Rookie Corner – 240 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 240


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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Hearing my plea for puzzles, one of our rookies responded with this one. 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.

Greeting from the South of France where your reviewer is enjoying a few days R and R in Menton.  This is being typed overlooking the verdant hills around the town.  The quality and variety of the flowers still in bloom in mid-November is stunning.

Welcome to our anonymous Rookie though I suspect that this setter would not be out of place in one of the daily papers given the quality of the clues with only one or two minor points to raise.  There are a number of pointers to his identity.  Look at the first letters of the final four down clues and read in a circle the four letters of starting with the last letter of 6d.  There is also a hidden message at the end of the 2nd and 14th rows.  Highlight all of them and turn the grid sideways and you get LOL.  The commentometer reads at 1.5 out of 32 or 4.7%.


1 Old pictures of a Greek character parting oceans (6)
SEPIAS – The name of the Greek letter used to describe the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference inside (parting) another word for oceans.

4 Flat refusals to cover a democrat in The Times (8)
NOWADAYS – A phase (2,5) expressing outright refusals around (to cover) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for Democrat.

10 One French King happy to be isolated (9)
UNRELATED – The French masculine form of one followed by the abbreviation for a king and a six letter word meaning happy.

11 Sever supply lines? (5)
VERSE – An anagram (supply) of SEVER.

12 Wood occasionally found in the park (4)
TEAK – The odd letters (occasionally) of THE PARK.

13 Address Spooner’s absent leading lady (6,4)
DOMAIN NAME – A Spoonerism of NO MAIN DAME (absent leading lady).

15 Typical example of great short book (7)
EPITOME – A four letter word meaning great with the final letter removed (short) followed by a four letter word for a book.

16 Half of Square remains cordial (6)
SQUASH – The first three letters (half of) of square followed by a three letter word meaning remains.

19 Mother books artist to find inspiration, it’s said (6)
MANTRA – A two letter word for a mother, followed by the abbreviation for New Testament (books) and the abbreviation for an artist.

21 Mediocre Viceroy has a crack (7)
CREVICE – The answer is hidden in (has) MEDIOCRE VICEROY.

23 St Michael’s reformed those who sought to make gold (10)
ALCHEMISTS – An anagram (reformed) of ST MICHAELS.

25 Further a group of players (4)
ALSO – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for the London Symphony Orchestra (group of players).

27 Slip away and describe Penny at length (5)
ELOPE – Remove the PEN (de-scribe) from the full name (at length) of someone called Penny.

28 Back to back shows sharing a hand (9)
OPERATIVE – The words opera and Evita (reversed) (back to back shows) sharing the letter A.

29 Bright winger kept area in order (8)
PARAKEET – An anagram (in order) of KEPT AREA.

30 Second on court, entertaining English judge (6)
REJECT – A two letter word meaning on or about and the abbreviation for court hold the abbreviations for English and Judge.


1 Dumbfound tactical leader with army doubles (8)
STUNTMEN – A four letter word meaning stun followed by the first letter (leader) of tactical and a three letter word for a group of people (army).

2 A Head appreciates finishing early for a change (3,6)
PER CAPITA – An anagram (for a change) of APPRECIATES after removing the ES (finishing early).  Finishing early really implies removing only one letter.  Perhaps final couple leaving for a change would be better.

3 Article by lake at bottom of mine shaft (4)
AXLE – The letter A (article) followed by a letter meaning by or times, the abbreviation for lake and the final letter (bottom of) mine.

5 Freeloader’s travails? (7)
ORDEALS – An anagram (free) of LOADERS.  Some editors would not allow the implicit requirement to lift and separate freeloader’s to free loader’s to get to the solution.

6 Traveller coming upon old city with hesitation (10)
ADVENTURER – A six letter word meaning coming followed by a two letter biblical city and a two letter verbal hesitation.

7 Vessel from North dumping outsiders in some areas (5)
AORTA – The inner letters (dumping outsiders) of North inside the abbreviation for Area twice (as areas is in the plural).

8 Lacking credit, hecklers scrambled for bread in Israel (6)
SHEKEL – Remove the abbreviation for credit from HECKLERS and make an anagram(scrambled) of the remaining letters.

9 Good man was up and walked (6)
STRODE – The abbreviation for saint (good man) followed by a four letter word meaning was up or on a horse.

14 Where to bung wine (10)
BOTTLENECK – Cryptic definition of where to put the cork.

17 Picture that’s not quick? (5,4)
STILL LIFE – Cryptic definition of a a type of painting of inanimate objects (not quick – using the biblical notion of the quick and the dead).

18 Fast again, having an air (8)
REDOLENT – Split 4, 4 this would indicate following a forty day period of fasting again.

20 Now I sit, getting fat (7)
ADIPOSE – The abbreviation for Anno Domini (now), the I from the clue and a four letter word meaning sit for an artist.

21 Rib Gran? (6)
CUTLET – A reverse clue.  To get from Grant to Gran you could cut let (a synonym for grant).  Perhaps a stronger indication of a reverse clue would be better “Rib Gran for the setter?” perhaps.

22 Artificial cheese (4-2)
MADE UP – Another reverse clue – A type of cheese reversed.  I think that there needs to be an indication that the solution is a reverse clue, perhaps by adding an exclamation mark or question mark.

24 Group of grasses? (5)
CHOIR – Cryptic definition based on grasses being those who betray or sing.

26 Swinger‘s pronounced walk (4)
GATE – A homophone (pronounced) of GAIT (walk).  Although often used by setters in this way, there is nothing in the clue that indicates which way the homophone works.  Taken in isolation, GAIT would be a valid solution to this clue.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner – 240

  1. An excellent puzzle that had several curve balls thrown in to really have us working hard. 4a was the one that held us up the longest and 28 was not far ahead of it. Penny-drop moments all over the place.
    We think we have guessed the answer to the title for the puzzle but are not sure enough to stick our necks out at this stage.
    Thanks Setter.

  2. Very entertaining puzzle with lots of innovative thinking and penny drop moments (and, for me, one clue where the penny hasn’t yet dropped).
    I wasn’t too keen on the ‘finishing early’ in 2d requiring two letters to be dropped.
    Top clues for me were 28a, 18d and 24d.
    Thanks to whomsoever for stepping into the breach and providing us with our dose of Monday fun.

  3. Well done whodunnit? (not a clue).
    I got off to a slow start then struggled slightly more in the bottom half. Clues I enjoyed include 12a, 20d, 8d.
    You’ve been hiding the definitions well, with unexpected meanings e.g. 30a. Makes for good penny drops, also raises the difficulty a notch which is fine. I liked bread in Israel for it’s simple but very effective misdirection.

    My last one in was 30a, there is an ambiguity in 26d which is only resolved by the checker in 30a.

    I thought 24d was unreasonably indirect – doesn’t work for me.
    Similarly I thought 21d was unreasonable – ok you can have a reverse clue, but in addition, here the ANSWER requires a wordsplit which is a step too far in my view. You’d at least need an exclamation mark alongside the question mark.

    That’s about it for comments – I wasn’t keen on “some” in 7d, “two” would be accurate, but that is minor. And you know presumably that word-splits like 5d are not accepted by all editors.

    I’m not seeing the wordplay for 27a, probably me being thick.

    thanks for sharing and congratulations

  4. Excellent puzzle, thanks whoeverdidit
    Loads of great clues, even the basic ones (eg. 11,12) were excellent. Favourites were 13, 18, 20d, 21d (don’t think it’s any more complicated than the usual reverse clue and a nice twist) and 28.
    I agree with Dutch on 24d (for me, the only clue that would suggest this is a rookie puzzle at all). I also don’t get 27a, any hints welcome, and I thought 17d was a bit weak.

  5. Congrats to anyone who teases out the setter’s identity. The answer must be in there somewhere, Gazza.

    1. I think I’ve found it, LbR, though it is exceedingly well hidden (and it does correspond with my original thoughts).

          1. I can see DOH, RAGS, TTFN on the RHS

            …and the first letters of the last four down clues :smile:


  6. I have no idea who the setter is, but I would be amazed if this was his or her first puzzle.

    I thought there were a lot of excellent clues, but a few that were perhaps a little too ambitious or unfair to those solving. It was certainly not as easy as I had originally expected to be. I liked the succinctness of most of the clues and it was very entertaining.

    My top two were 13a and 6d.

    Many thanks to our mystery setter.

    1. That pretty much reflects my thoughts too although, given the very diverse levels of difficulty of the clues, I am wondering if more than one setter is involved.

  7. Solved quite early this morning so I’ve just had to have another look at the grid to remember my thoughts.

    Whoever set it – and I have still no idea – isn’t quite a Rookie as some who’ve appeared here before – well that’s what I think but then I could be wrong.

    I particularly liked 28a and 22d, wondered about 24d but Mr CS said ‘of course, a group of grasses would be a …’

    Thanks to the mystery setter and, in advance, to Prolixic

  8. A lot to like, e.g. 15ac, 23ac, 30ac, 3dn, 5dn and 14dn. I don’t have a problem with word splits but as dutch has pointed out, they’re not allowed by some editors.
    I was left with 21dn and 28ac, which I finally teased out but cannot parse.
    Thanks to our mystery setter (or setters?). I await Prolixic’s review with interest.

  9. Rookie in which particular field? Certainly not in the intricacies of crossword setting!
    3&21d held me up for an interminable length of time – the former was silly on my part, the latter needed a great deal of lateral thinking.

    Not prepared to pick any particular favourite but I’m willing to lay the blame at the feet of our 13/28a.

  10. Reminds me of Miffypops’ style. With a little help from our host possibly. Perhaps a third signed in too as his name appears in full and a fourth to complete the SE.
    Really enjoyed the ride.
    Didn’t mind 21d and 24d as the? means cryptically in my book.
    However I think that one of those ? Is needed in 22d.
    Thanks for the fun.

  11. Delightful puzzle which was a most enjoyable challenge. Too many great clues to nominate a favourite. Thanks to the setter, please come back with another!!

  12. Many thanks to all who took the time to solve the puzzle and leave feedback. You are all very kind, even the critics.

    Thanks also to Prolixic for a favourable review. See you all next time.

    1. Thanks very much, Rags, for a tough but enjoyable challenge. I was clearly very wide of the mark when thinking this might have been the work of multiple setters!

      Thanks too to Prolixic.

  13. Thanks for the review, Prolixic, and many thanks to Rags for an excellent challenge. Well done to those who correctly spotted ‘whodunnit’ – I certainly wasn’t one of them!

  14. How silly of me.
    When I saw the initial of three of our bloggers and the name Alchemi appear, I really thought it was a joint effort.
    Never crossed my mind that Rags was the setter.
    Well done and thanks to Prolixic for the review.

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