Rookie Corner – 203 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 203

Homage by Whynot

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Whynot’s latest puzzle is a homage – solve the puzzle to find out the subject.  See below for details about a rather different puzzle he has compiled.  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.

Issue 178 of the British Go Journal, containing the British Go Association Prize Crossword Puzzle, is now available to all as a download at:

For some help with the British Go Journal puzzle To be fair, solvers should note the following:
o One of the answers is an abbreviation.
o Two English words are not in most dictionaries: one, a recognisable archaism; one an obvious modernism.
o English dictionaries will not be enough in any case.
Those who don’t play Go (and even most of those who do) will have recourse to the internet, especially the BGA website (as above). Go wiki Sensei’s Library has anything else one might need to know.
It is doable without prior Go knowledge for someone who likes a challenge. The solution is not officially downloadable till Spring, but is available on request.

Welcome back to Whynot with a tribute to Roger Squires who recently retired as a setter.  In keeping with Roger’s style, there are a large number of mild cryptic definitions and double definitions as well as one straight definition that reads as though it could mean something else.

As with his previous crossword, the wordplay was very good with only a few minor points to watch.


1 Roger, in the end you left us, cancelled service, removed (5)
RUFUS – The final letter (in the end) of Roger followed by the letter used when texting for you and the words left us after removing the “let” (cancelled service removed).

4/11 Hemingway’s double amputation? (1,8,2,4)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS – The title of a book by Ernest Hemingway might be paraphrased as a double amputation.

9 Last drink? Cheers! (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP – A six letter word meaning last followed by a three letter word meaning cheers.

10 Speak softly of little marsupial caught in China (5)
CROON – The diminutive form of kangaroo inside the internet domain name for China (given in Collins).  The wordplay is not wrong but at least one editor thinks that internet domain prefixes should not be used unless indicated as such.  Whilst Chambers refers only to soft singing, Collins defines the solution as soft singing or talking.

11 See 4

12 Completely fail in autumn even (4,4)
FALL FLAT – The American term for Autumn followed by a word meaning even.

14 Disconcerted Ned to some extent with: “Lick tip of raspberry ripple!” (7)
CRINKLE – An anagram (disconcerted) of NE (Ned to some extent) LICK R (tip of raspberry).

16 Gathering sailors’ tax (7)
ABSCESS – The abbreviation for able seaman’s (sailor) maintaining the S from the ’s followed by a four letter (obsolete) word for a tax.  Perhaps the fact that the word for a tax is an old obsolete word should have been indicated.  Whilst the solution is a collection of pus, I think that defining it as a gathering is a tad misleading.

18 Girls just want to have it on record (3)
FUN – Mild cryptic definition of what what girls just want to have in the Cindi Lauper record.

19 Filmed one in seven? (7)
SAMURAI – Another mild cryptic definition of the Japanese warriors of whom there were seven in the film by Akira Kurosawa that was adapted as the Magnificent Seven.

20 Tea pot with lid missing I see talked about all over the place (7)
CHAOTIC – A three letter word for tea followed by the word POT with the first letter (lid) removed and the I and the word pronounced (talked about) as see.  Perhaps lid as an initial letter indicator works best in a down clue.

22 Offered too little to say where reds might be lurking in NZ? (8)
UNDERBID – I think that this relies on one knowing how those in New Zealand might pronounce the word bed as in “reds under the bed”.

24 With agility and cunning, poke one’s nose in to interior (6)
SPRYLY – A three letter word meaning poke one’s nose inside (in to the interior) of a three letter word meaning cunning.

27 Domain in which true master’s top (5)
REALM – A four letter word meaning true followed by the first letter (top) of master.  Again, top as a first letter indicator would work better in a down clue.  Perhaps “True master’s top domain” would give a smoother surface reading.

28 Break in? (9)
INTERRUPT – A straight definition that reads as if it could mean something else but doesn’t.

29 Charming letter put before the Queen constituting a bribe (9)
SWEETENER – A five letter word meaning charming followed by the phonetic spelling of the letter “N” and the two letter abbreviation for queen.

30 Gentile back in charge of mystic (5)
YOGIC – A reversal (back) of a three letter word for a gentile followed by the abbreviation for in charge.  Some editors will allow definition of wordplay but not wordplay of definition.


1 Nick ear using machine (7)
ROBOTIC – A three letter word meaning nick followed by a word meaning “of the ear”.  Although ear can be used in phrases such as “ear surgeon”, ear functions here not as an adjective but as a mound noun.  

2 Decree Arafat wanted incorporated (5)
FATWA – The answer is hidden (incorporated) in ARAFAT WANTED.

3 His work is done at last (9)
SHOEMAKER – Cryptic definition for another term for a cobbler.

4 Heads from alien landings searchable online, too (4)
ALSO – The initial letters (heads from) the third to sixth words of the clue.

5 An ace paper struggling to make a showing (10)
APPEARANCE – An anagram (struggling) of AN ACE PAPER.

6 Spreadsheet app gets “not fit for smaller frameworks” label in announcement (5)
EXCEL – A homophone (in announcement) of the abbreviation for “extra large” (not fit for smaller frameworks label.

7 Calming girlfriend of gangster, one irrational on admission to hospital department (9)
EMOLLIENT – A four letter word for a gangster’s girlfriend followed by the I from the clue and the letter representing an irrational number all inside a three letter word for a hospital department.

8 Medicine connected us, as reported (7)
LINCTUS – A homophone (as reported) of LINKED US.

13 Meaning of sharp focus (10)
DEFINITION – Double meaning for the explanation of a word and sharp focus in a screen or film.

15 Somehow I made it. Me! Without intervention! (9)
IMMEDIATE – An anagram (somehow) of I MADE IT ME.

17 Pre-match do? (4,5)
STAG PARTY – A mild cryptic definition of a gathering of men before a wedding.  Care has to be taken with cryptic definitions such as this where an equally valid solution would be a phrase ending in night.

19 Escorts one across sheets on board (7)
SQUIRES – Double definition and wordplay, the first being the role in chivalry, the second being a the surname of the setter celebrated in the answer to 1a with the wordplay being another word for 24 sheets of paper in the abbreviation for a steamship (on board).

21 Unseen, weep over time captured in photograph (7)
CRYPTIC – A three letter word meaning weep followed the abbreviation for time inside a three letter word for a photograph.

23 Give up appeal to follow American rock band (5)
REMIT – A three letter name of an American rock band followed by a two letter word for sex appeal.

25 Singer Neil‘s offspring (5)
YOUNG – Double definition, the first being the surname of the Canadian singer-songwriter.

26 Cause trouble in prison (4)
STIR – Double definition.

The commentometer reads as 3.5/32 or 10.9%

34 comments on “Rookie Corner – 203

  1. We refuse to be drawn into making any comment on 22a other than a rather loud HUMPH.
    We picked very quickly to whom the tribute was being paid, and a well deserved tribute it is too.
    The clue that gave us the biggest problem was 16a, mainly because the tax was new to us and we needed to look in BRB for the precise definition of the probable answer to see how it fitted the definition.
    Despite the opening sentence we will nominate 22a as our favourite clue.
    Thanks Whynot.

  2. Nice puzzle Whynot.

    I read the various warnings and was about to print them up but thought instead: why not take on the extra challenge of solving it without reference to them – so I did – and I can’t work out where I might have needed them.

    1a was brilliant, but also the only thematic homage I could find – there may well be others but I rarely spot ninas, hidden themes and the like – that’s assuming I’m right about 1a, which I think I am, since it’s topical.

    9a also very neat – such a good find it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been round before. I’m pretty sure it has. It’s the sort of thing a certain setter might have used – aha – Mr Google tells me he did. Well worth a re-run though. Maybe that’s one of the homages I didn’t consciously spot.

    Otherwise I didn’t really have my ticking hat on – if I’d had it on plenty would have qualified.

    Actually (now I remember) one thing that crossed my mind at the start was “addictiveness’; once I saw 4a and didn’t twig it immediately the hunt was on for intersecting answers that might give it to me – likewise for 9a – I don’t know how you consciously build that into a puzzle, but it certainly glues the solver to the task – does me anyway.

    When I started solving cryptic puzzles (1963 – quite as a young boy you understand) I was told that one should tackle every clue in the order presented before taking advantage of the crossing letters – anything else showed great weakness of character. I used to do that – but more recently I have weakened and if I get a couple of early ones (that would be eg 1a and 4a in this grid set-up) I go straight for the “danglers”.

    Digressing somewhat – very good puzzle – many thanks for the fun.

    1. The warnings refer to a completely different puzzle! I started falling into the same trap, but realised that it was information on something completely different.

  3. I agree with the 2Ks, it did not take very long to establish to whom homage was being paid; but, it did take some head scratching to complete the solve including the use of Chambers resources.

    I really liked:

    The 4/11 combo – well clued.
    20a – a neat homophone element in an equally neat charade.
    13d – a very satisfying penny drop moment.

    Thanks and well done Whynot.

  4. Extremely clever – I enjoyed that.

    Presumably the whole of the top line was the theme title, backed up by 19d (of course) and themed words at 13d, 21d and 18a. Nice. I’m probably the only person here who’s never actually done one… maybe I should.
    I’d be interested to hear whether others think Whynot’s style is close in style, and to hear from Whynot whether or not that was the intention…

    Podium finishers for me were 9a, 22a and 30a. Bravo, looking forward to more.

  5. Drat – lost my comment again. My fault for trying to connect to the Internet via a piece of wet string in Madeira.

    Take 2 …

    Loved the puzzle, and a very fitting tribute. LOI was the ‘gathering’ one – nice definition. And my comment against the Hemingway clue: ‘very 1a’.

  6. A good steady solve with some nice touches. I thought there were quite a few gimmes, but I confess I have no idea what 19a is about. I am also a little unsure whether 1d is in the correct form. (-ic?).
    16a was the only snag and last in.
    Liked it, thanks Whynot.

  7. What a lovely tribute, Whynot. I really enjoyed it.

    I share LetterboxRoy’s question mark over the ear in 1d, but that was the only possible issue I could see at all. I predict a very low score on the commentometer.

    I’ll take a little punt that 30a originally was going to start MA, but that the grid said no.

    My last in was 16a, since I didn’t know the tax and took a while to twig how it fit the definition. Last to parse was 6d – like the “not fit for smaller frameworks” :) .

    I particularly enjoyed 24a, 27a, 29a, 15d … and my favourite 9a.

    Cheers Whynot, and well done. Thanks in advance Prolixic for the review.

    P.S. I’ve bookmarked the Go puzzle and will tackle that when I’m feeling brave.

  8. Thanks Whynot, all good stuff.
    I actually failed to finish (16a) but entirely my fault, as I had a brain-freeze on how to spell the solution, and I didn’t know the tax. I also don’t understand how 1a works, or understand ‘reds’ in 22a. ‘Ear’ in 1d made me pause, but it’s fine and quite neat and sly. Other than that, plain sailing. Favourites were 4/11, 14, 22, and 15. I got the impression you were being quite careful with your clues. Maybe that was because you were trying to write a particular type of puzzle, or it’s to ensure you get a clean sheet, but there seemed to be less of the jokey elements (such as here in 22a) that I enjoyed in your other puzzles.
    I haven’t looked at the go puzzle yet, but will get round to it.

  9. Welcome back, Whynot.

    Whilst I fully concur with the sentiment behind the puzzle, I have to say that a crossword entitled “Homage” that has barely five or six clues directly linked to the person in question struck me as very disappointing. There is so much rich clue material from which to choose as well – he served in the Navy, was a TV actor, a member of the Magic Circle etc., it didn’t do the great man justice I felt. Whether it was deliberate or not, the sprinkling of old chestnuts like 9a, 3d and 26d throughout the puzzle plus barely cryptic clues like 28a and 17d did make me wonder if the setter was making a point that 1a is more synonymous with these sort of clues? I hope not.

    I thought four homophones in one puzzle was pushing things a bit, unusual to see them outnumbering the anagrams for once though. My favourite clue was 28a. I cringed at both 14a and 22a.

    Thanks Whynot.

  10. Hi Whynot,
    As with your previous puzzle I thought that, in general, it was the shorter clues that were the most successful although I didn’t know either the tax in 16a or the gentile in 30a.

    Like Silvanus, 14&22a made me cringe a little and I wasn’t very taken with the surface of 1a.

    Pick of the bunch for me were the 4/11 combo along with 28&29a and 13d.

    Thank you, Whynot, no doubt ‘see’ you again ‘ere long.

  11. I did finish, though 14A was a bung-in of the only word I could think of to fit and it turned out to be correct (I checked) but I have no idea why. I’ve never heard of the 16A tax either. Having read the comments, I understand the puzzle title. Initially I was looking for more setters. I quite enjoyed the solve though would have welcomed a bit more sparkle. Thanks Whynot.

  12. Clearly a strong hint as to when this puzzle was actually written!

    Lovely tribute, I assume 21d and 13d are part of the theme as well. Also 18a (which I can’t parse – does it need some GK?). I’m sure the subject will nod his approval!

    Was baffled at 16a, as were several others it seems. And at 19a I thought of several words that could have fit the clue – albeit the most obvious one is only six letters long if spelt correctly. Is the clue perhaps too vague? No matter: the crossers pinned it down.

    Oh and I started with a different second word in 17d – equally plausible. This threw me for a while.

    Others have gone on at some length about 22a! I’ll just add, speaking as a bridge-player, the word means something different to me than what the clue says!

    Nice one Whynot! Keep ’em coming!

    1. Hi Laccaria,
      Yes, 18a depends upon you having knowledge of the recording in question – no other way of getting there as far as I could see. I think a similar problem occurs in 19a.

  13. I came to this after quite a trying morning which may explain my problems with parts of it

    Mr CS laughed out loud when I read the clue and solution to 4/11 so that’s our favourite.
    10a I’ve check in the BRB and would like to ask how is CN China?
    14a was my last one in as I did struggle with that one and needed the checking letters
    16a I did know the tax so…
    1d As others have said, OTIC doesn’t mean ‘ear’

    A nice tribute but I think, as Silvanus says, 5 solutions doth not quite a tribute make

    Thanks to Whynot and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. I think the homage is ambitiously represented in some of the style as well as in the answers you mention. Not a simple feat, congratulations to Whynot.

      1. Yes Dutch, that’s what I thought, but not being desperately familiar with 1a, I’m pleased to see you thought so too. And a mighty brave feat to pull off imitating the style of a setter like the great man himself!

    2. Although CN is not in the BRB , googling turns it up as an unofficial international vehicle registration and also lowercase cn as an internet domain. Although I still have an issue with ‘speak’ in the definition.

  14. I thought this was a curate’s egg of a puzzle mixing bizarre surfaces (e.g. 1a) with some nicely pithy clues (28a, for example, was appropriately very Rufus-esque).

    My eye immediately caught 17d and I bunged in “stag night” without any hesitation. What havoc that created in the SE corner!

    Surely 10a means to “sing softly” not to “speak softly”, and, as others have mentioned, “otic” doesn’t mean “ear. I’ve never heard of the tax in 16a not the gentile in 30a, and I don’t understand at all the wordplay for the answer to 22a. Also “one” in 19d is superfluous but is needed as padding for the wordplay.

    There was a lot of good stuff too, with 4/11 my runaway favourite.

    Many thanks, Whynot.

    1. Hi RD,

      Chambers has “obsolete” for the “tax” in 16a, so I thought the setter should have included some reference to that to be fair to the solver. “One” is needed in 19d, it is referring to 1a, i.e. the alter ego of 19d. I thought the construction was clever, the surface wasn’t very convincing sadly.

      1. Aha. Thanks for the guidance on 19d, Silvanus. I see now that it is a double definition plus wordplay, but, as you rightly say, the surface leaves something to be desired.

        1. The gentile one is worth storing away though, RD, it does crop up from time to time (plus it’s useful if you’re setting!). I liked that clue plenty!

  15. Superb. Even if I still have 16a to go.
    Never been his greatest fan but I admire the amount of 21d clues which were his specialty.
    Favourite has to be that great triple def in 19d.
    Thanks to Whynot for the fun.

  16. I was on a stag night as well, which definitely made the SE corner much more difficult for a while! Loved 4/11 and 22a. Still not sure about the parsing of 1a, but a nice tribute to one of the greats. No doubt Prolixic will elucidate in due course.

    1. I believe 14a is the sort of anagram where you have to pick letters here and there. The Ned to some extent reminded me of the back page clue at 28a:” Almost get”.

  17. Thanks, Whynot, for a puzzle which was a steady solve but with some headscratching and e-help required. My years as a regular Guardian reader were before the subject’s time there so I only came across his puzzles occasionally, but he certainly deserved a tribute.

    As to the puzzle itself, there was lots to enjoy and I particularly liked 19ac, 22ac, 24ac and 7dn. I did have issues, though – as others have already pointed out – with 10ac and 1dn. I thought 3dn and 26dn were something of ‘old chestnuts’ but at least 3dn helped with 14ac and every puzzle needs a few easy clues to get you started.

    Thanks again.

  18. Hi Whynot, got there in the end with a bit of help from crossword solver for 3d (have never come across that meaning of last before, but an excellent clue). That gave me the final checking letter in 14a, so I was able to put an answer in, which I think is right even if I still don’ t get the clue!
    Apart from that, a generally enjoyable solve with some nice homophones (8d and 22d) and some smooth surface readings.
    Judging by the comments on the latest survey, we did the right thing in keeping our Spoonerisms for other sites!
    Keep up the good work

  19. Many thanks to Prolixic for a fine review with many helpful remarks to assist in improving my setting skills, and to all those who commented and provided feedback which assists similarly.

    As was soon clear to all, this was a Rufus tribute, on the occasion of the world’s most prolific crossword setter’s recent retirement. The theme was expressed in a number of ways:

    o a number of lights, specifically RUFUS, A FAREWELL across row 1, SQUIRES @ 19d and CRYPTIC + DEFINITION (@21d & 18d), one of Rufus’s trademarks (I had originally hoped to have DOUBLE in there as well, with the clue for DEFINITION linking CRYPTIC and DOUBLE somehow, but I couldn’t get a fill) and, of course, at the very heart of this puzzle (literally), and every puzzle created by the Master (figuratively), FUN! How nice it would have been to get in MAGIC, as Kitty suggested, although I think a much bigger grid would have been needed to meet Sylvanus’ notion that I should have covered all the other aspects of Roger Squires’ remarkable life as well as the crosswords for which he is most famous.

    o a number of clue surfaces such as 1a, 9a, 27a, 3d (and, thinking of 21d, I wonder whether Mr Squires ever gets a tear of nostalgia looking at, say, the photo which accompanied the Telegraph announcement of his retirement – https:[slash][slash]www[dot]telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk[slash]men[slash]thinking-man[slash]no-clues-prolific-puzzler-takes-bow ?)

    o an attempt to imitate the great man’s style, a gentle puzzle with plenty of cryptic definitions and double definitions and straightforward wordplay, with no obscure words for answers. Not being that great man myself, my success in this sense was limited and one or two more complex clues crept in, more reminiscent of other crosswords I’ve made than of Rufus. However, it seems that in at least one case (9a), as Jolly Swagman has pointed out, I managed to catch Rufus’ style so well that I actually (unknowingly) copied one of his 2M+ clues.

    Some remarks on clues:

    In 1across (RUFUS), although Prolixic’s parsing also works (and was also how my test-solver read it), the intention for the RU was in fact R(oger) (Able-Baker phonetic alphabet) + in the end, (yo)U. Using the up-to-date SMS U=you and not the outdated Able-Baker phonetic alphabet may indeed be better received, depending on the particular editor presumably. Comments on that point welcome.

    In 10across (CROON), CN is the ISO two-letter code for China (https:[slash][slash] countrycode[dot]org[slash]china), which is used in some sporting events (in particular Go!), although the three-letter code, CHN, is more usual. That however, is not found in dictionaries so may not be valid for a cross word. As Prolixic says, Collins has “sing or speak softly”, although I only knew it as singing myself before finding that, so perhaps “sing softly” would have been better, especially with the unusual CN.

    In 16across (ABSCESS), I myself only knew of cess as a tax from solving crosswords, but I thought it was “one of those words” all crossworders knew (and in fact I note that most prolific of solvers crypticsue did know it). Apologies are due for that clue – which gave so much trouble — because, as noted, cess is an obsolete word, a fact which should have been indicated, and that together with an obscure defining term made it somewhat unfair. For the record, I relied for that definition on Chambers’ “a suppurating swelling”, which an ABSCESS is, I believe(?). A special apology for Jean-Luc here, as that must have been almost impossible for someone with English, however fluent, as a second language. A special thank you to him also for his most complimentary words despite that. Merci, Jean-Luc!

    For 18across (FUN), I also owe an apology to Laccaria and anyone else who has never heard of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, by Cyndi (sic) Lauper because, as CS has rightly pointed out, there was no other route to the answer from this cryptic definition.

    19across (SAMURAI) and 28across (INTERRUPT) were only very mildly cryptic (and Prolixic, rightly perhaps, would not even distinguish the latter with that term). It was a nice surprise, therefore, to see that both of those were picked out as favourites by at least one commenter each.

    20across (CHAOTIC) was actually a late substitution for a far inferior clue, and Prolixic’s point that “lid” works better in a down clue did actually occur to me after submission. I shall have to watch that point in future.

    22across (UNDERBID) relied on the fact that Kiwis pronounce bid as most of the English-speaking world pronounces bed (and vice versa). Our 2Kiwis shouldn’t take umbrage, as they’re as entitled to their accent as the rest of us are to ours. This may have gone over the heads of some not familiar with that accent, though I had a comment (elsewhere) from someone in Fiji with many Kiwi friends who said it did make him laugh. See https:[slash][slash]youtu[dot]be[slash]ns-ZmTqCb3c?t=20s for further on that accent. Younger folk may also not be so familiar with the expression “reds under the bed” (to refer to exaggerated fear of Communism), but I notice it figured in a Guardian header to a letter about the recent unfounded smears against Jeremy Corbyn: https:[slash][slash]www[dot]theguardian[dot]com[slash]world[slash]2018[slash]feb[slash]20[slash]jeremy-corbyn-spy-tales-revive-reds-under-the-bed-paranoia

    In 27across (REALM), I accept (again) the point about the use of “top”, although I definitely prefer my surface to the (semantically different) alternative offered by Prolixic.

    In 30across (YOGIC), the definition is actually the adjectival “of (a) mystic”, so Prolixic’s specific criticism of the use of “of” is in fact unfounded.

    In 1down (ROBOTIC), I was of the view that “ear surgeon/infection” could substitute for “otic surgeon/infection”, but I see Prolixic and the crowd are against me on that one. I take it “mound” in the review was a typo.

    I loved the cryptic definition for 3down (SHOEMAKER), especially as it fitted the theme so well, but I’m not surprised that it was described as a “chestnut” by some (I gave you that rope to hang me with the other week, didn’t I, Sylvanus?), and I would be not at all surprised to find Rufus had used it himself.

    I was pleased with the surface of 15down (IMMEDIATE), but I must confess it was a lie, as I had first-class help in the form of a test-solve from one of your number (who may make himself known if he wishes), which undoubtedly improved the puzzle considerably.

    It seems a number of solvers found an equally valid answer for 17down (STAG PARTY) in “stag night”, something I must confess didn’t occur to me, so I’m glad the crossers resolved the question. It’s certainly something I must watch out for in future.

    In 19down (SQUIRES), I must admit the surface isn’t great. I was actually thinking of a novice being guided across the rigging on an old sailing ship, but that just shows how poor my nautical vocabulary is as sheet is specifically only “a line or rope for controlling the position of a sail to the wind” (Collins). Somewhat embarrassing, especially given Mr Squires service history.

    Anyone who would like to know more about Rufus should read the excellent 2011 interview conducted by Shuchi, which can be found at http:[slash][slash]www[dot]crosswordunclued[dot]com[slash]2011[slash]11[slash]interview-roger-squires.html

    Lastly, thank you and good luck to those who have said they will try my Go puzzle!

    1. “CS has rightly pointed out”

      Actually, reviewing, I note it was Jane, not Sue who pointed out the flaw in the FUN clue. Apologies to Jane for the misattribution, and thanks for highlighting an important shortcoming.

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