 9a plus 1,2,6,16&23d all got ticks from me with 20&29a earning an extra smile.
    There were a few that I didn’t like although some of that could be down to personal preferences so I’ll await the review with interest.
    Shame about the errors at 13&26a which took a bit of the shine off the puzzle – a proof-reader would have picked up on those for you – but this was still a most enjoyable solve.
    Many thanks and I look forward to the next one.

  6. Just got home and the first thing we did was print this off and solve. Really enjoyed it with 20a and 29a being the favourites.
    Thanks Dill.

  7. Welcome back, Dill.

    I had mixed feelings about this puzzle. There are some extremely good clues and some excellent, innovative ideas worthy of an experienced setter, and yet at the same time there were several other clues that made me grimace. As Maize has said on more than one occasion, a setter should never be afraid to “murder their darlings” if favourite ideas don’t translate into good clues, and to contemplate a complete change of tack. I think 15a, 3d, 7d, 17d and 19d all fall into that category. 20d did make me laugh too, but it’s surely at the very outer edges of acceptable homophones, and I would have rejected it as too dubious. I don’t think “ram” and “male” are synonymous in 16d either and the “lurker” in 18a was, well, disappointing.

    That said, there was far more to enthuse over than to quibble about. I gave ticks to 12a, (the new) 26a, 27a, 1d, 2d (two ticks), 5d, 15d, 21d, 22d, 24d (two ticks) and 25d. I’m warming slowly to 29a too!

    It was a pity about the proof-reading errors, but these things happen and, as Jane says, would no doubt have been picked up by a test solver. There is also an erroneous apostrophe in 15a, and the enumeration in 8d wasn’t quite right either.

    Thanks for the entertainment, Dill. I hope that your next one will be even better.

  8. Thanks Dill, a most enjoyable puzzle that wasn’t too tough. I think it’s what would usually be described as Rufusian – not too difficult, with a few write-ins that bring a smile despite being obvious – though I don’t tend to enjoy Rufus and I did enjoy this, which is certainly to your credit!

    There were a few quibbles – not that they detracted from enjoyment. Not sure that “you and I shared” in 11a really means what it’s supposed to. I agree with Silvanus about the homophone in 20a, and I’d add 13a as well – though some solvers get a kick out of these dodgy homophones, so perhaps there’s an audience for it. 9a, 28a and 7d were a bit same-both-sides-y for my taste. I think the “in” in 1d is doing double duty, unless I’m misinterpreting the clue, and the ‘about’ in 16d seems superfluous (though I thought “male” to mean “ram” was fine).

    The definition in 17d is interesting – assuming that you’re going for what I think you’re going for, Wiki says this is actually called a “bingo” or “bonus”. Possibly you had something else in mind but I can’t make head or tail of it otherwise.

    24d made me smile – coincidentally the structure is the same as in one of my recent puzzles – I have to admit yours is better executed, so fair play!

    Overall I thought this was a lot of fun, with some really clever, neat and appealing clues. I particularly liked 14a, 4d, 8d and 24d. Thanks again, and keep it up!

  9. Hi Dill

    well done on producing another puzzle. Good grid, good balance of clues, difficulty level well-contained, some very nice surface readings, and good clue lengths. This puzzle is tantalizing: there is so much potential wanting to leap out with loads of innovative ideas – but in a number of cases, not quite sufficiently polished to remove the cryptic quibbles in order to give you the clue you want. That polishing is the bit that I find hardest to do, both technically and psychologically.

    Your best clues are the ones without a link: 14a, 29a (although i think “Kinky sex an aid to feeling sleepy” would have nailed it), 4d, 8d (though I wondered whether ‘collection’ was really right), 24d. So, you seem to be on solid ground when you avoid the link.

    Additional good clues are 12a (though I’m not super keen on ‘to’ as a link), 20a (really liked – but, I don’t think ‘shouts’ works coming before the fodder – ‘shouting’ would work for me – think of the cryptic instructions as your instructions to the solver), 27a, 23d.

    Call me old-fashioned, but 5d seems mildly weird to me with the queen becoming the subject. ‘Not supported by Queen’ would work better for me. Similarly 6d, Dad has become a subject, whereas ‘Dad has me turned upside down’ works better for me (where ‘has’ becomes a concatenator). I don’t think it’s dad & the queen who should be giving the cryptic instructions, rather you should be – others may disagree completely, but i’m hoping this might help you think a bit more about the cryptic grammar.

    There are a number of cases where i find the idea great but the instructions imprecise, but fixable. e.g. 10a 3 heads of Europe to me is EEE. Anything like ‘the first 3 characters in Europe’ would work fine. 1d Not sure “now showing” means the same as my translation (if I got it right). 1a cryptically not sure what ‘screen to make’ are doing, feels like i’m missing something. 17d i’m not convinced the definition does the job, but maybe i’m missing something – and notice the “changes” again with Doodle as subject (‘changing’ would work better for me)

    I thought the spoonerism was great, but (and I know at least one person who might disagree), the answer is a noun and the definition is verbal, which I would try to avoid. A few more examples like that – I don’t think you don’t want the last word in 19d, for example.

    22a is a great idea but becomes clumsy when you say “swap… to” – I think you move to and swap with. Also would be great to include ‘half’ somehow to clarify what is being swapped. (An interesting grid entry, with the first 3 letters reversed at the end)

    The hidden at 27a works beautifully, but the one in 18a is only hidden on the left side – I don’t think you’ll see that in the papers.

    I’m trying to say that minor tweaks would make a big difference – there truly were a lot of really good ideas here. Congratulations

    1. Ah, re 20a I just remembered being told by a pro friend of mine that “shouted” is technically the more correct way a subsequent fodder might be considered a homophone – I’m only just beginning to get my head around that one myself.

    2. In 1a I believe “screen” means “air” and “to make” is a link. The grammar works fine for me. Similarly in 3d I read “makes” as the link and “kitty sick” as the definition, which is certainly nounal, but perhaps a stretch semantically.

  10. Thanks Dill
    I solved this with a cold from a very wet weekend in a tent. I think I also came across the weaker clues first, so by the time I got to the end, I was checking and revealing fairly liberally. That was a shame, because most of the last 10 or so I really liked: 2d, 4d, 3d, 29a (though I wouldn’t have known this even on a lucid day), 12a (funny and apt), 10a, 14a, 25d. Looking back, I think the weaker clues were 1,7&19d, 11&18a.
    Homophones: for me, the dodgier the better. Particularly liked the Italian one.
    Very nice edit for 26a – was that an earlier version or an on-the-spot change?. I solved it before the correction, and initially put in ******TED, then changed it when I couldn’t make the anagram work. I never noticed the actual solution didn’t work either.
    Sorry I didn’t give it my best

  11. For Arepo et al
    First of all thank you for having a go at my latest outing!
    The Spoonerism in 3d was supposed to be ‘ animal lobby.’ Defining ‘makes Kitty sick’
    Did it not work?

    1. The difficulty with that is that ‘makes Kitty sick’ is a verbal phrase whereas the answer is a noun. Inserting ‘that’ before the ‘makes’ so that the definition becomes ‘that makes Kitty sick’ would work better, in my opinion.

      1. understand your comment and agree the insertion of ´that’ would have been tidier
        For Mucky the clue change for 26a was off the cuff, horrified at my mistake. Ironically the change isn’t too bad

      2. It’s fine by me, it’s fine by Azed, and it’s fine by Barnard.

        There’s a page on the crosswordunclued website headed “Verb Phrase as Definition for Noun” about this.

        It includes an example of “covers head” as a definition for “wimple” in a Pasquale (=Giovanni here) clue.

  12. Very enjoyable, I’m not too picky but 18a is a tad mundane – you can clearly do better than that!
    Liked (amongst others), 25d, 4a and the very nice 20a which made me smile. (oh, and 6d…)
    Many thanks for the fun, look forward to the next one.

  13. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to call in sick rather than leave a comment! …

    In all seriousness, others have said it all. I solved this morning pre corrections but the typos didn’t cause too much pain. I can only echo the majority: great ideas, a little more polishing needed. I really enjoyed your approach and appreciated the sensible level of difficulty. I smiled at the 20a Italian and my favourite was 29a.

    Thanks to Dill and in advance to Prolixic.

  14. Thank you, Dill, for a pleasant and reasonably straightforward puzzle. Several really good ideas, and some laughs too. My favourites were 21d, 2d (although a tweak to the wording would have helped) and 29a, but there were some neatly done simple clues, too. I would suggest just spending a little longer perfecting some nearly great clues, such as 10a, 3d (2d fits here as well), and then use a couple of iterations of Maize’s law. It’s something like ‘Take the weakest 5 clues, and rewrite them’. Any doubts about clues, address them, don’t just hope you will get away with it.
    Many thanks.

  15. Hi Dill – many thanks for a very enjoyable solve, which ultimately is all that really matters. And thanks to Silvanus & Snape for noticing my rather iterative comments on this site – I never realised anybody actually read them!
    My favourite clues were 22a (clever), 29a (excellent!), 2d (I knew Snape would like that one!), 4d (nice), 7d (terrificly perplexing surface concealing simple solution), 23d (neat) and 24d(very slick).
    Those which would have benefited from being reworked, I thought, were 11a, 18a, 16d and 17d – for reasons mentioned above and the last of those because I didn’t quite see the definition.
    So basically a cracking good puzzle which would have probably benefited from revisiting one more time.
    Thanks to Setter and, in advance to Prolixic – vital organ of the site that he is!

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – although your hint for 17d was in need of a bit of proof-reading!
    Must admit that I thought the RAC was a motoring organisation rather than a motor organisation.

    Thanks again to Dill – plenty of comments for you to digest today and a fair amount of praise to enjoy.

  17. Great puzzle Dill – much humour and some nifty cluing.

    No real quibbles (ignoring typos and the US spelling of jewellery) although you might have sailed fairly close to the wind here and there.

    In 11a “you and I shared” for OURS is clever – I had to ponder abit over that one but I can see that it works OK.

    29a is a great joke but the surface is a bit lumpy – not sure how to improve that.

    20a also very amusing.

    Great stuff – thanks for the fun. Do keep them coming.

  18. Thanks to Prolixic and to all of you for your helpful feedback.
    My apologies to Kitty as last time my dogs sent her up a tree and this time I have made her sick…I promise to be kinder next time!
    Did the pastime theme bring any interest to the puzzle or am I just making things more complicated for myself?

    1. argh missed the theme – you definitely get extra points for that – congratulations for working the relevant words into the grid. Something for everyone – I’m more likely to go for cinema than marathon.

    2. It certainly should have done, thought I’m a dunce at spotting themes. Most of those right up my street, though don’t do much leapfrog these days, and certainly no 29a.

    3. The theme went sailing over my head too.

      I think (skipping quickly over 29a) my choice of the hobbies above might be found in 5d.

      Thanks for the apology, Dill, and since you promise to be kinder next time I will definitely be back. :)

  19. Thanks for the excellent review as always, Prolixic.

    Like you, originally I also thought “jewelry” in 16d should be “jewellery” (I had been under the impression that the former spelling was American), but, somewhat surprisingly, the BRB shows both as being acceptable, without any qualification.

    1. Not surprisingly I followed exactly the same process as you, Silvanus, with the same sense of surprise.

    2. I’ve always thought jewelry was acceptable but then i was not educated in the UK (until I met RD)

    3. The “jewelry” spelling *was* certainly American – Chambers online still shows “US” – Chambers pocket “esp US” – most others US – maybe the BRB has leapt (leaped???) ahead treating it as an acceptable intruder. We do gradually tend to accept American loanwords and spellings as they become more commonplace; so far we seem determined to resist color, center etc and to use -ise rather than -ize but maybe the time will come when that will change.

      By the normal reckoning, if there is a declared reference dictionary a setter can claim its support even when it is wrong by other reckonings – normally we only fuss over answers and wordplay components – here the word is neither – the spelling is not critical to the result – but I suppose the same reasoning might as well apply – so you’re off the hook on that one Dill.

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