Rookie Corner – 236 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 236

A Puzzle by Shabbo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prologue. 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 Proxlic follows.

Welcome back to Shabbo.  Another well crafted crossword with a good handling of the wordplay and some excellent clues such as 1a.  There were, however, just a few too man niggles on the wordplay to justify promotion on this crossword.  My commentometer reads as 3 out of 27 or 11.1%


1 Joint ought to be formal for a change (8,2,4)
SHOULDER OF LAMB – A five letter word meaning ought to followed by an anagram (for a change) of BE FORMAL.

9 City ignores advertising fever (4)
AGUE – Remove (ignores) the PR (advertising) from the capital of the Czech Republic (city).

10 Marine explorer drives drunkenly around island (5,5)
SCUBA DIVER – An anagram (drunkenly) of DRIVES around the name of an Island associated with Fidel Castro.

11 Workshop academic bans American (6)
STUDIO – Remove (bans) the US (American) from a word meaning academic.

12 A hundred in Malaga had trashed surrounding estate (8)
HACIENDA – The A from the clue followed by the Spanish for 100 with an anagram (trashed) of HAD around it (surrounding).  I am dubious about using Spanish numbers as part of the wordplay as these may not be well known.

13 Youth speaks about pantomime character dropping in (5,4)
SALAD DAYS – A four letter word for speaks around (about) the name of a pantomime character associated with a lamp without (dropping) the IN.

15 City involved in club athletics (4)
BATH – The answer is hidden (involved) in CLUB ATHLETICS.

16 Not drinking around 25 is wrong (4)
TORT – The abbreviation for teetotal (not drinking) about the heraldic indicator for the answer to 25a.

17 Outspoken hookers and 22 might be found here (5,4)
OPIUM DENS – Where you might use Hookahs (a homophone – outspoken – of hookers) and where the detective in 22a might indulge his heroin habit.  I am afraid that the homophone for hookers does not work for me.  In addition to the pronunciation of the R, the OO sound is different in both words.  I think that as a compound noun, here works in the clue.

21 Trojan woman wrecked sidecars (8)
CRESSIDA – An anagram (wrecked) of SIDECARS.

22 Houses sound detective (6)
HOLMES – A homophone (sound) of HOMES (houses).  The surface reading here does not make much sense.  Detective’s housing report would be better.

24 Against party offensive (10)
ANTISOCIAL – A four letter word meaning against followed by a six letter word for party.

25 First place or…. (4)
GOLD – The colour represented by “Or” in heraldry.

26 ….national standard (2,7,5)
ST GEORGE’S CROSS– A barely disguised cryptic clue for England’s flag.  Unfortunately, the Scottish Saltire also fits the enumeration for this clue.  A clue should only give one possible correct solution.


2 Drink up in the afternoon? (4,3)
HIGH TEA – A four letter word meaning up followed by the three letter word for a drink.  As the solution is a meal, not a drink, this does not work for me as an all-in-one clue.

3 Ketchup endorsement’s hidden tip (5)
UPEND – The answer is hidden in KETCHUP ENDORSEMENT.  I think that hiding tip would be better for the cryptic reading of the clue.

4 Record 25 initially debating conflict (7)
DISCORD – A four letter word meaning a record followed by the heraldic term for the answer to 25a and the first letter (initially) of debating.

5 Sky leaping, perhaps?  More or less (7,8)
ROUGHLY SPEAKING – Split 5, (as an anagram indicator) 2, 8 this might be a clue to the solution SKY LEAPING.  Reverse anagrams work on the basis that the solution stands in its own right as a crossword clue to the definition.  Here, because the resulting clue in the solution gives LY SPEAKING, this detracts from the elegance of the reverse anagram.

6 Intended capital to drop first name (6)
FIANCE – Remove the first N (name) from a seven letter word meaning capital.

7 Shock restraint for girl group (5,4)
ALICE BAND – A five letter girl’s name followed by a four letter word for a group.

8 Study in 15 without a scope (7)
BREADTH – Remove (without) the A from the answer to 15a and add in a four letter word meaning study in its place.

14 Eye-catching stranger I upset (9)
ARRESTING – An anagram (upset) of STRANGER I.

16 Sandals down under about right for gatherings (7)
THRONGS – An Australian word for sandals around (about) the abbreviation for right.

18 Confirms winning catches (7)
UPHOLDS – A two letter word meaning winning followed by a five letter word meaning catches.

19 No point dropping final indicators (7)
NEEDLES – An eight letter word meaning no point without (dropping) the final letter.  This is the third use of dropping / drop as a removal indicator.  This repetition should be avoided.

20 Lover, soldier and 25 finally changed (6)
GIGOLO – A two letter word for an America soldier followed by the answer to 25a with the final letter changed.

23 Camp without a beer (5)
LAGER – The name for a South African camp with one of the As removed.

22 comments on “Rookie Corner – 236

  1. Thanks, Shabbo, I enjoyed solving this. 1ac was a very good entry. I thought 23d could equally well have been camp with beer! Also, 26a didn’t seem all.that cryptic — but these are only minor quibbles.

  2. An enjoyable crossword – some straightforward, and others to make you think. I particularly liked the deceptively simple 25a

    Thanks to Shabbo and, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. There are some very good clues in this enjoyable puzzle – thanks Shabbo. I thought that 5d was clever and I particularly enjoyed 13a, 25a and 2d. Neither of the homophones (17a and 22a) works for me.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. Welcome back, Shabbo.

    Firstly, congratulations on making all the clues concise and within RayT’s parameters, an excellent achievement. I thoroughly enjoyed the solve, there was a good mix of different clue types and most of the surfaces stood up to scrutiny.The highlight of the puzzle for me was the superb quality of the anagrams, as good as one might find anywhere.

    Less good was the repetition of “drop” as a deletion indicator, which crept in to the puzzle in three separate places. I seem to recall that you have had similar issues in previous crosswords, it does pay to make a list of indicators one’s used and check for any duplications prior to submission.

    My ticks went to 1a, 9a, 10a, 11a, 16a, the 25a/26a combo, 5d and 14d.

    Well done indeed, I do find your puzzles to be entertaining and look forward to the next. Many thanks, Shabbo.

  5. An enjoyable solve for me too. I think I heard Silvanus’ repetition radar ping once or twice and the 25 reference is a tad overdone for my personal preference.

    I thought that 1a & 5d were very deftly handled so well done and thanks Shabbo for a solid and entertaining puzzle.

  6. Thanks Shabbo
    Lots of good stuff. 1a was a very good start. I also liked the long one down the middle (nice twist having the break in the wordplay where it is), though 26a not so much – as Atrica says, not very cryptic. I liked the linked ones + 18d and 17a (which along with 22a held out for a while at the end). 7d, 16d, 13a also ticks.
    My least favourite clue was 22a, as it only just makes sense as a sentence and is also pretty basic.
    On the homophone in 17a – I don’t pronounce trailing Rs so it works fine for me, but I’ve decided to avoid all homophones that require Rs to be dropped in my own puzzles having been made to feel guilty about disregarding how most of the English-speaking world actually speak.

  7. Nice to see you back again, Shabbo, and with a very creditable puzzle. As Silvanus has already said, it was an excellent achievement to keep the clues concise whilst, for the most part, retaining good surface reads.
    The 23d camp was a new one for me.

    Plenty of ticks on my sheet with top honours going to 5d & 25a.

    Hope you’re hard at work on the next one!

  8. Thanks Shabbo, a fun puzzle with some great clues and technically pretty solid.

    I liked 1a, 10a, 13a, 7d (girl group is great). My only comments concern preferences, so well done.

    Are flip flops really sandals? Why do I think sandals have to have a heel strap? “Flip-flops down under about right for congregations” would have worked fine for me

    I think 5d would have been much better if the inverse anagram were of a real word or phrase. Roughly also works as an anagram indicator which i find slightly unfortunate.

    the references to 25 in 16a and 4d to me are slightly compromised by having OR as a definition in the 25a clue, effectively making that translation a repeat of 25a.

    I’m not overly keen on homophones within the wordplay – or is it within definition? (17a). I’m not suggesting it’s wrong, but I don’t *think* it is very common in the dailies.

    Some surface opportunities missed, I think, e.g. I thought there might have been a more interesting story for 22a

    Thanks again, looking forward to prolixic’s review and your next puzzle.

    1. 17a – I wondered more about the singularity of ‘here’ for a plural answer. Strictly it should be ‘in these places’, no?

  9. Good puzzle. Congratulations Shabbo. Some clues took me a while to parse, and I still don’t get 23D though I can’t see what else the answer could be. 13A and 24A are my picks.

    1. 23d You need to remove one of the As from an Afrikaans word for a defensive encampment to leave an apology for beer.

  10. Hi All

    Many thanks, as ever, for your very helpful comments. Lessons learned so far:

    1. Always check that I haven’t dropped in too many identical “omission words”! Inexcusable. Thanks, Silvanus.
    2. Beware of homophones – my pronunciation might not work for other people.
    3. 22. is just not a very good clue!

  11. Well, I was going to say ‘brilliant, not a duff clue in sight, see you next as NTSPP’, but I see that others more eagle-eyed than myself have picked up one or two little failings. Nevertheless this was a sound and enjoyable puzzle.
    Yes, repetition is something to watch out for. My practice once I’ve completed compiling a puzzle is to print it out and go through it with an ‘assistant’ in a sort of test solve, explaining the clues as we go along; this picks up all sorts of errors, not just repetition, and enables me to polish it up.
    But I thought 25ac was brilliant, and the repeated references to it didn’t bother me – you can get just as many, if not more, cross-references from published setters in the Indy and the Graun. I wasn’t bothered by 5dn either.
    Just one minor point about typography. The ellipsis – as used to link 25ac and 26ac – is formed of three dots (not four) and I always leave a space between it and the adjacent word(s). There is an ellipsis character in most word processors, and Crossword Compiler will support it if imported via copy and paste – but three dots serve just as well.
    And, by the way, I agree with you and Gazza about the apology for beer!

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I wonder where one draws the line as to how much GK it is reasonable to assume that a solver would know? I didn’t know the Spanish number and got the answer by placing an anagram of INHAD + E (IVR code for Spain) around AC, but I had to do a Google search to confirm the Australian sandal and the South African camp. Isn’t it all very subjective?

    Thanks again to Shabbo and please don’t be disappointed that your promised promotion hasn’t happened – you compile some very enjoyable puzzles.

  13. Thanks for that Shabbo I enjoyed that immensely despite having to solve it in 2 sessions due to the demands for attention from my 2 year old grandson (who will be joined in the new year by a brother & a cousin!)
    I’ll wait for Prolixic’s review to fully parse my answers. Thanks to he in advance.

  14. Hi Jane

    Many thanks for your very kind comments. I also wondered about what was acceptable GK after some of the comments above. It would seem that knowledge of classical Rome and Greece is fair game but fairly basic knowledge of modern Spanish is not. However, if those are the rules, I must stick to them.

    I will keep trying and any criticism, whether positive or negative, is always welcome!

    Off to Islay on Friday in search of golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, hen harriers and choughs. Can’t wait. Have the choughs bred well on Anglesey this year?

    1. Hi Shabbo,
      Sorry – only just spotted your comment. No figures in as yet for the breeding success of the Chough but the general consensus is that the population remains stable despite the huge earthworks being carried out at the nearby nuclear power station.

      Hope you both have a wonderful birding experience on Islay – and some decent weather! Don’t forget to report back on your return.

  15. Nice one, Shabbo! I got impatient with quite a lot of the rhs missing and revealed a L and a B for 7d before I twigged. Shame because it’s a great clue, but you wrong-footed me with your craftiness. That got me BATH and BREADTH. I don’t think it’s good practice, btw, to have cross-references in crossing lights like that.

    I pronounce hooker and hookah the same, and Chambers shows the same vowel sound for both, but as Mucky says, you’ll always get complaints from rhotics if you assume a SE English/RP accent. There shouldn’t be a problem if you can somehow indicate the accent you mean. However, I got thrown on that one trying to think of a soundalike for a synonym of hooker (in various senses) and I think Dutch is right to say it’s unusual this way round. Not sure there’s anything wrong with that, though.

    I revealed to get HOLMES too and really kicked myself when I got it. The surface makes some sense at least to me as “Accommodates detective who has integrity”, with good misdirection in “Houses” and “sound”.

    I recognised cien when I saw it but would have trouble if asked the Spanish for 100.

    Plenty of really good clues. Wish I’d resisted cheating at least a bit longer now. Thanks, Shabbo.

  16. Hmm … just realised, 7d is [def] for [wordplay], which P usually disapproves, I think. Maybe that’s part of why I found it so hard? “Shock restraint” is a beautifully deceptive def though.

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