Rookie Corner – 186 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 186

A Puzzle by MP

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since MP’s last puzzle. I hope you find that it was worth the wait.  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.

Note to Rookie Setters – I have enough puzzles in the queue to feature a different setter every week until the New Year, so please be patient.  I will try to publish them roughly in the order of dates of previous puzzles, so the next two will be by AK Mild and Jaffa.


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A review by Prolixic follows.

A goodly outing from MP with lots of variety and, apart from 21 across, good wordplay.  The only comment is on the use of link words and the tense of the clues where some of the indicators in the past tense does not quite work in the cryptic reading of the clue.  Polish the linkwords.


1 Repartee rotten in maturity (8)

BADINAGE – A three letter word meaning rotten followed by the IN from the clue and a three letter word meaning maturity

5 Curse a follower with brilliance (6)

BLIGHT – The letter following A with a five letter word meaning brilliance.

9 Household composition, a schoolboy’s bane (8)

HOMEWORK – Another word for household followed by a word for a composition.

10 Fruit beginning to go off is still fruit (6)

ANANAS – Remove the first letter from a yellow curved fruit to get another name for the pineapple.

11 Melody range right for a high flier (8)

AIRLINER – A three letter word for a melody followed by a four letter word for a range of goods and the abbreviation for right.

12 Jackass is idolised held by St Francis (6)

ASSISI – The answer is hidden in JACKASS IS IDOLISED.  I don’t think that the wordplay quite works here.  If the “held by” is the hidden word indicator, then it implies that the answer is hidden inside St Francis, rather than the other way around.  If “held” on its own is the hidden word indicator then grammatically it should be holds and the “by” does not work as a link word for wordplay by definition.

14 Flourishes an unfinished drink before unfounded desires (10)

BRANDISHES – A kind of spirit that is drunk minus it last letter (unfinished) followed by a word for desires without its first letter (unfounded).

18 Broken deck bleeps when spotted (10)

BESPECKLED – An anagram (broken) of DECK BLEEPS.  The link word, wordplay when definition does not work well for me.

22 Loveless alliance acceptable about the physical world (6)

NATURE – The name of a western military alliance without the final O (loveless) followed by the single letter meaning acceptable and a two letter word meaning about.

23 Flustered French film maker returns in elderly condition (8)

AGITATED – Reverse (returns) the four letter surname of a French film maker inside a four letter word meaning elderly.  The condition here is padding as elderly on its own gives the required letters.

24 Overseas on a boat carrying the king (6)

ABROAD – A five letter word meaning on a boat includes (carrying) the abbreviation for Rex or king.  This clue does not quite work as the word meaning on a boat includes an R already.  Perhaps Overseas on a boat bringing King back would be correct this.

25 Crazy about crooner’s piercing (8)

STABBING – Reverse (about) a four letter word meaning crazy and follow it with the first name of Mr Crosby, the crooner.

26 Pass an alien insect? Quite the reverse (6)

TICKET – Reverse the order of the words for a loveable alien film character and a word meaning an insect.

27 Sloth slides off, gathering new energy (8)

IDLENESS – An anagram (off) of SLIDES includes the abbreviations for new and energy.


1 Execute and fulfil top job (6)

BEHEAD – Split 2, 4 this would mean fulfil or have the top job.

2 Mild serum Edison keeps around (6)

DEMURE – The answer is hidden (keeps) and reversed (around) in SERUM EDISON.

3 Could wine be drunk by rookie (6)

NEWBIE – An anagram (drunk) of WINE BE.  Again, the wordplay by definition does not work for me.  The definition is given by the wordplay, not the other way around.

4 A dark green building that is seen on the lawn (6,4)

GARDEN RAKE – An anagram (building) of A DARK GREEN.

6 Yearns to have up-to-date craft (8)

LONGSHIP – A five letter word meaning yearns followed by a word meaning trendy or up-to-date.

7 Tea Party restarted at The Ok Corral (8)

GUNFIGHT – A eight letter word for a party has the initial B replaced by another letter (restarted). 

8 The most flavoursome wine in a trial (8)

TASTIEST – A for letter word for an Italian sparkling wine inside a four letter word for a trial.

13 Unbiased crew in single situation (10)

UNWEIGHTED – The number of people in a boat crew inside a five letter word for someone how is not married (in a single situation).

15 Chelsea Bun Dante provided was plentiful (8)

ABUNDANT – Answer is hidden inside (provided) inside CHELSEA BUN DANTE.  Again, the past tense, provided , jars slightly as the answer is currently hidden in the letter.  The link word in the past tense does not work.  Here “Chelsea Bun Dante provides is plentiful” would be better.

16 Eric’s toe, rotten and unworldly (8)

ESOTERIC – An anagram (rotten) of ERICS TOE.

17 Press to make smaller (8)

DECREASE – Another word meaning to press or iron something to remove the wrinkles from it.

19 Steady establishment for an Arab? (6)

STABLE – Double definition, the second being the building where a horse such as an Arab is housed.

20 Good man has plenty of bad blood (6)

STRIFE – The abbreviation for saint (good man) followed by a four letter word meaning plenty.  The usual rule is that definition of wordplay is permissible, but wordplay of definition is not.

21 Common era sage sharpened saws (6)

ADAGES – The abbreviation for Anno Domini (common era) followed by an anagram (sharpened) of SAGE.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner – 186

  1. The NE corner put up the biggest fight so was the last in. An accomplished puzzle in our opinion that all fitted together smoothly.
    Thanks MP.

  2. NE Corner was the last one opinion for me too. It also included my favourite clue 5a, for “a follower” which I thought was brilliant.

    1. Praise indeed from the setter who wrote my favourite clue ever which included the word arse and reffererred to Donald Trump

    2. I’m not sure how I managed to mangle typing “in” so completely that autocorrect thought I was going for “opinion”

  3. I didn’t have trouble with any of the corners – the only one I didn’t think read quite right was 12a, but I too really loved the ‘a follower’ in 5a

    Thanks to MP and in advance to Prolixic

  4. I really enjoyed that – thanks MP. I recall commenting on your first one, was it really over a year ago now? Crikey! And I didn’t get the chance to try your follow-up puzzle, so here goes …

    I particularly liked 4 and 5. And there were some very good surfaces. Almost all clues had fine wordplay. In a few cases the surfaces either didn’t really conjure up much or didn’t read quite right (11 & 22, for example).

    My usual notes that I made (in the order that I solved) are attached below. Hope these help.

    I look forward to your next!


    Notes on MP’s Oct 2017 puzzle:

    12a ‘of’? I can see the answer but I’m not sure I am reading this one right?
    2d ok
    11a good wordplay. surface?
    8d good
    22a Wordplay ok. Surface?
    24a good
    27a good. Like the surface
    4d very good. Like the surface
    1a good
    1d good
    9 good
    3 good
    5a I really like this. Some of the stricter editors would say that grammatically it should be ‘ a’s follower’, or ‘follower of a’. With a slight change you could readily use the latter, but only if you so wished.
    6d good
    13d good
    23 ‘elderly condition’ didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps something like ‘old coat’ might work for the surface, though there’s bound to be better.
    19 good
    21 I think this indicator is fine, though it’s not one I use?? Others will know better.
    25 good
    17 good
    14 very good wordplay
    7d I got this OK but needed to check its definition as Tea Party isn’t what first came to mind. Good clue.
    10 LOI. fine

  5. Hi MP
    I found it quite a smooth solve, with neat and concise clues.
    My favourites were, in solving order: 4d 8d 6d 19d and 5a
    I found one or two surfaces a bit flat. Eg 22a, I liked all the parts but ‘acceptable about’ doesn’t sound quite right

  6. Super crossword.
    Even if I think that the king was already there in 24a. Just not in the right place. Unless I got it wrong of course.
    Loved the charades in 1a and 22a.
    Last ones were 5 and 7.
    Thanks to MP for the great fun.

  7. What a lovely surprise to see another Miffypops creation gracing Rookie Corner after such a long gap. As J-L says, it was great fun, very solver-friendly and a pretty high standard for the most part, save for the odd dodgy surface such as 15d and 16d for example, but those are easily overlooked.

    It was nice to start with an old chestnut like 1a, and I gave ticks to 16a, 25a, 1d and 19d.

    Many thanks MP, I don’t know how you find the time to set puzzles as well as everything else you manage to squeeze in, but I’m very glad you do and hope we’ll see many more.

  8. I thought this was very good indeed, MP, not too difficult and a lot of fun. As with your previous Rookie, I loved the brevity of your clues (only one over the eight again!), which you have achieved in most cases without compromising the surfaces. These were generally very smooth, although a handful did seem slightly strained, e.g.: 1a, 12a, 18a, 22a.

    Like J-L I wondered about 24a where the king has moved rather than been added which “carrying” would seem to imply.

    Those are very minor points and my page is littered with ticks, notably 5a, 14a, 4d & 6d.

    Many thanks, MP. I think you should give up your day job and concentrate totally on crosswords.

  9. Not too tricky, good fun to be had. Liked 13d, 25a and 5a – not exclusively. 1a & 17d seem vaguely familiar.
    Overall a gentle introduction to the week with no overly intricate wordplay. Thanks MP

  10. A couple of clues, 12ac and 22ac, didn’t quite chime for me but an enjoyable solve nevertheless. ‘Rotten’ in 1ac initially had me looking for an anagram of ‘repartee’ (without success, of course) – well done if that was deliberate misdirection. ‘A follower’ was brilliant for ‘B’; I liked the anagram for ‘bespeckled’, and I thought the clue to 17dn was a neat twist to a fairly common device.

  11. Well done MP, you are a man of many talents. Lots of nice clues, favourites are 8d and 27a – and actually I like the quirkiness of Eric’s toe as well.

    Congratulations, also for the conciseness which is indeed admirable.

    Looking forward to more

  12. Gosh, Miffypops , a man of many talents.None of the corners held me up too much .
    22a was my last one in.
    I liked 1d, 9a and 13d in particular.

  13. A bit above my pay grade, but I look forward to going through the hints.
    Many thanks, MP and well done.

  14. Stuck in the SE corner only have one word 19d.
    Like others, my fave was 5a. Clever that, “a follower”.
    Thanks M’pops, good puzzle. I’ll wait for the review ro solve the rest.

  15. Well done, MP – another good Mr Rookie – I admire you.
    I loved 1a if only because it reminded me of the Wonderful Wogan – he used it often and if it wasn’t that then it was ‘persiflage’.
    Lots of good clues – 5a (loved the ‘A’ follower), the 27a sloth sliding off (made me laugh) and I thought that 3d was appropriate for MP.
    24a has troubled me and is still causing problems – I’m clearly missing something but never mind.
    Thanks and congratulations to MP and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    1. Definition Overseas. Answer Abroad. Wordplay. On a boat = Aboard. Carrying the King. Holding the letter R (king in Latin) This seems obvious to me but but it has confused a few of you and it puzzled my test solver if I remember correctly.

      1. The R is already in aboard, so aboard carrying King R would be abroard or something – that’s the confusion.

    2. OMG. I have just seen it. I couldn’t see the wood because the trees were in the way. Apologies all round. ‘Overseas on a boat moving the king’ might be better.

          1. How could we possibly have one of your crossword without a deliberate mistake? Really thought it was there for that reason.

  16. Hi MP

    Nice puzzle.

    Horrible grid though – four mini-puzzles only loosely linked – but in the event it didn’t cause me problems.

    No quibbles. Initially I wondered whether 24a needed “back” or some such on the end but on reflection I think there is an interpretation of “carrying” that can make it work as is – so a clean sheet.

    My favourite clues were 5a and 22a.

    Many thanks for the fun.

  17. Thanks to all who commented. Thank to Prolixic for the review. Apologies to all for 24ac with its erroneous king.

  18. MP. I’ve just done a quick run-through of this puzzle and have to say it is very good. The clues are mostly elegantly concise and there’s a hint of “maverickness” in evidence – I suspect that you’ve been influenced by the great Ray T’s style of cluing? For what it’s worth (coming from a veteran, but not an “expert” solver) I don’t agree with the comments in the review about 18a, 23a and 3d – which all seem OK by me, but then I’m not a technical purist (but I do like setters who bend the “rules” just a little). Let’s have another, soon!

  19. Hi MP, thank you for a completely enjoyable exercise. There were many misleading moments to add to the challenge. I enjoyed 1a and particularly 21d, both of which seem to aptly sum up your wit and wisdom.I enjoyed the reference to the French filmmaker. Last was 17d. What a doh that was. I look forward to your next. Thanks to Proloxic also.

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