Rookie Corner – 196 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 196

A Puzzle by Deuce

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since we had a puzzle by Deuce – wait no longer. 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 Deuce.  I thought this was an excellent crossword with some well thought out definitions so that you had to think outside the box to see the word being indicated.  Looking back at Deuce’s crosswords, he had come on leaps and bounds since his first one.  There are some rough edges that could be worked on but it is notable that the comments on this crossword are, in general, more nit-picking than on previous ones.  The surface readings suffered in a couple of places – notably in 24a and 7d where the clues did not make much sense as sentences in their own right.


8 Scorer’s headers to Ronaldo enable short pass into goal, hoofed in (8)
RESPIGHI – The initial letters (headers to) the final eight words of the clue.

9 Before fall happens, it is dignified (6)
AUGUST – Double definition.  Perhaps, “It comes before fall – and is dignified” might have been better.

10 Crook of course holds up one who’s collared (6)
DOGLEG – Split 3,3 this would hold up a pet that might wear a collar.  There is perhaps too much similarity between the two halves of the clue as one is named from the other.   Perhaps crook of course has to follow girl back.

11 Split personality perhaps comes from upper brain damaged with hollowed-out tome (8)
URBANITE – An anagram (damaged) of U (upper) BRAIN followed by the outer letters (hollowed out) of TOME.  Whilst U can mean upper class or acceptable, I don’t this that justifies using “upper” on its own to clue U.

12 Reduce measurement scale to zero, one using metres and feet (6)
SAPPHO – A three letter word meaning to reduce followed by the scale used to measure acidity and the letter representing zero.

13 PM leaves in cabinet? (4,4)
EARL GREY – Double definition of the old Prime Minister and a type of flavoured tea.  As tea was kept in a caddy rather than a cabinet, PM leaves would have been more effective.

14 Around start of election, disorganised voter tries poll, tracks lead there (9,6)
LIVERPOOL STREET – An anagram (disorganised) of VOTER TRIES POLL around the first letter (start of) of election.

18 Arrives with wine container inside Threshers (8)
COMBINES – A five letter word meaning arrives includes (inside) a three letter word for a win container.

21 Topless, entices sinfully into relative depravity (6)
INCEST – An anagram (sinfully) of ENTICES without the first letter (topless).  Whilst a word in an across clue can have a front, can it have a top?  This would have been better in a down clue.

23 Drive quickly home for one going sideways? (8)
CARAPACE – A three letter word for drive followed by a five letter word meaning quickly.  I don’t think that you can take the three letter word for drive (as a verb) and make is synonymous with this thing that is driven (a noun).

24 Thing for removing ear with hammer suggests red flag (6)
SICKLE – Double definition of what might be used to remove ears of corn and other cereal crops and what features with a hammer on the Russian flag.

25 Sewer must have connection to edges of lake (6)
NEEDLE – A four letter word meaning must have (I must have a / **** a…) followed by the outer letters (edges) of LAKE.

26 Hair removed after clippers initially stop working (5,3)
CLOCK OFF – The first letter (initially) of clippers followed by a four letter word for a lock of something and a three letter word meaning removed.


1 Supplied with pork without crust – one producing pork pie (6)
FEDORA – A three letter word meaning supplied followed by inner letters (without crust) of PORK and the letter representing one.  As established in the comments, a pork pie hat is not one of these.

2 Computer takes two numbers to arrive at US domestic product (5,3)
APPLE PIE – The name of the manufacturer of the Mac computer followed by two irrational numbers (the first used to calculate the circumference of a circle and the second for natural logarithms).

3 Peers repeatedly get older when losing Westminster’s top spot (3,5)
AGE GROUP – A three letter word meaning get older followed by another phrase (4,2) meaning get older (hence the repeatedly) with the W (Westminster’s top spot) removed.

4 Counts out loud for expressions (7,2,6)
FIGURES OF SPEECH – A semi-cryptic (and not particularly accurate) definition of expressions.

5 Composer, more minimalist, taking on Beethoven’s 1st (6)
BARBER  -A five letter word meaning more minimalist or having less on includes the first letter of Beethoven.

6 It’s a rum thing, say, having medal taken back (6)
EGGNOG – The two letter abbreviation meaning say or for example followed by a reversal (taken back) of another word for a medal.

7 Current so that place joins equally hot climes (8)
ISOTHERE – The abbreviation for current in electrical terms, the SO from the clue and a five letter word meaning that place.

15 Heathen one put off (8)
IDOLATER – Split 1, 3, 5 this would mean one put off doing something.

16 Not done well taking underwear before given shoes (8)
SLIPSHOD – A four letter word for a type of underwear followed by a word meaning given shoes.

17 Limestone and plaster taken with 13, perhaps (4,4)
ROCK CAKE – Limestone is an example of this formation followed by a word meaning to plaster or cover something.  This clue could have benefitted from a definition by example indicator for Limestone.

19 Shakespeare’s end of scene included, causing cheeky productions? (6)
BEARDS – The last letter (end of) scene goes inside a five letter word meaning Shakespeare’s

20 Arrange inside lane at end (6)
NEATEN – The answer is hidden in LANE AT END.

22 Joint occasionally supple when beginning to flex (6)
SPLIFF – The odd letters (occasionally) in SUPPLE followed by a two letter word meaning when and the first letter (beginning to) of FLEX.  I am not sure that when means the same thing.  “When” implies a certainty, if implies conditionality.

23 comments on “Rookie Corner – 196

  1. For some reason we were slow getting started but once we were under way and particularly getting 14a picked up a lot of speed. The NW was the toughest corner for us and 10a gets our vote for favourite but there were plenty of others in contention.
    We enjoyed that.
    Thanks Deuce.

  2. There are some tough and deceptive clues here – very inventive, Deuce! You have combined a mix of deceptive definitions with interesting wordplay and lots of excellent surfaces – thanks for a great start to the day. This is a high quality crossword, for sure.

    I’ve included my notes that I made as I went through below with key spoilers ****ed out: feel free to use / ignore. The points for potential improvement are really quite minor – and almost certainly subjective!

    I really look forward to your next one :-)



    8a this must be ******** – I think! My ignorance
    2d I like ‘US domestic product’ as a def.
    4d good
    13a ‘in cabinet’ – I can’t quite justify why it is present. What am I missing?
    25a need vs needs in surface vs wordplay?
    5d is this ******? Not my Specialised Subject …
    6d good def
    9a nice
    11a another great def. good clue
    7d Last letter? I’m confused! Ah, Chambers dictionary to the rescue!
    20d very acceptable. It feels like there might be a way to improve the surface using the same idea but I am just being picky. My best (though feeble) effort: “Clean up inside lane at Enfield” would work for a regular London-based road user though I’m not happy with it.
    10a some nice lateral thinking in this one :-)
    14a love it! Naturally, no Suffolk-based bias from me here …
    16d good
    21a good clue and surface
    26a another great clue
    17d Does the ‘limestone’ at the start needs its own ‘definition by example’ indicator? These can confuse me!
    24a lots of deception here.
    22d another great surface: good clue
    12a another nice clue!
    3d love it!
    1d Good clue. Not sure if the def is exactly right though. Aren’t they slightly different?
    18a good clue. Might ‘in’ improve the surface slightly compared with ‘inside’? Not sure.
    15d good clue
    19d another deceptive definition
    23a Last One In. It took me a while to work out why the definition was right. A PICNIC* moment (not unusual for me!)

    * Problem In Chair Not In Crossword

    1. Thanks for your detailed feedback Encota! I am glad you enjoyed it. On 1d I thought they were the same thing but I am no expert so perhaps will be corrected. 13a: ‘in cabinet’: I can’t decide if this is redundant – but that’s where I keep mine! 25a: ‘must have’ is singular as well as plural so I think (= hope!) it works, even if not the first thing you might think of.

  3. Good puzzle and quite tough with a lot of deceptive definitions – thanks Deuce. I struggled in the NW corner (and I’m not sure that 1d is the same as a pork-pie). I particularly enjoyed some of the definitions such as ‘relative depravity’, ‘Split personality’, ‘US domestic product’ and ‘cheeky productions’. I didn’t know either of the composers but in both cases the wordplay was helpful. Top clues for me were 23a and 19d.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. Lots to admire here, but without electronic assistance I would never have completed this had I still been solving it unaided this time next week. It was very much at the Toughie end of Rookie Corner for me and, as such, I found many of the clues a little too clever perhaps, and occasionally unfair on the solver.

    I’ll be interested to hear others’ views on the surfaces – Encota found many excellent, I thought many got close to being good, but didn’t quite nail it. 24a was probably the least convincing surface of the lot. My repetition radar bleeped with “inside” twice used as an insertion indicator.

    My ticks went to 8d (although I’m not generally a fan of acrostics being this long), 18a, 6d and 22d.

    Although I don’t particularly warm to the setter’s style, I can recognise that a lot of thought and invention has gone in to the puzzle, and for this Deuce deserves much praise. Thanks, Deuce.

  5. Hi Deuce
    Glad you’re back – another interesting, challenging puzzle.
    For me, the highlights were the definitions Gazza listed. For clues generally, I liked: 23a, 21a, 11d, 3d, 18a, 19d.
    Occasionally I felt the definitions let down the rest of the clue. In 4d, ‘counts out loud’ is a nice idea, but ‘expressions’ is very direct. In 14a, you’ve worked hard for your surface, but the definition doesn’t quite go with it.

  6. Welcome back, Deuce. I enjoyed this far more than your last puzzle although it still took a fair amount of effort and I did need to refer to Mr Google about the composers.
    As Gazza commented, there were some good definitions here but I still have a problem with the overall surface reads of several of the clues. Perhaps you could work on that for next time?

    Pick of the bunch for me were 18a plus 6&22d – several others would have made the cut given a bit more surface polishing.

    Thank you, Deuce – hope to see you again soon.

  7. Hi Deuce – a very interesting puzzle which took me a while to finish. last one in was 1d, because i did not think the answer was the same as a pork pie – both types of the same thing but don’t define each other.

    Some of the definitions are excellent, with a few being a bit too clever and not quite managing. The ones that are excellent would have easily carried the puzzle, so you might perhaps allow yourself to have a few more mundane but solid clues. I took me a while to see Split personality after i had solved the wordplay, good surface. i thought “tracks lead there”, “home for one going sideways” “its a rum thing” “relative depravity” and others were very good – also peers, joint, and many other single word definitions.

    I was less keen on 7d (not sure the definition is quite accurate, and since this was a new word for me that didn’t really help), pork pie as mentioned, “before fall happens (it is)”.

    wasn’t sure “drive” translated properly though that might be a slang thing, and like encota i struggled at first with “must have” but decided it worked in the first person.

    in 13a there is clear etymological crossover – that’s where the name comes from. cabinet didn’t bother me but I thought it was a missed opportunity for the beautifully succinct “PM leaves”

    took me a long time to see 10a – not so keen on second half since (a) there’s just one and (b) it’s a verbal expression to indicate a noun, opinions vary on that.

    5d wasn’t super keen on “taking on” as a containment indicator and agree limestone (17d) needs a dbe indicator.

    I thought some of the surfaces were very well constructed, e.g. the football theme in 8a and the limberness theme in 22d. Sometimes sticking to a theme can feel a little belaboured, e.g. I don’t really think “Shakespeare’s end of scene included” is very meaningful – why would it ever not be?

    4d was one of my first ones in, i liked the idea but not sure “counts out loud” really nails it.

    24a is a little in the 10a category with two oblique references (though in 10a the first reference is perhaps less oblique). A valid clue type, but obviously if you make both very oblique the clue becomes harder. I wonder if “ears” might have been better, since the idea of using the answer for a single ear is absurd. In general, i would try to avoid using words like “thing”

    So those were my set of scribbles, feel free to disagree of course, though i’m hoping there is something useful for you.

    Congratulations again, a remarkable puzzle as mentioned, very well done and i really look forward to the next one

  8. A steady solve which I enjoyed.

    My first three answers were 18a, 21a and 22d which was unfortunate on paper – I think I would have avoided 21a altogether.
    Struggled slightly with the logic in the surface of 11a, 24a,

    Nicely inventive, deceptive and varied, big tick at 14a, but 3d favourite.
    Many thanks Deuce, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Meant to add – the only query with 3d is ‘repeatedly get older’. Is that possible?

  9. The right hand side went in much more easily than the left where I used a few cheats, but oddly that’s the side where I had a few queries about parsing, now resolved (the Split personality got me!).

    All in all I found it really enjoyable with some lovely touches. I particularly liked 10a, 12a and my favourite 3d.

    Well done, Deuce and thanks. And, of course, thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  10. A great puzzle that required quite a bit of thought.
    Clues that I particularly liked were 8ac (for having nothing to do with football), 11ac (for having to separate ‘Split’ from ‘personality) and 13ac (for the two layers of meaning).
    7dn introduced me to a new word, although I thought the surface was poor.
    I wasn’t sure of a pork pie hat being the same as a fedora but wasn’t going to quibble about that.
    So apart from the surface of 7dn I’d give this full marks.

  11. Having made a NYR to pop in here more often I need to make another to improve massively as a solver. I struggled to get very far with this, far to many picnics as Encota nicely puts it. Definitely toughie country for me.

    There’s clearly a lot of thought gone into this and some excellent ideas. On the whole I could see how the wordplay looked like working but not enough of the elements that made it up to actually solve the clues.

    Having read the comments I agree with most of them. I don’t get 10a though. I have taken the first 3 words as the definition, and “one who’s collared” to give half the answer. But I can’t see the rest.

    I’m struggling with some of the definitions others apparently like, especially 2d and 11a. I can’t see anything in the dictionary to support either of them so I assume I’m missing some cryptic subtleties, again. Also in 11a the abbreviation used in the anagram is normally for “upper-class” isn’t it, not just “upper”?

    But I did like the 12a, 6d, 14a, 19d and 21a definitions (though I’d probably have avoided the word in 21a) and I always like surfaces like 8a and 8a that tell a tale far removed from the answer.

    1. For 10a the definition is all the words after the first three. Divide it 3,3 to understand it more easily.
      For 11a Deuce has carefully put Split at the beginning of the clue to disguise the fact that it needs a capital letter to make it work.
      Hope that helps.

      1. Ah thanks. I understand Dutch’s comment on 10a now and certainly think it’s a bit of a stretch (the phrase in the clue, not Dutch’s comment). Maybe adding in “that” after course would help, although it makes the surface slightly more awkward. And I had never heard of the capitalised version of the first word in 11a.

  12. Excellent puzzle from a very talented setter. Loads to like and admire in there – 15d a great spot, 23a, 3d, 5d, 6d, 18d and 22d plus my last one in, in that tricky NW corner, 12a – brilliant.
    Part of our self-appointed remit as commenters – in addition to offering encouragement that is – is to suggest ways to improve.
    My two main suggestions would be firstly to be careful of what is and isn’t defining by example; in 11a you quite rightly put in ‘perhaps’ to indicate that the answer might be from somewhere else, but in 10a not all of the beasts in question have collars, and in 17d the first word isn’t necessarily limestone, so ‘maybe’ or ‘say’ or whatever need to be there – dem’s da rules, but in any case I do think it helps the solver.
    Secondly, if you like using cryptic definitions and abstruse answers – and those are both good things in my book – then you’ll make your solvers much happier if you employ a grid where the words cross each other at the start of the lights as much as possible; with this grid all the answers starting in column 1 and row 1 had unchecked first letters. Personally I’d reserve that for either an easy puzzle or one with a Nina or theme.
    Having said that, I did manage to finish in reasonable-ish time and without electronic aid, although I did need a dictionary for one or two.
    Looking forward to the next one, that was very much enjoyed.

  13. Thanks, Prolixic.
    I thought drive for car was OK when I solved it, but now I think I was confusing drive with ride, which I think was used here a while back and generated a few comments about whether it’s OK as a noun.
    I have no problem with when=if. When it rains, I wear a coat/if it rains rains, I wear a coat. My German’s mostly long forgotten, but I think I remember being taught to distinguish between wenn and als as the conditional/temporal forms of when. Apologies to any linguists out there if that’s wrong.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – concise and informative as ever. I do have to say that Mr Google has some pictures of rather splendid tea cabinets and I seem to recall seeing one in a stately home visited a while ago – sorry, can’t recall which one.

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