Rookie Corner – 232 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 232

A Puzzle by Skinny

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Here is the latest puzzle from Skinny.  Sorry for the late publication – I hope it won’t spoil your enjoyment.  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 Skinny.  The was an excellent crossword with some really groan-worthy clues.  Perhaps four homophone based clues was a little on the high side bu there were some corkers, particularly with 29a.  Some points to watch are first the repetition of wordplay indicators with four duplications, secondly not to include full stops at the end of clues and finally, to be careful with grid construction.  There were four across clues with less than 50% checking letters.  Some editors baulk at too many of these as they make the grid solver unfriendly, particularly as they had the initial letter unchecked.  All of these are minor points.  I think if the next one is as good as this with the repetitions eschewed, Skinny will be soon appearing on Saturdays.  The commentometer for this crossword is 2.5 / 30 or 8.3%.


1 Imagine somehow taking first of remedies for ailment. (8)
MIGRAINE – An anagram (somehow) of IMAGINE includes (taking) the first letter of remedies.

6 Values location of Bathildon? (6)
ETHICS – How someone with a lisp might pronounce ESSEX (the location of Bathildon).

9 Song giving edge to worker. (6)
ANTHEM – An insect synonymous with a word followed by a three letter word for an edge.  Perhaps wordplay giving definition  would be better than definition giving wordplay as this seems back-to-front.

10 It could be Stockholm – extremely sexy with modern development. (8)
SYNDROME – The outer letter (extremely) of sexy followed by an anagram (development) of MODERN.

11 Boil sugar for one family member. (9)
CARBUNCLE – The shortened form of carbohydrate (sugar for one) followed by a five letter word for a family member.

13 Under a cow? (5)
LOWER – Double definition, the second by reference to the sound a cow makes.

15 Outdoor pursuit equipment popular with golfers, primarily (6)
KITING – A three letter word for equipment followed by a two letter word meaning popular and the first letter (primarily) of golfers.

17 Fight amongst hares is thrilling. (6)
RESIST – The answer is hidden in (amongst) HARES IS THRILLING.

18 Just taking exercise in public (6)
OPENLY – A four word meaning just includes (taking) the abbreviation for physical exercise.  Taking repeats an inclusion indicator so a different one could have been used here.

19 Sex-change dwarf is one feeling restless. (6)
FIDGET – A six letter for a dwarf has the M changed to an F (sex-change).

21 First of leads in cases for cops (5)
PLODS – The first letter of leads inside a four letter word for cases (as may contain peas).

22 Design stage in additional shop, large one. (9)
MEGASTORE – An anagram (design) of STAGE inside a four letter word for additional.

25 Attachment had distorted sound setback. (8)
ADHESION – An anagram (distorted) of HAD followed by a reversal (setback) of a word for sound.

26 Problems? Yes indeed. (3,3)
ILL SAY – A four letter word for problems or ailments followed by a two letter word meaning yes.

28 Spy not originally the French kind. (6)
GENTLE – A five letter word for a spy with the first letter removed (not originally) followed by the French masculine singular word for the.

29 What a pirate might say – on reaching four-score years, we hear? (3,5)
AYE MATEY – A homophone (we hear) of I’M EIGHTY.


2 In the middle of beginning a hotel. (3)
INN – The answer is the middle three letters of beginning.

3 Kicking horse here? (5)
REHAB – Cryptic definition of where someone trying to kick a heroin (horse) habit might be.

4 I’m heading off very soon. (10)
IMMINENTLY – The IM from the clue followed by a word meaning very (as in very qualified) with the first letter removed (heading off).

5 Sickeningly, queen’s left, just like that. (6)
EASILY – Remove the two letter abbreviation for queen from the beginning of a word meaning sickeningly.

6 It might explode, upping the stakes. (4)
ETNA – Reverse (upping) a word for gambling stakes.

7 What farmer does in his field is disturbing. (9)
HARROWING – Double definition.

8 Might they provide the words for a report on King Edward? (11)
COMMENTATOR – A homophone (a report on) COMMON TATER (King Edward?  The they implies a plural answer so “Might one” or “Might this person” would be better.  The structure of the clue with definition for wordplay is back-to-front.  It should be wordplay for definition.

12 Recognise that Willy’s upset, left by the perimeter hugging Charlie. (11)
ACKNOWLEDGE – Reverse the name of the chocolate maker Willy and include a C (hugging Charlie) and follow with the abbreviation for left and a word for a perimeter.  Perhaps a definition by example indicator would have been helpful.

14 Varieties left to go to ruin? On the contrary. (10)
REVITALISE – An anagram (to go to ruin) of VARIETIES L (left).  As L for left was used in the previous clue, a different indicator in one of them would improve the crossword.

16 Latest efforts to keep objective on time (9)
TRENDIEST – A word meaning efforts includes (keeping) a three letter word for an objective or aim followed by the abbreviation for time.

20 Complaint upset some diva in 3 (6)
HERNIA – Add the answer to 3d to DIVA IN and your will find the answer hidden and reversed (upset some) within.  Another repetition in a wordplay indicator – upset has been used as a reversal indicator in 12d.

23 City in OK setting. (5)
TULSA – The name of a city in Oklahoma (whose state abbreviation is OK).

24 Volume of exhalations reported. (4)
SIZE – A homophone (reported) of SIGHS (exhalations).  Again, there is a repetition of a wordplay indicator have already used report in 8d.

27 Parrot, one with hollow plumage (3)
APE -A letter meaning one followed by the outer letters (hollow) of plumage.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner – 232

  1. Very enjoyable indeed – thanks Skinny. I laughed out loud at 6a and 29a so they are my favourites but I also ticked 11a, 3d and 23d.
    I’m still trying to parse 4d. The ‘they’ in 8d seems wrong.

  2. Thanks Skinny, loved it. Some funny ones, some really sharp ones.
    Ticks for 26a, 6a, 29a, 11a, 4d but more too.

  3. Very good Skinny, enjoyed that. Still pondering 20d – which is a good sign. Some nice use of natural phrases and most of the surfaces are a credit to you.

    I can only offer some very minor thoughts:

    Homophones are a constant source of debate, so be very careful with them.

    It is not usual to finish the clues with a full stop.

    Lastly, a personal thing, but I would try to avoid an anagram, (particularly an easy one), for 1a because 1a sets the tone of a puzzle for me, and should be an outstanding invitation to solve the rest of the puzzle.

    I enjoyed this more than today’s back-pager, so thank you and well done.

  4. I enjoyed this a lot – thanks Skinny. I marked 1a, 9a, 17a, 19a, 3d, 16d, 14d, 26a, 11a as particularly good.

    Some other assorted comments:
    10a Not sure about def, since I don’t believe Stockholm means this standalone. I may be misreading the clue (probably!)
    1d might read better with a Definition By Example indicator for Willy, e.g. Willy for one’s, or similar (I see you’ve already used that one elsewhere)
    18a some might argue that ‘in’ is doing double duty as part of ‘take in’ and ‘in public’. Not sure.
    22a wordplay good; surface a little random?

    And I liked 23d’s deceptive definition too. Finally, I also labelled 6a as “the hommerfown to end all …!” … but then I finally solved 29a!! That one really made me smile :-)



  5. I don’t think I’ve ever solved a Rookie puzzle this late in the day sitting in the sunny garden but I enjoyed both the venue and the crossword

    I’d disagree with LBR about the anagram to start the crossword – I think you’d probably encourage more people than deter them. I loved the homophone in 6a; like Gazza I’d marked the ‘they’ in 8a as wrong.

    Thanks to Skinny for the fun – I think you are yet another Rookie who’ll be appearing on a Saturday afternoon fairly soon, and in advance, to Prolixic for the review.

    Now back to the sunny garden – what else are you to do when you are told not to do heavy lifting, gardening, or bending for three weeks ;)

  6. Coming from Essex and having worked in Basildon, I liked 6a.

    Always wonder why “lisp” is spelt that way. Should be “lithp”.

  7. Hello to all and thanks for comments so far. I did think about the ‘they’ in 8d. I was trying to be non-gender-specific, but in hindsight, ‘he’ would have been better. Thanks in advance to Prolixic for review.

  8. Welcome back, Skinny.

    I think that 29a is possibly now the leading candidate for “homogroan of the year”, of course it was contrived but I laughed out loud too.

    The puzzle was extremely enjoyable and well constructed, but there are few areas to work on I’d suggest such as duplication of indicators (you used “taking”, “report” and “upset” each more than once). I didn’t care for the rather clunky “middle of beginning” in 2d and I’m far from convinced that a bird’s plumage can be “hollow”, but I defer to our expert from Anglesey on all matters ornithological!

    My ticks went to 18a, 19a, 22a, 7d, 14d and 16d, but my overall favourite, for both its subtlety and its surface, was 4d.

    Lots of promise continues to be shown certainly, I do look forward to your next. Many thanks, Skinny.

    1. Hi Silvanus,
      A quill is the hollow basal part of a feather and the BRB gives ‘plumage’ as one of the definitions of feather so I guess that if one takes a leap of faith ………..

  9. Well this one has become an early morning solve on a busy Tuesday for us but so glad we made the time to solve it. The clever wordplay with the geography in 6a was a bit subtle for us. One had to at least know the correct town (which we didn’t) to appreciate it properly. A real groaner with 29a though. 11a was one that really appealed to us, clever misdirection.
    Thanks Skinny.

  10. Many thanks Skinny–most enjoyable, with a good mix of nicely disguised definitions and entertaining wordplay. Some bold clueing ideas here, I thought, such as the “dereferenced” anagram fodder 22a uses. I don’t think I’ve seen that before. Quite hard in places and I resorted to the reveal button in some cases. I was left wondering about a few things, including 11a, but overall the puzzle has enough good about it to make me think some of it’s probably just me, i.e., I just haven’t seen the point yet. My favourites were 1,6,9,10,13,17,18 and 19 across, and 6 down.

  11. I had hoped to solve this on my morning commute and write the review at lunchtime to post this evening when back from a meeting. The delayed publication means I will have to write and post the review tomorrow instead. Apologies in advance for the delay.

  12. Thanks, Skinny, for a very entertaining puzzle! The homophones were a highlight for me, especially the brilliant 6a. I also very much liked 11 and 23. I would have found 3d easier with “kick” instead of “kicking”, and I think the surface would still be OK in a “man bites dog” kind of way. Also, I wasn’t completely convinced by the definition for 13, but I haven’t looked it up and it’s probably just me. Like others, I was confused by the “they”, too. But these are very minor points and the whole thing was great fun to solve.

  13. A bit of a mixed bag, I thought, so overall I didn’t enjoy this.
    But on the positive side I had no problems with using an anagram (even an easy one) for 1ac; 6ac raised a smile, remembering an old joke (can’t repeat it here or it would be a spoiler); 9ac was fine; and I thought 10ac was excellent.
    On the negative side, though, the use of ‘for’ in 11ac was questionable – I think Prolixic would say you should only have ‘wordplay’ for ‘definition’, implying that the definition ought to be the words following ‘for’.
    The use of ‘they’ in 8dn threw me, too. I’d agree with silvanus that ‘one’ would have been better. I thought 29ac was a bit contrived (though I may have missed something there). And finally, I failed completely on 13ac – though no doubt it’ll be a case of “Doh!” when I check it in the review.

    1. ‘sugar for one’ gives the first four letters of the solution, for one indicating definition by example

      1. Ah, of course. I had a lingering concern over sugar, which, while giving a great deceptive surface, seemed to lack a “perhaps” etc. Somehow missed that.

      2. Thanks, Mucky. I must have had a bit of a blind spot there after initially thinking the answer was an anagram of the first two words and realising it couldn’t be. I eventually got the answer from crossing letters but couldn’t parse it apart from the definition.

  14. Atrica and Exit, 13a: isn’t this just a straightforward double-definition? And a bit of a chestnut as well.

  15. Nice to see you back again, Skinny.
    I found plenty to enjoy in this one – 19,25&26a plus 5d got ticks from me and would have been joined by 8d if you had avoided using ‘they’ in the clue.
    I thought 20d was a little too contrived and would agree with Silvanus about the repeated indicators but those are relatively minor points.
    I look forward to the review from Prolixic and hope you’ll be back again ‘ere long.

  16. What fun! I thoroughly enjoyed this. 13A, 19A and 23D earned ticks from me but 29A was the runaway favorite and laugh of the day. Thanks, Skinny.

  17. Thanks for the review.
    I didn’t really pick up on any of the points raised a) because I was enjoying the puzzle and b) because I rarely notice repetitions anyway.
    On ACKNOWLEDGE: is the suggestion for an example indicator to go with Willy? I wouldn’t have used one. If it was Willy Smith, maybe, but Wonka is unique. If using Wonka to clue Willy, then yes.

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Looks as though Skinny is well on his way if he checks those indicators more carefully next time.

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