Rookie Corner – 239 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 239

A Puzzle by Skinny

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a new puzzle from Skinny. 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.

New puzzles for this slot are desperately needed – don’t delay, send one in today!

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Skinny.  Another very well executed crossword.  His previous two Rookie offerings have had themes but there was nothing immediately obvious as a theme here.  Over-all, this was exceptionally well clued with nice surface readings and humour.  At any other time, this would merit promotion to the NTSPP.  However, given the dearth of Rookies and the length of the publication queue for the NTSPP, it would be several months before Skinny reappeared to public acclaim.  However, when space permits…!

The commentometer is 1.5/28 or 5.3%


9 Moon’s out, fast asleep soon? (9)
SOMNOLENT – An anagram (out) of MOONS followed by the name of a 40 day period of fasting.

10 Nation surrounded by Argentina, Uruguay… (5)
NAURU – The answer is hidden in (surrounded by) ARGENTINA URUGUAY.

11 Tone almost expressive in song and dance (7)
AVOCADO – A word meaning expressive without the final letter (almost) inside a three letter word for a fuss or song and dance.

12 Stop key credit, wanting thousand in old money (7)
ESCUDOS – The key on a PC keyboard to stop an action followed by a word meaning repute or credit without the K (wanting thousand).

13 Executes rabbits (4)
DOES – Double definition, the first meaning to execute an action and the second the word for female rabbits.

14 Try your luck correcting typo on menu (3,5,2)
PUT MONEY ON – An anagram (correcting) of TYPO ON MENU.

16 Electricity centre involved in power-cut scandal (7)
OUTRAGE – The middle letter (centre) in electricity inside another word for a power cut.

17 Attack – one’s hot and lustful (7)
GOATISH – A phrase 2,2 meaning attack followed by the letter (preserving the ’s) representing one and the abbreviation for hot.

19 Hounds socialists on queer street (3,7)
RED SETTERS – A four letter word meaning socialists followed by an anagram (queer) of STREET.  A minor point, but some editors require A on B in the wordplay for an across clue to mean B followed by A.

22 He’s bound to work on most of novel after retiring (4)
SERF – A five letter word meaning new or novel with the final letter removed (most of) with the remaining letters reversed (after retiring). The links word “on” does not work as you have definition on wordplay.

24 It turns heads brown (7)
CAPSTAN  – A four letter words meaning heads followed by a three letter word meaning brown.

25 Catchy tune more raw in composition (7)
EARWORM – An anagram (in composition) of MORE RAW.

26 Legally obstruct part of trickiest operation (5)
ESTOP – The answer is hidden in (part of) TRICKIEST OPERATION.

27 Salary increase that man will be furious about (5,4)
RAISE HELL – A five letter word for a salary increase followed by contraction meaning that man will.


1 My mistake following hip-replacement operation? (1,5,9)
I STAND CORRECTED – Double definition, the first being an admission of an error and the second being the expected outcome of a hip-replacement operation. 

2 Skinny’s retiring, revealing… (8)
IMMODEST – A two letter word meaning the setter’s (Skinny’s) followed by a six letter word meaning retiring or shy.  I know that Chamber’s thesaurus gives revealing as a synonym for the definition but the dictionary definition does not support this.

3 …offensive wear, hiding nothing. (5)
FORAY – A four letter word meaning wear or unravel includes (hiding) the letter meaning nothing.

4 Serious about stuff getting dissolved (8)
RESOLUTE – A two letter word meaning about followed by a six letter word for the substance that is dissolved in a solvent.

5 Regularly set free by morning run (6)
STREAM – The odd letters (regularly) in set free followed by the abbreviation for morning.

6 A trick adopted by bears heading off to find snakes (9)
ANACONDAS – The A from the clue and a three letter word for a trick inside a type of black and white bear without the first letter (heading off).

7 How to prepare tomatoes of various kinds (6)
SUNDRY – Split 3,3 this would description of a way to preserve or prepare tomatoes.  Perhaps one way to prepare tomatoes would be more accurate as the wordplay.

8 Hereditary diarrhoea? (4,2,3,6)
RUNS IN THE FAMILY – A way of describing a hereditary trait that leads to loose bowel movements!

15 Set out to steal a ladder? (4,5)
TAKE STEPS – A four letter word meaning yo steal followed by another word for a ladder.

17 Drainage arranged for shrub (8)
GARDENIA – An anagram (arranged) of DRAINAGE.

18 Reserve port, frozen. (4,4)
ICED OVER – A three letter word for reserve followed by a five letter word for a major south-east England sea port.

20 Record received by tax assistant (6)
DEPUTY  A two letter word a record inside (received) by a four letter word for tax.

21 Singers notes broadcast (6)
TENORS – A homophone (broadcast) of another word for ten pound notes.  For the surface reading to word grammatically, the clue should be singers’ and apostrophe.

23 Sharp cheese, fromagerie’s first (5)
BRIEF – A four letter word for a French cheese followed by the first letter of fromagerie.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 239

  1. We thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. We got held up in the NW corner for longer than we should have.
    For someone recently returned from India, 8d was a most apposite clue.
    A definite two thumbs up from us.
    Thanks Skinny.

  2. I still have a few to go but I have to say I’m thoroughly enjoying this.8D is terrific!

  3. All done now, but I needed electronic help to see the lurker in 10A. I think 11a is very iffy. Other than that, I thought it was great. 8D still stands at the top of the pile.

  4. A very enjoyable crossword – I too was held up in the NW corner – no quibbles or queries from me.

    Thanks to Skinny and to Prolixic in advance for the review

  5. The hilarious hereditary diarrhoea stands out in what was for me a very enjoyable puzzle. Like others I was held up in the NW corner.
    This was very accomplished and I have only one minor criticism – 21d really needs an apostrophe.
    My favourite clue is of course 8d but I had lots more ticks including 22a, 7d and 15d.
    Thanks a lot Skinny – I’m looking forward to your next puzzle.

  6. Thanks Skinny
    All very tidy. Mostly straightforward, though 3d/11a together held out for a while at the end.
    Those two, which are smart, along with 7d, 17a, 4d were my favourites. I liked 1d more than 8d, though they’re both entertaining. 8d I find a little unsatisfying because there’s nothing in the clue which is quite what the solution is.

  7. Like others above, the NW corner slowed me down …

    A very high-quality puzzle and an enjoyable solve! I only have a few minor comments, which may be more about me than the puzzle:

    2d’s antonym use a bit weak. I had an alternative word in here at first (but won’t spoil).
    13a I stupidly put a different word in for ‘Executes rabbits’ – this slowed me up well proper!
    And the def in 11a caught me out entirely.

    Thanks Skinny – I look forward to the next!


    PS It was great to catch up with some from this illustrious site at The Times Championships at the weekend – and what a surprise outcome!

  8. I thought this was excellent, and laughed out loud at several, especially 15d. Like others, I was slowed down by the NW, especially 3d. I wasn’t quite sure about the definition in 27a, but given the high quality of this puzzle I’m sure that’s my fault.

  9. Nothing to add to the comments above: am another who enjoyed this but had trouble in that corner. Many thanks Skinny, and in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  10. Welcome back, Skinny.

    I felt that you rose to a different level with this excellent puzzle. Whilst your previous crosswords were entertaining, perhaps they relied a little too much on “homogroans” and contained quite a few niggly repetitions. With this one, you’ve clearly taken on board Prolixic’s previous comments and it shows. The clues are of a very high quality indeed, and many would not be out of place in any of the national papers. I liked the succinctness and smoothness of the surfaces particularly. Bravo.

    Like others, the NW corner delayed my solve as well, I think 11a was considerably tougher than any other clue but perfectly fair with nice misdirection. My printed page was smothered in ticks, but I gave double ticks to 9a, 1d, 7d and, of course, 8d. I had the same minor reservations as Gazza about the missing apostrophe in 21d and as Encota about 2d.

    I notice RD hasn’t commented yet, I hope he hasn’t choked on his straw when reading 13a!

    Many thanks and congratulations, Skinny. I suspect you are destined for a great future as a setter if you continue in this vein.

  11. I’m not sure about the definition for 11a but I guess it’s just about OK. Apart from that and the minor niggle of the missing apostrophe (and, of course, 13a!), I really enjoyed this.

    Very well done, Skinny. Your clues are concise and accurate with some great touches of humour. Promotion can’t be far off!

    I had quite a lot of ticks on my page, but my favourite was the outstanding 8d, and 7d earned a double tick too.

    Many thanks, Skinny, and please keep them coming.

  12. The NW corner has beaten me so I’ll need to reveal some letters before I can finish this entertaining puzzle. Thanks Skinny.

    I’ve now revealed but will have to wait for tomorrow’s review to fully parse the answers.

  13. Good afternoon everyone, back from a mini-break in the Trossachs, and well chuffed at the comments. I had given this a lot of attention, and revisions, and I did have the help of some fellow setters/solvers to cast a critical eye over it.

    Thanks to everyone, in particular Silvanus for the words of encouragement – it means a lot, it really does.

  14. Jolly well done, Skinny – I can’t see that Prolixic will find much to disturb the equilibrium of the commentometer.

    My list of ticks included 9a plus 1,7,8&15d.

    Thank you for the enjoyment – I think you may well be turfed out of Rookie Corner!

  15. Put me in the “I really enjoyed this” camp.
    Very smooth and witty surface made the solve a real pleasure.
    Just one niggle in 16a for the description of the letter to insert.
    Lots of Favourites.
    Thanks to Skinny.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Shame that Skinny can’t get a slot in the NTSPP section for a while – it would be good if we could have an ‘Improvers’ Corner. Trouble is that it would need someone with your skills to volunteer for the extra workload!

  17. I tackled this while suffering from some sort of lurgi – the same sort Skinny seemed to be suffering from at the York S&B – so I didn’t really notice anything to find fault with and I’ll go with jean-luc and jane in my appreciation. A really smooth solve with the only problem at 11ac/3dn where I needed a bit of help. Well done!

    1. Ah yes. A stubborn bout of chestalism. I did myself no good by putting wine on top of the medicine. Really nice to meet you, sorry about the illness!

  18. I apologize for being so late in commenting. I agree with all of the very positive comments – and just wanted to add that I thought that 1d and 8d were wonderful clues and had me chuckling long after the solve was over!

Comments are closed.