Rookie Corner – 184 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 184

A Puzzle by Shabbo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Shabbo’s Return! – his words not mine. 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.

Congratulations to Shabbo on his final Rookie crossword.  There were no major issues.  The only real point to watch is to provide more variety with the wordplay indicators so that there is not an over-reliance on up and back as reversal indicators (even if combined with other words such as booted up, turned up.


9 Germany abandoned tied diplomat (7)
ATTACHE – Remove (abandoned) the IVR code for Germany from a word meaning attached.

10 Change lighting control around dangerous current (7)
RIPTIDE – A four letter word meaning change or amend and a three letter abbreviation for passive infrared sensor are all reversed (around).

11 Let back in having studied at American university (7)
READMIT – A four letter word meaning having studied followed by the abbreviation for Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

12 Notable source of information in hospital department (7)
EMINENT – A four letter word describing a source of information inside a three letter abbreviation for a hospital department.

13 Unique music backed in on-line review (9)
NONPAREIL – Reverse (backed) a three letter form of music inside an anagram (review) of ON-LINE.

16 Phase out condition (5)
SHAPE – An anagram (out) of PHASE.

17 Transferred phone card back.  Indeed (7)
DEMISED – Reverse a three letter word for a phone card inside in DEED.  Not all editors will accept the lift and separate mentally required to split the indeed to in deed to form the required wordplay.

20 Ties got straightened up by Narcissus, perhaps (7)
EGOTIST – An anagram (straightened up) of TIES GOT.

22 Comic loves to do the crossword (5)
SOLVE – An anagram (comic) of LOVES.

23 Chokes or accelerates? (9)
THROTTLES – Double definition for strangers and accelerates.

27 Issue tender back in period of conflict (7)
WARTIME – A four letter word meaning issue and a three letter word meaning tender or sore, all reversed (back).

28 Lodger one found in bed (7)
BOARDER – An A (one) inside another word for a bed in a garden.

30 Female copper points to mover in 27 (7)
EVACUEE – A three letter female name followed by the chemical symbol for copper and the compass direction east twice (points).

31 Building collapse rectified outright (7)
EDIFICE – An anagram (collapse) of RECTIFIED without the R (out-right).  Another lift and separate clue that some editors would not allow.


1 Two men meet a kind of saint (6)
PATRON – A three letter Irishman’s name and a three letter abbreviated form of Ronald.

2 Injury sustained in endless training (6)
STRAIN – The answer is hidden in ENDLESS TRAINING.

3 Computer’s booted up for fraud (4)
SCAM – A reversal (booted up) of the plural form of a brand of Apple computer.

4 Pay for wooden bench (6)
SETTLE – Double definition.

5 Staunch Conservative, Neville Chamberlain, initially left stormy turbulence (4-4)
TRUE-BLUE – An anagram (stormy) of TURBULENCE after removing the initial letters in Neville Chamberlain.

6 Wet blanket ruins wine (10)
SPOILSPORT – A word meaning ruins followed by the name of an after dinner fortified wine.

7 Academics in elite ratings (8)
LITERATI – The answer is hidden in ELITE RATINGS.

8 Financing unfashionable church attire (8)
VESTMENT – Remove the IN (unfashionable = not in) from a word for financing.

14 I make money endlessly (3)
ONE – Discard the outer letters (endlessly) of money.  The cryptic reading definition make wordplay does not work, it should be makes and strictly the wordplay makes the definition, the definition is made up from the wordplay.

15 Moderate debts after sailors met up (10)
ABSTEMIOUS – The plural form of the abbreviation for Able Seamen (sailors) followed by a reversal (up) of MET and the four letter word indicating debts.

17 Refused to acknowledge potential downside (8)
DISOWNED – An anagram (potential) of a DOWNSIDE.

18 Misuse ragged material I left out for tailor at first (8)
MALTREAT – An anagram (ragged) of MATERIAL after replacing the I with a T (tailor at first).

19 Bird finds Del more ‘andsome inside (8)
DOTTEREL – A word meaning more handsome with the H removed inside the DEL from the clue.

21 Take action if pudding is left unfinished (3)
SUE – Remove the final letter (left unfinished) of a word for a type of pudding.  I don’t think that the word on its own means a pudding – it is an adjective describing a pudding.

24 Buries loose stones (6)
RUBIES – An anagram (loose) of BURIES.

25 Judge covering Beethoven (6)
LUDWIG – A three letter reference to a judge followed by a form of head covering.

26 Web browser might take 10 on board (6)
SURFER – Double definition of someone who browses the internet and a person who ride a board on the waves created by a 10a.

29 Enthusiastic singer turned up (4)
AVID – Reverse (turned up) of a four letter word for a singer.

38 comments on “Rookie Corner – 184

  1. If this is Shabbo’s return, I would suggest that he is past the Rookie stage.

    Very enjoyable with some good misdirection and obfuscation which did need some use of Chambers resources.

    This is the second week in a row that I have completed the Rookie in a single sitting, and, much like last week, this ‘came across’ as similar to a typical Monday Rufus

  2. We thought this was a real top quality puzzle. We did not find it as straightforward as Senf implies above, but that could be due to jetlag and strange circumstances we are in. Clever clues all the way through.
    Thanks Sabbo.

  3. Nice puzzle Shabbo. After a slow start medium difficulty for me, but I was grateful for the gimmes that eventually helped me to break in.

    My favourite clue (amongst many) was 25d – I like how the key to the first half doesn’t commit the heinous sin of double duty (not sure why that’s *always* wrong) but kind of helps the second half – also it’s witty in itself.

    No quibbles. Thanks for the fun.
    Do keep them coming.

  4. A high quality puzzle – well done Shabbo!

    More detailed thoughts whilst solving below; I’ve edited my notes to reduce spoilers. For me, I’d give podium places for 17, 22 and 24 (oh, and 28!) – I am always a fan of strong surfaces!

    Great fun and a very strong puzzle – thanks again!


    PS Anyone wondered about how to tackle The Listener crossword but been too afraid to ask? Ten-times Times crossword champion Mark Goodliffe has solved a recent one in real-time in under an hour – which is a must-see if you have any interest in ever trying The Listener.
    Google ‘youtube Listener crossword’ or use this link to watch it.

    Extra Notes:
    3d ‘booted’ is of course good for the surface & (so) forgiven in the Wordplay :-)
    4d is ‘wooden’ necessary, not sure? Have since checked, yes it’s fine – I hadn’t realised this.
    20a ok. There may be a way to disguise the capital N of Narcissus by restructuring the clue to make it the first word – that would improve the clue.
    7d good. Note that some editors (e.g. The Times) limit setters to one hidden per puzzle
    15d is the def a synonym? Not sure.
    17d very good clue – strong surface.
    22a very good
    14d would strictly need ‘makes’ for the wordplay to be grammatically correct.
    25d cryptic. ho ho! Probably needs a Question Mark to indicate clue type?
    28a vg clue
    13a I usu. see ‘review’ as a different type of indicator though it seems ok here & makes surface very readable.
    24d fine clue.
    31a I suspect ‘outright’ won’t be liked by some for two reasons – (a) treating it as ‘out right’ in the wordplay (but you know that already!) and (b) that nothing indicates that Right is split in the remaining wordplay. Still eminently solvable, however.
    10a I feel I really should have remembered what the implied ‘lighting control’ was! I solved this via 26.
    23a Not sure why but this took me ages. Had an alternative synonym for the first word that distracted me.
    19d good clue and LOI. New word for me.

  5. Definitely time for a move to Saturday afternoons – The only thing I didn’t know was the lighting control in 10a but the solution was obvious so I wasn’t held up for long.

    I do wonder whether five clues requiring you to remove a letter was a couple too many but that’s a minor quibble

    Thanks to Shabbo for the nice, if short-lived, start to Monday morning and in advance to Prolixic for the review

  6. Enjoyable puzzle – thanks Shabbo. I’d not heard of the lighting control in 10a but it had to be what it is. Although they are not to everyone’s liking I enjoyed the cleverly disguised indicators such as ‘indeed’ in 17a, ‘outright’ in 31a and ‘unfashionable’ in 8d.
    Top clues for me were 28a, 6d and the amusing 25d.

  7. Very good indeed, though 23A was a bit of a groaner that I think I’ve seen before and I’m not convinced that a ‘finished’ 21D in and of itself can be considered pudding. I don’t understand 10A, but as has been said above, the answer was obvious. My favorites are 8D ( when I saw where the unfashionable part came in) and 25d, which raised a big smile. Thanks, Shaboo

  8. Agreed — I thought this DE a very good puzzle ED.

    With regard to the indicators Gazza talks of above, I really liked the clever unfashionable and didn’t mind indeed, but thought outright maybe a stretch too far because even when separated it doesn’t quite work for me. To my mind the word order would need to be right out to indicate what it means in the wordplay. I also think Encota’s point (b) is a valid one, but so too is the bit about it being eminently solvable — and it’s a nice surface as well.

    I’m not sure the AT works in 11a, but I think that’s the only other thing I questioned.

    I didn’t know the lighting control either, and neither did the brb. It was solve-then-lookupable though, so that’s good. 19d was also a solve-then-check-it-exists one.

    My picks are 22a, 28a, 17d, 6d, the simple but shiny 24d, and 25d.

    Thanks Shabbo, and well done. Thanks also in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  9. My word, you’re good – very good indeed. I’d certainly back your promotion to the NTSPP slot!

    Like others, I didn’t know the lighting control but the definition was so clear that I was able to slot in the answer and then ask that nice Mr Google to explain afterwards.

    Extremely difficult to play favourites but I particularly liked 28a & 25d with the top spot going to 6d.

    Many thanks, Shabbo – as with your first puzzle, this was very far from being shabby!

  10. Hi Shabbo
    Very enjoyable once again.
    I’ve just been back to remind myself of your first puzzle. My impression is that you have slightly reined yourself in for this one, but it’s still witty while being generally tighter.
    Like Encota, I thought 31 was a bit iffy, and 2d a bit weak. Otherwise, it was a long list of likes:
    28 excellent surface
    3d I liked booted up
    15d good surface, construction, nice solution
    17d Reads so naturally the anagram seems unlikely
    18d clever construction
    19d, 25d both funny
    13a This was your only partial anagram, and very well put together. The puzzle felt a bit anagram-heavy, but I think there’s only 8 which isn’t too bad. I think it felt like more because where you used anagrams, they gave the whole solution.

  11. Welcome back, Shabbo.

    Whilst I really enjoyed the solve and found plenty of amusing clues, I was a little disappointed by the continued repetition of indicators, particularly in relation to the reversals, where either “up” or back” was used three times each, if I’ve counted correctly. I also thought the anagram in 24d was particularly weak, but I’ve seen Rufus construct even weaker ones I think! Personally I didn’t feel some of the surfaces quite matched the standard of your debut puzzle, 20a was probably the one I liked least.

    My ticks were awarded to 12a, 13a, 28a, 17d, 18d, 19d and 25d. Another very good crossword, I think another one or two in Rookie Corner would benefit you before promotion beckons in order to iron out the remaining niggles, but others seem to disagree!

    Many thanks and congratulations, Shabbo.

  12. Very good indeed, Shabbo! You are certainly either ready for or close to promotion, but I do hope we are not running out of Rookies.

    It took me a little while to get onto wavelength but then it all came together nicely. Some of your surfaces are excellent but a few need a bit of attention notably 20a, as Silvanus has mentioned.

    My ticks went to 12a, 13a, 28a, 8d, 14d (it can’t be easy to construct a good clue for a 3 letter answer with two checkers), 25d & 26d.

    Many thanks and keep them coming, Shabbo.

  13. Many thanks to you all for your helpful and very kind comments. They will inspire me to get working on another puzzle!

    I am a keen birder and I work in property/construction, so the words that I take for granted in 10 and 19 may be a bit trickier for others. Having said that, I have had more luck spotting 19 in crosswords than I have in the wild!

    I made life more difficult for myself when populating the grid by building in a self-promotional and rather immodest Nina! Perhaps I’ll have a go at a pangram next!

    Thanks again for your very positive and constructive feedback – it means an awful lot to me.

    1. Sorry, Shabbo, I hadn’t thought to look for a Nina. Could be a fair bit of work available in your line of business after Ophelia has done her worst!

      1. I’m embarrassed to report that I looked for one but missed it! Well done for fitting that in, Shabbo.

    2. I missed the Nina too: it made me smile when I found it :-)

      We live near RSPB Minsmere, though I don’t recall a 19. Supposedly there were some there in Autumn 1965, after some VERY strange weather: perhaps the next 24 hours will bring something surprising – the weather here in East Anglia at the moment looks as odd as I can ever recall!

      1. We get the odd one around each year at South Stack, near Holyhead. Sadly, I’ve never managed to see one of them.

        1. That sounds exciting, Jane. I haven’t been to South Stack – though having just looked it up I must find an excuse to! And I was almost close last week (well, got as far as Betws y Coed).

          1. I remember South Stack from my recentish visit to Anglesey. From there I climbed up Holyhead Mountain (“Mountain” in name rather than description!) and got caught in a massive cloudburst when I was almost back. It was a rather sheepish drowned cat who Jane kindly allowed back in the car to drip all over the passenger seat. :)

      2. Hi Encota

        I was at Minsmere with my brother three weeks ago. One of my very favourite places. We also managed a couple of enjoyable pints at the excellent Ship Inn in Dunwich. I imagine that a 19 would be a very rare sighting indeed in Suffolk.

  14. I thought that was really good fun – not too easy, not too difficult, quite a few anagrams which I always like and mainly short snappy clues.
    10a had to be what it is but, like most of the commentariat it seems, I’d never heard of the lighting control.
    I got into a muddle with 13a – probably not worth expanding on why! :roll:
    I particularly liked 23 and 28a and 3 and 6d.
    Thanks and congratulations to Shabbo for the crossword and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    I missed the Nina but there’s nothing new in that – even knowing from the comments that there was one it’s just taken me ages to spot it. Good luck.

  15. Many thanks Shabbo – like others I thought this was excellent. My favourites were 17d and 22a. For some i wondered if the definition was really accurate, 30a (more forced to move?), 20a (more vanity?) but they were solvable so probably fine. I thought 1a was possibly same-sidish given the origin of the word. In general I’m not over keen on wordplay that just changes a verb tense or a plural. I agree with the cryptic grammar issue in 14a.

    I had stupidly bunged in SERVER for 26d which doesn’t work, the right answer is much better, in fact a very nice definition.

    I only spotted the nina when I came here, very nice as well.

    Great stuff, better than a lot of the dailies.

  16. I am slightly biased as I am Shabbo’s (much younger) sister, but I thought it was a very good puzzle. Well done!!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Diane. Are you going to keep the family tradition going by submitting a puzzle for Rookie corner?

    2. Welcome from me too, Diane.
      Stuff family tradition, although I’m all for it and not disagreeing with what Gazza said, family support, biased or otherwise, is more important.
      Are you a crossword solver generally and are you going to keep commenting on the blog? I think you should.

      1. Thank you Kath. I enjoy trying to do the DT, though I am not quite as quick as Shabbo who usually manages to do it in about 10 minutes!

  17. Thanks to Shabbo for this great crossword.
    Really cheered me up for some reason.
    Last ones in were the combo 10/26. I though 26d was starting and ending with an S with the usual suspect On Board until I spotted the construction of 10a which was similar to 27a.
    Didn’t know the device either and haven’t looked at what it looks like yet.
    This would be the only outside help required in solving this excellent offering which is always a plus.
    Got the Nina after reading the blog.
    I can’t imagine an editor not being touched by such a subtle plea.
    Thanks again.

  18. My first encounter with Shabbo, and I am impressed. TRUE-BLUE had a great surface, and I also liked NONPAREIL., ABSTEMIOUS and MALTREAT. One or two ‘old chestnuts’ such as ‘hospital department’ for ENT but who doesn’t use them? And LUDWIG was brilliant!

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