Rookie Corner – 217 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 217

A Puzzle by Exit

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Exit returns with his second Rookie 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.

Welcome back to Exit.  This was another well constructed crossword with only 7d attracting major comment.  With only a score of 1.5/33 on the commentometer (or 4.5%), this is an excellent achievement.  Perhaps the only other comment to make is that four hidden word clues in a crossword is a few too many.  Although this is only Exit’s second crossword, both have shown an assured touch that merits advancement to the pages of the NTSPP.

The top line reveals an author and one of his works.


1 This woman freed an Irish dramatist (8)
SHERIDAN – A three letter word meaning this woman followed by a three word meaning freed and the an from the clue.

5 Resurgence of Yugoslav ire engulfs opponents (6)
RIVALS – The answer is hidden (engulfs) and reversed (resurgence of) in YUGOSLAV IRE.

10 Sailors fool the German escaper (9)
ABSCONDER – The plural of the abbreviation for able seamen followed by a three letter word meaning fool and the German for this.

11 Short lecture covering papers relating to marine movement (5)
TIDAL – A four letter word meaning lecture with the final letter removed around (covering) a two letter word for identification papers.

12 Ill, abbreviated thus in Latin (3)
SIC – A four letter word meaning ill with the final letter removed (abbreviated).

13 Restaurants abandoned – ring Domino’s! (6,5)
DINING ROOMS – An anagram (abandoned) of RING DOMINOS.

14 Test site in Douro valley (4)
OVAL – The answer is hidden in (in) DOURO VALLEY.

15 Happiest 26 seen in a cemetery? (8)
EPITAPHS – An anagram (the indicator given as the answer to 26a) of HAPPIEST.

20 Enigmatic Transylvanian (not dead), discovered in Oregon (8)
ORACULAR – The name of a famous Transylvanian count without the abbreviation for dead inside (discovered in) the state code for Oregon

23 Oil or gas?  Flue needs modifying (4)
FUEL – An anagram (needs modifying) of FLUE.

26 Darn! G-men tee off in confusion (11)
DERANGEMENT – An anagram (off) of DARN G-MEN TEE.

28 Girl drowned in the Vendée (3)
EVE – The answer is hidden (drown in) THE VENDEE.

29 Crude rock fragments (5)
BRASH – Double definition.

30 Coffee morning, Heather?  No! (9)
AMERICANO -The abbreviation for morning followed by a five letter word meaning heather (as a plant) an the NO from the clue.

31 To trap headless chicken, setter needs quiet (6)
ENMESH – Remove the first letter (headless) from a three letter word for a chicken and follow this with a two letter word for the setter and a two letter word meaning be quiet.

32 Amicable match? (8)
FRIENDLY – Double definition.  Perhaps the two sides of the definition are a little too closely related.


1 Siân cons elaborate verse structure (8)
SCANSION – An anagram (elaborate) of SIAN CONS.

2 A simple sedan, that Seat is comfortable: … (4,5)
EASY CHAIR – A four letter word meaning simple followed by a word for which sedan is an example.  The A in the clue is not necessary and points the solver towards a noun where an adjective is required.  It could have been omitted.  Technically, an definition by example indicator is required for sedan.

3 … but operatic heroine is seen in this old estate (6)
ISOLDE – The answer is hidden in (is seen in) THIS OLD ESTATE.  A minor point but the “but” here does not sit nicely with definition.  Perhaps “with operatic heroine seen in this…”

4 A northern poet’s tempo marking (7)
ANDANTE– The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for Northern and the name of an Italian poet famous for his canto “Inferno”.

6 Gore follows assistant surgeon inside (8)
INTERNAL – The firs name of the old vice president Mr Gore after (follows) a five letter word for an assistant surgeon.

7 Abbado, say, dispensing with clarinet in recording? (5)
AUDIO – The first name of the Italian conductor Mr Abbado without a two letter abbreviation for clarinet.  The name of the conductor is too specialist for use in a cryptic crossword and the abbreviation for clarinet is not given in the main dictionaries and so a different indicator should be used even if the abbreviation is used in musical scores.

8 Special large tree – a sensation! (6)
SPLASH – A two letter abbreviation for special followed by the abbreviation for large and a three letter word for tree.

9 British character: one seen in Sultanate (6)
BRUNEI – The single letter abbreviation for British followed by a four letter word for a character and the letter representing one.  It is marginal whether wordplay seen in definition works.  I think it works but definition seen in wordplay is better.

16 Potential energy achieved initially in pulse (3)
PEA – The abbreviation for potential energy followed by the first letter (initially) of achieved.

17 Saudi home in disarray gets domestic servant (9)
HOUSEMAID – An anagram (in disarray) of SAUDI HOME.

18 Plant in a tin like this (8)
ACANTHUS – The A from the clue followed by a three letter word for a can and a four letter word meaning like this.

19 “Everything Italian is bloody” – a myth? (8)
ALLEGORY – A three letter word for everything followed by a single letter word being the Italian for is and four letter word meaning bloody.

21 Returning vessel picks up echoes indicating latitude? (6)
LEEWAY – A four letter word for a small fishing boat is reversed (returning) and includes two Es Echo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

22 Fawn possibly went up here in Hackney, it’s said (3,4)
ROE DEER – How a Cockney might say RODE (went up – on horseback) HERE.

24 Lee bid desperately for something to eat (6)
EDIBLE – An anagram (desperately) of LEE BID.

25 Band’s tour in Kent and Sussex? (6)
STRIPE – A four letter word for a tour inside the part of UK in which Kent and Sussex are to be found.

27 Mahler arrangement omits middle of The Kingdom (5)
REALM – An anagram (arrangement) of MAHLER without the middle letter of “the”.

51 comments on “Rookie Corner – 217

  1. A very nice puzzle – thanks Exit! There are LOTS of high quality clues: I particularly liked 13, 14 and 20 across.

    A few didn’t read quite as smoothly – but only a few.
    – in 5a the phrase used is slightly clumsy
    – in 3d I think the first ‘is’ is unnecessary and probably detracts / makes it easier
    – in 9d the ‘character’ may need an extra indicator
    – in 32a perhaps the two meanings aren’t separate enough? Are they from the same headword in Chambers, for example?

    But these really are minor compared with the overall quality of this puzzle. A straightforward solve and very enjoyable with it!

    I really look forward to your next :-)



  2. A very competently put together puzzle that we thoroughly enjoyed. Ticks beside many of the clues but will single out 20a and 30a for special mention.
    Thanks Exit.

  3. Very enjoyable. I concur with the 2Kiwis on 20a and 30a and I would add 10a to my list of best clues.

    A handful of comments:

    3d – I was confused (easily done) by the ‘is’ before ‘seen in’ so I agree with Encota’s comment on this.

    7d – Chambers does not show CL as an abbreviation for clarinet (I am assuming that the clue is referring to Claudio Abbado the conductor).

    19d – I thought that Italian giving E, presumably European, was a bit of a stretch.

    Thanks Exit.

    1. With 19d. Our Italian is a bit dodgy but think that ‘e’ is one of the cases of the verb to be. Used as the equivalent of he/she/it is.

      1. Yes, ‘è’ is the Italian for ‘is’, but also ‘he/she/it is’, as subject pronouns are not used except for emphasis.

      2. One lives and learns. Other than ‘due birre per favore’ my Italian is non-existent.

        1. In this week’s Guardian cluing comp, someone has used ‘Chinese people’ to code for -REN-

  4. Many thanks Exit, I enjoyed that. Lots of cultural references, including the paired 1 & 5ac made me wonder if there was a ghost theme – maybe I’m missing something?
    Overall a fairly breezy start to our crosswording week – plenty of anagrams and pitched just right for the Rookie Corner solvership.

  5. A Rookie puzzle solved in no time at all with little if any head-scratching. I have only one query, which has been mentioned above, so I’ll just say thank you to Exit, and in advance, to Prolixic

  6. Thanks to Exit for an enjoyable puzzle with smooth surfaces. I liked the top line pairing. As mentioned above the 7d abbreviation isn’t in Chambers (I can’t find it in Collins on-line either) and 32a seems a bit same-both-sidesy.
    Four hidden words were possibly one too many although all were very well done.
    Top clues for me were the 2d/3d pairing and 21d.
    Please keep them coming.

  7. Thanks Exit, all very tidy
    Lots of good clues – I liked ‘ring Domino’s’, 14a, 19d and 25d best. Agree with Gazza about 32a and thought the same applied to the sedan part of 2d.
    Not really a criticism, but overall it was an easy puzzle. I solved all of the across clues at first sight, save 29a, for which I didn’t know the rock meaning. I then deleted everything and solved all the down clues without crossers, something I’ve never done before.

  8. Welcome back, Exit.

    This second puzzle has certainly maintained the promise shown in your debut, well done indeed.

    A very enjoyable solve, well-clued and smooth surfaces for the most part. My only reservation was that, in three cases, you’ve constructed “lurkers” to be “answer in wordplay” (14a, 28a and 3d) and some variation in indicators would have been better.

    I have plenty of ticks on my printed page, but my overall favourite clue was 21d, closely followed by 17d.

    Many thanks and congratulations. I look forward to your next one.

        1. I don’t normally venture into Indy Crossword territory because I find its website annoying and difficult to navigate but, encouraged by the comments here, I managed to print out the right puzzle after a mere five minutes of cursing. I’m glad I persevered because the puzzle is excellent. Thanks Silvanus.

  9. Bon matin á Menton!

    Fortunately Big Dave gave me an advance copy of the crossword so the review will be up on Tuesday as normal.

  10. What an enjoyable solve with 13A my favourite! My jazz collection of 1300 CDs features “cl” as an abbreviation for clarinet on a very regular basis so I was comfortable with that! Overall, as far as the puzzle is concerned, I can truly say “È il mio cavallo di battaglia”, thanks to the setter.

  11. Like Mucky, this was solved pretty much on sight, in order. Most of my queries are noted above but I would add that 23a is a four letter word with two checkers; not an ideal anagram clue. Another minor point but following the instructions for 15a produces a very strange sentence.

    Overall I thought this a good puzzle which was enjoyable to solve, so thank you and well done Exit.

  12. Well done Exit, a very good crossword with many wonderful surfaces – e.g. 2d/3d, 21d, 13a.

    I had very few comments most of which have already been picked up. I had imagined 3 was the maximum number of hiddens but other people say two.

    1d and 29a were new to me, as was the italian ‘is’ and CL, which despite appearances on Jazz records may not be legal as it isn’t in chambers and collins.

    I agree 32 both sides are based on the same meaning of the same word.

    I didn’t parse 22d, so i look forward to the review.

    Congratulations on a beautiful piece of work

  13. Excellent puzzle with clear wordplay and good surfaces. Not difficult, so nice for a Monday.

    Pleased to find I knew all the cultural references except Abbado, which was LOI after a quick google. Wasn’t aware that ‘cl’ is not a dictionary abbreviation. Using “clarinet part” could have got over this problem very smoothly, I think.

    Really liked the neat surfaces for the anagrams in 13a and 17d. I actually started looking for an anag of “restaurants” at first.

    Failed to be misdirected by 2d as I didn’t notice the capital in Seat. It was only looking back that I appreciated what a good coupled pair 2d & 3d were.

    Didn’t quite understand the wordplay in 22d. Is it “went up” = rowed?

    27d was my favourite: nicely disguised def/wp join. Thanks, Exit.

  14. Thank you to all for your comments – very encouraging.

    To answer some specific points:
    I agree that the ‘is’ in 3dn is not strictly necessary, but I think it makes for a smoother surface reading 2dn and 3dn together. (Incidentally has anyone noticed the mix of US and British car terminology – ‘sedan’ and ‘estate’?)
    I must own up to not checking that ‘cl’, widely used in a musical context, is not in Chambers or Collins; so thanks to Whynot for the suggestion there.
    My repetition radar obviously failed when it came to inclusion indicators, and looking back I can certainly see one that could have been easily changed.
    Yes, 23ac was a pretty obvious anagram, but I was attracted by the surface I could make of it.
    And there was a ghost theme – some answers were words that one of the characters in 1ac’s 5ac misuses.

    I’ll come back for the review tomorrow and maybe add further comment

      1. And that, Exit, is an absolutely brilliant idea for a ghost theme.
        It would be a rare thing indeed to have spotted it in all its glory, mind you – I wonder if there might perhaps have been a way to flag it more obviously than it was?
        Top line pairing made me think there must be something going on, but it’s a couple of leaps of imagination to get to the malapropisms, for this solver at least.
        Shame really, such a good idea would have been super-satisfying to have discovered on one’s todd.

    1. I hadn’t spotted the theme at all – that of course makes the puzzle even more impressive. I can spot 15, 19, 20 and 26 so far :-) “She’s as headstrong as a 19d on the Banks of the Nile” being my favourite :-)

    2. That really is a brilliant. After bragging above that I knew most of the cultural refs I feel a bit silly. I’ve never actually seen or read 5a, but I know enough about it to understand what you’ve done. I went through guessing which were the theme words and I think my guesses matched those identified by Maize and Encota. I hope you will fill us in with chapter and verse after the review.

    3. Yes, there are four theme words apart from 1,5 and as Maize and Encota have correctly identified they are 15, 19, 20 and 26. They all come from act 3, scene 3 of the play and apart from the 19 on the banks of the Nile the other three all occur in the same line as the protagonist refers to “the use of my 20 tongue, and a nice 26 of 15s!”

      But to come clean I should add that I used the theme as a handy way to start the grid fill rather than to set a challenge to solvers.

      1. Thanks, Exit. Those would, of course, be the words of Mrs Malaprop, a character whose name has been immortalised in the word ‘malapropism’.

      2. In doing so, you are following very much in the vein of Phi, who appears every Saturday in the i, and whom I blog on idothei. Personally though, I do find it a little frustrating to discover week after week that I’ve missed something, even if it wasn’t ‘meant’ to be discovered!

  15. Hello again, Exit. As Silvanus commented, you have certainly lived up to the promise shown in your debut puzzle.
    I did have to do a bit of GK homework on 20&29a plus 1&7d but nothing that couldn’t be found relatively easily.

    Think my favourite was 21d but I would also mention the simple but effective 32a & 18d – always nice when a setter gives a couple of easy ways into a puzzle.

    Thank you and hope to see you back again soon.

  16. Great puzzle! Thanks very much Exit. 20a and 27d were my favourites.

    I just have a couple of rookie questions:

    1d: When I look up the answer in Chambers it refers to a process, rather than the actual structure. Or is structure intended as a verb?

    21d: Is there any debate over “returning” as a reversal indicator for a down clue?

    5a: same question on “resurgence” as a reversal indicator on an across clue. Isn’t resurgence about rising?

    23a: four letter word anagrams seem to have been frowned upon previously! Would be interested to hear some more guidance on this one way or the other . . .

    1. Hi Effra,

      Here is my take, others may disagree:

      1d – As you say, I think it is more the analysis of the verse structure, rather than the structure itself, but I’ve seen far worse stretched synonyms!

      21d – “Returning” is fine in either Across or Down clues.

      5a – I wasn’t convinced by this either, but was prepared to give Exit the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see what Prolixic says in his review.

      23a – I’m not a fan personally of three or four-letter anagrams unless they form part of longer words. My preference would be to avoid them as they tend to make a clue much too easy for the solver.

      1. 23a is not really an anagram in my view as only one letter moves. I like the idea, but it should have been clued as ‘left going West’ or something rather than a straight semi-anagram – or as you say, ‘Rueful, having lost game changing source of energy’ (I know it’s not great, but you see the point, I trust)

        Having said that, I also credit the point Exit makes about seeing a neat surface link, so fair play to him.

        PS None of that in the Indy today, fab puzzle. Many thanks to that setter.

  17. Easier-end it may have been, but I have no sub-light speed to report!

    I needed help to understand 7d, and had the same reservation as others about 32a. Still, it was a pleasure to solve.

    Well done and thanks to Exit, and thanks to Prolixic for the review.

  18. Just printed it before the review goes up to avoid any spoilers.
    Shall be back tomorrow after work.

  19. @Prolixic

    The definition in 27d is just “Kingdom”: “middle of The” indicates the letter H to be omitted from the fodder, so the criticism is unwarranted in this case.

    It’s interesting to note the point of cryptic grammar, however, as I had always thought wp of def and def of wordplay were both generally accepted. In fact I learnt that was not the case only a few days ago, when a clue of my own was criticised elsewhere for that very same reason.

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, in particular the parsing of 9d which it would seem that I’d made a mess of!
    Exit will doubtless be very pleased by the score on the commentometer – I hope he makes a successful foray into NTSPP territory.

  21. Well, I’m glad I was sitting down when I read the review, particularly the commentometer score. That’s something to live up to, particularly if I do progress to NTSPP.
    Thank you to Prolixic. I take on board your comment about 7dn – it’s difficult sometimes to decide where general knowledge ends and specialist knowledge begins and I obviously strayed over the border in this case. And having fewer hidden words reduces the risk of repeating the indicators for them.
    And, once again, thanks to all for their appreciative comments.

    1. Fair point on the number of ‘hiddens’ – I know The Times only allows a max of one in their back page puzzle.

      Having said that though, I have just send off a puzzle to be published with three homophones in it, accompanied with a Tip to explain to new solvers how such a clue works and explaining that they’ll find more than the usual in this particular puzzle! Horses for courses, perhaps.

      Thanks Prolixic, as ever, for the insight.

  22. Great crossword and great theme.
    I had the pleasure to work at the Duke of York’s Theatre when School for Scandal was on. With such a wonderful cast made out of legends such as Dulcie Gray and her husband Mickael Denison, Googie Withers, Donald Sinden and so many more.
    Saw the Rivals quite a few times also.
    Thanks for the fantastic fun and thanks to prolixix for the review.
    Btw: Favourite 21d.

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