Rookie Corner – 197 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 197

A Puzzle by Exit

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I have met Exit several times at S&B meetings – this is his debut in Rookie Corner. 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.

A very good debut puzzle for Exit.  The main comments are very much nitpicking ones which, for a first puzzle, is a good sign.  The only points really to concentrate on are firstly to try and let some clues not run out of control when trying to maintain a theme creating unduly long clues, secondly to make some of the anagrams (in 10a and 8d) true anagrams with greater sorting of the letters required and thirdly to try and avoid obvious definitions.

There was a good Nina in the grid with the top line being the abbreviations of the headings in a league table (13a) and the bottom row giving the final column.


7 A fellow in Indian dress for expedition (6)
SAFARI – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for fellow are inserted into a four letter word for and Indian dress.

8 To pine after teacher, maybe, is rash (8)
HEADLONG – A four letter word for the principal of a school or college followed by four letter word meaning to pine.

9 Feeling unwell on cruise? Remedial treatment includes meclizine at first, but without iodine. (3,2,3)
MAL DE MER – An anagram (treatment) of REMEDIAL M (meclizine at first) after removing the chemical symbol for Iodine.   Some editors would not permit a noun (treatment) to act as an anagram indicator.

10 Backers new angles … (6)
ANGELS – An anagram (new) of ANGLES.  As the anagram only involves swapping the LE around, perhaps a different treatment of the wordplay would have been better.

11 …on supply of funding (8)
RESOURCE – A two letter word meaning on or about followed by a six letter word meaning supply.  Some editors will not permit wordplay of definition although they would be happy with definition of wordplay.

12 Shelter in decline with moves to the right (6)
AWNING – A six letter word meaning in decline with the abbreviation for with moved one place to the right.

13 Record of performance: ale spilt, blue gate damaged (6,5)
LEAGUE TABLE – An anagram (spilt) of ALE followed by an anagram (damaged) of BLUE GATE.

18 Strange affair of basket-making material (6)
RAFFIA – An anagram (strange) of AFFAIR.  Again wordplay of definition might not find favour with some editors.

20 Drain fluid – suitable for drinking? (3,5)
TAP WATER – A three letter word meaning to drain something followed by a colourless potable liquid.

22 Part beryllium, 50% (6)
BEHALF – The chemical symbol for beryllium followed by a four letter word meaning 50%.

23 Divas quarrel gives jazz fan fright – not right! (3-5)
CAT-FIGHT – A three letter word for a jazz fan followed by the FRIGHT from the clue without the abbreviation for right.  Perhaps a synonym for fright (such as scare) would have helped make this clue a little more complex and satisfying to crack.  The link word here jars slightly as we have definition gives wordplay whereas it should be the wordplay that gives the definition.

24 Wine involved alums, etc in its production (8)
MUSCATEL – An anagram (involved) of ALUMS ETC.

25 Make certain of spaces by river (6)
ENSURE – A word for spaces (in the plural) used by printers followed by a three letter name of a river in North Yorkshire.


1 Grand manner (not hard) a universal remedy (7)
PANACEA – A seven letter word meaning grand manner or style without the abbreviation for hard followed by the A from the clue.  As not … has already been used as a removal indicator, perhaps something else could have been used.  The definition here could have been disguised as it is rather an obvious one.

2 Rising archbishop, maybe, to sketch clothes (8)
WARDROBE – The four letter Latin name of the Archbishop of York followed by a word meaning to sketch all reversed (rising).

3 Not so bright lighting control required (6)
DIMMER – A double definition although as one is named for the other, perhaps it is more a single definition.  Where double definition clues are used, it is a good idea to keep a good degree of separation between the two meanings.  I think that the “required” could have been omitted.

4 Skirt molten rock engulfing a convenience (4- 4)
LAVA-LAVA – A four letter word for molten rock goes around (engulfing) the A from the clue and another word for a toilet or convenience.

5 Standard working measure of ale? (6)
FLAGON – Another word for a standard followed by a two letter word meaning working.

6 An international queue for dyes? (7)
ANILINE – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for International followed by another word for a queue.  The answer is a substance found in dyes or when followed by the word dyes, synthetic dyes.  Perhaps the definition could have been “colouring agent”.

8 Heretical men initially upset – confused about interpretation of scripture. (13)
HERMENEUTICAL – An anagram (confused) of HERETICAL MEN U (initially upset).  There is even less rearrangement in this clue than in 10a.  The MEN and the U are individually inserted in the HERETICAL for the solution.

14 Bogart could provide evidence of Kilroy’s visit (8)
GRAFFITI – Split the BOGART into BOG ART for an example of scribbles on the wall.

15 The French festival cycling the greenest? (8)
LEAFIEST – The French masculine for “the” followed by a word for a festival with the last letter moved to the front (cycling).

16 Accepted a chap among sheep… (5,2)
TAKEN UP – The A from the clue and the abbreviated form of Kenneth (chap) in (among) a three letter word for a sheep.

17 …but not one of these sheep! (7)
WETHERS – I thing that this is simply a play on the fact that the sheep in 16d is a sheep used for breeding but these castrated rams would be incapable of being used for breeding.

19 In Sofia, Scott is a failure (6)
FIASCO – The answer is hidden in SOFIA SCOTT

21 Shoe for girl, 10 (6)
PATTEN – The abbreviated name of Patricia followed by the spelling of the number 10.  The structure for definition for wordplay is back to front.  You can have wordplay for a definition but not, strictly, the reverse.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner – 197

  1. Very good indeed for a debut puzzle in our opinion. We had grandson Ollie as part of the team, and he agrees with that and awards lots of the bottom row Nina to Exit. 14d was the stand out favourite for all of us.
    Thanks Exit.

  2. Straightforward and enjoyable, I did have to verify a few answers with Chambers, 8d for example – I am aware of the word, I had to verify the meaning.

    9a was a little bit contrived, but with the chosen answer I can understand the challenge of getting the clue to ‘match.’

    I liked the 16d/17d combo, especially 17d!

    The first time I had seen the skirt in 4d.

    Thanks Exit and well done.

  3. Not too taxing but quite engaging; don’t think you’ll get a lot of comments from prolixic for a debut, so well done
    The 4d skirt is mind-boggling; really, what’s that?!
    Thanks Exit

  4. Although this is Exit’s debut in Rookie Corner, having solved this very good crossword, I don’t think it is his first cryptic crossword!

    The only things I’d remark on are the War and Peace nature of the clue for 9a and the fact that we have three instances of removing something from something else to get the solution

    Thanks Exit and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Exit has set puzzles for a number of S&B events, but the reviews of these puzzles on fifteensquared have offered little more that explanations of the wordplay – I hope he will get better feedback on here.

  5. Congratulations to Exit on producing an entertaining crossword. I liked 8a and 12a but the stand-out clue is the excellent 14d. Perhaps you could think of making some of your definitions a little more cryptic (e.g. ‘universal remedy’ in 1d makes the answer pretty obvious).
    I’m looking forward to your next puzzle.

  6. I agree completely with Senf’s comments and with Gazza’s choice of 14d as favourite.

    I am not sure if the definition “dyes” for 6d quite works. The answer is either a singular noun (a chemical used as basis for formulating a family of dyes) or an adjective (describing the family of dyes). Perhaps the ? makes it OK.

    Many thanks, Exit. This was a great debut puzzle for Rookie Corner and very enjoyable to solve. I think it’s particularly important at this level that the more obscure answers are clearly derivable from the wordplay and you have definitely achieved that. The next step is to work on your surfaces some of which are a bit iffy. My setting friends tell me that can be tough. Well done, and looking forward to your next offering.

  7. Thought it rather a shame that the long answer down the middle of the grid was such an obscure word and I’m not convinced that 8a quite works – doesn’t it require ‘rashly’ as the definition?
    Otherwise a good debut puzzle and I’m not surprised to learn that this isn’t Exit’s first foray into setting.

    In company with others I would put 14d firmly at the top of the pile.

    Well done, Exit, look forward to your next one and hope that, in the meantime, you will work a little more on polishing those surface reads.

  8. Welcome, Exit (did you once work in IT perhaps?).

    I found this very entertaining, pitched at just about the right level of difficulty for Rookie Corner, and it was generally well constructed too. I was a little concerned that several clues seemed the wrong way round, i.e. definition leading to/for wordplay, or wordplay of definition etc., but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment in the slightest.

    In a clue like 9a that was already prolix, I would have thought that merely “seasickness” would have made a more succinct definition. Anagrams like that one, containing a substitution element too, can become a little complex and lead to wordy constructions. I’d also suggest avoiding anagrams such as in 10a when the rearrangement of letters is minimal.

    My ticks went to 7a, 8a, 25a, 2d, 4d, 5d and, of course, 14d.

    Great stuff, very well done and congratulations, Exit.

  9. Impressive debut, Exit. I needed crossword solver to sort out the letters of 8D. It’s not a word I’m familiar with, though I had heard of 4D. I didn’t twig the parsing of 14D until I saw how popular it was from the previous comments. I agree it’s brilliant. I also ticked 25A. However, 17D is my top pick.

  10. Congratulations on a very proficient debut, Exit. I had to look up 8d, as it was a word with which I was not familiar, neither was 4d, although I had solved the latter from the wordplay. Can’t parse 15d – probably me being a bit thick. Favourite clue was 12a which, despite having a bit of an unpolished surface, I thought had clever wordplay.

    Looking forward to more from you.

  11. I thought I recognised the psudonym from S&B meetings, and a quick site search on fifteen squared reminded me of the clever Fox & Roman (=the venue) puzzle we saw in York last October and another puzzle for the July Macclesfield meeting with a local Nina

    Thank you Exit for today’s puzzle. I’m guessing 13a is involved in the row 15 Nina today, perhaps there is even more i haven’t seen.

    This was at the easy end of the spectrum, but with some interesting vocab thrown in that meant I had to keep Chambers at hand (for 22a, 2d, 4d, 8d, 17d and 21d). I also had to google bogart to find the relevant one.

    technically there is not much to suggest – all pretty straight forward. I’d agree 9a is a bit long but i’ve seen longer.

    I’ll take your word that the 2nd half for 2d works, prolixic would knows more about this – i wasn’t 100% sure it fell into “an example of” category. Similarly with the dye, I think you need to add “dyes” to the answer to get a plural, so I would have been tempted to use the singular dye – but then I started wondering whether the answer itself is a dye (the first 4 letters are).

    17d – there seems to be a bit of a joke going on, which i’m am not sure is spelled out as well as it might be, and i’m wondering whether(!) I’ve missed the wordplay. I’m probably just being thick.

    3d this has clear etymological crossover, in fact it can be almost read literally as a single meaning. ideally the 2 definitions should be as unrelated as possible.

    8d i’m not sure you need both confused and about, if the last 3 words are the definition.

    23a – a synonym for fright may have helped the deception here

    20d, is fluid doing double duty? You could insert a “that is” to be safe.

    Thanks again and congratulations, looking forward to more of your puzzles both here and at S&B’s

  12. Just had another look at the Nina. I assume that the top line are the abbreviations appearing at the top of a 13a.

    1. You what? I suspect that this is something no-one would expect me to get. Whoever thinks that is right – oh dear. :sad:

      1. Kath, Football League Tables generally have the following columns:

        P = Played
        W = Won
        D = Drawn
        L = Lost
        F = (Goals) For
        A = (Goals) Against

        1. Oh – thanks RD – no wonder the row of seemingly unrelated letters across the top didn’t make sense to me – suppose I should have had a guess, but I didn’t.

        2. Thanks for that, RD. It was the F&A that confused me. I thought there was usually the inclusion of something to indicate a home or away match so couldn’t justify the F.

  13. Thank you to everyone for your comments – a pleasant surprise to have so many complimentary ones – and for being constructive about particular clues.

    In retrospect, 6dn was not particularly satisfactory and I should have cut my losses there as there were several alternative words which would not have upset the rest of the grid.

    In 9ac I did consider ‘seasickness’ as the definition but thought it would make it too easy since there were already a number of easy clues such as 1dn and 10ac.

    I intended 8ac to be seen as the adjective rather than the adverb, hence ‘rash’ as the definition. And one definition of 8dn is ‘concerned with interpretation … ’ which is why I included ‘about’ in the clue.

    The linking of clues 16dn and 17dn was a bit serendipitous when I realised what I could substitute for my original word at 17.

    I’ll look in again after the review and possibly be able to answer further points. Thanks again.

  14. Hi Exit, and welcome to Rookie Corner. Thought this was a very strong debut. Gave ticks to 22,24 across and 1,5,16 and 17 down. Favourite goes to 24a.

    I also had to revert to crossword solver to get the unchecked letters into 8d, and google to check the skirt in 4d. A few I put in without being able to fully parse them – didn’t get the bishop reference in 2d or the Bogart reference in 14d.

    For any of you setters out there, the 1across site has changed it’s layout, and you can now post puzzles directly onto the ‘your puzzles’ page as a Word or pdf. document. I posted one myself. If anyone would like to have a go at it, you can leave feedback there.
    Hoping to finally meet a few of you at the Birthday Bash

  15. I loved it but didn’t find it quite the doddle that others seem to have done.
    As I’ve said before I don’t ‘do’ criticism, constructive or otherwise – I’m happy to leave that to people who really know what they’re doing.
    I’ve never heard of 8d so cheated and did a trawl of the BRB once I had loads of letters in.
    Didn’t know the 4d skirt either and got horribly tied up in knots with rara skirts to begin with.
    The 14d “Bogart” was great, especially with the misleading capitalisation at the beginning of the clue – made me laugh.
    I loved 8a and the 16 and 17d combination. My favourite was 14d.
    With thanks and many congratulations to Exit and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    I could easily be wrong here (it has been known) but I think that Exit is a scientist of some kind, possibly a doctor – how many people know just how appropriate ‘Meclizine’ is in 9a?

  16. I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been already. Perfectly pitched for the slot, I thought, and very enjoyable.

    Thanks to Exit. Thanks to Dutch and Gazza for pointing out the nina. And of course, thanks to Prolixic for the review.

  17. That was just great.
    Thought the devices in 12a and 15d were perfectly clued.
    Loved 9a of course.
    2d brought back memories of York. Sorry I couldn’t make it to Eborum last Autumn.
    Didn’t spot the Nina and thought the league table was about some university. Football never occurred as usual.
    Thanks for the fun and really hope to see more.

  18. Late to solving today & not much to add to those comments above. It was an enjoyable solve with clues largely of Daily Telegraph level of difficulty, I felt. Very smooth surfaces pretty much throughout – no mean feat so well done! And 7a, 9a & 5d, for example, would sit well in a daily national cryptic.

    I look forward to more – and perhaps meeting you at the Paddington event?

  19. Very nice, thanks Exit.
    My points have mainly been made, but would just add to RD’s comment about surfaces that I think it is mainly a case of being self disciplined enough to realise when a surface isn’t good enough and rewriting it (even if you are very fond of the wordplay). It will take longer, and some words can be very stubborn indeed, but make sure you set your own bar higher than you had previously. Don’t accept anything unless you are absolutely happy with it. Maize has talked about taking the 5 weakest clues in a puzzle and rewriting them, which is a good shout, especially if you go away after one iteration, leave the puzzle a while, then do it again.
    Thanks to Prolixic, too, especially for explaining the excellent Bogart part of 14d, which I hadn’t twigged.

  20. Nice puzzle Exit – well on the easy side but still plenty to enjoy.

    Judging by the content I ‘m guessing you might be a lay preacher with a sheep farm.

    No quibbles on the mechanics of any of your clues – debut??? – I bet you’ve done this before.

    My favourite clue was 14d – “Aha – Chad”, I thought, hoping to find that in it. Not to be – but still my favourite.

    Thanks for the fun – do keep them coming.

  21. Thanks Prolixic for your insightful review. I wondered if the ‘wethers’ containing HER (i.e. wetHERs) was the contrast with the bloke in taKENup? I may be inventing this, though!

  22. Here to echo the positive comments above for a highly enjoyable puzzle. Very encouraging for the future.

    Fantastic idea for the Nina – highly amusing & a good spot by Gazza (I’d only noticed the bottom and middle bit).

    I like your pen name too – continuing a long tradition of short names with a Q, X or Z in :)

  23. Firstly, thank you to Prolixic for the review. This was helpful and one thing I’ve obviously got to look out for is using definition for wordplay instead of wordplay for definition. And I see one repeated removal indicator managed to slip through despite checking for that sort of thing so that’s another point to watch. Double definitions and anagrams obviously need more atteniton too.

    It looks as if 6dn and 9ac were the most troublesome and I must admit that I should have substituted a different word at 6dn – there are a couple (one of them rather obscure) that might have done. I was stuck with 9ac, though, so should have given more thought to how to clue it.

    More generally, I’m interested by some of your guesses as to who, or what, I am or might have been. I’ll keep you guessing on that but I can say that some of the guesses are partly correct.

    I do have another crossword in preparation although several clues still need a lot of worrying at to get them just right. But the encouraging response to this one means it will appear (Big Dave permitting) in due course.

    The Birthday Bash sounds good but unfortunately I’m otherwise occupied that day.

    Thanks once again to everyone for all your positive comments.

  24. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. The info about positioning of wordplay and definition is very interesting but I do sometimes wonder why editors place so much importance on it when they appear to have no problem with clue constructions that are far more confounding.

    1. Confounding and correct is better than less confounding and wrong. The name of the game is getting both surface and cryptic readings to be grammatically sensible. You cannot have a meaningless cryptic instruction of the type “definition produces wordplay”, be grateful to editors.

      1. … and don’t forget to include an accurate definition and a bit of humour with originality – a doddle really. (Not!)

  25. Ah – I didn’t split BOG-ART and thought after googling it might be a reference to BOGART street (NY) which apparently is famous for graffiti. Did Killroy write in bogs? don’t think so?

    1. There is some historical evidence that Kilroy has been written about in a bog:

      Maybe you’ve bumped into Kilroy. He’s a bald (or balding) gentleman with a big nose, drawn peeking over a wall. Next to him is usually the phrase “Kilroy was here.” He can be found all over the world, and went viral long before social media or the Internet were around, finding his way through the theaters of war with American troops during World War II. (One of his most daring appearances may have been at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. During the summit, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had exclusive use of a VIP bathroom. One day, Stalin reportedly used the facilities, and came out demanding to know from one of his aides who Kilroy was, having found the drawing on one of the walls.)

    2. I doubt if the original Kilroy (a shipyard inspector who left the message, if not the drawing, to show he had inspected an item) wrote in bogs, but plenty of his imitators did, as Gazza has indicated.

  26. Coming a bit late to this one – v. good from Exit. Looking through Prolixic’s analysis, I’m a bit puzzled by some of his comments. What’s wrong with 9a, 11a, 3d, 21d? They seem perfectly all right to me (being used to the Guardian cryptics). Perhaps the editors of other papers are a bit less forgiving….

    On the other hand, I agree that some of the clues are not really cryptic enough – e.g. 10a and 23a. But that’s where feedback from this site will help.

    And I feel that “Bogart” is an example of ‘lilft-and-separate’ wordplay that would be rejected by Ximenean adherents. Though I’m happy enough with it – now that I see it!

    On the whole, an excellent debut on BD, Exit! Even if it’s not your first actual puzzle…

    Incidentally, what’s “S&B”?

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