Rookie Corner – 202 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 202

A Puzzle by Dill

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The length of the Rookie queue has meant that Dill has had to wait patiently for this one to be published. 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.

In Dill’s previous crossword (172), I commented that “A little more attention to detail (both in terms of proofreading and some – admittedly minor – points on the cryptic grammar) would have given this a professional polish.”  I am delighted to say that today’s crossword showed that attention to detail.  This was a polished crossword and assured enough to promote Dill by popular acclaim and the nod from your review to the pages of the NTSPP.


1 Hard and fast criminal leads European island (8)
CONCRETE – A three letter word for a criminal followed by the name of a European island in the Mediterranean.  Perhaps the “and fast” could have been omitted.

5 Delivers trademark bricks round the back way (4,2)
LETS GO – The name of the children’s building bricks around a reversal (back way) of the abbreviation for street (way).  I would have omitted the “the” as the back suggests a noun rather than a reversal indicator.

9 Some antelope are developed to look like Jar Jar Binks (3-5)
LOP-EARED – The answer is hidden in (some) ANTELOPE ARE DEVELOPED.

10 Internally fathomed out? On the contrary (2,4)
AT HOME – Split the inner letters (internally) of FATHOMED.

12 Float dizzily on high (5)
ALOFT – An anagram (dizzily) of AFLOAT.

13 Beastly complaint emerges from little girl’s bad mood (9)
DISTEMPER – The diminutive form of Diana’s (little girl) followed by a word for a bad mood.

14 Tribal elder initially used to 25 across native dwelling (6)
TEEPEE – The first letters (initially) of tribal elder followed by something used to fence (as a sport).

16 Argue about right source of instincts creating novel man-eater (7)
TRIFFID – A four letter word meaning argue around the abbreviation for right followed by a two letter psychological term for the source of instincts.

19 Red male converted green Beryl (7)
EMERALD – An anagram (converted) of RED MALE.

21 Say 2 neighbouring characters in Connecticut stick together (6)
CEMENT – The phonetic spellings of M and N (2 neighbouring letters) inside the abbreviation for the state of Connecticut.

23 Check again time people took in building retaining wall (9)
REVETMENT – A five letter word meaning check again around (took in) the abbreviation for time and a three letter word for people.

25 Bill covers no charge for hot property dealer (5)
FENCE – A three letter word for a bill or charge for something around (covers) the abbreviation for no charge.

26 Computer department lacking in speed for local plant (6)
CELERY – Remove (lacking) the abbreviation for Information Technology (computer department) from CELERITY (speed).  I would have omitted the local here as the need to split it into lo-cal is a little too misleading.

27 Gory flower nearly expired (8)
BLOODIED – A five letter word for the head of a flower with the final letter removed (nearly) followed by a word meaning expired.

28 Retiring joiner goes inside for a drink (6)
SHANDY – A word used as a conjunction or joiner in a sentence inside a word meaning retiring or coy.

29 Diamond King left Queen after fight (8)
SPARKLER – A four letter word meaning to fight followed by the abbreviation for king, left and the current queen.


1 Vendor reported for storing bottles (6)
CELLAR – A homophone (reported) of SELLER (vendor).

2 Ikebana of regular pink with peonies from Japan (9)
NIPPONESE – An anagram (ikebana) of PI (the even letter in pink) PEONIES.

3 Slate roof on ancient stone tower first of all (5)
ROAST – The initial letters (first of all) of the second to sixth) words of the clue.

4 Altered dodgy foot pedal (7)
TREADLE – An anagram (dodgy) of ALTERED.

6 Old timers distressed by spy chief’s radical beliefs (9)
EXTREMISM – A two letter prefix meaning past of old followed by an anagram (distressed) of TIMERS and the letter in used by Jame’s Bond’s boss (spy chief).

7 Climbing plants absorb oxygen to bend down (5)
STOOP – A reversal (climbing) of a word meaning plants around (absorb) the chemical symbol for Oxygen.

8 Take manual control of complete drive (8)
OVERRIDE – A four letter word meaning complete followed a word meaning to drive.

11 Platinum rings around 2 shillings said to draw attention (4)
PSST – The chemical symbol for Platinum around the abbreviation for shillings twice.  

15 Sports include final before wine is commonly drunk (9)
PLASTERED – A two letter word for sports or games as a lesson at school around a four letter word for final followed by the colour one type of wine.

17 Monetary ZA party invested in fancy tip (9)
FINANCIAL – The abbreviation for African National Congress (a political party in South Africa whose IVR code is ZA) inside (invested in) a word for a fancy or ornamental tip or end of a pole.

18 Raised levels of organised rest care (8)
TERRACES – An anagram (organised) of REST CARE.

20 Whizzed up to the ocean (4)
DEEP -A word meaning urinated (whizzed) reversed (up).

21 Spooner’s Top Gear allows queens free access (7)
CATFLAP – A Spoonerism of FLAT CAP (top gear).

22 Give back Santa’s helper that is broken and lost inside (6)
RENDER – The name of an animal that pulled Santa’s sleigh without the initials for id best (that is broken and lost).

24 Wicked person knocking off popular foreign residency (5)
VILLA – A seven letter word for a villain without the IN at the end (knocking of popular).

25 Knock-out story in America (5)
FLOOR – Double definition, the second being the American spelling of story.

The commentometer reads 1.5 out of 32 or 4.7% which is a fantastic achievement. and a great improvement on Dill’s last puzzle of 6.5 out of 30 or 21.7%.

26 comments on “Rookie Corner – 202

  1. We find it very hard to pick a fault with this puzzle. We did wonder whether the number of building related answers was intended or just coincidence. We’ve just spent the last few minutes trying to pick a couple that we enjoyed more than the others but decided that there are too many really good clues to be able to do that. A good level of difficulty that kept us amused for the whole solve.
    An unreserved thumbs-up from us.
    Thanks Dill.

  2. Very enjoyable, some head scratching required especially in the NE.

    Having never ever seen any Star Wars films, I had no idea who or what Jar Jar Binks is, but Google helped me out there and then it was easy to see the lurker.

    I liked the use of Ikebana as an anagram indicator in 2d in a very Oriental clue.

    I think I could pick 13a, 23a, and 20d as candidates for favourite, although I assume that whizzed in this context would be risqué in most other forums.

    Perhaps it was a little ‘cheesy’ to use the ZA IVR in 17d; that might cause some others to have to use Google.

    Other than that, well done and thanks Dill.

  3. Nice puzzle Dill. It looked easy at the outset but there was plenty to work on as the solve proceeded.

    No real quibbles from me.

    Minor observations:

    I didn’t understand the need for “local” in 26a; is that commodity commonly marketed as such. If so that’s nifty – but I haven’t come across that around here – ie locally.

    14a – some may prefer “is” to be inserted before “used” (the surface reading would not be affected) to give a particular type of cluing (otherwise you are matching different parts of speech) – others might not be bothered and others again might not even like that – takes all sorts.

    I ticked 10a, 16a, 28a, and 22d – the last one being my favourite.

    Many thanks for the fun.

    1. I can only think that local could refer to local pub. I have a vague memory of celery sticks in jugs of water on the bar.

  4. Not too tricky and an enjoyable solve overall.
    The surfaces are generally really good (apart from 11d), and I’m not totally sure about the definition of 5a but otherwise excellent stuff.
    Particularly liked the ‘retiring joiner’ so 28a gets my vote today.

    Thanks Dill, look forward to your next.

  5. A very accomplished and enjoyable puzzle pitched at just the right level – thanks Dill. I don’t think you need the ‘and fast’ in 1a or the ‘say’ in 21a (since you’re using the normal spellings of the two characters).
    The clues which I liked best were 10a, 28a and 25d.

  6. Welcome back, Dill.

    Definitely your best puzzle to date, and it was very pleasing to see that you have obviously worked hard in an effort to eliminate the niggling errors that detracted somewhat from your previous crosswords. I found the left-hand side far more straightforward than the right, but overall I agree with Gazza that it was pitched at roughly the right level of difficulty.

    Yes, a few extraneous words here and there could have been cut out and the occasional unconvincing surface like 21d, 22d and 27a (can a flower be gory?) did grate a little, but I enjoyed the solve and can appreciate the effort put in. My ticks went to 9a (very amusing), 12a, 28a, 18d and 25d.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Dill.

  7. Terrific puzzle Dill, pitched just right with some very nice surfaces and inventive wordplay – bravo! I ticked virtually every clue, and had doubles for 10a, 14a, 21a, 28a, 21d, 24d and 25d. Was I being a bit generous? Maybe – but your clues put me in a good mood, so you deserve it!
    I probably agree about there being one or two unnecessary words, but the only instance which prove problematic was ‘local’ in 26a, my last one in.
    Many thanks, there may be voices calling for promotion…

  8. Hi Dill – wondering whether you’ve got some building work going on at home!

    I did have to look up the Star Wars character and also the slang term in 20d which I’ve only become aware of in reference to recreational drugs. Don’t think I’m tempted to drop it into conversation any time soon.

    One or two queries which await the review from Prolixic but some good ideas apparent in this one. I particularly liked 12a.

    Thank you, Dill – hope to see more from you in the future.

  9. I’m certainly one of Maize’s “voices calling for promotion” after this one. Excellent stuff and, as has been said already, pitched at just the right level. **/**** from me.
    Liked the star wars clue although I’m not sure that knowing the character was really necessary as the answer was pretty clear from the anagram fodder.
    Hard to pick a favourite from a load of good stuff but perhaps 20d as it appealed to my schoolboy sense of humour.

    Thanks Dill, I enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to your next production.

  10. Nice puzzle, Dill. Just the right level for me to have to think about most of the clues without getting bogged down. Can’t quite understand the constructions of 16a and 21d, although I have the answers, – probably just me being thick.

    Favourites were 14a and 16d.

    Well done.

    1. 16a confused me mainly because I read ‘insects’ instead of ‘instincts’ – now I think it’s *(R)*** + ID
      21d reverse Spooner your answer for ‘top gear’ (head wear)

      I’ve now had a think about 5a and think it’s deliver as in bowl a ball, so got that now.

      1. In 16a I only had the ‘I’ which I assumed was the ‘source of instincts’ and couldn’t justify the ‘D’. However, I’ve now learned what ‘Id’ means and the clue makes perfect sense.

        I didn’t see the Spoonerism in 21d. I suppose I was looking for a single letter swap, but this one requires two letters of the second part of the word to be swapped with only one of the first part. It works now, so I’m happy with that.

        Thanks for the help.

  11. Hello everyone and thank you for your feedback!

    Local was, as Gazza suggested, intended to be a cheeky lo-cal(orie), but as it seemed to confuse rather than amuse, it won’t be coming out again!

    Jane’s explanation of the ghost theme is spot on!

    I’ll check back in a little later but in the meantime thanks again for your time- if I am making progress, then it is in no small way due to your constructive comments.

  12. I didn’t think this could be a debut puzzle, so wasn’t surprised to see ‘welcome back’ in Silvanus’s comment. Nothing really to find fault with apart from a little local(!) difficulty in 26ac. I was momentarily floored by 9ac but it was only momentarily since the clue was so clear. 1dn was one of those slightly ambiguous homophone clues where both words are the same length but in this case crossing letters made clear which one was meant. Like jane I didn’t know the slang term in 20dn but the answer was obvious from the definition.

    Some really great clues vying for nomination as favourite. 16ac, 23ac, 2dn, 18dn, 22dn and 25dn to name but a few.

    Won’t be surprised if your next puzzle appears as NTSPP!

  13. This was very enjoyable indeed – nicely challenging and very inventive.

    I’ve never heard of Jar Jar Binks in 9a but the answer was right up my street! The surfaces were generally polished with only a few exceptions particularly 23a (which is very dodgy if I am reading it correctly). I got the “lo-cal” bit of the definition in 26a but I can’t parse the answer.

    My page is littered with ticks with extra special mentions going to 9a, 10a, 12a, 28a, 18d and 25d.

    Very well done, Dill, and many thanks.

  14. Oh – a bit late here today – think it could be my theme for the week.
    It sounds as if I found this trickier than most of you – too much else going on but I really enjoyed it very much.
    The bottom right corner caused most of the grief – the last straw was 22d which was easier once husband suggested that Santa’s helper was something other than an elf. :roll:
    Lots of good clues here so thank you and well done to Dill for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for the sorting out.

  15. A most enjoyable puzzle – thanks Dill. Very glad to see that no cats suffered in the making of this one!

    I loved 9a, 16a’s novel man-eater, 25a’s hot property dealer, 28a, 6d, 20d and 24d. My favourite of course is 21d.

    (Did you know that Spooner had a Manx cat he called Toenail?)

    Congratulations on your promotion Dill and I look forward to meeting you in ntspp-land.

    Thanks Prolixic for the review.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and congratulations to Dill on her rapid promotion to the NTSPP slot.

  17. Great puzzle, beautifully clued and perfectly pitched. Hadn’t heard of Jar Jar, but spotted the hidden and assumed it was a cartoon rabbit. Didn’t know REVETMENT, either, but the tight wordplay meant I could get it from crossers and confirm. Misparsed TRIFFID, taking “source of instincts” as I, so wondered where the D came from. Doh! So many good clues, but favourites were 12a, ALOFT (took me ages to do the anagram), 6d, EXTREMISM (loved the surface irony), 4d TREADLE and, best of all, 2d, NIPPONESE (sheer poetry!).

    I think I’m up next week and this is a tough act to follow. Well done, Dill, and congratulations on your graduation to NTSPP status.

  18. Not the hardest – but quite enjoyable. Didn’t parse CELERY (the “local” put me off too) but an obvious write-in.

    Is it coincidence that today’s Crucible in the Guardian is also built (pardon the pun!) around a “building” ghost theme? Must be!

    Thought CEMENT was one of the most ingenious.

    I didn’t know what “Ikebana” meant but wrote in before looking it up. Likewise Jar Jar Binks – not a devotee of that genre and was wondering whether “he” was a friend of Bugs Bunny! :-)

    I’m not sure whether TRIFFIDs were strictly-speaking man-eaters. I thought they were just a refined form of stinging-nettle with a bit more of a punch (many years since I read the book, and the 1960s movie was awful!).

    RENDER: I can see how the wordplay works but not sure if the grammar’s right on that one. Oh well – Prolixic is happy with it!

    And last but not least: DEEP. Never heard that use of the word “whizz” I must get out more! Would this clue be acceptable in, say, the Telegraph? (I know it would pass muster in the Grauniad!)

    Well done.

  19. Congratulations on your promotion Dill – very well deserved, and I’m sure I’ll be amongst many looking forward to your first NTSPP. :)

Comments are closed.