Rookie Corner – 173 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 173

A Puzzle by Whynot

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I met Whynot at S&B 13, back in May. We discussed whether it was possible to publish in this slot a puzzle designed like a game of Go which he had brought with him, but decided it would be better if he submitted a new puzzle – here it is.  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.

A very confident and well executed debut from Whynot.  Only one small point on one of the clues to mention.  There was a good variety of clues and some excellent misleading and well disguised wordplay.  A couple of the cryptic definition were a little on the weak side but that is the only rely negative comment.  The length of the clues is a matter of taste and preference for the setter.  More like this please!


1 Disdaining to spell this with an S as setter has, for instance? That’s possible anathema to subscribers to 1d (15)
AMERICANISATION – The clue relies on the difference in spelling where the subject country uses a Z where we would use an S, which country might also be regarded as having global agenda that would disturb those who hold to the doctrine in 1d.

9 Something making it difficult to swallow offensive article by body of students (7)
TETANUS – The name of a major offensive during the Vietnam war followed by the indefinite article and the abbreviation for Nation Union of Students.

10 Poles confining all Scottish people to moor (7)
SARACEN – The abbreviations for South and North include (confining) the single letter Scottish contraction of all and another word for a group of people.  A minor point, but the convention is that you can capitalise a word to mislead, but you should not put a proper noun into lower case to do so.

11 Like the Tube, going in cycles? (5)
INNER – A mild cryptic definition of the tube under the tyre on a bicycle.

12 One against what has gone before with love for what may come… to start with (9)
ANTIPASTO – A word for someone who is against something followed by a word meaning what has gone before and the letter representing love.

13 Recent lament aired by setter: a problem with inspiration (9)
PNEUMONIA – A homophone (aired) of NEW MOAN (recent lament) followed by the single letter representing the setter and the A from the clue.

15 Drinks sent back in tantrum (5)
STROP – A reversal (sent back) of the fortified wines passed to the left after a meal.

16 Resistance reduced, current climbs (5)
RAMPS – The abbreviation (reduced) of resistance followed by the name of the unit in which electrical current is measured.

18 What is in logs concerning previous returns to the interior (2-7)
RE-ENTRIES – A name for the data found in logs preceded (previous) by the abbreviation for concerning.

20 Unqualified entrants upset small core (3-6)
ALL-COMERS – An anagram (upset) of SMALL CORE.

23 Ransack folio in anger (5)
RIFLE – The abbreviation for folio inside a four letter word for anger.

24 Realise I got in a mess identifying number of additives going national (7)
ISRAELI – An anagram (in a mess) of a REALISE I after removing a letter that is used to identify food additives.

25 Withdraw from agreement about standing for Tory party (7)
RETRACT – An eight letter word for an agreement has the initial three letter abbreviation for the Conservative party replaced by the two letter word meaning about.

26 Unintentional quality? (15)
MEANINGLESSNESS – A cryptic definition of something that is not intended or meant.


1 Worker I brought to mint is motivated primarily by negative attitude to foreign domination (4-11)
ANTI-IMPERIALISM – A three letter word for an insect (worker) followed by the I from the clue and the name of a hard white mint, the IS from the clue snd the first letter (primarily) of motivated.

2 Understanding of English 10/10: Alain finally moves from bottom place up to second (7)
ENTENTE – The abbreviation for English followed by the number 10 spelled out twice with the final N (Alain finally) move from the bottom to the second letter of the answer.

3 Stupidly, I’m on sugar, but what would I know? (9)
IGNORAMUS – An anagram (stupidly) of IM ON SUGAR.

4 Worse things happen where salt is employed (2,3)
AT SEA – Where sailors are give the words that follow the saying “Worse things happen …”

5 Wanting to give an example — without using principal characters from New Testament, however (9)
INSATIATE – An 11 letter word meaning to give an example after removing the letters used in the abbreviation for New Testament with the however indicating that the letters are removed out of order.

6 Just out of bed, a period when hallucinations may well occur (5)
ATRIP – The A from the clue followed by a drug experience where hallucinations may occur.

7 If truth be spoken, in the end it’s on the tip of one’s tongue (7)
INCISOR – One of the teeth on which the tongue rests when pronouncing the final part of the word truth.

8 Not all there speaking in ancient language? (3,6,6)
NON COMPOS MENTIS – A mild cryptic definition of the Latin phrase meaning not of sound mind.

14 Take care of Heather, babe (9)
NURSELING – A five letter word meaning take care of followed by another word for the plant Heather.

15 Soaks treat us as nuts! (9)
SATURATES – An anagram (nuts) of TREAT US AS.

17 The French breaking into song after mass delirium caused by this (7)
MALARIA – After the abbreviation for mass include the French for the inside the name of an operatic song.

19 Expand limited information with notes (7)
INFLATE – A four letter word for information with the final letter removed followed by the names of two two letter musical notes.

21 Leading pair of literati chasing award, daggers drawn! (5)
OBELI – After (chasing) the abbreviation for a civil honour or award add the first two letters (leading pair of) in literati.

22 Slippery slope inherent in spurious creed (5)
SCREE – The answer is hidden (inherent) in SPURIOUS CREED.

45 comments on “Rookie Corner – 173

  1. Well that had a different feeling about it and certainly had us working hard. Probably the biggest penny-drop moment was when we twigged 7d but plenty of others had us head scratching too. Fewer words in some of the clues would probably have increased our enjoyment rating and there are a few ‘grammar ‘ points that we will leave for more competent others to deal with. Overall it was all solvable and we enjoyed sorting it out.
    Thanks Whynot.

  2. Hi WhyNot. That was fun.

    I found the lefthandside much easier than the right. Lots of smiles and original twists in word-meanings. Some of the wordplays show a degree of sophistication (eg the inclusion of A in the wordplay in 13a) which suggests that even if you are a rookie setter you are probably a seasoned solver.

    As just stated, I liked the crypticness – but here and there I thought it went a bit too far – Rufus on speed almost – eg 26a and 8d gave me neither the smile nor the penny-drop-moment that a good cryptic definition should.

    I don’t think definitions-by-example need to be universally indicated – but some do – “all Scottish people” in 10a being a case in point – although if you are working in an environment where that’s not expected it certainly makes for a tough clue.

    9a I thought was a particularly smooth charade
    17d I loved “the French breaking into song”

    6d beat me – but it *is* a word and on reflection the clue is extremely good.

    Many other good clues.

    Thanks for the fun. Keep them coming.

  3. I’ve been sitting here for five minutes after finishing solving trying to make up my mind about this one.

    The clues that work the best are definitely the shorter ones – eg 15a 16a, 23a, 3d, 4, and 15d but I also liked 17d 19d and 21d too; with several of the ‘War and Peace’ ones I gave up trying to work out the wordplay and just worked them out from the checking letters/definition

    I’ll leave it to Prolixic and others to comment further as I’ve got to start work now. :(

  4. That was enjoyable – thanks Whynot. As others have said some of the clues could do with a bit of pruning but there are lots of novel ideas here. I thought the NE corner was trickier than the rest and I’d not heard of 6d. Top clues for me were 9a, 20a, 7d and 19d.
    I wasn’t keen on 10a – Moor should really start with a capital letter and ‘all Scottish people’ needs to be identified as an example.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

      1. That certainly works as long as you buy A for “all Scottish”. Oxford online doesn’t support that but Collins does – I’m presuming the BRB does too. Specialist Scottish (ie lowland Scots – the language of Burns) dictionaries vary but those that do give it as a’ – ie short for aw.

        That being the case I withdraw my earlier quibble and award bonus marks for rather a nifty lift-and-separate (“Scottish people” being tightly bound together) construction – the latter word being a straightforward word-for-word substitution – not an example.

        Some may quibble that the answer is not sufficiently a cliché to warrant the inclusion of the indefiinite article. I don’t deny that there’s an argument there but on a case for case basis I would let this one through.

  5. Hi Whynot
    What an unusual puzzle. I thought it was great.
    At first sight, all those words can be intimidating. However, wordy definitions are fine and are generally more interesting than one word synonyms, and where you had wordy wordplay, it was generally to make your instructions extra clear, so once I got used to it, I liked it.
    I started at 4d, which I didn’t think was that good, but after that it was mostly a long succession of pleasant surprises, and lots of ticks.
    I liked, in the order I solved them: 12a, 25a, 21d (def v good), 20a (good def) 13a (good construction), 2d (wordy, but accurate, and nice surface), 16a (concise!), 11a (took ages to spot it), 10a, 6d (doubtful at first, but I think only because I didn’t know the word)
    Special mention for 7d, which is so unusual, and a great penny-drop moment at the end of the puzzle.
    Apart from 4d, I wasn’t so keen on 5d, since for once your instructions aren’t very clear, to get from the example to the wanting. The solution actually does have NT in it, and where they’re removed, they’re not adjacent.
    Thanks, and congratulations on an excellent puzzle.

  6. I’m in accordance with CS on this one, particularly her ‘War and Peace’ analogy and the fact that for the most part the shorter clues worked best – 4d being my favourite of those.
    The jury’s still out as to whether or not I enjoyed the solve and I’ll be most interested to read the review from Prolixic.

    Thank you, Whynot – that was certainly ‘different’!

  7. I have to say that 1A really made me laugh. Guilty, M’lud! I do hope RD puts in an appearance today. NE corner was most challenging for me and I still can’t parse 7D, though I checked and my answer is correct. Not too sure about 2D either. My favorites are 9A, 15A, 16A and 21D. 6D was the last in and I had to check with the BRB. Clever clue, that. Thanks, Whynot.

      1. I still don’t get it even though I’m pretty sure my answer is right – what does happen when you say the last syllable of truth – truth is a one syllable word – oh dear – I really am being seriously dim here.

  8. Not for the first time, I’m fully in agreement with Jane and CS here. On balance, I think I enjoyed the solve, but it was certainly tough in places, and I’m another who found the right side trickier than the left.

    As Mucky says, there is nothing inherently wrong with wordy clues, but personally I’m not a fan of ones like 1a I’m afraid. This was one of the more assured Rookie debuts though, very little I could see that was technically wrong, and some excellent constructions and wordplay.

    My ticks went to 15a, 16a, 20a, 1d and 21d.

    Congratulations and thanks to our new setter, even if not intended, his name is a nice nod to the late Barry Norman.

  9. Thank you whynot for an extremely enjoyable puzzle and to BD for hosting it.
    Very well done indeed

  10. I’m with CS et al. It’s very difficult to hold a 15+ word clue in one’s mind, particularly when they don’t really form an image or idea, and it contains a cross-reference. Apart from that, generally very good. Some very nice shorter clues including 21d, 8d and my favourite, 11a.
    I too will be interested to see what Prolixic makes of it.

    Many thanks for the challenge Whynot.

  11. My first impression was, “Oh dear” and “Oh help” and “I’d better trot up the garden and count the marbles” but it was raining so I didn’t.
    I’m still a long way from finishing and have only got one of the four long answers round the outside.
    I’ll carry on later.
    I don’t know anything about Go so don’t understand what he meant when BD talked about designing a puzzle like a game of it.
    Back later or tomorrow.
    In the meantime thanks to Whynot and, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. Keep at it, Kath! Plenty of easier ones to get you into the long ‘uns. Hope you find your marbles — lest you be adjudged 8d!

        1. Thanks, Dave! Back tomorrow with a full response to comments after everyone’s had a go (including, not least, Prolixic).

          @Kath: well done! Re 7d, more precisely it’s the final consonant (technically, phoneme). You have to speak with ‘RP’, though. More about that tomorrow …

      1. Thank you – marbles all present and correct, at the last count anyway – certainly not 8d, yet.
        Well done to you. :good:

    2. :phew: finished(ish).
      I finally have answers to all the clues – there are quite a few that I don’t completely ‘get’ and BD’s mantra ‘if you can’t explain your answer it’s probably wrong’ is a very useful one but I don’t think they are wrong.
      Oh well.
      I think 13a is absolutely brilliant.
      Thanks again and well done to Whynot.

    3. Rain. Lucky you. Haven’t seen any for over 2 months.
      The next few days are going to get worse. Temperature rising to 40 degree Celsius by Thursday. A bit of hot air from the Sahara they say.

  12. It did take me a while and NE was last to yield.
    Did bite the tip of my tongue to get 7d. Very funny.
    Favourite 2d though.
    Thanks to Whynot

  13. Hi Whynot. BD’s preamble tells me who you are – we chatted at that London gathering. Nice to know who I’m doing battle with!

    I found this tough, and with the left but not much of the right in, I peeked at the early comments on the blog. I then revealed three (if I recall correctly) and that enabled me to get the rest. The wordiness put me off a bit towards the start, but I warmed to your style and ended up really enjoying the solve. I have a couple of little questions remaining but will await the review.

    My favourites are 13a, 20a and 7d (argh – it took me ages to get all the way there).

    Many thanks, Whynot – I look forward to your next – and thanks in advance to Prolixic too.

  14. I met Whynot at the London meeting BD referred to. I have a copy of his “GO” puzzle (as in the oriental board game) which I seriously intend to look at, but somehow have not yet managed ( I think I’m scared). It involves a go board as a grid, where you have to place letters at the intersections of lines as in a GO game. And apparently it involves a lot of GO-specific lingo, since it was intended for a GO magazine.

    Whynot shared this rookie puzzle with me and I was super-impressed by the smoothness, though I worried about clue length and a few other (possibly unimportant) things. I am pleased to see that in the current version, Whynot has tried hard to accommodate some of my suggestions – but who am I, I really do not want to impose on his style. I am very pleased with the comments that Whynot is receiving. All very useful feedback, which is what the rookie puzzle is all about. I hope very much that Whynot is encouraged by all of this and we will see more of him.

  15. Lots of entertaining (and original) clues here, although I suspect I would have been a very long time solving without my trusty cheats (Wordfinder), and there are some I don’t really know what is going on. My top clues were broadly the same as everyone else’s – 7d (eventually!) 2d, 13a, 21d, 11a. Was less keen on the perimeter ones,but I think using this grid can lead to some horrible 15-letter words to clue.
    More please! Many thanks

  16. Hi Whynot, apologies but I only got to see this after Prolixic had reviewed today. I’d like to echo the feedback above – there’s a lot of originality here – well done! I initially found it quite hard to ‘tune in’ but once I did then it worked really well for me. I look forward to your next one (plus the ‘Go’ one sounds scary! Is it available online somewhere?).

  17. Thanks as always for the review, Prolixic. Glowing praise indeed – I’m sure that Whynot will be most gratified.
    Appreciation of ‘War & Peace’ type clues is obviously very subjective!

  18. Some really clever and original stuff here – most enjoyable. I thought 7d was brilliant and it took a long while for the penny to drop!

  19. Many thanks for all your kind and mostly helpful comments and Prolixic for a crystal-clear exegesis of the clues — couldn’t have explained them better myself. Thanks also to Dutch for his meticulous analysis of the short-comings of my first draft and beyond. Last, but in no sense least, thanks to Big Dave for hosting my “world debut”. How happy I am I went to the S&B, and hello to all those out there that I met.

    First of all, I put my hands up and say “bang to rights” on the decapitalised Moor. I had it in my head with a small “m” and was lax in my checking. Apologies to any Moors reading. Ironically, I put Poles at the beginning so as not to use a false capital. With hindsight,. “Moor where Poles confine all Scottish people” would have been better.

    I know only too well the dread a long clue – especially for a short word — can inspire, so I do sympathise if having so many wasn’t to the taste of CS et al . Hopefully there were enough crisp ones to compensate a little. (I’m so pleased to have made a short, accurate statement of the Physics of electricity in 16a — my degree didn’t go entirely to waste.) As Mucky has perceived, in many cases clues got longer as I tried to be more precise. E.g. 5d was originally “Wanting to give an example without characters from scripture”, which was a bit vague (and even the rework was apparently still perhaps wanting a little more precision in cryptic instructions).

    Regarding 1a, I had (imho) an excellent but difficult six-word cryptic definition. However, the S wasn’t checked and I felt I needed to get across the required spelling (S and Z are both acceptable in British English). I wrote the first sentence of the present clue as a CD, but thought it too difficult, especially as nearly all the crossers were vowels, so I added an easyish definition but which needed 1d solving to unlock it.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed setting the distractingly verbose “identifying number of additives” for the single letter E.

    I’m so happy 7d went down well. It was my favourite, but I realised on test-solve that solvers with non-RP accents, such as cockneys or Irish (or many non-native speakers) couldn’t necessarily just take it at face value (as, without linguistic training, you needed to, to solve it) — nor people with no teeth, like me (but we remember)! Too good not to use, though. Sorry, cockneys!

    I’m very happy to bring Barry Norman to mind (though I’ve a feeling it was only his Spitting Image puppet which actually said “and why not?”). Barry was local to me here in Hertfordshire, and I know people who have met him and confirm he was one of the nicest folk one could want to meet, RIP. The pseudonym is actually a (homophone of a) reversal of my first name. I’m plain “Tony” on fifteensquared (Guardian prize crosswords) and TonyCollman on the Guardian crossword blog (but not the Tony who comments here).

    Regarding the Go puzzle, it was published in issue #178 of the quarterly British Go Journal (Winter 2016 – 17) as the British Go Association Prize Cryptic Crossword Puzzle, a competition won by Alex Selby and Ingrid Jendrzejewsky. Non-members may be able to purchase a hardcopy back number for ~£6 from journal AT britgo DOT org. Pdfs of back issues are available at www DOT britgo DOT org SLASH bgj SLASH bgj, but the most recent four issues can only be accessed by members with a password, so without joining, free public access to the puzzle online starts in about February 2018. The solution is in issue #179, and the editor has a handout of elucidated solutions available on request. Keen crossworders who don’t know Go can probably crack it with help from the BGA website. My (Americanised!) report of a Go cultural event at the British Museum, for the American Go E-Journal, at www DOT usgo DOT org SLASH news SLASH 2013/09/sino-british-weiqi-exchange-held-in-london/ provides a good overview of the world of Go for anyone who is interested. Btw, I’m not particularly good at the game — which is why I contributed a crossword, not an erudite article on strategy or suchlike.



    “Some may quibble that the answer is not sufficiently a cliché to warrant the inclusion of the indefinite article.”

    Not sure what this refers to. If it’s the Scottish “a'”, Prolixic has it (Mucky, too). It’s in the BRB. The indefinite article in the surface of 13a is the final A in PNEUMONIA.

    Delighted to be mentioned in the same breath as Rufus. No amphetamines were consumed in the making of this puzzle!

    Thanks. See above re 5d. I thought “however” would cover it (despite Dutch’s misgivings).

    Thanks. See above re Barry Norman. ATRIP was selected by Crossword Compiler’s autofill (I only hand picked the four long ones), and not a word I knew myself, but a nice nautical term to learn and I was very pleased with the final clue.

    Danke schön!

    Hi Kitty! Glad you remembered me. Sorry if I confounded you: that wasn’t my intention.

    Thank you once again for helping to make this so much better than it might have been.

    Thanks again, everyone. Sorry I couldn’t reply to you all individually. I’m looking forward to entertaining you all again in the future.


    1. How good of you to give us such an insight into your setting of the puzzle and – yes – the crisp clues did compensate in no small measure for the War & Peace contributions!
      I shall look forward to your next offering and perhaps get to chance to meet you at the next birthday bash in January?

      1. Thanks, Jane.

        I don’t know anything about the “birthday bash”, but I thought there was a London S&B coming up later this year (though I can’t find anything about that on 225 now).

        1. BD has hosted a birthday bash for the blog in London at the end of January for seven years now. I’ve been to the last two and thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the setters, bloggers and commenters who have come along.
          There are puzzles to tackle (or take away with you for later) and the booze and banter flow.
          As an added bonus, CS has always baked a huge birthday cake and others (notably JL and Beet) have contributed their own scrummy treats.

          I’m sure you’d enjoy it – some of us make it a two-night treat!

          1. Thanks for the info, Jane. Wisely, I’m off sugar (see what I did there?) — and alcohol, but I’m sure I would enjoy the other aspects, so I’ll put it in my diary.

        2. Look at Upcoming Events, which if you are using a PC is in the right hand side of the page. In a tablet it appears at the bottom of the page. You will see details of a gathering on 4 November

    2. Hello TonyCollman!
      I’m sure the Guardian blog encourages long clues – Alan Connor seems to like them. Very nice to see a whole puzzle, and I’m relieved I didn’t say anything horrible – I even plugged it on the Guardian comments page.
      I admit I hadn’t picked up on the effect of ‘however’. However, I still think it was a bit vague – also since the two words in question are non-obvious. I think my dislike of 4d, which I need not have mentioned at all, was partly due to the whole phrase having been a solution in Vlad’s Guardian puzzle last Wednesday. Although many people seemed entirely unfamiliar with it, it’s one of my favourite proverbs (is it a proverb? never sure about these things), and was thus rather transparent.
      I’ll look forward to the next one.
      James (Mucky (catarella))

      1. Hello catarella! (Knew you’d have a nice surprise when you found out it was your interlocutor from the Guardian blog.)

        “Alan Connor seems to like them”: you mean like the “charmingly rambling” (per A.C.) Company’s benefactor may be one: that’s ‘be one announced for place on board’, to start with (5,6)?

        Couldn’t find your plug, but thanks for that anyway.

        What a coincidence that Vlad used WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA last week. That might have helped some people if they weren’t familiar with the aphorism. Dutch didn’t know it, but I assumed that was because he’s foreign. It’s something I like to say when something bad happens, too, and very British, so perhaps not well-known amongst denizens of the other English-speaking nations either? Actually I think it would have been slightly better as “Worse things happen … where salt is employed”. I thought it followed the sugar clue nicely to produce a double-barrelled volley at the dietary “two white poisons”.

        Of course at sea is often used as an anagram indicator, something Vlad played on in his clue (and which I considered using). In fact, a clue which I have seen cited as “best ever” is the anagram &lit “ I rifle tubs at sea (10)” (from a Ximenes cluing comp) and by pure chance my puzzle gives a happy nod to that by using two of its constituent elements (RIFLE, AT SEA). The little god of crosswords must have had a hand.

    3. Hi WN

      The reason you couldn’t make sense of my “cliché” comment was that it was complete nonsense. I wrote the comment a good while after doing the puzzle and just had my scribbles and my memory of the difficulty I had had with “A RACE” in mind and was wongly assuming that was an answer whereas of course it was just part of the wordplay – so there’s no such issue with it at all.

      Sorry for the confusion – and once again many thanks for a really entertaining and challenging puzzle.

      1. Thanks for calling the dog off! Glad you enjoyed it. Btw, the original clue for 8d, NON COMPOS MENTIS was “Mad in-law?”, but Dutch advised me the hyphen would not go down well here, although I’m sure you would have loved it. A clue for Guardianistas only, perhaps?

  20. Bit of a late comment from me. I found this tricky in places but most entertaining. My especial liking was for 1a /1d. Very clever! I also liked lots of other clues, such as 11a, 13a, 15a, 2d… Too many to mention them all.

    I had difficutly with three clues, notably 7d. I am indebted to Prolixic for the hint for this. I have never come across 6d — an interesting word well clued. Despite having the correct answer, I wasn’t sure what the first three letters of 9a meant. My grateful thanks to Prolixic for the explanations of these.

    Super review from Prolixic — you may feel well-chuffed, Whynot. His praise is worth gold! Very well done, Whynot! And thank you very much for the enjoyment (including the head-scratching!).

    1. Thanks, catnap. “Well chuffed” is probably an understatement: I’m over the moon!

      “Offensive” for TET was probably something I wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t seen it in another crossword (but hopefully not yet a cliché). It’s definitely an event in history worth noting and remembering, though.

      Re 7d, I wonder if you are in one of those categories of people who doesn’t pronounce truth with a /θ/ at the end?

      1. Yes, I’ll bet you’re feeling ‘over the moon’! Deservedly so, too.

        Many thanks for your reply, Whynot. As you say, TET is definitely worth remembering. Re 7d. Alas! just me being thick as I do pronounce the ‘th’ as you intended… I wish I had a better excuse! It is such an excellent clue.

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