Rookie Corner – 188 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 188

A Puzzle by AKMild

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since we had a puzzle from AKMild. 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.

On the evidence of this crossword, I think we have another promotion to the NTSPP spot.  AKMild produced a good crossword with a geographic theme.  There were hardly any issues with the clue.


8 Benefit overwhelms a British monkey (6)
BABOON – A four letter word meaning a benefit or blessing goes around (overwhelms) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for British

9 Female saints leave Susan befuddled (3)
UNA – Remove the plural abbreviation of saints from the letters in Susan and make an anagram (befuddled) from the remaining letters.

10 Attractive actress Claire holds cross (4)
FOXY – The surname of the Golden Globe award winning actress Claire ??? around the letter representing a cross.

11 Dessert course comprising stilton and madeira, perhaps (10)
CHEESECAKE – The foodstuffs of which Stilton and Madeira are examples added together give the answer.

12 Can Kelvin find an East End butcher’s? (4)
LOOK – A three letter word for a can or toilet followed by the abbreviation for Kelvin.

13 Stick with this to provide encouragement (6)
CARROT – The vegetable associated with the word stick in a well-known phrase associated with providing encouragement.

16 Bosanquet’s team announced king’s downfall (8)
REGICIDE – The diminutive form of the first name of the newsreader Mr Bousanquet followed by a homophone (announced) of another word for a team.

17 Studying at university in Royal Berkshire (7)
READING – Double definition, the second being a town in Royal Berkshire.  I would preferred “university town in Royal Berkshire” in the clue as it would have avoided a prepositional definition but that is personal preference.

18 Trickery comprising 7 letters initially, then 8 (7)
SLEIGHT – The first letters (initially) of seven and letters followed by the word 8.

22 Port can form part of lunch! (8)
SANDWICH – Double definition

25 Rather tatty guide, we hear (6)
RAGGED – A homophone of guide gives a word meaning teased which when pronounced differently gives a word meaning rather tatty.  I think that as the initial homophone gives a word that itself has to be amended in its pronunciation, this should have been indicated.  

26 Kittiwake in winter is, at first, a bird that is unable to fly (4)
KIWI – The first letters for the first four words of the clue.

27 Suitable festivity for Zorro’s countenance and bearing, perhaps (6,4)
MASKED BALL – How Zorro is described by reference to his face covering followed by another word for a small metallic object used as a bearing.  Definition for wordplay here does not quite work.

30 Lady singer in senile dotage? (4)
GAGA – Double definition.

31 Queue going backwards without end – nothing to see here (3)
NIL – Reverse (going backwards) a four letter word for a queue without its last letters (without end).

32 Roadway near Glastonbury (6)
STREET – Double definition of a roadway and a town near Glastonbury.


1 Chivalrous order arising from rich tableau (4)
BATH – The answer is hidden and reversed (arising from) RICH TABLEAU.

2 Moved in a nautical fashion along the coast from Brighton (4)
HOVE – Double definition.

3 Never having lost a match, nor having faced corporal punishment (8)
UNBEATEN – Double definition.

4 Traumas affected equatorial island (7)
SUMATRA – An anagram (affected) of TRAUMAS.

5 Worthless individual gave off sulphurous odour? (3,3)
BAD EGG – Double definition, the second being the object that gives off the odour.

6 Role play includes very loud Liberal I find distressing (10)
AFFLICTING – A six letter word meaning role play (as in performing in the theatre) around (includes) the musical abbreviation for very loud and the abbreviation for Liberal and the I from the clue.  A minor point but here we have wordplay find definition where it should be wordplay finds definition in the cryptic reading.  Perhaps “Very loud Liberal I included in role play is distressing” would have overcome this.

7 Neat means of crossing English city (6)
OXFORD – A two letter word for cattle (neat) followed by a form of river crossing.

14 Boundless duties (excise) (3)
AXE – Remove the outer letters (boundless) for a word for duties (in the sense of money paid to the government).

15 Left Nelson, maybe, for painted lady’s relative (3,7)
RED ADMIRAL – The colour represented politically by the left followed by the naval rank held by Nelson.

19 Every other plea triggers asset donations (8)
LARGESSE – The even letters (every other) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

20 Appearance of Grant or Dennis, for instance, on the radio (3)
HUE – A homophone (on the radio) of the first name of Grant or Dennis.

21 Produce tune while crossing street (7)
WHISTLE – The while from the clue around (crossing) the abbreviation for Street.  As this is a down clue, crossing is perhaps not the best containment indicator.  Also, you could have referenced the answer to 32a to give “Produce tunes 32 in a period of time”.

23 I’m OCD about creature (6)
ANIMAL – A word meaning obsessive around the IM from the clue.  Not sure that those who have OCD would welcome being called the four letter word required in the solution.

24 Protected from outbreaks of illnesses (measles, mumps, ulcers, norovirus, etc.) (6)
IMMUNE – The first letters (outbreaks of) the final six words on the clue.

28 Locate Underground just north of Manchester (4)
BURY – Double definition.

29 Elegant, heading off for Staffordshire town (4)
LEEK – Remove the first letter (heading off) from a word meaning elegant.

43 comments on “Rookie Corner – 188

  1. Mr Google had to do some work for us with some of the geography, especially in the SE although it all cases it was only to check that we we had worked out the right answer from the wordplay. We managed 26a without needing Google help. A lot of care has gone into creating smooth surface readings which we appreciated and it all went together smoothly for us.
    Thanks AKMild.

  2. Just what I needed after taking far too long on the Monday back pager because I had a total failure on what should have been obvious Shakespearean knowledge.

    I enjoyed the geography ‘quiz’ – especially 7d with the animalistic form of neat.

    Thanks AKMild.

  3. I have a good few ticks on my page. I really enjoyed this and was fortunately able to handle the geography quiz without any problem. I am still hesitating over my 25A answer. 13A was my last in and pipped hot contenders 16A and 23D to the post. Very well done AKMild.

  4. Thanks AKMild
    Entertaining, smooth clues and a fairly straightforward solve.
    I generally enjoyed all the surfaces: for their construction, I also liked 25a, 14d 18a (there’s an error, in that the correct solution shows as wrong when you check – did you change this one?)
    I noticed you’d been careful to include only places that were also words. However, you clued them as places. Many (most?) setters would have clued them as regular words and left the solver to uncover the theme. I quite like having the theme explicit, since I usually miss them and it can add to enjoyment while solving. However, it worked better for some clues than others. 2d, for example, works really well. 32a, however, not so well, as it’s a much more obscure place and the wordplay is rather bland.

      1. Funnily enough, no, though I do have a sister who works in Clarks shoes. We all have broad feet, in my family.

  5. I enjoyed this trip round England – thanks AK. I liked 12a, 18a and the simple but elegant 21d. My favourite was 13a.

  6. Thank you to AK for the very enjoyable trip round England. I did like the fact that you’d aimed this at an age range that would know both the Claire in 10a and Mr Bosanquet in 16a

  7. I absolutely loved it. Bravo, AKMild.

    A 21d-stop tour of England, plenty of humour including a “homogroan” (to borrow Snape’s term) in 16a, and exceptionally smooth surfaces for the most part. It was a surprise to see quite so few anagrams, but I seem to remember this was also a feature of a least one previous AKMild puzzle.

    I gave ticks to 12a, 13a, 30a, 15d, 19d, 20d, 21d. 24d, 28d and 29d. My overall favourite though was 18a.

    A lovely, accessible puzzle that was well-assembled and extremely enjoyable to solve. Many congratulations, AKMild.

    1. I’d previously missed the excellent term “homogroan” – thanks Silvanus and Snape :-)
      I intend to write some clues in future solely so that this term applies!

  8. Not too tricky and quite entertaining, some nifty surfaces, the simple 21d fave. Geography aside, a couple of queries.

    25a – Same as Expat Chris; is it a homophone – no idea of what.
    18a – The wordplay gives me a different answer beginning with SLE, but the puzzle gives ALR..? This may be an error.
    10a – No idea who the Claire is, but that’s probably my willful ignorance.
    23d – Being a mild sufferer, I’m not sure the adjective and the medical condition are comparable. Perhaps.
    2d – Can’t quite make it tally with the BRB

    None of that really spoiled my enjoyment though, so thank you for the fun AKMild.
    Thanks in advance to prolixic.

    EDIT – I see some of my queries have been mentioned in comment overlap!

  9. Thanks AK for a high quality and fun puzzle. Some very accurate and enjoyable clues, with lots of good surfaces. I particularly liked 19d, 11a, 13a & 27a. And, in 16a, is it only me hearing Pamela Stephenson singing (something like) ‘Reggie, Why Did You Go Away’ ? Um … probably Yes!
    My more detailed notes made while solving, including order of solving (in case that’s mildly interesting), are included below. Like Mucky suggested, I’d probably have used alternate definitions for the thematic words, rather than defining some of them directly.
    All errors or stupidity below is all my own :-)

    9a good
    16a is it only me hearing Pamela Stephenson singing (something like) Reggie, Why Did You Go away ? Um, probably Yes!
    26a good
    1d good
    2d good
    3d ok
    4d good
    5d though it is clear what you mean, does the second half precisely line up? Perhaps it needs a “Worthless individual is one that gave off sulphurous odour? (3,3)”
    6d role play=ACTION? I think so.
    7d good. Might need a ‘?’
    19d very good disguise
    20d good
    24d ok
    10a Claire FOY is new to me – though I recognised her on Google. My ignorance, the clue is fine.
    12a ‘find’ vs ‘finds’ – the surface wants one but the clue structure wants the other, I think
    8a good
    11a very good – one of my favourites
    17a good. Is Royal essential? – not sure. It’s fine by me, though.
    18a good
    22a good
    23d good
    30a ok
    15d good
    21d good
    32a ok
    13a very good – I liked the deception here
    14d good
    28d Is ‘locate’ right? I may be misreading this clue.
    29d I had to refer to a list of themed items for this one! good clue.
    27a loved “bearing, perhaps”!
    25a I am missing something here – I don’t get this one

    1. Thanks for the detailed feedback, Encota. 6d is not (quite) ACTION, which, as Mucky says, may have given you an incorrect crosser in 25a.

  10. Enjoying this one but have a complete mental block over 25a & 20d. Everything else slotted in OK although I did have to check on the 10a actress.

    Tops for me are 13,16&18a plus 24d.

    Many thanks, AK Mild – all good fun.

    1. For 20d you need a sound-alike of the common first name of Mr Grant (the actor) and Mr Dennis (the comedy partner of Mr Punt).

      1. Thank you, Gazza – I’ve got them both now, courtesy of your hints. Doesn’t change my leader board although I have to admit that 25a is a clever construct.

  11. I really enjoyed this – great fun with mostly nice smooth surfaces and lots of humour.

    25a remains a mystery to me. I’ve bunged in something which fits with the checkers and sort of fits with what I take to be the definition, although, if I’m right, “rather” is surplus to requirements.

    19d is an exceptionally clever example of that ilk (does that type of clue have a name?) and 18a was my favourite, although plenty more came into contention.

    Very well done and thank you, AKMild

    1. For 25a you need a homophone of guide which sounds like a verb meaning ridiculed or teased (as does the answer).

      1. Aha! Thanks Gazza. That confirms my thought that “rather” is padding.

        This seems to be a clue / answer combination which includes both a homophone and a heterophone! I wonder if the latter was a fluke?

  12. I loved this.
    I whizzed through the top and then came completely unstuck with lots of the bottom half.
    Didn’t know the 10a actress but guessed the answer and asked Mr Google.
    My last answers were 25a and 20d.
    Lots to laugh at – 12, 16 and 30a and 23d. I also liked 11a and 7d.
    With thanks and congratulations to AKMild for a really good crossword and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

  13. Thanks to AKMild for a very nice tour of England even though I didn’t understand the “Guide”.

    1. Thanks Stan. Given the several comments about 25a, I wonder whether my clue is fair or not. It is a homophone in the clue, rather than in the answer, the answer being another word for the homophone.

      1. I think that it’s perfectly fair – I just didn’t understand it until Gazza explained.
        We’re probably more used to seeing a homophone as an answer but I have no idea if there’s anything that says this way round isn’t allowed.

        1. with the homophone being in the clue, the difference in pronunciation in the answer is irrelevant I think (which is what Kath said). The wordplay is producing a set of letters that leads to the definition.

  14. I found this quite easy (the second one today after the Indy) but none the worse for that. Favourite was SLEIGHT – very good. I liked CHEESECAKE, too, for the mental picture of the combination of Stilton with Madeira (two more geographical references, actually, even if one isn’t in England).
    But RAGGED doesn’t quite work for me, as the pronunciation of the two meanings are different (rag-ed and ragd).
    A nice one, though.

    1. At least if your favourites were 13a and 15d, I would know what the answers are.
      Still stuck on these two.
      Never mind.
      I’ll wait for the review.
      Thanks to AKMild.
      My favourite so far is 22a.

      1. Oh. Just got the butterfly. I was stuck on nelson as the hold and thought it started with old because of the maybe. Oh dear.

  15. Hi AKM – nice puzzle – less mild than previous ones but not desperately tough. Plenty of wit packed in there (eg 12a). 16a dates you (or your target audience) a bit – OK for me but surely there are other more memorable Reggies.

    Minor quibble – in 17a “Royal” is obviously a third way to the answer but it messes up “in Berkshire” – “Royal is” at the beginning would obviate that, although that still leaves the issue that it’s two jumps from Royal to the answer. That’s probably forgivable when they are both pretty obvious and there are also two other clear ways to the answer.

    25a is interesting (and tough). Usually expect a few moans when a pun (or exact homophone) is applied to the surface definition rather than the answer – actually I think that’s OK. Here there is the extra twist that the answer in the meaning given by the other part of the clue is pronounced differently from the meaning required by the homophone. I think that’s OK too – so therefore the whole clue is. But taken together it certainly makes for a tricky solve.

    31a was my favourite clue.

    Many thanks for the fun – do keep them coming.

    1. Thanks, JS. The ‘Royal’ in 17a was just me giving the county of Berkshire its full name. It wasn’t intended as a third way to the answer, and I can’t work out how you’ve identified it as such, but would be interested to know.

      I think that there have been enough comments about 25a for it to be considered somewhat of an unfair clue, or at least one that needed rewriting.

  16. Many thanks, Prolixic for the review and for your encouragement. Thank you also to Big Dave for publishing and for all of those who commented. I’m sorry if anyone affected by OCD was troubled by my rather glib reference to the condition in the answer to 23d – no offence was intended.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – looks as though we have another Rookie about to fly the nest.
    11a put me in mind of the old Peter Kay sketch concerning cheesecake and garlic bread – hilarious.

    Well done, AK Mild – look forward to seeing you in the NTSPP slot before long!

  18. Oh my. It took until this morning for the penny to drop on the 25A homophone. How dense is that!

  19. Many thanks for the review as ever Prolixic.

    For those wanting a ‘fix’ of Pamela Stephenson does Anna Ford, lamenting the departure of Reginald Bosanquet from the News (from Not The Nine O’Clock News!), then do see

  20. Definitely have problems with the word Carrot.
    Didn’t get 13a nor Lucille Ball’s hair colour in today’s toughie.
    Thanks to Prolixic for the answer and the rest of the review.
    Thanks again to AKMild for the crossword.

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