Rookie Corner – 204 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 204

A Puzzle by Rags

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Rags returns with his second puzzle.  I know he has tried very hard to take on board the lessons he learnt from his debut puzzle. 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 Rags with his second crossword.  His first puzzle (175) was a promising debut but there was a need to work on some of the surface readings.  This has been done in this crossword.  However, as a result, there are quite a few more minor (and some more major) quibbles on the wordplay itself.  Getting convincing surface readings with good cryptic grammar by far the hardest task for the setter so this should not be seen as a discouragement.  A lot of the clues were inventive and had good wordplay.


1 Heads we’re winning, tails we’re not (7)
LEADERS – A straight definition with the remaining words in clue giving a misleading phrase referring to the toss of a coin although a a stretch, the tails could be the opposite of the solution in  a queue of people.  I don’t think that this clue quite hits the mark.  The idea is clever but just does not gel.

5 Cheese-eating united thousands from English city (7)
BRUMMIE – A type of French cheese includes the abbreviation for United and two Ms (thousands in Roman numerals).  The inclusion of the hyphen unfortunately reverses the intended wordplay with the implication that the UMM includes the French cheese.

9 Imply ‘return shabby goods’, for example (3,2)
GET AT – A reversal (return) a three letter word for shabby goods and the abbreviation for say or for example.

10 On a quest, I modified formulas (9)
EQUATIONS – An anagram (modified) of ON A QUEST I.

11 Large stones set me a slight problem! (9)
MEGALITHS – An anagram (set) of ME A SLIGHT.  The “problem” appears to be padding.  The alternative would be for problem to be the anagram indicator but as a noun this would not be acceptable to all editors and set would then be an awkward link word as “definition set wordplay’.

12 A place that’s only half comforting? (5)
THERE – A word that is repeated when giving words of comfort to someone distressed.

13 Homeless child distressed waitress with note (4)
WAIF – Remove a word for hair from the waitress in the clue and follow with the letter representing a musical note.

15 Voucher lures Rodney back in (8)
ENDORSER – The answer is hidden (in) and reversed (back) in LURES RODNEY.  The positioning of the wordplay indicator “back in” at the end of the clue does not work for me.

18 Requirement to get men on board… (5,3)
CHESS SET – Cryptic definition of the pieces needed for a board game.

19 …does sound familiar (4)
DEER  – A homophone (sound) of “dear” (familiar).

22 Passage of tailless insect (5)
LOCUS – Remove the final letter (tailless) from an insect that devours crops when they come in a plague.

24 Old, worn out description of cast? (4-5)
WORM-EATEN – The cast is what this creature produces when it goes through the earth.

26 German Union? Waste of time (9)
DALLIANCE – The abbreviation for German followed by a word for a union.  The letter used for German is used incorrectly.  The letter is the IVR code for Germany not German.

27 Crop photo and nothing more for a lasting impression (5)
IMAGO – Remove the final letter (crop) from another word for a photo and follow with the letter representing nothing.

28 During the cricket, you’re liable to collapse! (7)
RICKETY – The answer is hidden in (during) CRICKET YOU’RE.  The “the” could have been omitted from the clue.

29 One can handle rough terrain (7)
TRAINER – An anagram (rough) of TERRAIN.


1 Fruit from Hull (6)
LEGUME – A fruit that can be shelled (from hull or husk).  As the solution are peas or beans, perhaps vegetable would have been a better definition although fruit as the product of something works.

2 Sign above a tavern: ‘Ragout Special!’ (9)
AUTOGRAPH – An anagram (special) of RAGOUT followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for public house (tavern).  I don’t think that special works as an anagram indicator after the letters to be rearranged.  Before the letters it would work as an adjective as in peculiar.

3 Express approval of a standard size; X-L (5)
EXTOL – The letter representing a standard European size (short for estimated) followed by the X-L with the – changed to TO.  The actual letter is not really an “e”. It looks like one – it is a symbol in its own right.

4 These may need support in bed (9)
SWEET PEAS – Cryptic definition of a climbing plant that needs support in a garden bed.  Chambers gives the enumeration as 5,4.  As there are so many climbing plants that this type of cryptic definition is very difficult to solve correctly without the crossing letters.

5 Spells primarily brought on unfortunate travails, sadly (5)
BOUTS – The initial letters (primarily) of the final five words of the clue.

6 Lacking form, turned out disastrously (9)
UNTUTORED – An anagram (disastrously) of TURNED OUT.

7 Flying over some wapiti (5)
MOOSE – An anagram (flying) of O (over) SOME.

8 Followed action-packed final (6)
ENSUED – A three letter for for final includes (packed) a three letter word for action.  The word required in the wordplay means to take action, not the action itself.

14 Angle-cutting turning tool (4,5)
FISH SLICE – A four letter word meaning to angle (as a pastime or sport) followed a word for a cutting.

16 It’s French potatoes, not apples, conservationists block (9)
DETERRENT – The French word for potatoes has the French word for apples removed and then followed by the abbreviation for National Trust (conservationists).

17 What spotter does and what may result (9)
EYESTRAIN – Split 4, 5, the answer suggests what spotters on a railway platform might do. 

20 It’s pulled up, but comes back down again, naturally (6)
GLIDER – Cryptic definition of a powerless aircraft.  As others have noted, sledge would be an equally valid answer.  Care has to be taken with this type of cryptic definition.

21 One place to find old, old interior (6)
INDOOR – Split 2,4, the answer suggests one place where you might find O O (old, old).

23 Oil prepared in small quantity to cure this? (5)
COLIC – An anagram (prepared) of OIL inside the abbreviation for cubic centimetre (small quantity).

24 Out of line – a likely state after five downs (5)
WONKY – How you might be after five drinks.  I don’t think that this clue survived the change in the answer to 5d very well.

25 Central American’s ling (5)
ERICA – The central letters of AMERICANS.

This week’s commentometer reads as 7.5 / 32 or 23.4%.

47 comments on “Rookie Corner – 204

  1. We really enjoyed that. The last corner to fall was the NW and that certainly took us well into Toughie time. We also had a delay in the SW where we, probably influenced by the weather that you people have been having, had put in a different answer for 20d that fitted perfectly with the definition and the first two checkers but gave us a wrong starting letter for 28a.
    Lots of clever clues that we enjoyed but podium place for us goes to 14d.

  2. Congratulations Rags = excellent puzzle, oozing with quality. Most enjoyable indeed.
    Loads of ticks in my margin, but favourites would have to include 5a,13a,15a, 24a, 1d, 8d, 16d and 23d.
    Pitched very well for difficulty, I thought – anything which took a bit of thought was accompanied by a virtual slap to the forehead upon realisation.
    Quibbles were tiny, but I’d enumerate 4d as two words and I think there’s an ambiguity as to which way round the clue for 19a works. Oh, and I don’t think I’ve parsed 3d fully, but it may come to me…

  3. Tricky in places but I did enjoy it, despite having to reveal a letter a couple of times to make sure the solution I had was correct, when I couldn’t quite parse something.

    I too thought 4d was two words so thank you to Maize for looking it up for me.

    Thanks to Rags and in advance to Prolixic

  4. Hi Rags,

    Similar to 2Kiwis, Maize and Crypticsue I found this puzzle very enjoyable. Two-thirds or so went in quickly, with a lot more thought needed to finish the rest. I am still left with a couple to parse and await Prolixic’s review for those.

    I really liked 6d’s definition and 23d’s surface was very good. Lots of others I could praise, too.

    I wasn’t sure if the plurals in 16d led to an extra S; 15a and 19a were very solvable (what more does one want, I hear you ask!) but might not quite work for some of the stricter clue writers.

    And I am struggling slightly with the wordplay in 3d and 24d: those will most likely be PICNIC*-related though, as usual :-)

    Overall I think you’ve made excellent improvements since last time, especially in the precision of your definitions – I must praise 6d again!! Well done & I look forward to your next!


    *Yup, the usual: Problem In Chair Not In Crossword

  5. Welcome back, Rags.

    Add me to the growing list of those who found this really enjoyable, initially I had queries about one or two definitions but the BRB dispelled my doubts. The seemingly incorrect enumeration in 4d aside, the only quibble I had was in 8d, where I don’t think “action” on its own can be synonymous with “sue”.

    My numerous ticks went to 9a, 11a, 12a, 13a, 2d, 6d (my favourite), 16d, 17d and 23d.

    Congratulations on a well-assembled and fun product, thank you very much Rags.

  6. I found this quite tough but a very enjoyable challenge with some inventive clueing – thanks Rags. Top clues for me were 12a, 13a (excellent) 6d and 21d.
    D is the IVR code for Germany but is not the abbreviation for German. Is 18a a rather weak clue or have I missed something?
    Having failed to spot Rags’ Nina on his first puzzle I looked hard for one here (unsuccessfully).

  7. Hi Rags
    I think I must have missed your first puzzle, but I thought this was excellent.
    Lots of ticks: favourite was 2d, others include 13a, 6d, 16d, 17d, 12a, 20d, 24a, and plenty more perfectly good clues.
    Hardly any quibbles: sue, as noted by Silvanus, though when I solved it I thought it was pretty neat; D strictly is Germany, not German; in 24d, you have ‘five downs’. It strikes me now that maybe you mean 5 KO’s, but I took it to mean ‘solutions to 5d’. Since this is already plural, I don’t think there should be an s on down; I didn’t think set [fodder] problem quite worked as an anagram indicator.
    You’ve used hyphens in a few places to combine fodder/indication. I liked it for ‘action-packed’ because final is packed with action. ‘Angle-cutting’ also fine. In cheese-eating, I thought you could/should have left out the hyphen. I take ‘cheese-eating’ to mean that something is eating the cheese, rather than the other way round. Solvers are sometimes expected to ignore punctuation, but I think this is a bit like ‘indeed’, when the solver has to split the word up to put something in de***ed. The clue would have read just as well without it.
    I quite liked your cryptic definitions, (1d, 4d, 20d). I did wonder, though, whether there was enough in the clues to identify the solution once the clue had been recognised as a CD. This applied particularly to 4d. I could see what the clue meant, but there was nothing in the clue to nail it to that particular solution.

  8. Hi Rags,

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle, satisfyingly difficult but not ott so. Lots of clues to like as is already obvious from other comments. Me I particularly liked 12a, 15a (which I didn’t see for ages, I had Rod back but was looking for lures somehow), 29a, 2d (excellent), 6d, 7d, 16d, 17d.

    There were some minor, dare i say advanced, errors but these are the kind many setters normally make and get high-lighted at a test-solve stage.

    I think i did what the 2Kiwis did and entered SLEDGE for 20d, which seemed as good an answer – and is a general warning for cd’s.

    I agree with Gazza about German, and the enumeration for 4d. 4d is another cd with many possible valid answers, so you really are dependent on the checkers to make it unique, something i’m not so keen on.

    I think ‘the’ in 28a should not be there.

    Not all editors will go for the hyphenations. Action-packed is solid, because it says what it means, but cheese-eating and angle-cutting less so.

    I wasn’t sure what “set” was doing in 11a. Part of definition? a link? Not everyone likes nounal anagrams like problem, though some (e.g., rearrangement) seem pretty safe.

    18a ‘requirement’ seemed a strange choice though i get what you mean, and it may lead to some thinking the clue is weak.

    22a, a new meaning of the answer for me, thank you.

    24a I might be missing something, but it seemed to me the answer is not necessarily a description of cast?

    24d is the plural ‘downs’ a plural too many? Also, perhaps not necessarily a likely state, possible state maybe, unless i’m missing something again, which happens a lot i should add.

    I think I’m missing something in 21d, the wordplay seems incomplete to me at the moment – no doubt a PICNIC thing (thanks Encota)

    I’m not sure I know where the E comes from in 3d, so I am keen to see the review.

    So I hope those comments are useful. I don’t expect you’ll stay in Rookie corner very long, and i am expecting a pretty low score on the commentometer.

    Well done and thanks for the entertainment

    1. Re the E in 3d: I reckon you have to write the X-L as x to l and then the answer becomes a lurker (of) in standard size: x to l.

  9. Oops! I tried to make a long post on this blog, but it crashed just as I hit “Post comment”. Teach me not to save my post in Notepad first!

    Oh well: 2nd try, more laconically. Not overly taxing. I couldn’t quite parse 1a – either I’m missing something ingenious or something very obvious – I’ll wait for Prolix to come in.

    Liked 5a – think it’s fine if a hyphen belongs in the surface but not in the wordplay (contrast 8d where the hyphen does double duty). Also liked 12a, 13a (is this a lift-and-separate type?), 15a (excellent definition – and the wordplay a much better example of this type than in 28a which I thought a bit weak); also like 17d and 21d (assuming I’ve understood the parsing).

    16d perhaps, again, a bit too easy for anyone with a bit of schoolboy French up their sleeve! But still a clever clue.

    I’m not sure about 24d – but others have commented on it so I’ll leave it at that.

    Comments on definitions. I think 1d is OK, the word ‘fruit’ more or less covers it. But 7d I query – I don’t think the word ‘wapiti’ is quite the right one here. I think 14d is ok if you take ‘cutting’ as a noun (e.g. of a plant), but not otherwise.

    Good work Rags. Keep going!

  10. I enjoyed this so much more than your debut puzzle, Rags. You obviously did pay close attention to the comments made then and – my word – it shows.

    So many goodies to choose from here, even a cricket clue that wasn’t remotely connected to the game!
    I have a couple of question marks alongside 21&24d which didn’t quite work for me but those are my only grumbles this time.

    Plenty of potential favourites but I think 17d just won out for me.

    Thank you, Rags – it’s a pleasure to see a new setter using Rookie Corner for exactly what BD intended.

  11. Thanks you all for your kind comments and feedback, all of which is noted with interest.

    4d – I don’t know what happened there, I definitely checked but it slipped through the net somehow.
    8d – ‘sue’ – I knew it was pushing it, but couldn’t resist the surface
    26a – Chambers online gives 2 IVR: Deutschland (German), Germany so I thought it OK
    24d – 5d was originally ‘beers’ hence ‘after five downs’ but then I thought of downs as in ‘downs/necks’ drinks?
    3d – Chambers gives ‘e’ as ‘a symbol of a standard size required by EU law’, then X to L

    I take the point regarding the nailing of cryptic definitions 4d, 20d.

    Clues such as 18a – barely cryptic, yes; but better to be simple and correct than complicated and wrong. (Thank you Dutch).

    I note that the most popular clue by my reckoning is currently 6d – an anagram! I suppose that demonstrates the power of a credible surface.

    Oh, and Gazza – I do hope you’re not still looking for a Nina! I decided to concentrate on improving the accuracy and surfaces of my clues rather than trying to be too clever this time, a lesson learnt from my first puzzle.

    1. The (German) after Deutschland is just saying that Deutschland is a German word, not that D can mean German.

    2. ‘D’ can mean German, as in Deutsche Bahn – German Railways, but whether it’s acceptable to import it into English is another matter altogether. Of course, the clue could have read ‘Dutch Union …’ when it would have been OK, but hindsight is a marvellous thing …

    3. The general rules for abbreviations used in crosswords are a) they should be supported by a major dictionary such as Chambers and b) they should be able to stand alone, not just as part of a longer abbreviation e.g. A represents Air in RAF, but is not acceptable on its own.

  12. Well done Rags, an enjoyable puzzle.

    I tuned out of the required frequency somewhere through this and made a few reveals. I had trouble with the cryptic definitions. For 1d and 4d I could guess roughly what was required but struggled to get further. In the case of 20d I was trying to make things more complicated than they were.

    A few more questions remain (e.g. I can’t make heads nor tails of the second half of 1a) but will give them more thought, read the comments properly, then tomorrow the review, and come back in the unlikely event that anything remains after that.

    Some really good bits. My favourites are 5a, 13a, 15a (where I was misled exactly as Dutch above), 24a, and 2d and 17d.

    Thanks Rags, and advance thanks to Prolixic.

  13. Thanks, Rags – very enjoyable and some really clever stuff . My personal favourites were 13a and 8d. Great surface read and economy of wording in 8d, although, as others have pointed out, I’m not convinced that “action” can be a verb. Made things hard for myself in the SW corner by biffing polio for 23d! I finished up in the NW corner with 1a and 1d being my last ones in. I’m still not sure I fully understand 1a. Thanks again – great fun.

  14. Late to the party, so there’s not really anything to add to what folk have said already. So I’ll just add that I found this a mixture of the fairly straightforward and the more convoluted – what one should expect from a good crossword.

  15. Nice puzzle Rags – although I do have a few quibbles.

    Mainly for one-sided clues that don’t quite work as a typical cryptic definition- eg 1a and 18a didn’t really do it for me. Also two-sided clues (eg 27a) where both sides are about almost the same thing (eg common stem) don’t really do much for me.

    A long time ago these were common fare in some circles – not any more – certainly not in UK dailies and other similar series.

    5a was my favourite – but one has to allow that word-splitting (and even hyphen-dropping) is cheered on in some quarters but decried in others. You’d think the DT would be a home of the former (as Douglas Barnard set the setting standards for most of its history) – not sure where they’re up to since another change of puzzle editor. Nor whether DT standards are necessarily essential here where one of the main attractions of this slot is the variety of what gets presented.

    Most of your conventional clues were very good.

    26a (the answer at least) comes round quite often with the same construction that you have, although differently clued. No doubt some will pick you for D = German – personally when I see D on a car it tells me that that car is “from Germany'” – ie German – not that the car somehow *is* Germany – even though it seems quite reasonable for dictionaries to equate D with Germany itself. Unfortunately the common crossword blog non sequitor: “X means Y – therefore it can’t possibly mean Z” comes into play.

    1d I wondered whether that answer can refer to fruits – in that instance it goes the other way – probably more often vegetables in regular parlance, but technically yes – and there’s dictionary support for that – so you’re home and dry.

    On the subject of dictionary support, looking at the answer to 4d, I would have preferred a two word letter count. Some dictionaries may well support the one-word spelling (maybe the BRB does – it tends to be over-inclusive rather than prescriptive) but where there’s a choice I always prefer the more commn everyday one. That’s my personal preference as a solver – I certainly see professional setters (good ones) leaning the other way – but I’m never keen.

    Enough words. You already made me work hard enough solving the jolly thing – but it was a good tussle and fun, for which many thanks.

  16. I had several answers which I could not parse until P’s review however I enjoyed this more accessible puzzle from Rags. Compliments to setter & reviewer.

  17. Many thanks for the review Prolixic. Don’t think I’d realised just how many points you would need to bring up about this one but I’m pleased to see that I didn’t miss anything subtle in 1a.
    I’m sure Rags will continue to improve and I look forward to seeing his next puzzle.

  18. For what it’s worth I thought that 1a was a triple def.

    Heads = leaders
    we’re winning = leaders
    tails we are not = leaders.

    Hey ho.

    1. I must say that was my interpretation too, I wonder if Rags will let us know if that was his intention?

  19. Like some others, maybe, I think Prolixic tends towards the didactic side when analysing crosswords on this blog. I think some of his judgements are a wee bit harsh.

    In 5a, I really don’t have a problem about that hyphen. To my mind, punctuation (unless it’s specifically part of the wordplay) belongs mostly to the *surface*.
    In 11a ‘problem’ is the obvious anagrind – I fail to see any difference whether it’s a noun or a verb, nor whether it comes before or after the fodder. An anagrind is an anagrind – end of story for me (if not for everyone)! But I guess Prolix is right about the ‘set’ in this clue – it doesn’t quite work.
    Likewise in 2d, no problems with the anagrind.
    In 15a ‘back in’ is good enough to suggest to me a reversed hidden word. After all, such clues are generally fairly easy anyway – no need to make them even easier by using a ‘stock’ indicator!
    26a – this seems to be a quibble about noun v. adjective: seemed fine to me.
    28a – I don’t see the ‘the’ as superfluous padding – on the contrary, it improves the surface. But I thought the clue one the whole was rather too easy (unlike 15a) – breaking up the word RICKETY further, or disguising its pronunciation (it that’s at all possble) would have made for a more ‘satisfying’ clue.
    1d is fine assuming the botanical definition of ‘fruit’.
    For 3d I though “EX” was simply the enunciation of the letter ‘X’ – as given thus in the BRB: “ex – n – the twenty-fourth letter of the modern English alphabet”. A bit of a clumsy clue though.

    On the other hand, I concur with Prolixic as regards 1a, 4d, 8d (after giving it a think), 20d (careful with those CDs!) and 24d.

    All this goes to show, I suppose, that we solvers/setters are a widely disparate bunch of people with widely disparate opinions. And there are many different publishers all of whom have different standards. Hugh Stephenson at the Guardian is reputedly fairly tolerant of outrageous clueing (witness e.g. Boatman and Enigmatist) – but on the other hand I’ve been told it’s devilish hard – well-nigh impossible, even – to get onto the Guardian. They seldom have a vacancy (Rufus’s slot has been filled it seems) and when they do, Hugh is on the lookout for something really ‘special’. My best aspirations, I suppose, are to get on to NTSPP on this blog – but that looks like I’ll need a lot of improvement! Or 1across? Or the Indy?

    [Wake up and stop daydreaming, Laccaria!]

    1. Thank you for posting, Laccaria.

      I wasn’t going to mention it, but I must admit I thought the review was ‘a wee bit harsh’, particularly since it was enjoyed by most.

      I pretty much agree entirely with your thoughts. To clarify a couple of points:

      1a is a triple definition – see pommers’ post above

      11a the definition is ‘large stones set’ since megaliths are not just lumps of rock, they are usually set or put in a specific place.

      1d the definition of a legume is the fruit of a plant which is produced in a shell, pod, husk or hull.

      As for the ‘back in’ and ‘problem’ and ‘special’ – they may be a matter of taste, but I have never read anywhere that they are categorically wrong.

      I knew there were one or two errors after I submitted it, but having already amended, then retracted one submission, I thought it better to let it run and see what reaction I got. I was very pleased with the reaction, so was a little surprised and a little disappointed with the review to be honest.

      As a test solver said to me in an email this afternoon – just move on.

      1. Might I add that 3d – yes e is a symbol that looks like an e, but duck, nothing, nil etc aren’t actually an o, either, but they are accepted and in popular use.

      2. Whilst I suppose Prolixic’s explaining of every nuance might stand a risk of being discouraging, I would urge him to continue doing so.
        Yes, there’s a danger of new setters feeling straight-jacketed, but consider a setter like Paul. His earliest puzzles for the Guardian would have all scored a big fat zero on the commentometer, but as he has gone on he has stretched the rules and sometimes even broken the rules – never through ignorance of those rules, but rather through innovating from a position of knowing them. Nowadays he’s arguably the most creative setter in Britain.
        So Rookie setters (a general address) screw your courage to the sticking place – accept the plaudits from solvers, and welcome the pointers from the review – they are, as I have said before, like gold dust!

        1. There you go again with “the rules” as if there were only one set. Of course that’s what the ximmies want us to think – that their rules are the standard and others are deviations from them. Complete nonsense – spin – or not to put too fine a point on it a bare-faced lie.

          Their devious tactic is to pretend (as you have just done) that their version is the orthodox one and anything different is maybe some sort of bohemian deviation from it.

          The history of the UK cryptic crossword tradition lies mainly in the Telegraph and Guardian series, both of which were (at the time – look at them now) internationally respected serious papers targetted at an intelligent audience who also wanted a bit of light entertainment in their daily read.

          That was the perfect storm which gave us what we now have – although in some ways what we have today is really just a tribute act to what those guys did back then – no software support – no online dictionaries – no comment blogs etc.

          Editorially both of those series adhered mainly to Barnard’s principles – not Ximenes’s.

          As Laccaria *correctly* states above:”there are many different publishers all of whom have different standards”.

          As I understand it Araucaria gave Paul his start – he then mastered the trivially easy task of adapting to the different editorial requirement of other papers so that we now see him across most of them – I agree he is very good at what he does – but if he had a mentor it was surely Araucaria – not Ximenes.

          And of course those who pretend that they are not blindly following Ximines but actually subscribing to something they call “cryptic grammar” are playing the same game even more deviously. A “cryptic grammar” is a set of rules and there are several versions – there is no universal natural one.

      3. I withdraw my quibble on 1a – it’s brilliant – but obviously (now that I’ve finally twigged “tails we’re not”) not a good example of the point I was making. That point still stands – although, as with so many things, it’s a matter of personal taste whether one the occasional non/hardly-cryptic clues in a cryptic puzzle -obviously Rufus got away with it and delighted his many followers over a long career.

        A surface like that doesn’t even suggest that it’s a clue at all but which then decodes into an accurate one is a great find.

        Did you not supply annotations (ie brief explanations of wordplay etc) for the benefit of the blogger?

      4. I suppose, now seeing the explanation, my only remaining quibble with 1a is the use of the word “we’re”. “Heads they’re winning…” etc. would have pointed a bit more clearly in the direction of the triple def., I think. It is not usual to refer to the solution word in the first person.

        But don’t mind me! Just an opinion, once again…

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