Rookie Corner – 228 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 228

A Puzzle by Rags

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Rags returns, raring to go! 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.

The Rookie roster is now one member down.  Farewell Rags.  This was well clued and enjoyable.  One one point of dispute in the definition used in 25a.  The commentometer is 1/26 or 3.8%.


1 Perfect speech with a New York twang? (6,7)
QUEEN’S ENGLISH – English as she should be spoken could also be the way American’s speak in a district of New York.

10 Caper involving Jack, Charlie, a ring and something about a pole? (9,6)
ANTARCTIC CIRCLE – A five letter word for a caper around (involving) a three letter word for a sailor (jack) and the letter represented by Charlie in the Nato phonetic alphabet.  This is followed by another word for ring.

11 Corrupt match official, switching first and fourth place (6)
IMPURE – A six letter word for a match official in cricket has the first and fourth letters switched.

12 Ill-fated one lost in pitch? (4-4)
TONE DEAF – An anagram (ill) of FATED ONE.

14 Miracle one reconstructed for ritual (10)
CEREMONIAL – An anagram (reconstructed) of MIRACLE ONE.

15 Extremes of silly, non-specific match time (4)
SYNC – The outer letters (extremes of) silly and non-specific.

17 Bound over to keep open (4)
UNDO – The answer is hidden in (to keep) BOUND OVER.

19 Relish illicit caliph’s failure, without, foolishly, this? (10)
PICCALILLI – An anagram (failure) of ILLICIT CALIPHS after removing the letters in THIS.  Foolishly correctly identifies that the letters in this are removed in a different order.

22 Prophet embracing long distance sailor (8)
SEAFARER – A four letter word for a prophet around (embraces) a four letter word for long distance.

23 Problem with military leader regarding command (6)
SUMMON – A three letter word for a problem followed by the first letter (leader) of military and a two letter word meaning regarding.

25 Downfall of loveless anoraks with bitches (4,4,3,4)
RAIN CATS AND DOGS – A nine letter word for wet weather gear (anoraks) without the O (loveless) followed by a four letter word for the type of animal of which bitches are the female of the species.  The answer is a verb but the definition requires a noun.

26 Tempestuous reps let loose birds (6,7)
STORMY PETRELS – A six letter word meaning tempestuous followed by an anagram (loose) of REPS LET.


2 The standard of one’s grammar (2,2,3)
UP TO PAR – A definition by reference to the meaning of standard in the answer of 1a (one’s).

3 Do these pick up wheat barrels? (8)
EARDRUMS – A three letter word for part of the wheat stalk and a five letter word for barrels.  A pedantic point but the wordplay requires only part of the wheat containing the seed.

4 Location – it’s in the home counties (4)
SITE – The IT from the clue in the abbreviation for the home counties.

5 Midlands venue on city’s outskirts holding an Italian seance? (10)
NECROMANCY – The abbreviation for an exhibition centre in the Midlands and by the outer letters (outskirts) of city around (holding) a five letter word for an Italian.

6 Partly exploit errors, that’s what waiters do! (6)
LOITER – The answer is hidden in (partially) EXPLOIT ERRORS.

7 People that could be high (7)
SOCIETY – A word for people could be preceded by high to describe those who are upper class.

8 Floaters – from berth to berth? (5,8)
CABIN CRUISERS – Cryptic definition of a type of boat.

9 Production of ice nets profit for pedant (13)
PERFECTIONIST – An anagram (production of) of ICE NET PROFIT.

13 Straight home? On the contrary (10)
INDIRECTLY – Split 2, 8 the answer could mean going straight home but together they mean the reverse.

16 Stream below, devoid of winter fish (8)
FLOUNDER – A four letter word for steam without a W (devoid of winter) and a word meaning below.  Unusually, the abbreviation for winter is not in the printed version of Chambers but is in the on-line version.  Normally the printed edition is the standard by which clues are judged but Rags cannot be faulted for including it.

18 Most dismal, or so I’m told, writer (7)
DIARIST – A homophone (or so I’s told) of DIREST (most dismal).

20 Light refreshment? (4,3)
LAMP OIL – Cryptic definition of what fuels certain types of light.

21 Dish a curse out (6)
SAUCER – An anagram (out) of A CURSE.

24 Farewell, Glen (4)
VALE – Double definition, the first being the Latin for farewell.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner – 228

  1. We could not resist stating the obvious, so “Rags to Riches” it is.
    We thoroughly enjoyed solving this one. Penny drop moments all over the show.
    Sorting out which ones we especially liked was a real problem as there were so many good ones.
    An un-reserved thumbs up from us.
    Thanks Rags.

  2. Thumbs up from me too – lots to enjoy and only one question mark

    Thanks Rags – I would imagine you’ll be promoted to Saturdays soon – and, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. Having failed to spot the Nina in Rags’ previous puzzle I had a good look round this time – still couldn’t find anything!
    This was really enjoyable and pitched at just the right level. My only queries concern the abbreviation for winter in 16d and whether ‘downfall’ (which is a noun) in 25a matches the answer which is a verbal phrase.
    I liked 17a and 13d but my favourite clue is the excellent 1a.
    Thanks to Rags – more like this please!

          1. Rags, while it’s good that you were conscientious enough to verify your abbreviation with available resources (many Rookies don’t!), you may find Prolixic will point you to other dictionaries as preferred sources. The Sunday Times, for example, requires words and abbreviations to be in either Collins or the Concise Oxford, as editor Peter Biddlecombe holds that Chambers is more suited to barred, and other more difficult crosswords. Even if Chambers is accepted, it would have to be the latest edition. Chambers online is in fact the (superceded) ’21st Century Dictionary’. Collins online at is the best source to rely on for general crosswords.

  4. Very good – thanks Rags. More details below of my clue-by-clue notes as I solved. Must be your best, I think.



    Wordplay is pretty accurate throughout – nice!

    11a vg clue
    4d good clue
    12a good clue
    15a ok
    22a wordplay fine; surface a little vague
    25a wordplay fine; surface a little quirky
    26a good clue
    21d good clue
    9d ok
    6d ok
    10a ok
    5d def ok?
    7d ok
    24d ok
    23a good
    16d w=winter?
    19a surface ~ok, a bit wordy?
    14a surface ok but feel there’s probably better.
    13d a little bit too samebothsidesy?
    3d ok
    1a good clue
    2d I can see what the answer must be but I don’t get this one yet
    17a ok. Surface might be improvable
    8d I can see what the answer must be but I can’t fully parse this one yet
    18d good clue, tho there may be some English speakers for whom this doesn’t quite work. Works for me!

    High quality generally. Scope for a little surface polishing though much to be proud of!

    1. ‘Same-both-sidesiness’ is something you mention a lot (and I’ve commented on this before), but I only see it really applying to double-def clues (where the root of both defs is the same). I think 13d is a good clue, splitting the answer into a charade which is the opposite of the whole.

      Btw, in 8d, the first word of the answer is where you find a berth in a slightly different sense (but same root — is this, then, ‘same-both-sidesy’?) to the obvious ‘place to moor a boat’ suggested by the surface.

  5. Welcome back, Rags.

    It’s so gratifying to see you improve with each of your puzzles, and I agree with CS that a promotion can’t be too far away. There was a nice sprinkling of humour, a good range of clue types, and my only quibbles matched the two that Gazza raised. I did think that 18d would have been much improved if you had put the definition at the beginning of the clue, rather than its uncomfortable position at the end.

    My printed page showed plenty of ticks, with the superb 11a just edging out 1a as my favourite.

    Very well done indeed, and congratulations on an excellent crossword.

    1. I think the way to improve 18d would be to use a different indicator which could come before the phrase “most dismal writer”. Maybe “allegedly” (or maybe something better not just off the top of my head).

      1. I have to rely on the online version, which gives: W abbreviation – 1 watt. 2 Welsh. 3 West. 4 Western. 5 winter. 6 women. 7 said of clothing size: women’s. 8 won, the Korean currency unit. 9 physics work.

  6. What an enjoyable solve this was, Rags, and I am very much in agreement with all the foregoing comments.

    I too had lots of ticks on my page and, like Silvanus, 11a was the pick of the bunch for me.

    Yes, a few of your surfaces could benefit from a bit of polishing. Regarding your cryptic definitions, I thought that 20d was excellent but I’m not sure that 8d really works as it is a bit too transparent. I agree with Silvanus about the word order in 18d and I don’t fully understand the parsing for 2d. However these are all relatively minor points and overall this was an outstandingly good puzzle.

    Very well done, Rags, and thank you.

      1. Ha! I didn’t get the parsing either. Very good. Maybe “Reaching standard” would be even better?

  7. Excellent puzzle! Not too difficult, but very enjoyable. I think Gazza’s criticism of a grammar mismatch in 25a is well-founded, though it didn’t stop me (or him, presumably!) getting it. I did resort to Word Wizard at the end to find a suitable word matching _A_I_ for 8d, which also unlocked my LOI, 17a.

    Favourites were:1a, 11a, 19a, 13d and (best) 20d.

    Good job, Rags!

  8. An enjoyable solve with only one or two little niggles – such as ‘w’ for ‘winter’. It can be a problem if something is in one (edition of a) dictionary but not another. I wasn’t too happy about 2dn but seeing Rags’s explanation made it all clear. Nice penny-drop moments on getting 1ac and 20dn and I liked the misdirection in the latter; a penny-drop moment also with 12ac after resorting to Word Wizard.

  9. I would echo the comments above – a very enjoyable and high class puzzle. Congratulations, Rags. 11a is brilliant.

    Only one query from me. The birds at 26a were only known to me without the Y, although I have since learnt that the answer is an older version of the name.

    Some really good stuff here – quite envious! Promotion to the NTSPP surely beckons!

  10. Marvellous.
    I would say ‘A star is born’ or some such, except I can’t remember Rags’ earlier puzzles, which might well have been just as good!
    No problems with W for winter or Stormy petrel rather than Storm petrel which both seemed fine to me… I wonder sometimes if newer setters get a greater level of scrutiny from the blogging community than do established setters – hardly fair, perhaps, but one can see why.

  11. NIce puzzle Rags – solvewise (the way it went for me at least) easy to get started but the thumbscrews tightened a bit as it went on.

    No quibbles.

    12a was my favourite.

  12. Thanks for all your comments, much appreciated. Thanks also to Prolixic for a favourable review.

  13. Thanks Rags, well done. 11, 12, 22a I liked, 20d was my favourite.
    I still don’t understand 2d despite all the hints above. I don’t get the reference to 1a, and think the adjectival solution doesn’t match the definition. Can anyone kindly spell it out for me?

    1. Sorry Mucky, can’t get any closer than you’ve done – sort of an ‘impressionistic’ clue I think, playing with the idea of Queen’s English/ Standard English, rather than strictly pinned down in every detail, perhaps. Maybe someone else can illuminate…

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