Rookie Corner – 241 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 241

Out of Sync by Atrica

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The setter and I considered this puzzle for the NTSPP series, but with the low number in the Rookie queue decided to use it here.  Next time you see Atrica, it will probably be early next year in the NTSPP series.  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.

My first attempt at solving this crossword on a crowded train travelling to work when SWT was in meltdown mode was doomed to failure.  It was therefore with come trepidation that I sat down with pen and paper to solve this.  I need not have worried. It was excellent fun.  Ignore those who say don’t do it again.  It brought another level to the solving experience.  There were a few rough edges that have been mentioned in the comments so I will not repeat them here.

To assist the review, after each clue I have added in italics the wordplay that gives the definition that I have highlighted in blue.


1 Scheduled flexibly (6)
SUPPLY – Double definition for a word meaning in a flexible manner and to cater.

4 Criticized in German, and therefore logically (6)
SLATED – Double definition for a word meaning criticised and also scheduled.

8 Suffer long period with drill not working (7)
German, and therefore logically
UNDERGO – The German word for “and” and the word meaning therefore when making a logical statement.

9 Enduring wheezing, at first in gym instead of hospital (7)
Long period with drill not working
AGELESS – A three letter word for a long period followed by a word for a class or drill without the ON at the end (not working).

11 Having poor focus, and so on, before start of holidays (10)
Wheezing, at first in gym instead of hospital
ASTIGMATIC – The first letters in “in” and “gym” replaced the abbreviation for hospital in a word meaning wheezing or breathless as a result of a medical condition.

12 Self-starter, high-flier, makes score (4)
And so on, before start of holidays
ETCH – The abbreviation for et cetera (and so on) followed by the first letter (start) of holidays

13 Cutters having end of gunnel inserted on back of boat (5)
Self-starter, high-flier
STERN – The first letter (starter) of self, followed by the name of a bird (high-flier).

14 Charity show getting pledges (8)
Cutters having end of gunnel inserted on
TELETHON – The cutters in the mouth of a person includes (inserted) the last letter (end) of gunnel followed by the ON from the clue.

16 Mogul changing heart provides guarantees (8)
PROMISES – Double definition (or really a single definition).

18 Originally, Russian ox ate ryegrass in ravine (5)
Mogul changing heart
GULCH – The answer is hidden in (heart) MOGUL CHANGING

20 Occupier of bathroom heard making loud noise (4)
Originally, Russian ox ate ryegrass
ROAR – The initial letters (originally) of Russian Ox Ate Ryegrass.

21 American officer from Virginia given dessert, reportedly (10)
Occupier of bathroom heard
LIEUTENANT – A homophone (heard) of LOO TENANT (occupier of bathroom).

23 Exit broadcast happy, I see (7)
Virginia given dessert, reportedly
VAMOOSE – The abbreviation for the state of Virginia followed by a homophone (reportedly) of MOUSSE (dessert).

24 Bankers at Zurich subsidiary see you later (7)
Broadcast happy, I see
CHEERIO – A homophone (broadcast) of CHEERY (happy) OH (I see).

25 Knock-off drug found in untidy room (6)
Bankers at Zurich subsidiary
ERSATZ – The answer is hidden in (subsidiary) of BANKERS AT ZURICH.

26 Having symptom of measles, seeing dose regularly cut (6)
Drug found in untidy room
SPOTTY – A three letter word for cannabis (drug) inside a three letter word for an untidy room.


1 Shoots up, climbing above English nettle (5)
Seeing dose regularly cut
SENDS – The odd letters (regularly cut) of SEEING DOSE.

2 Tweaking mantis leg is childish (7)
Up, climbing above English nettle
PUERILE – Reverse (climbing) the UP from the clue and follow with the abbreviation for English and a four letter word meaning nettle or annoy.

3 Book having wit at its core and the ultimate in poetic connective elements (9)
Tweaking mantis leg
LIGAMENTS – An anagram (tweaking) of MANTIS LEG

5 Reasoning given by everyone in trial (5)
Book having wit at its core and the ultimate in poetic
LOGIC – A three letter word for a book or record followed by the central letter (at its core) of wit and the final letter (ultimate in) of poetic.

6 Beautiful woman with idiot husband? Most improbable! (7)
Given by everyone in trial
TALLEST – A three letter word meaning everyone inside a four letter word for a trial.

7 Kitchen cleaner failed Mensa test (4,5)
Beautiful woman with idiot husband
DISH CLOTH – A four letter word for a beautiful woman followed by a four letter word for an idiot and the abbreviation for husband.

10 Politicians confuse empty remonstrations with outrage (9)
Failed Mensa test
STATESMEN – An anagram (failed) of MENSA TEST.

13 Flimsy boat for ambassador? (9)
Confuse empty remonstrations with outrage
SURROGATE – An anagram (confuse) of RS (empty remonstrations) OUTRAGE.

15 Flasher exposes rear end outside a Republican inauguration (9)
Flimsy boat
LIGHTSHIP – A five letter word meaning flimsy followed by a four letter word for a boat.

17 Leaves bewildered delegations following expulsion of corrupt aide (7)
Exposes rear end outside a Republican inauguration
MAROONS – A five letter word meaning exposes rear end or bottom around (outside) the A from the clue and the first letter (inauguration) of Republican

19 Inventory said to be lengthy in the extreme (7)
Bewildered delegations following expulsion of corrupt aide
LONGEST – An anagram (bewildered) of DELEGATIONS having removed and anagram (corrupt) of AIDE.

21 Curious about one composer (5)
Inventory said
LISZT – A homophone (said) of list (inventory)

22 Provide word describing bagpipes, perhaps (5)
Curious about one
NOISY – A four letter word meaning curious or inquisitive about the letter representing one.

27 comments on “Rookie Corner – 241

  1. A quality puzzle with a bizarre twist that threatened to do my head in. I found that it needed a lot of patience and concentration to slowly work through it all. Certainly worth the effort in my opinion. The very last one for me to get the wordplay sorted was the second part of 9a answer.
    Congratulations and thanks Atrica.

  2. Thanks Atrica
    Hats off, that was a fine puzzle that might have been a car crash had the clues not been as good as they are. I was very impressed with both the surfaces and seamlessness. A real treat for a Monday.
    For me, there are pros and cons of doctoring clues: I appreciated the extra challenge, and found it interesting and original. I liked that normally transparent clue types (eg acrostics) became less so because of the separation of parts. On the other hand, the pleasure of looking at a clue together with its solution and appreciating how it all fits together is somewhat reduced.

    Watch out for overlap between wordplay and definition:
    16a – DD, both sides almost the same
    9a – the first half of the solution and 15d, the second half – would have been more obvious if the clues had been normal.

  3. Well – when I saw the ‘special instructions’ my heart sank a bit – prospects of endless confusion especially since the – normally excellent – crossword-compiler interactive interface isn’t much help here!

    I had doubts as to whether this device adds much to the enjoyment for the solver, but seeing some of the amusing surfaces arising from the ‘mixed’ clues, maybe it was worth the effort! Not something I plan to try myself, though!

    I was relieved on finding that, once you’ve pieced together which bit goes with which, the solve isn’t too hard! Some of the clues don’t quite fit this device. Like 1a/22d for example where there’s a DD type clue involved, so it could have been split either way. And I decided that in 20a/21a the word “American” is there mainly to assist with the wordplay. Had a giggle over the surface of 20a though!

    But apart from these niggles, quite an interesting exercise. Well done!

  4. Quite a feat cleverly done with some lovely clues, thanks Atrica. However, call me boring, but I am not a fan of variations as all too often they detract from, rather than add to the enjoyment. I realise I may well be on my own here!

    So, with respect, my verdict is ‘a nice walk spoiled’.

    1. You’re not on your own LbR. When I see that there are ‘special instructions’ my heart tends to sink – I’m a fan of plain old vanilla puzzles.
      I’m sure that Atrica put a lot of work into this, so thanks to him.

  5. Well, this was a lot more fun than i thought it was going to be.

    I was wondering why we needed an american officer, then looked up to find the wordplay (ha! very good, lol!) and all was explained.
    I liked the Bankers of Zurich subsidiary, for some reason I couldn’t get GNOMES out of head. I thought 16a (wordplay) was excellent, I started looking for another word for Mogul. It’s very clever to use typical indicators like that.
    I was well-mislead with 15d where I was convinced that flasher had been mistakenly added to the wordplay making it nounal instead of verbal, and spent ages trying to figure out what on earth the flimsy boat had to do with inauguration. Then I realised outside wasn’t an indicator! (again!).

    Congratulations, very well done – but please don’t do that again.

  6. Almost gave up on this one before I started but then I decided on a different tactic to the one outlined by our setter – hunt out the definition, take a stab at an answer that fits and then cast around in the previous clue to see whether anything in it could work as the wordplay. Must have worked OK as I finished up with a completed grid!

    Not my cup of tea but it was an interesting experiment. Thanks, Atrica, but as Dutch said – please don’t do that again.

  7. Welcome back, Atrica.

    Whilst I found this very infuriating at times (my printed page is covered with correction fluid where I’ve entered the solution in the wrong squares), I must say that the clues were of a very high standard indeed. I thought it was exceptionally clever how the wordplay in one clue was married with the solution in the following one. I couldn’t help but be reminded of that wonderful sketch from The Two Ronnies that spoofed Mastermind, with Ronnie C as contestant Charlie Smithers having “Answering the questions before last” as his specialist subject. Great memories.

    My only quibble regarding the puzzle would be the wisdom of having three successive homophones, that’s best avoided methinks.

    Congratulations and thanks, Atrica, but as others have said, please don’t repeat the experiment!

      1. Thanks!

        By a bizarre coincidence, the very same Two Ronnies sketch cropped up as a question on Only Connect tonight.

  8. Very well done, Atrica. That was certainly a tour de force and very challenging to solve.

    I am astonished at how good most of the surfaces are and, when coupled with your nice injections of humour, this was far more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be.

    I have only two very minor comments in terms of the cluing: the definition for 16a and its wordplay in 14a are effectively identical; and, American in 21a is superfluous.

    Many thanks, Atrica, but please don’t do this too often – my brain hurts.

    1. isn’t it the american pronunciation of the officer different to the uk pronunciation? That’s no doubt the intention. I’m no expert on wither pronunciation or the military. Great wordplay, anyway

      1. Yes, it needs “American” in the definition for 21a, otherwise the homophone (from the previous clue) wouldn’t match.

        1. You are spot on there Silvanus. The split clue confused me.

          It’s rather quirky that in this instance the pronunciation in the US is arguably more logical than that in the UK.

  9. Oh dear – I’m afraid I did give up before I started. I couldn’t get going with this. It must have been a nightmare to compile, and I’m sorry I am not able to enjoy the cleverness of it of it all.

  10. I am happy for the setter that others enjoyed this, but this is the kind of puzzle that makes my eyes cross so I didn’t even consider trying it.

  11. Following a complete meltdown on South West Trains and 21/2 hour journeys both ways to and from work, I have no chance of getting to solve or review this until tomorrow evening. Apologies for the delay. I did try to solve on line but it was an exercise in futility. I need time to sit with pen and paper to get through this.

  12. Thank you to everyone who tackled this one despite the daunting “special instructions”. I’m not sure how I would have reacted myself when confronted with such a rubric. Thanks in advance to Prolixic also — I doubt that it is possible to solve this without pen and paper. I am very fortunate in having a test solver friend who convinced me that a puzzle with this structure could actually yield at all without causing terminal frustration. And don’t worry, I won’t try this again!

    PS I’m annoyed with myself for putting three homophones in a row. The one in the middle was a last minute edit and I forgot to check for that.

    1. I did manage to get through your puzzle online – but it needed a fair amount of scrolling! C-C of course knows nothing about highlighting the clue before, as well as the clue you’ve clicked on!

      My main confusion was not being sure whether to look at the clue before or the clue after. A few false trails there…

    2. ok, I have never really understood the objection to similar clue types “in a row”. I’m guessing that is because I, unlike cryptic sue etc., never solve puzzles “in a row” so i don’t really see a problem. I guess in the extreme, if you had 6 anagrams, then three hidden, then 4 spoonerisms followed by 4 double definitions, ok, maybe that’s weird. but i did not even notice in this puzzle.

      1. Certainly if clue types are assigned randomly in a 29-light puzzle, it is highly likely that there will be three consecutive clues of the same type. Like for ‘Dutch’, this doesn’t bother me at all.

        I suppose having too many homophones in one puzzle might be objected to, though. Sometimes homophones are controversial because they may be affected by regional accents. Not in this puzzle though – so long as one forgives the American pronunciation of 21a!

  13. I did start this last night, but was very tired so have put it aside for another occasion. It might be rather fun for a change and certainly a good mental exercise, methinks!

    So, at present, the jury is out for me, Atrica. Thank you very much for all the effort you have put into compiling this. And thanks in advance to Prolixic whose elucidation I shall studiously avoid until I’ve had another go at the puzzle!

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – I’m sure that Atrica will be delighted by your reaction to the puzzle. I’m sorry to say that I hope the praise doesn’t encourage him to compile another similar one although I do appreciate the amount of work that must have gone into compiling this.

  15. Jane is right — I am very happy indeed that Prolixic enjoyed this puzzle! It was harder to compile than a normal crossword, because I tried to make the “staggered” clues make reasonable sentences as well as the actual clues. The weakest set was definitely the not-quite-double definition (promises). At first I thought that there were more combinations than normal for the solver to sort through, but actually I don’t think that’s the case, mathematically.

    Once again, thanks to all the brave solvers — and kudos to Laccaria for the feat of solving it without a print-out.

  16. I really enjoyed this puzzle, and think that the device used was a good idea that could be developed in all sorts of other ways.

    As others have said, it doesn’t really lend itself readily to certain types of clue, such as the double definition, cryptic definition and & Lit, but there are plenty of other possibilities for clue construction. The presence of some fairly obvious anagrams made it reasonably straightforward to break into at the outset, but there were perhaps a few too many of these present in the puzzle. A variation which might be worth considering for a future puzzle would be to make all the across clues normal and to restrict use of the device to the down clues. That would enable the full range of clueing devices to be employed if desired for the across clues.

    Thanks vey much Atrica for such a pleasurable puzzle – well worth the hard work of composition.

Comments are closed.