Rookie Corner – 226 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 226

A Puzzle by Laccaria

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since Laccaria’s last puzzle.  I hope you find that it’s been worth the wait. 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 Laccaria.  The difficulty level has been pegged back again which was helpful.  The use of the theme meant there were some unusual words in the grid but these were clued fairly.  Less fair was the unusual word for a demon in 10a.

Some of the indicators could have been a bit tighter but this will come with practice.  Apart from the cluing for lines in 7d, there were no major errors but, as might be expected for newer setters, minor niggles.

The commentometer reads at 5.5 out of 33 or 16.66%.


1 Wander on highway which doubles up at the end (4)
ROAM – A four letter word for a highway has the final letter changes from the Roman numeral for 500 to the Roman numeral for 1000 (doubles up at the end).  A minor point but the use of “on” as a link word for Definition ON wordplay does not work particularly well.

4 More angry, missing grand summer (5)
ADDER – A six letter word meaning more angry has the Roman numeral for 1000 removed (missing grand).

7 That man gets order to approach (4)
HOME – A two letter word for that man goes around (gets) the abbreviation for Order of Merit (order).  Gets is a weak containment indicator.  Perhaps “holds” might be better.  Also, to approach means ???? IN, not the solution on its own.

9 Unripe cactus extract will make you sick (6)
IPECAC – The answer is hidden in (extract) UNRIPE CACTUS.  Bonus points for clearly cluing an unusual word.

10 Landowner possessed by half-evil spirit is friend of gardener (8)
LADYBIRD – A five letter word for a Scottish landowner includes (possessed by) half of the word DYBUCK (evil spirit).  Bonus points lost for using an obscure word and requiring solvers to use half of it.

11 Try to influence series: spur for re-write (10)
PRESSURISE – An anagram (for re-write) of SERIES SPUR.

12 Object of Scotland Yard – getting one back (4)
ITEM – The abbreviation for the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) and I (one) all reversed (back).

13 Secretive clergyman returns joint to army chief (6)
COVERT – The abbreviation for Reverend (clergyman) is reversed (returns) and is followed by single letter representing a type of plumbing joint after the abbreviation for Commanding Officer (army chief).  The positional indicators here are not very helpful.

15 Had cross argument – it’s in the frame! (4,4)
SASH CORD – An anagram (argument) of HAD CROSS.  Argument as a noun is not an attractive anagram indicator and does not, even as a noun, indicate any form of rearrangement.

17 Means of improving personal image? Shunning – that is – assistance (4-4)
SELF-HELP – A word for a picture taken of oneself (personal image) without (shunning) the abbreviation for that is followed by a four letter word for assistance.

19 Here you may discuss customs about uniform (6)
FORUMS – A five letter word for customs or rites around the abbreviation for uniform.

20 Sack provided – back on (4)
FIRE – A two letter word meaning provided is reversed (back) followed by the abbreviation for about or on.

22 Terribly icy: in a dash for train, bearing flowers? (5,5)
DAISY CHAIN – An anagram (terribly) of ICY IN A DASH.

25 Issue of firm avoiding chronicled mistake (8)
CHILDREN – Remove (avoiding) the abbreviation for company (firm) from the word chronicled and make an anagram (mistake) of the remaining letters.

26 Upsets the War Office, being sent to North Dakota in America (6)
WOUNDS – The abbreviation for War Office followed by the abbreviation for North Dakota inside (in) the abbreviation for United States.

27 Charity swapping sides for weapons (4)
ARMS – A four letter word for charity has the L changes for an R (swapping sides).

28 Being up at dawn is noble?  In short, yes! (5)
EARLY – A four letter word for a nobleman followed by the abbreviation for Yes.

29 Nothing to regret: sent back cash (4)
EURO – The letter representing nothing followed by a three letter word meaning regret all reversed (sent back).  As we have already had back twice already as a reversal indicator, perhaps a different indicator should be used.  Perhaps nothing to regret over cash.


2 Wilfully disagree with capturing old city – point accepted (2,7)
ON PURPOSE – A two letter word for an old biblical city and the abbreviation for North (point) inside (accepted) a six letter word meaning to disagree.

3 Problem arising about copper in secretion (5)
MUCUS – A three letter word for a mathematical problem is reversed (arising) around the chemical symbol for copper.

4 Volume set to zero, interrupting relation of story (7)
ACCOUNT – The abbreviation for cubic centimetres (volume) and the letter representing zero inside (interrupting) a four letter word for female relation.  Some editors will not accept the construction wordplay of definition.

5 Clumsily hide student in City (5)
DELHI – An anagram (clumsily) of HIDE includes (in) the abbreviation for learner (student).

6 Saves loads of paperwork, reportedly – editor on board (7)
REDEEMS – A homophone (reportedly) of REAMS (loads of paperwork) includes (on board) the abbreviation for editor.

7 Last of ley lines obstruct covered vehicle: it’s better for the environment (6,3)
HYBRID CAR – The final letter (last of ) of Ley and the abbreviation for British Rail inside (obstruct) a three letter word meaning covered followed by a three letter word for a type of vehicle.  The abbreviation for British Rail is not the same as lines (BR was the company – the railway is the lines).

8 Almost a bite for Inspector! (5)
MORSE – Remove the last letter (almost) from a word for a small bite of something to eat.

14 Makes possible payment for article?  Renders less effective (9)
ENFEEBLES – A seven letter word meaning makes possible has the A (article) replaced by a three letter word for a payment.

15 Nothing’s been left out of first course, so eat! (3)
SUP – Remove the letter meaning nothing from a type of starter in a meal.  As nothing has already been used as the letter indicator, a different indicator should have been used.

16 Memo about a set of volumes left unsold (9)
REMAINDER – An eight letter word meaning a memo around (about) the A from the clue.  Volumes left unsold would work equally well.

18 Back also-ran (coming in last!) at East London racecourse? (7)
ENDORSE – How a cockney might  describe a horse coming in last at a racecourse.

19 Leave tack embedded in skin (3,4)
FLY AWAY – A three letter word meaning to tack or zig-zag inside (embedded in) a four latter word meaning to skin.  Although both words in the definition and solution for tack can mean zig-zag, the correspondence is loose as tack means to do so deliberately and the solution word means to to so unsteadily or in a meandering manner.

21 Heavenly fluid concocted from chicory with ends removed (5)
ICHOR – An anagram (concocted) from the inner letters (with ends removed) of CHICORY

23 Local to Queen means, nearer Centre (5)
INNER – A three letter word for a local or pub followed by the abbreviation for queen.  Although TO can mean beside (according to Chambers), this meaning when used as a position indicator really means it should be used in across clues only as the queen is under the local in the solution.

24 American entrapped by weed?  Bingo! (5)
HOUSE – A three letter word meaning to week goes around (entrapped) the abbreviation for American.  As we have already had America used to clue the two letters a different indicator should have been used.

39 comments on “Rookie Corner – 226

  1. A thoroughly professional feeling Toughie level puzzle for us. As is often the case it was a couple of the pesky four letter answers, 1a and 7a that were the last to get sorted. We really enjoyed it all.
    Thanks Laccaria.

  2. Definitely Toughie level, plenty of head scratching, some electronic assistance required, and very enjoyable.

    Joint favourites – 17a and 18d (which sounded familiar).

    Thanks Laccaria.

  3. Difficult to say how long it took as I solved it while on hold to various departments of the Department for Work and Pensions. I’d recommend having a puzzle like this to hand if you do have occasion to ring them at any time as it was good company while I waited.

    Lots to enjoy – if I were to be a teeny bit quibbly, I’d question whether the two letter abbreviation for lines in 7d is correct, not least because the lines are operated by another set of initials

    Thanks to Laccaria for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review

    1. Hearty congrats to Italicus for coming this far – an inspiration! There’s also one of his in 1Across (the May issue) – for those who subscribe to it.

    2. And a very nice crossword it is – another person transferring to my side of the NTSPP blogging rota.

    3. Huge congratulations to Italicus. The opening clue in his debut puzzle is absolutely superb and he maintains an excellent standard thereafter. I had every faith that he would become a nationally-published setter and I’m delighted to see that he has deservedly followed the now well-travelled path from Rookie Corner to Independent.

    4. Just to say a big thank you to everyone here at the Big Dave site. I was delighted to see my puzzle in the Indy today and read the very encouraging comments. I would never have done it without all the help, support and advice I was given here! And I hope this will be an inspiration to all the rookies out there to keep plugging away at it!

    5. A belated congratulations from me too. An excellent debut puzzle in the Independent. Well done on the continued advancement.

  4. Thanks to those who have tackled it thus far – and thanks to BD for hosting. I suppose ‘toughie’ is just my natural handwriting, it has to be said. Thanks for persevering! Hope the theme gets noticed!

  5. Very enjoyable – thanks Laccaria. I had to look up the evil spirit in 10a.

    I have a few queries – I don’t much like ‘paperwork’ rather than just ‘paper’ in 6d, the abbreviation for lines in 7d jarred somewhat, I’m not sure why we have ‘set of volumes’ in 16d rather than just ‘book’ and the comma in 23d makes the surface rather meaningless.

    The clues I liked best were 1a and 14d.

  6. Hi Laccaria – thanks for the puzzle.

    I was surprised by the large number of exclamation marks at first, then I noticed all the colons, question marks and hyphens used in the clues, often as a linking method. Consequently several surfaces are rather disjointed. I don’t think you’ll get away with the 7d lines, or, as Gazza says, the strange comma in 23d. I did enjoy the solve, but in all honesty I don’t think this is your best.

    Needless to say, any theme was lost on me. Thanks again for the challenge and I look forward to your next.

  7. Welcome back, Laccaria.

    A fairly stiff challenge, especially the NW corner, but I thought the clues were generally of a pretty high standard throughout. I wasn’t familiar with 9a and the spirit in 10a was new too, but the BRB confirmed both. My top clue was 19d.

    My advice for your next one would be to keep a closer check on indicators, you used “back” three times for reversals, and in addition “nothing” was repeated to clue the fifteenth letter of the alphabet. A few of the surfaces could have been improved with a little more polish I felt.

    A very good and well constructed puzzle overall though. Congratulations and many thanks, Laccaria.

  8. Excellent, thanks. Very enjoyable and my favourite had to be 18d! Total respect to anyone who can give this much pleasure on a Monday morning; wish I could!! No doubt someone can enlighten me as to the theme please?

      1. Stupidly, I didn’t pick up on the theme until Laccaria mentioned it. That particular rhyme used to quite upset me when I was a little girl.

      2. Thanks, Gazza. Never spotted that, even when cued by L above. Had to check the words, as we had a grimmer version, also attested at Wikipedia, with last word “gone”

  9. I thought this was excellent. Quite challenging and a lot of fun.

    My comments:

    1a A great start!
    7a Don’t you need the answer to be followed by “in” to be synonymous with approach?
    9a I needed to look up the answer (having also previously looked up “ripeca” and “pecact”!)
    10a I needed to look up the spirit.
    13a I’m in two minds as to whether or not the wordplay is actually telling you to put the returning clergyman and joint after the army chief.
    8d One for Kath.
    14d Excellent!
    16d “Set of volumes” seems unnecessarily verbose.
    18d Excellent!
    19d My favourite!!
    23d Why is Centre capitalised?

    There seemed to be a few strange bits of punctuation, and some of your surfaces could be improved (but this is the icing on the cake).

    Very well done, Laccaria, and thanks for the entertainment.

  10. A breath of (much needed) fresh air on a sultry Monday morning. Last one in was the cactus clue which had to be a lurker.
    Thanks Laccaria.

  11. A great puzzle – many thanks! I’m with CrypticSue on the rails, so to speak.

    PS Congrats too to Italicus :-)

  12. A very enjoyable solve – thank you, Laccaria. Since I was using my phone I was glad that there were no long anagrams! The two clues I found the hardest were 10a and 12a because I was unfamiliar with the evil spirit in one and unsure about the order of elements in the other. Alas I did not spot the theme!

    1. Atrica, if you’re on android, Letterslate from Bad Sign Apps is a simple app that emulates slidable letter tiles on the screen. Quite handy.

  13. I found this one far more accessible than the previous offerings from Laccaria although still quite a challenge. A few slightly dodgy surface reads and several clues eg 16d rather more wordy than seemed necessary.

    7a I’d agree with RD that ‘in’ is required to achieve a synonym.
    9a New to me.
    7d As others have said, probably not an acceptable abbreviation.
    18d Not convinced that the brackets and exclamation mark are necessary.
    19d I’m no sailor but I don’t think the synonym used for ‘tack’ is sufficiently accurate.

    My favourite was 18d.
    Thanks, Laccaria, I’m glad that I didn’t let previous experience dissuade me from tackling this one.

  14. Toughie? Not for me – I found this quite accessible and completed it without help apart from a few suggestions from an assistant looking over my shoulder. Just a few specific comments:

    1ac – very neat. For once I realised what ‘doubles’ referred to – I usually fail to spot that device.
    25ac – once I got this from crossing letters I realised how to parse it, but the letters to be taken out of the word to be anagrammed are not consecutive and ideally this should be indicated in some way.
    2dn – on the other hand I’ve no problems with the two inclusions in different places as they are indicated separately.
    19dn – I don’t think ‘tack’ is an exact synonym for the three-letter word forming the middle of the answer. To tack is to change course deliberately (when sailing against the wind) whereas the word here means to sag off course.

    A lot to like here, though. Favourites included 10ac, 15ac, 14dn and 16dn. Looking forward to your next one.

  15. I thought this was mostly very good. Lots of good surfaces and sometimes complex, but accurate wp.

    Still can’t parse 1a, despite hints above re “double”.

    I did know the cactus juice — from another puzzle. Commenters seemed split between those who knew it and those who didn’t. I didn’t. Then.

    10a Didn’t know the spirit. Very interesting word, thanks. Got it anyway, too late for any bells to ring with other little words I already had.

    13 I will be interested to see what, if anything, Prolixic says about “to” here.

    3d You think that’s a nice word? Well, it’s snot! (Again!)

    5d There was a spat between Boatman and Don Manley on the Guardian blog once about whether “student” was acceptable for L, where we were treated to the sight of Jolly Swagman AGREEING with his nemesis.

    7d “ley lines of yore”, maybe?

    16 I think you used the criticised “set of volumes” to justify the singular perhaps? “Volumes” would have been enough, probably.

    18 Great idea, but a pity you had to invent a hippodrome in the East End, where a dog track sounds more likely. Go on, tell me there is one. Also, why not just “loser”? e.g. “Back loser; a hackney?”

    19 I really liked this and verified both words mean “zig-zag”.

    1. Btw, ticks for 2a, 20a, 25a, 27a, 2d, 19d, 24d

      Forgot to say, in 7d isn’t “obstruct” the wrong tense, or have I parsed wrong?

    2. I mentioned to you, Laccaria, somewhere else, that I wasn’t sure A “to” B = BA was sound. Having had Chambers’ “beside” definition pointed out by Prolixic, it seems that idea was spurious. While confirming that meaning is in my old edition, I noticed it also gives “in contact with”, so perhaps P’s suggestion that it can’t join elements in a down answer may also need rethinking? I suppose if you put “your hand to your head”, it’s not explicit as to the vertical or horizontal aspect, is it?

      Does anyone here have a view on this?

  16. I was out late last night so did not have time to prepare and post the review. It will be along later today.

      1. That imagination is the stuff of nightmares – for me as well as for you!

        I was treated to a very nice meal at Goodmans in Maddox Street where the steaks are very nice indeed.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I’m pleased to hear that you enjoyed your steak!

    A couple of questions if I may:-
    25a Does it not matter that there is no indication that the abb for ‘company’ does not appear as a single entity in ‘chronicled’?
    16d Should there be an indication that ‘set of volumes left unsold’ is just one possible example?

    Thank you – I’m still trying to learn!

  18. Thanks everyone for the comments and Prolixic for the review. “Difficulty level has been pegged back”? Not according to some of the comments on here!

    I shan’t attempt to answer all the comments on here. As I think I said before, this one’s been incubating for quite a while – after sending it to BD I asked him to shelve it for various reasons. Hence I had no idea that it would appear in the midst of this freak weather we’re having – which for older readers must surely evoke memories of the Great Drought year of 1976, which was also characterised by swarms of 10a’s all over the country. They even resorted to biting people, which made them less of a ‘friend’ to some I suppose! But we’re not likely to see a repeat this year – too many things have changed!

    I agree that 10a involves a very obscure word (I did know it beforehand – wasn’t a trawl from Wiki). It’s actually “dybbuk” according to Chambers, but I suppose that depends on transliteration. And – some comments about 9a (another word I knew) – but that word appeared in the Guardian not so long ago (no. 27484 by Nutmeg) – I think my clue is easier than hers.

    In 1a I intended “wander on” to be the definition. The verb is definitely given as transitive, besides intransitive, in Chambers.

    13a The positional indicators here are not very helpful OK but is the grammar correct?

    7d BR = “lines”? This was certainly the case before privatisation, and other setters have used this device.

    OK I acknowledge some inexact indicators and numerous repetitions. This comes of writing all the clues independently, rather than reading through the puzzle as a whole after all the clues are set. Will try to bear that in mind, if……

    …..yes, “if” indeed! My next, if ever, is likely to be a long time coming, I’ve been in a state ot total writer’s block (or the cruciverbal equivalent) for some weeks now.

    So long, folks :-)

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