Rookie Corner – 235 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 235

A Puzzle by Atrica

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Atrica has been working very hard to polish his second puzzle – I hope you like it. 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 very quick review as I am whizzing around the country at the moment.  Excellent crossword with only very minor comments.  With a commentometer of 1 out of 32 or 3.13%, I think we have a new candidate for the NTSPP pages.


1 Ruby’s taken aback when touring Cambridge college, finding partner playing with dummy (8)
DECLARED – Reverse (taken aback) another word for ruby around the name of a Cambridge college to let left of King’s College as you look at them from the River Cam.

5 Nose piece reduced in length, with both sides shaved off (6)
BRIDGE – A word meaning reduced in length (in terms of literature) with the first and letters removed (with both sides shaved off).

9 Insurrection at university intensifying (8)
UPRISING – A two letter word meaning at university followed by a six letter word meaning intensifying.

10 Means for correcting a mistake — or for avoiding consequences of it (6)
RUBBER – Double definition, the first being another name for an eraser and the second an informal term for a type of contraceptive.

12 Runner-up in the first half resolutely returns (5)
LOSER – Reverse (returns) the first half of the word resolutely.

13 National symbol is bird of prey resembling a coot (4,5)
BALD EAGLE – The national symbol of America by reference to the phase as **** as a coot to indicate a lack of hair.

15 Subtlety from Orff in essential piece (7)
FINESSE – The answer is hidden in (from) ORFF IN ESSENTIAL.

17 Obfuscates with slander, then subsides (7)
MUDDIES – A three letter word for slander followed by a four letter word meaning subsides.

19 Dig up from another planet, conceivably (7)
UNEARTH – split 2-5, this word would conceivably be a planet other than ours.

21 Obsessively worrying about flatulence, sent back Italian food (7)
LASAGNA – A four letter word meaning obsessively worrying around a three letter word for flatulence, all reversed (sent back).

22 Clan member with damaged brain stem (9)
TRIBESMAN – An anagram (damaged) of BRAIN STEM.

24 Link up again in Greek toilet on a regular basis (5)
RETIE – The even letters of the fifth and sixth words of the clue.

26 Reportedly, stew fermented (6)
BREWED – A homophone (reportedly) of brood (stew).

27 Setter does backflip wearing kinky undies, showing quite a bit of flesh (8)
SEMINUDE – An anagram (kinky) of UNDIES around (wearing) a reversal (does a backflip) of a two letter word indicating the setter.  There are a lot of backs (back, taken aback and backflip) to indicate reversals.  Whilst they are not the same words, there is a degree of repetition that could have been avoided.

28 Police officer foolishly sues after neglect (6)
DISUSE – The abbreviation for Detective Inspector (police officer) followed by an anagram (foolishly) of SUES.

29 Put up with mild blow and hold one’s ground (5,3)
STAND PAT – A five letter word meaning put up with followed by a three letter word for a milt blow.


1 One mistake after another in the service department (6,5)
DOUBLE FAULT – A tennis term for two failed attempts as serving.

2 Building materials for collapsible house supplied by king and queen? (5)
CARDS – What can be used to make houses from a deck that includes kings and queens.

3 Sartre, confusedly taking bus in spaced-out state, is increasingly hard to understand (9)
ABSTRUSER – An anagram (confusedly) of SATRE includes the BUS from the clue with the word split to be entered in different places (in spaced-out state).

4 Give peerage to mid-Kent VIP? No thanks! (7)
ENNOBLE – The middle letters of Kent followed by a word meaning eminent or VIP with the TA (no thanks).

6 Provoke men to go the wrong way and take drugs (5)
ROUSE – Reverse (to go the wrong way) the abbreviation for Other Ranks (men) followed by a three letter word meaning to take drugs.

7 Using insecticide for dealing with problems in Java (9)
DEBUGGING – Double definition, the second in the sense of programming with Java being an example of a computer programming language.  I think that a question mark here would be appropriate as Java can be type of coffee, a type of computer language or a country.

8 Organ, and what one does with it in Bethnal Green (3)
EAR – How a Cockney (in Bethnal Green) might say a word meaning to listen.

11 Berate small City male (4)
SLAM – The abbreviation for small, Los Angeles (city) and male.

14 Abusive staffing option engineer even laments (11)
ENSLAVEMENT – An anagram (engineer) of EVEN LAMENTS.

16 Poverty requires adopting one national economic strategy at the outset (9)
NEEDINESS – A word meaning requires includes (adopting) the first letters (at the outset) of the fourth to seventh words of the clue.

18 Man informally heads effort after former spouse departs, abandoning post (9)
DESERTION – The shortened form of the name Desmond (informally) before (heads) a word meaning effort without the initial EX (former spouse departs).

20 That man on the radio in Jerusalem, for one (4)
HYMN – A homophone (on the radio) of HIM (that man).

21 Kindly let no German revolutionary inside! (7)
LENIENT – The LET from the clue includes a reversal (revolutionary) of the German word for no.

23 Embroiderer stripping off top and stitching it to bottom? The result jars (5)
EWERS – Move the first letter of a word for an embroider to the end of the word.

25 How turmoil begins: ass in America becomes brazen noisemaker (5)
TRUMP – The initial letter (how … begins) followed by a four letter American word for a bottom.  The how … begins leads to the answer “with a T”, not T on its own.  Perhaps With the onset of turmoil… might have been better.

26 Tender to doctor twice a day (3)
BID – How a doctor would indicate twice on a prescription followed by the abbreviation for day.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner – 235

  1. This was a really fine puzzle – very high quality, I thought. Only one item jumped out at me on the negative side – the ‘with’ in 19ac, which I know some editors don’t like as a linkword (if I’m parsing it correctly).

    Really great job Atrica, you should be very proud of this one. And I really look forward to the next!


    PS To All, my latest Enigmatic Variations themed puzzle was in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, entitled ‘A Glorious Day For Physics’. I’ve already received some very kind feedback :-)

    1. I’ve succumbed to ocassionally using with as a link, after worrying about for ages. Well, I think I’ve used it once, but that breaks the dam. Mind you, it was wordplay with definition, rather than definition with wordplay.
      I agree it is not the most elegant, but sometimes….

  2. That was really good fun. We picked up the ghost theme quite early on which was a bit of help. Really appreciated the humour and the one that had us laughing out loud was the surface reading of 21a. A nice level of difficulty and we feel a puzzle that Atrica can feel very proud to have set.
    Thanks Atrica, well done.

  3. Like the 2Kiwis I thought this was good fun. I did have to do a bit of head scratching but once I got going and had plenty of checkers in place there were no great obstacles.

    I really liked 21a, 1d, and 21d.

    Perhaps 19a could have had a ? at the end.

    Thanks Atrica and well done.

  4. I agree with the consensus that this is a pretty good puzzle, and would agree with Senf’s picks.

    1a had to be a total guess – a little unfair to those of us not familiar with the theme, which I assume it is.
    I think Encota is referring to the ‘with’ in 17a, and he may have a point – not sure though
    Similarly 20d has wordplay ‘in’ definition which I’m not sure works.
    7d Perhaps ought to have a ‘?’ because ‘Java’ is an example?
    Also not sure about the ‘how’ in 25d, and 26d doesn’t quite work for me.

    Minor stuff, and the puzzle was no less enjoyable for it, so very well done and thank you for the entertainment., Atrica.

    1. Thanks LR – just saw your comment – that’s exactly the one I meant (17ac). Doesn’t mean I’m right, though!

      ‘in’ is OK in both directions according to Don Manley’s Chambers Crossword Manual. Though he does note that, even though he is fine with it, that it’s ‘not universally liked’, which is your point exactly if I read it correctly!

      I used to rely on Jolly Swagman’s insight here on Definitions By Example (7ac), though don’t think I’ve seen a comment here from JS for a while :-(

      And I think you are spot on with your ‘How’ comment in 25d, too.

      All very minor points, as you say: a very tidy crossword indeed. Well played Atrica :-)

    2. Hi LBR,

      To quote Prolixic’s own guide: “Wordplay in Definition is encountered so often that it is accepted as a canonical construction”, although, strictly speaking, it is back to front.

    3. I think the “how” in 25d “how turmoil begins” just means how the word begins, no?

  5. I too found this fun – I’m pleased to report that I saw the ghost theme!!

    My particular favourites were 21a and 2d

    Thanks to Atrica for a nice start to my day’s crossword solving, and in advance, to Prolixic for the review

  6. Thanks Atrica
    Excellent puzzle – all very clear and accurate, with some nice touches. I liked 1d 14d, 1a (don’t agree with LBR that it’s unfair – 5a terms are staple fare for crosswords, and your wordplay is perfectly clear), 26a, 20d 21d 23d (like ‘the result jars’).
    In 16d, the word for ‘requires’ is really the essence of the word for ‘poverty’, with rest of the clue just filling in the gap. It’s preferable not to use closely related words for definition and wordplay.
    I only know 29a in a 2d setting, but not specifically 5a. Is it a coincidence that it’s in the puzzle?

  7. I thought this was an excellent puzzle which was a lot of fun with clear, accurate wordplay, humour and some nice disguises. Some of the clues were rather wordy but this is not a problem here as the surfaces aren’t compromised as a result. The theme was right up my street too.

    Doesn’t 26d work just as well without “to doctor”?

    I had lots of ticks and 21a was my favourite with 1d the runner-up.

    Many thanks for the enjoyment, Atrica, and very well done.

  8. Welcome back, Atrica.

    A truly excellent follow-up to what was a very promising debut back in July, well done indeed.

    I thought that the degree of difficulty was spot on, there was a good balance of different clue types, a nice sprinkling of humour and more polish given to the surfaces than last time.

    Like others, I didn’t care for “with” in 17a (or in 22a where I thought that it would have been better replaced by “clan member’s”). I also felt that 7d needed a question mark or a “perhaps” at the end, and I think that “for” added nothing to the clue. Despite some creative variations, my repetition radar wasn’t fooled by the three uses of “back” as reversal indicators!

    All the above are relatively minor points though, and just reflect my jotted notes during the solve. They in no way detracted from what was an enjoyable and impressive puzzle. My ticks went to 9a, 10a, 12a, 26a, 27a, 1d, 3d, 8d and 20d.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Atrica.

  9. Atrica’s polishing has certainly been time well spent – I thought that this was a very good puzzle with a theme that even I noticed.
    I don’t understand the ‘doctor’ in 26d.
    The clues I liked best were 1d, 21d and 25d.
    Thanks to Atrica – looking forward to your next.

  10. Having decided that 1a had to be what it was, I looked it up – what a mistake that was! At least it strengthened my resolve not to get involved in that particular pastime.
    I was still a little worried about some of the surface reads – 14d for example – but felt that this was definitely a step up from the debut puzzle in terms of difficulty level and mix of clue types.

    1d was my favourite with a nod to 21d.

    Many thanks, Atrica, looks as though you’re going from strength to strength.

  11. Of course I missed the ghost theme entirely. That’s par for the course. I did enjoy the puzzle a great deal, though I was hampered for a while by automatically writing in the American equivalent for 10A. The only fly in the ointment for me was 25D, but that’s personal.

    Thanks Atrica.

  12. It’s a long time since I attempted to solve a Rookie Corner puzzle and I can say that I really enjoyed it, well done !
    I feel sure that it is a difficult thing to do and there were a nice mix of clues , I note that there are no difficulty/enjoyment ratings by other bloggers so I will just say that I thought it it was in the back page middle territory.
    I liked 7d and the surface of 1a, again well done and looking forward to the next one.

  13. It is a ling time since I tried to solve a rookie crossword and can say that I really enjoyed the experience.
    I’m sure that it is very difficult to include all the various kinds of clues and I thought that the mix was very good.
    I note that other bloggers have not included any difficulty/enjoyment ratings so I will just say that in my opinion it was in the back page middle territory-again well done.
    My favourites were 7d and 1a for the surface.

  14. Sterling work Atrica. My only niggle is 29a which I’ve not come across before. Unlike most others I thought 25d was most amusing, provoking as it did the image of that complete charlatan across the pond.

  15. Very enjoyable. I felt “kindly” was perhaps a bit of a stretch in 21d, and in 7d, as LBR points out, the clue doesn’t reflect the fact that Java is only one example, but all in all, a very good puzzle with nice use of words, producing good surfaces and several satisfying “aha” moments. My favourite clues were 1d, 14d and 23d.

    Thanks Atrica. I look forward to your next puzzle.

  16. Thanks to everyone who solved the puzzle and took the time to comment!
    There are two technical areas where I am a little uncertain, and that caused me to revise this puzzle quite a bit. They are (1) repetition of indicators and (2) definitions by example.
    For (1) I am not sure how many “?”s I am allowed. I assumed that it was just one, and since I had spent my allowance on 2d I did not include one in the Java clue. I did for a while have a “perhaps” in that one, but decided in the end it did not need a qualifier.
    For (2), my test solver friend tried to convince me that I did not need to indicate a definition by example in subsidiary wordplay. He and I are both Guardian solvers — certainly in that publication one encounters loose definitions all the time — in fact, they often add to the enjoyment. Prolixic gives an example of “Axminster” to define “carpet” as being OK, so I am guessing the test is: is the definition fair to the solver? If the definition in the Java clue had been “computer language” then it would certainly have needed an indicator, but since the definition was “dealing with problems” that happened to be in Java I am not sure!
    Any comments on these issues would be most welcome.
    As an aside, I probably should not have allowed myself 25d…

    1. Hi Atrica – It’s been a long time since I read Prolixic’s guide, but I think best practice would be not to repeat any indicators in a puzzle, as there is always another word that can be used, or another way of putting it.

      Fill your boots with ?’s so long as it’s not every other clue.

      For the Java clue, had you used ‘computer language’, the surface would be destroyed, obviously. Because Java is just one type of code to which the answer could be applied, and because you are using the pun on Java, the country where the bugs are, that’s why I thought it deserved a ?, perhaps, maybe, say or something similar.

      Axminster is definitively a type of carpet named after a town – not the case with Java.

      I’m no expert – let’s see what Proximal makes of it tomorrow, but these are tiny details in a very good puzzle so well done and thanks again.

    2. Well done on the review. Not sure whether it was the T for turmoil or the question mark that stopped you getting a clean sheet; ‘how turmoil begins’ I think is perfectly good for T, and much better than the ubiquitous ‘initially’, etc.
      On question marks:
      There doesn’t seem to be a limit on number, though if a puzzle’s too full of them it can be irritating, as it’s often a sign that the setter’s trying to be clever.
      I suppose, had you not been worried about repetition, you would have used a question mark. But how would that have helped? Prolixic says ‘… appropriate as Java can be .. coffee .. language .. or …country’. The question mark wouldn’t tell us which, and whichever of those you meant it as, Java would still be an example. In fact, it is difficult to think of a situation in which Java would be anything other than an example. Definition by example indicators aren’t there to tell the solver what sort of category the example falls into, rather they are to warn the solver that it is a category rather than a meaning they are looking for. Most proper nouns, such as Java, or Axminster, do not have meanings, and so one automatically thinks of possible categories. Where the proper noun does have meanings the indicator becomes much more important. So, for example, you might have a clue like ‘Major error finally found in Rubik’s Cube’ for TORY. Rubik’s Cube doesn’t mean anything, whereas Major does. Ideally you’d have indicators for both, but it’s definitely more important for Major, to the extent that just putting a question mark at the end to cover both of them is probably a bit unfair.
      I have been seeing more clues recently which omit the example indicator – for example ‘ladies’ is regularly used as an example of loo/toilet without indication. I don’t know if it’s actually becoming more acceptable to leave them out (my impression is that it is) or I’m just noticing it more.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I had a couple of issues which apparently didn’t cause you any concern – 27a I thought should be hyphenated and where 29a is concerned – the phrase makes no sense to someone unfamiliar with the game in the theme and the wordplay could justifiably make the last word ‘pet’ or ‘put’. I thought a little more information was called for.

    Thanks again to Atrica and congratulations on getting such a low score on the commentometer.

  18. Thank you once again to those who have commented, and especially to Prolixic for the review. Your remarks have been extremely helpful. Particular thanks to LBR and mucky for helping me understand a little better where indicators should be used. I am still not sure whether “with” is acceptable as a link word, though. Prolixic did not object to my use of it, but a number of other posters found it dubious. I suppose I’ll keep the yellow flag in mind in future. As to “stand pat”, it does not really fit the theme as it’s a term from another card game. Maybe I should not have included it.

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