Rookie Corner – 180 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 180

A Puzzle by Mucky

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week we have another 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.

Welcome back to Mucky.  Not bad at all.  Only some minor polishing points to comment on.


1 Domestic goddess lacking a source of quality ingredients (4)
DELI – Remove the A from the first name of the TV chef Mrs Smith.

3 Item taken from hotel bill, after reflection likely to be wrong (8)
FALLIBLE – The answer is hidden (item taken from) and reversed (reflection) in HOTEL BILL AFTER.  A couple of minor points – Item might be better as items.  Also, reflection on its own does not sit easily as a reversal indicator on its own in the cryptic grammar.  Although “after reflection” fits the bill, after would then be doing double duty as part of the wordlay.

10 Smelly gas in the morning giving more grief if audible (7)
AMMONIA – The abbreviation for morning followed by a homophone (if audible) of MONIER (giving more grief.  Although setters can and do use homophones of real words to give the similar sounding syllables in the solution where they are not a real word, I have not come across a homophone of a non-existent word such as monier before.  I am even less enamoured with this as I am with using a homophone of a real word to create a non-existing word as part of the solution.

11 Horrible din, with ‘YMCA’ on the go (7)
DYNAMIC – An anagram (horrible) of DIN YMCA.

12 All heart in mouth about world’s foremost scary phenomenon? (6,7)
GLOBAL WARMING – Put the middle letter (heart) of all inside a three letter word for the mouth and add a word meaning scary around (about) the first letter (foremost) of world.

14 Some heat weatherman displays (5)
THERM – The answer is hidden in (displays) WEATHERMAN.

16 In dry state, runners getting drink? (9)
SMUGGLERS – A cryptic definition of those who illegally import alcohol.  I wonder whether reference to “dry state” is unfairly misleading as those who illegally import alcohol do so whether or not the country is dry.

18 Politically motivated European vote bound to adopt ‘exit’ (9)
EXPEDIENT – The abbreviation for European and the letter used to mark a vote followed by a word meaning bound or contained around (to adopt) a word meaning to exit or kick the bucket.

19 Opening where hidden Greeks emerged with no end of duplicity (5)
INTRO – A phrase 2, 4 indicating the city where the Greeks emerged from the Trojan Horse without the final letter (with no end of) of duplicity.

20 For sanction of invasion and appropriation, look in Hitler’s 1939 diatribe, perhaps (6,7)
SEARCH WARRANT – A six letter word meaning look in followed by a word that, if split 3,4 might describe a diatribe in relation to a battle.

24 Wife rotten after time in bunk (7)
TWADDLE – The abbreviation for time followed by the abbreviation for wife and a word meaning rotten.  I think that its use as an adjective, whilst in Chambers, is historic, and today is only used in combining forms such as ??????-brained.

25 Try alternative way on exciting tour east (7)
REROUTE – A two letter word meaning on or about followed by an anagram (exciting) of TOUR E.

26 Hooking bowler here, ‘That’s out!’ with … (8)
HATSTAND – An anagram (out) of THAT’S followed by a word meaning with.

27 … say, reduced batting average? (4)
STAT – Take the final letter (reduced) from a word meaning say.


1 Retaining anything’s not so funny, being particularly prone to wind (10)
DRAUGHTIER – A five letter word meaning not so funny around (retaining) a five letter word meaning anything.  I think that “more prone” would have been better that “particularly prone” here.

2 Uncertain state of two pieces of LEGO? (5)
LIMBO – Split the word into LEG / O and replace the LEG with a generic word for an appendage.

4 Having less to cut, top cut off tree (5)
ALDER – Remove the first letter (top cut off) from a word meaning having less hair.

5 Boy on date with brainy girl naughtily books take-away (7,7)
LENDING LIBRARY – The diminutive form of Leonard (boy) followed by the abbreviation for date and an anagram (naughtily) of BRAINY GIRL.

6 Help yourself, not saying this to a vampire? (2,2,5)
BE MY GUEST – This blood sucking creature has to be invited in.  You would not want to say this to Dracula.

7 To all catching a cold, I beg your pardon (4)
EACH – A two letter interjection meaning I beg your pardon around (catching) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for cold.

8 Luckily, coins from this individual provided bows for Robin Hood, say (3- 5,6)
ONE-ARMED BANDIT – A three letter word for an individual followed by a word for provided bows (or other weapons for) and a word describing Robin Hood or any other brigand.

9 Destroy left-overs after carpet-fitting? (3,5)
LAY WASTE – If you lay a carpet, this would be what is left over.

13 Maiden in basic shelter with donkey, gold, and various things (10)
ASSORTMENT – A three letter word for a donkey, an abbreviation for gold and the abbreviation for maiden inside a word for a temporary shelter.

15 How little man might take steps, out with Anna (2,7)
EN PASSANT – An anagram (out) of STEPS ANNA.  A minor point but out has already been used as an anagram indicator in 26a.

17 Inappropriate, directed at minor (8)
UNTOWARD – Split 4, 4, this would mean directed at a child or minor under the care of a guardian.

21 Not rude, unlike me (5)
CLEAN – The opposite of the setter’s pseudonym.

22 Blue having gained majority (5)
ADULT – Double definition.

23 Eliza Doolittle’s problem hay fever symptom? (4)
ITCH – Drop the H’ (as Eliza Doolittle would ‘ave done) from a word meaning a problem.

41 comments on “Rookie Corner – 180

  1. We started off with the wrong ending for 1d which made 18a difficult. Perhaps ‘more’ rather than ‘particularly’ in the 1d clue might have been kinder to the solvers. Eventually got that sorted so that just leaves 16a where we are still struggling with the wordplay. Some original clever clues here. We thought the 3a lurker was well hidden but top prize goes to 15d.
    Thanks Mucky.

  2. Hi Mucky,

    I thought this was excellent, worthy of the dailies! Well-disguised definitions, loads of surprises, great fun.

    I particularly like 12a (almost an &lit), and 20a, and there was plenty more to enjoy. I also liked the ellipses, I always think they are very clever – must try it sometime. I also like the ‘me’ in 21d

    I only have the most minor of niggles, some of which are of very little consequence.

    I also had noted ‘more’ rather than ‘particularly’ for 1d, though i got the right answer.

    3d – possibly ok, though ‘item’ is such a strong indicator of a single entity, I think i would have preferred a word like ‘piece’

    18a – love this. Not wrong and perhaps of no consequence, but ‘exit’ also appears amongst the answer

    24a – i think rotten would translate to the past participle?

    25a – wasn’t sure about ‘try’ – i though it was doing it, not trying to do it.

    7d wasn’t sure the def was accurate – it might be.

    15d, I had to look this up, but certainly solvable

    Hope that is of use to you.

    I think you’ve reached a standard where you should consider further ambitions.

    Thanks very much for sharing this wonderful puzzle

    1. and i now realise rotten translates to the adjective which is fine – i thought wrongly that it had to be a verb.

    2. Thanks. A couple of questions:
      1 – What are ellipses? Useful to know, so I can carry on doing it
      2 – In 3a, did you read it as an item taken from a hotel, or an item taken from a hotel bill? I was thinking of a hotel bill of which an item was wrong, and so taken off, but perhaps stealing towels is what naturally springs to mind
      18a fair point, which had I noticed it, might have caused some anxiety, so glad I hadn’t noticed

      1. Ellipses are the dot dot dot things between clues (…)

        3a is a brilliant reverse hidden, and I have no problems with the surface, just that for the hidden an item sounds really singular, like a word or a letter, versus say a piece or a bit, which I think is a better hidden indicator ( and I imagine could be more than one ‘item’) – of course you would need to make that work in the surface, but I think “part” of a bill might work, etc.

        I hasten to add that I did say it was possibly OK as is, I think a question of preference, different words have different impacts on different people.

  3. Excellent puzzle that’s really enjoyable – thanks Mucky. I ticked 3a for the superb lurker, 12a, 20a, 2d and 8d but my favourite is 15d. I don’t understand the Eliza Doolittle reference in 23d but that’s probably down to my lack of knowledge.
    More puzzles like this would be most welcome.

      1. A flower-girl oo dropped ‘er haitches, though whether she suffered from an inconvenient pollen allergy is unknown, at least to me.

  4. Hi Mucky.
    Wow – this is a very classy puzzle and no mistake. As Dutch says, I could easily have seen these in one of the dailies. I’ll look forward to seeing your next NTSPP!! A few notes below.

    12a love it!
    18a super
    24a ADDLE or ADDLED; perhaps the surface has been improved here at the expense of the wordplay – or I’ve missed something
    26a fantastic
    19 Nice
    5d great clue. Perhaps the Def is slightly stretching it, but it definitely works for me!
    16a a perfect feint!
    3 Did you have a go at making this FALLIBLE< minus HOTTER, something like ‘Ritz-ier taken from …’ or ‘More recently stolen from…’ (there must be better!) ? I don’t think I’d have been able to resist!
    26 & 27 – very good surface combination

    1. OK, I’ve missed something (not unexpectedly). Re. 24a, I’ve just re-read Dutch’s comment re. ADDLE and see it confirmed in Chambers. I still can’t quite see their being an ‘addle egg’ (rather than ‘addled’) but am happy to bow to your and Chambers knowledge!

      1. nice to see you thinking alike. from brb, i guess you must be able to say ‘the egg is addle’ (?) though I’d be more likely to say addled (actually, I’d be more likely to say rotten)

    2. Thanks for solving this twice! I think about half the clues are changed from the original.
      3a: no – I hadn’t spotted that. I wasn’t thinking about stealing (see question to Dutch) but about overbilling
      Addle: it’s come up as an adjective in a couple of puzzles over the last few months and met with a similar response – i.e. ‘isn’t that the wrong part of speech?’ I can’t remember when I found out it was an adjective, but it’s always stuck in my mind because as an adjective it seems rather poetic, whereas as a verb it seems commonplace. I’d never say it – I can’t imagine anyone south of Manchester saying it (I don’t actually know where it’s from)

  5. Yet another effort of high-quality, well done indeed, Mucky.

    A good standard of difficulty, excellent balance of different clue types, humour, great surfaces and inventive wordplay all made for an extremely enjoyable solve.

    It was interesting to see the 2Ks and Dutch having the same thoughts as me regarding “particularly” in 1d, and I did raise my eyebrows at a couple of the looser definitions, but these were very minor quibbles.

    My ticks went to 12a, 20a, 5d (my favourite), 8d, 9d, 13d, 17d and the possibly autobiographical 21d!

    Congratulations, Mucky – keep ’em coming!

    1. Thanks. I take the point about ‘particularly’. I suppose I didn’t want to have ‘less’ and ‘more’ in the clue. Glad you liked 17d, which I was pleased with, in a gentle sort of way.

  6. Certainly some clever work from Mucky again but I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as his last offering.
    A couple of the clues – 20a & 8d – I felt were unnecessarily verbose whilst 3a & 26d were rather spoiled by poor surface reads. A particular shame in the case of 3a which was an excellent lurker.

    Loved the definition in 5d but, here again, the surface read wasn’t quite as good as it could have been and probably the least said about 23d the better!

    Sorry, Mucky, I did enjoy much of this – particularly 2,13&17d – but I think my expectations were perhaps too high after the Swallows & Amazons of last time.

    As an aside – I wonder whether one or other of the ‘domestic goddesses’ might be tempted to sue!

    1. Ah well – at least I am glad you had high expectations, and, actually I enjoyed the Swallows and Amazons one more, too. Should I say that?
      What is it about 23d? I thought that was fairly benign.

      1. Thanks for taking my comment in the way it was intended, Mucky. Yes – I’m delighted that you also preferred the S&A puzzle, good of you to say so.
        As for 23d – I wasn’t implying a criticism of the clue (although I can see that you could take it that way) just of the condition itself, which has plagued most of my family for all of our lives!

  7. I really enjoyed this but it was very much at the top of my solving ability and I still have a few answers that I don’t quite understand.
    The 3a lurker was lurking so well that until I read the earlier comments I hadn’t seen it and so that was one of the ones I didn’t ‘get’.
    The last two across clues got my allergy to all things ‘crickety’ going even though 26a wasn’t anything to do with it.
    Missed the anagram indicator in 15a and didn’t catch on to the relevance of the ‘little man’ but got there eventually.
    So many good and clever clues that it’s difficult to pick out any in particular but 20 and 24a and 5 and 17d are certainly up at the top. I think 21a might be my favourite because it made me laugh.
    Thanks and well done, Mucky, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

  8. I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle and being in just “solver mode” rather than “test solver mode”, no huge problems jumped out at me. 19a and 4d were my picks, but lots more to enjoy.

    1. Since I sent this in to BD, 4d has been done, rather more elegantly, by Julius in the FT (Sept. 8) ‘Tree pollarded, being thinner on top’.

  9. Some great clues in the mix here but I must admit I am missing some of the parsing. Laughed at ‘Lego’!
    Thanks Mucky

  10. A fairly tricky solve, but well worth the effort. Some excellent and inventive clues, including many that made me smile – always the acid test of an enjoyable puzzle for me. Many thanks and keep them coming!

  11. Thanks all for solving and kind comments. Glad the long ones seem to have gone down well, as I find them tricky to clue. 5d was my favourite.

  12. I have struggled with this and still have 16A and 18A unsolved. Nevertheless there were some delightful “do’h ” moments for me, particularly 19A, 20A and 21D. I shall persevere. Thanks Mucky.

  13. Like Expat Chris, I struggled with this and I have several answers which I haven’t been able to parse fully. There are a lot of clever ideas here and, as Chris says, some lovely d’oh moments (particularly the three clues she mentions plus 2d, 15d & 26a). However I thought a few clues were a bit contrived and left me feeling rather flat after I had solved them, e.g. 11a, 12a, 5d & 6d.

    Many thanks, Mucky, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks very much for the review Prolixic which explained the clues I couldn’t parse.

      Isn’t the homophone in 10a based on “moanier”, i.e. more moany?

      1. Many thanks, Prolixic, your comments about 3a made me understand why the clue didn’t ‘feel’ quite right.
        I’m still not very keen on 6d but thought 10a was OK – looked at it the same way as RD.

        15d I presume relates to a move in chess. If so, shouldn’t ‘steps’ have been outside of the underlined words as it otherwise seems to be doing double duty.

        Thanks again to Mucky – as Prolixic says, just a bit of polish required to make this one a 21d run.

        1. Yes Jane, 15d is a chess move by which one pawn captures another under very specific circumstances.

          I can see you are rapidly developing into as much of a chess expert as you have become in cricket.

    2. Thanks as ever for the review.
      There is internet support for moanier (eg here but it’s not in Chambers or SOED, and to be honest, I didn’t check it so hands up. It was an awkward clue generally.
      On the reflection point, I convinced myself by thinking that, say, ‘a tree reflection’ was a fairly natural way to say ‘a reflection of a tree’. If I saw it in someone else’s puzzle, however, it would probably jar, and I will try and avoid it in future.

  14. Congratulations on a great puzzle Mucky – your best yet in my opinion. I don’t usually comment if I miss the Monday boat, but enjoyed this so much that I felt it would be remiss not to say thanks for the fun :) I’ve been glancing at this one in brief snatches since Monday morning, putting in a clue here and there, but I only just now managed to give it the time it deserved and fill in the remaining 75% – almost all of which went in with a smile.

    Not everyone likes nounal indicators – I don’t have any problem with them, so I thought the ‘reflection’ in 3a was fine. In fact I thought pretty much all of the clues were great, so it’s hard to single any out, but I did think 17d was particularly neat.

    Thanks again, and keep it up!

  15. Forgive me for posting so long after Monday, but I just had to drop in to tell you how much I enjoyed that and to offer you encouragement to keep producing puzzles as good as this please!
    I ticked every clue bar three – which is an uncommonly high number from a critical so-and-so like me. Most of all I liked the level of difficulty, which I thought was brilliantly judged – and that’s something most setters on this site confess to finding probably the hardest thing to get right in the whole process.
    Those three I had question marks against were the invented word moanier in 10a – which got a bit of a wince, but to be fair I did think it was funny; Then there was the way that 7d was put together – I know loads of setters do it, but I prefer the format ‘To all, I beg your pardon catching a cold’. Obviously the surface doesn’t work though.
    Finally there was the ‘straight cryptic’ at 16d. I think these are really difficult to pull off successfully. Here’s a rightly celebrated example: ‘In which three couples come together for sex?’ to clue ‘Latin’. The solver is sent down the wrong path first, before the penny drops. For me your clue didn’t create quite a clear enough picture in the false surface reading; I didn’t know if it was in a pub, a marathon, the dessert sort of thing… so there wasn’t that penny-drop moment. And here’s another fine example written by Quixote : ‘Keep falling down as the water comes closer?’ The answer is Sandcastle.

    All the rest were brilliant though – definitely dailies type standard – possibly my favourites being 6d and 13d.
    Keep ’em coming!

  16. Thanks for posting – it’s a nice surprise getting a late one – and for the specific comments. I find myself doing the reverse inclusion thing quite often, and should pay more attention to it. Sometimes I like it, and actually this was one when I did, but sometimes it just turns out that way and I think ‘that’ll do’ rather than make the effort to put it more naturally.

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