Rookie Corner – 190 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 190

A Puzzle by Italicus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have the latest puzzle from Italicus. 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.

Sterling stuff from Italicus.  As others have commented, this would be worth of a place in the NTSPP.  Promotion is duly earned!  There were a few niggling points but these are all things that editors will pick up on.


9 He takes a great deal of interest in report of solitary predator (4,5)
LOAN SHARK – A homophone (in report) of a four letter word meaning solitary followed by an aquatic predatory.

10 Samurai’s endlessly pressing task (5)
RONIN – Remove the first and last letters (endlessly) from a word meaning pressing (in the sense of removing creases from clothes)

11 A model of refined prose (5)
POSER – An anagram (refined) of PROSE.

12 Armed unit got redeployed by leaders of National Guard (3-6)
GUN-TOTING – An anagram (redeployed) of UNIT GOT followed by the first letters (leaders of) National Guard.

13 Hard-boiled novelist’s lost first letter M, perhaps? (7)
HANDLER – Remove the first letter from the surname of a novelist (first name Raymond) known for his style of detective fiction that is given the genre “hard-boiled”.

14 Title of papers on the transformation of Middle English (7)
EMPRESS – A reversal (transformation) of the abbreviation for Middle English (one could hardly describe it as an anagram) followed by another name for the daily papers.

17 In competition with section of Navy in Gulf (5)
VYING – The answer is hidden in (section of) NAVY IN GULF.

19 See 28

20 Valued alternatives to real tweed (5)
RATED – The odd letters (alternatives) in REAL TWEED. Alternate means every other (alternatives) are binary choices between one of two options.

21 Run into detective infiltrating sect to find guilty party (7)
CULPRIT – The abbreviation run goes into the abbreviation for a private investigator and the resulting letters are included in a four letter word for a sect.

22 Almost caught madman kidnapping two cardinals (5,2)
CLOSE ON – The abbreviation for caught followed by a four letter word for a madman with the inclusion (kidnapping) of two of the cardinal points of the compass.

24 Wrestling star embracing boxer, having taken first gold for country (9)
AUSTRALIA – An anagram (wrestling) of STAR includes the surname of the old heavyweight boxer all preceded by (having taken first) the chemical symbol for gold.

26 Go round India’s shrouded city? (5)
TURIN – A four letter word for a go or shot at something around the letter represented by India in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

28/19A/4 Intriguing elements of tale about a good dragon lacked resolution (5,3,6)
CLOAK AND DAGGER – An anagram (resolution) of A G (good) DRAGON LACKED. I don’t think that the link word “about” works in the sense of definition about wordplay but it could in Yoda speak be read as about the AG include an anagram DRAGON LACKED but the resulting cryptic instructions are tortured.

29 Company department, say, takes on girl for nine-month period (9)
PREGNANCY – The abbreviation of a possible department in a company responsible for publicity followed by the abbreviation for say or for example and the name of a girl.


1 Second album contains a hit (4)
SLAP – The abbreviation for second followed by a two letter abbreviation for an album around the letter A from the clue.

2 Average boy becomes a clergyman (6)
PARSON – A three letter word for average followed by a three letter word for a son.

3 One must pay attention to The Planets or to Elgar’s Variations (10)
ASTROLOGER – An anagram (variations) of OR TO ELGARS.

4 See 28 Across

5 He’s a kind sort despite appearances! (8)
SKINHEAD – An anagram (sort) of HES A KIND.

6 Uplifting part of choir teacher’s musical composition (4)
TRIO – The answer is hidden and reversed (uplifting part of) CHOIR TEACHER

7 Reported home with terrible cold and temperature (8)
INDIRECT – A two letter word meaning at home followed by a four letter word meaning terrible and the abbreviations for cold and temperature.

8 Catch small horse (4)
SNAG – The abbreviation for small followed by a three letter word for an old horse.

13 Starts to hear apocalyptic voices openly calling for destruction (5)
HAVOC – The initial letters (starts to) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

15 Claiming sound of cats outside Post Office can start to grate (10)
PURPORTING – A four letter word for the sound made by contented cats around the abbreviation for Post Office followed by a three letter word for a can and the first letter (start to) of grate. As starts has just been used as a first letter indicator in the previous down clue, perhaps a different initial letter indicator should have been used here.

16 Chair of Divinity originally held by Irishman (5)
SEDAN – The first letter (originally) of divinity inside a four letter Irish name.

18 Trick ailing American with one – no returns! (8)
ILLUSION – A three letter word meaning ailing followed by a two letter abbreviation for American, the letter representing one and a reversal (returns) of NO.

19 Betting on pole position for fast runner (8)
ANTELOPE – A four letter word for betting followed by an anagram (position) of POLE. I don’t think that position works as an anagram indicator here.

22 College girl has time for a drink (6)
CLARET – The name of a girl that is also the name of a Cambridge College followed by the abbreviation for time.

23 Express one’s fury going after Queen’s marauding knight (6)
ERRANT – The two letter abbreviation for the current Queen followed by a four letter word meaning to express one’s fury.

24 Mischievous artist sent up church (4)
ARCH – A reversal (sent up) of the abbreviation for an artist who is a member of the Royal Academy followed by the abbreviation for church.

25 One whose progress has been noted is a tool! (4)
RAKE – A cryptic reference to the person who’s progress was noted musically in the opera by Stravinsky.

27 They sometimes have it reprinted in glossy anthologies (4)
NAYS – The answer is hidden and reversed in GLOSSY ANTHOLOGIES. I don’t think that reprinted works here as a reversal indicator.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner – 190

    1. Delighted to be able to be of some help. And THAT explains my feelings of déjà vu! Loved solving it again – even though I didn’t realise it at the time!!

  1. A really good fun puzzle with well crafted clues that read well. The last one in and the one that had us head-scratching for longest was 7d so we will nominate it for favourite.
    Thanks Italicus.

  2. Very well done! I admit to not bothering to parse the 28/19A/4 combo and not yet being able to parse my answers for 20A and 29A. I had plenty of ticks though, including 13A, 5D, 7D, 22D and 25D. Good job Italicus.

  3. Another setter in line for rapid promotion to Saturday afternoons.

    My only quibble was with the ‘company’ in 29a as not every company has such a department.

    Thanks to Italicus and in advance to Porlixic

    1. 29a. May I respectfully query your quibble? PR is an abbreviation for a company department. That fact and it’s use in the clue does not suggest that every company has, or is grammatically/logically required to have, such a department.

  4. I really enjoyed this – thanks Italicus. It has a good variety of clues, sensible surface readings and some craftily disguised definitions – just what you want in a puzzle. I didn’t know the Samurai but when I checked the BRB there he was. My podium places are filled by 7d, 16d and 27d.

  5. Welcome back, Italicus.

    I loved the style of your previous puzzle and knew you were destined for greater things, I’m so glad that others share my opinion. This was an extremely high-quality product that was better than many puzzles published in the national dailies, you have my utmost admiration and deserve huge congratulations. The surfaces were near faultless, the range of clue types was excellent, and the crossword was of a standard that was pitched at just the right level of difficulty, I felt. Having someone like Encota as a test solver was a very wise move indeed.

    I ticked virtually every clue, so I’ll merely mention the ones that received either double ticks (9a, 12a and 3d) or triple ticks (29a). Some of the nounal anagram indicators used were exceptionally clever. My only slight reservation was the use of “reprinted” in 27d as a reversal indicator, if I’ve parsed it correctly.

    Superb stuff, Italicus. Many thanks and I await your future puzzles in the NTSPP slot and possibly elsewhere with great interest.

  6. Thanks Italicus
    It’s an excellent puzzle, immaculate clueing.
    7d was my favourite because I couldn’t spot the definition.
    I’d query reprinted as a reversal indicator and wonder if alternative is ok when I think you mean alternate.
    I’ve just revisited the first you published here – the first clue I looked at was:
    Has the power to lead wayward supporter to the light (10) for CANDELABRA, which got lots of likes. I get the impression that you’ve adopted a more straightforward clueing style since then. It may be just that you’re giving more straightforward definitions. Here, for example, ‘nine-month period’ is very direct, compared to, say ‘Argentinian’s biography’ for EVITA, which is a nice step away from the obvious. At any rate, I found this puzzle much easier, with quite a few write-ins (eg Catch small horse), where there were almost none in that first puzzle. When I saw today’s grid I was half expecting an extra twist, since it’s a good grid for themes. Are we all missing something?

  7. Hi Italicus,

    I thought this was of a pretty solid and high standard. Not everyone likes nounal anagrinds but they seem to work here (19d, 5d, 3d).

    And I also thought alternative does not mean every other, like alternate does (20a) and reprinted does not work for me as a reversal indicator (27d).

    I didn’t find 12a in brb but its in collins.

    I liked 12a, 17a, 22a, 26a, 29a (though 9-month period did make it obvious), 6d (nice down clue reversal), 22d (College girl is kind of a double definition for a component of the answer), 16d, all very nice.

    I wasn’t sure i correctly understood the first bit of 25d even after checking brb and the reference to M, so i can wait for the review.

    Congratulations on a fine puzzle!

    1. Re 25d – if you solve today’s Herculis general knowledge crossword, all will become exceedingly clear ;)

  8. Another thumbs up from me. Filling the grid was a fairly smooth and more-than-fairly enjoyable experience, following which I had to check a couple of things. My thanks to Italicus, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  9. Ditto to all the praise in the comment from Silvanus! I do love your puzzles, Italicus, and I think I was a little surprised to see this one in Rookie Corner and not the Saturday NTSPP slot.
    I did have to check on the 10a Samurai and the ‘hard-boiled’ aspect of 13a but that’s a couple of new things learned.
    Like 2K’s, I had to do a fair bit of head-scratching to sort out 7d – had the wrong answer pencilled in for quite some time.

    No chance of picking a favourite – far too many contenders – so I’ll just offer many thanks to Italicus along with the hope that we see more from you in the very near future.

  10. Great stuff, Italicus; what wonderful surfaces combined with very high quality wordplay throughout.

    27d was new to me. I have only ever come across ayes and noes (which make a lovely pun), but I assume 27d is used an alternative in some circles. Like Jane, I needed to check 10a and the relevance of hard-boiled in 13a.

    29a was my favourite. Also on my podium were 9a, 3d & 7d, although many of the other clues came into consideration.

    Promotion definitely beckons! Well done, Italicus, and many thanks.

  11. ‘Reprinted’ and ‘alternative’ aside, a very good puzzle with excellent surfaces. Particularly liked the Samurai and the boxer reference. I didn’t find it taxing at all – some of the clues (2d, 8d, 13d, 29a etc…) were perhaps a little obvious?
    Does the ‘fast runner’ description seem to pop up quite frequently of late or is it just me?!

    I don’t understand 13a, though that is probably my literary ignorance.

    Congratulations on a job well done Italicus, thank you, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.
    PS Fair play too, for holding up your hands regarding having had Encota test-solve.

  12. Thank you Italicus, very enjoyable with an appropriate amount of head scratching, some of which had to be resolved with electronic assistance. Although, I will have to wait for the review to understand the parsing of some of the clues.

    Some of the charades were put together very well – 24a and 15d in particular.

    I did think that 12a could be considered from ‘across the pond’ and deserve some indication of that.

    I concur with silvanus on the reversal indicator in 27a.

    Thanks again and thinks in advance to Prolixic.

  13. This was so good that I did it twice … my printer is out of action so I attempted to do it online … always wondered what the “Revert” button did. I thought it meant revert to the saved copy but everything disappeared.

    BD, as a matter of interest, where is it saved when I press “Save”?

    However, a really enjoyable puzzle today from Italicus … loved the surfaces … even better the second time round.

  14. That was just great.
    Even knew the literary refs in the 28a combo, 13a and 25d which I ticked.
    Loved definitions in 9a, 26a and 3d.
    7d last and favourite too.
    Thanks to Italicus.

  15. Dear all, many thanks once again for the kind words and encouragement! I put quite a lot of effort into this one, so I am glad that everyone (so far) has enjoyed it. I await Prolixic’s final judgement….

  16. Very enjoyable easy solve. Several bunged in to fit the checkers with the whys and wherefore worked out afterwards but that is often the case. I am still staring blankly at 22ac. Thank you to our setter.

    1. Hello MP
      Caught – cricket
      Madman – “`Hold off! Unhand me, grey-beard ****!'” You know that one.
      Cardinals – compass points

      Hope that helps, hope I’m parsing it correctly. :smile:

  17. I found this a fairly easy and pleasant solve, with 21ac, 25/19ac/4 and 13dn excellent. My favourite, though, was 25dn (think 18th century English artist and 20th century Russian composer if you’re still puzzled). But like others I was a bit doubtful about ‘alternative’ and ‘reprinted’. Overall, though, it was very good, and there were some relatively easy clues to get a beginner/improver started.

  18. My sincerest thanks to Prolixic for the generous review and the accuracy of his explanations. But above all thanks for the promotion – I feel honoured! Will have to see what I can rustle up for my NTSPP debut

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