Rookie Corner – 243 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 243

A Puzzle by Loonapick

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a while since we had a puzzle from Loonapick, but he answered my appeal for puzzles a few weeks ago. 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 long wait has not been in vain for Loonapick’s latest crossword.  There were a few rough edges, particularly in the down clues but there was a good variety of clue types and a theme of football teams. The commentometer is 4/30 or 13.3%.


1 Complain about the Catalan playing with a team (9)
BARCELONA – A four letter word meaning complain is reversed (about) and followed by the Spanish word for the, a two letter word meaning playing and the A from the clue.

6 Former PM he elected at the historic primaries (5)
HEATH – The initial letters (primaries) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

9 It may help one understand prisoner’s writings (7)
CONTEXT – A three letter word for a prisoner followed by (the ’s meaning has) a four letter word for writing.  I think it would have been better for writings to have been in the singular for this clue for both the wordplay and the surface reading.

10 My fling with graduate in this city (7)
CORDOBA – A three letter word meaning my or goodness me followed by a two letter word meaning to engage in an activity (fling) and the abbreviation for Bachelor of Arts (graduate).

11 Terribly wet, say? (6)
SWEATY – An anagram (terribly) of WET SAY.

12 Round pages on English books – he’s against it! (8)
OPPONENT – The letter that it round followed by the abbreviation for pages, the ON from the clue, the abbreviation for English and the abbreviation for New Testament (books).

14 Stain caused by new coils I installed in reconditioned tandoor (13)
DISCOLORATION – An anagram (new) of COILS and separately the I inside (installed in) an anagram (reconditioned) of TANDOOR.  Perhaps an indication that the I is included separately would improve the cryptic reading.

17 It’s clear friend follows one club (7,6)
CRYSTAL PALACE – A type of substance that is proverbially clear or transparent followed by a three letter word for a friend after (follows) a three letter word for one.

20 Given an unenviable task, but managed to detain Brown (8)
LUMBERED – A five letter word for a type of brown pigment inside a three letter word meaning managed.

21 Oh dear! Killing always leads to isolated state (6)
ALASKA – A four letter word meaning oh dear followed by the initial letters (leads to) of killing always.

24 Study in grand university town (7)
READING – A four letter word meaning study followed by the IN from the clue and the abbreviation for grand.

25 Everyone can see childminder taking cocaine is unnatural (7)
UNCANNY – The film classification meaning everyone can see followed by a five letter word for a childminder including (taking) the abbreviation for cocaine.

26 Film orang-utan at club (5)
CLYDE – Double definition, the first being the name of the orang-utan who played Clint Eastwood’s partner in Every Which Way But Loose and the second a football club.  Perhaps replacing the “at” with “for” might have given a better cryptic reading as A at B does not read particularly well as a double definition.

27 Colour worn by 2 – a Rovers’ player bursting ball at United and England’s No 1 (5.4)
ROYAL BLUE – The name of the leading player in the fictional Rovers football team followed by an anagram (bursting) of BALL, the abbreviation for United and the first letter (number 1) of England.


1 Bottom team has support (8)
BACKSIDE – A four letter word for support followed by a four letter word for a team.  Perhaps some indication that the the word for support goes before the word for team in the solution would be better – “has prior support”.

2 Team of keepers? (7)
RANGERS – Double definition for a Scottish football team and park keepers.

3 Choose to take part in online lectures (5)
ELECT – The answer is hidden (take part) in ONLINE LECTURES.

4 Swear word (4)
OATH – Double definition for a word meaning a profanity or swear and an promise or word.

5 When desperate, place bet on account – it’s all right (10)
ACCEPTABLE – An anagram (when desperate) of PLACE BET after the abbreviation for account.  The positional indicator here is not helpful.  The anagram of “place bet” is under not “on” the abbreviation for account.

6 Instrument in concert atonal at first (9)
HARMONICA -An eight letter word for concert followed by the first letter of atonal.  The first part of the clue has a noun “concert” that would give “Harmony” as the corresponding part of the solution but the solution requires the adjectival form “harmonic”

7 Rewrite a page on top (7)
APOGEAN – An anagram (rewrite) of A PAGE ON.

8 He’s got a right to suit (6)
HEARTS – The HE’S from the clue includes (got) the A from the clue and the two letter abbreviation for right.  The cryptic reading of the clue A GOT B does not read elegantly.  “He’s including a right to a suit” would read better.

13 He’s still owner, but not legally? (10)
BOOTLEGGER – Cryptic definition of someone who has an illicit brewer (still).

15 To treat with gas, Galileo finally co-ordinates information – I almost understand. (9)
OXYGENISE – The final letter of Galileo followed by the letters marking the co-ordinates on a graph, a there letter word for information, the I from the clue and a three letter word meaning understand with the final letter removed (almost).

16 Maybe get wrong digital unit (8)
MEGABYTE – An anagram (wrong) of MAYBE GET.

17 Mark to critcize modest surroundings of organisation (7)
COMPANY – The abbreviation for mark and a three letter word meaning to criticise inside (surroundings) a three letter word for modest.  Perhaps “in modest surroundings” would give a more fluent cryptic reading of the clue. Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition with the of as the link word.

18 Gunners and topless sailors on the way back (7)
ARSENAL – A four letter word for sailors with the first letter removed (topless) followed by a reversal (on the way back) of a four letter word for a way.

19 Circle around churchman (6)
CLERIC – An anagram (around) of CIRCLE.

22 See early comic (Mr Murray?) at pub (5)
LOCAL -A two letter word for see followed by the first letter (early) of comic and the first name of the comedian Mr Murray.  I don’t think that early works as an initial letter indicator and the clue formation of wordplay at definition does not work for me either.  Perhaps “See first of comics (Mr Murray) in pub” would be better.

23 Inter buy outside right! (4)
BURY – The BUY from the clue around the single letter abbreviation for right.  Perhaps a few too many clues where you simply use the word from the clue in the solution.

28 comments on “Rookie Corner – 243

  1. The theme probably gave us a bit more head scratching than it will for most people but we did manage to get everything sorted. We noticed a few issues that will raise an eyebrow or two but will leave those for others to point out. Over all, an enjoyable challenge with plenty of ticks littering our pages.
    Thanks Loonapick.

  2. The theme definitely helped! My favorites were 11a and 13d. Some nice gateway clues, and then some real posers, a couple of which I don’t completely understand, like 8d. Thanks to Loonapick — and I assume you are the same expert blogger whose work I have enjoyed on another site?

      1. Thanks Dutch — actually I had the answer but couldn’t parse it correctly.

        Incidentally, this brings up a general point about which I’m not sure — link words. In this clue the link word is wordplay TO definition. Is this OK? I suppose it is short for “leading to” but it somehow doesn’t seem right. For some reason some people query definition WITH wordplay, but I’m not sure why. I also wonder about definition GIVEN wordplay (“given” in the sense of “provided with” … and we’re back to “with” again).

  3. Enjoyed this and picked the theme out easy enough. I was desperately trying to fit an apple bearing scientist to go with 6a but I don’t think it will fit in my gaps in the SW. I will check the review later.
    Thanks Loonapick.

  4. Welcome back, Loonapick.

    Whilst I enjoyed the solve (and the theme), I did feel that on quite a few occasions you were too ready to use letters or words from the clue to populate the answers – “he” in 6a, “he’s” in 8d, “buy” in 23d, “on” in 12a, “in” in 24a constituted some of the examples, but there were others too. The surfaces were generally excellent, and there was a good range of different clue types.

    My favourite clue was 13d, with 11a a close second.

    Many thanks, Loonapick.

  5. Needless to say, the theme didn’t help me at all and I was extremely grateful for the checkers in the likes of 27a.
    I quite enjoyed the solve but had a couple of queries which Prolixic will doubtless answer in his review.

    Looks as though we’re more or less agreed that 11a & 13d were the picks of the bunch.

    Thanks, Loonapick, nice to see you back after yet another long absence.

  6. A very pleasant puzzle and theme – thanks Loonapick.
    I’m not keen on the use of ‘on’ in a down clue (5d).
    I’ll add my support to everyone’s favourites – 11a and 13d.

  7. I see we are all in agreement re favourites, 11a for me. The theme was helpful and didn’t, for a change, detract from the puzzle – so well done for that.

    There are some slightly rough edges (the ‘s in 9a bothers me, 23d is just a poor clue) but generally a good puzzle, though Silvanus makes a fair point.

    Many thanks Loonapick, look forward to your next.

  8. Thanks for the early comments. On 23dn, I thought I had changed the “buy” to “procure” but it must have got lost in an edit somewhere…

  9. Many thanks for this loonapick! I was doing fairly well, given my almost non existent knowledge of the theme, but I struggled in SW- got there eventually. I enjoyed it

    In 17d, there is something not quite right about the plural surroundings. (And we have wordplay of definition, which pedants like me will say is the wrong directionality).

    I had ticked 13d as my favourite. Seems I’m not alone. Note how the simple clues that are just right somehow are popular. I also liked 25a, though the first 3 words seem, well, a slightly unnatural way to define u.

    You get away with 26 across because of the theme, but normally I’d suggest a double definition depending on two bits if gk is unfair.

    As Gazza mentioned, ‘On’ in 5d looks out of place in a down clue, and though not wrong, it is a pity the 7d anagram only swaps two letters.

    I may have misparsed, but I didn’t really understand “complain” in 1a.

    I’m hoping that is of some use to you.

    I thought it was a good puzzle – with some minor tweaks of the type an editor would normally catch, it would not look out of place in the dailies

    1. The first part of 1ac is a reversal of a word which Collins defines as ‘to find fault; grumble’. The word is identical to the name of a marine decapod but of different origin.

      1. Funnily enough, I had exactly the same word in one of my early efforts at a puzzle – and I too began the clue with the words “complain about…” – using the same idea. Can’t remember if this device was well received or not (I’ve since taken the puzzle offline). We’ll see what Prolix says.

        The rest of my clue for that word was different though.

  10. Well – my first reaction was, 15d isn’t a word – but I sought out Chambers and it declares otherwise! So we’ll let that one pass (my version of the word has a different ending).

    Spotted the theme fairly early on – well done on getting so many themers in (nine if I’ve counted right). I am still struggling to get ten themers in a puzzle and they just won’t go down, not in any grid! I don’t think it needs too much GK to recognise the theme here.

    On the whole a not-too-difficult ride through this one. I got stuck on the parsing of 26a (my LOI), I had to google it and I think this one needs a lot more GK than the rest of the puzzle. I first tried scanning through characters of another, more plausible, genre of movies (you can probably guess which) but no luck there. Certainly I’ve never watched the film referred to.

    High spots: 10a certainly; also quite liked 21a (put the wrong state in first).

    In 17a I thought at first the parsing was wrong, but then I realised that “follows” can be taken as intransitive, so it works!

    Now a few blemishes: 14a the wordplay doesn’t quite work, because you have two lots of fodder and they are intermixed, which the clue doesn’t indicate. Also the surface is a bit meaningless.
    23d you should have found a synonym at least, as others have pointed out.
    4d is really a clue for a Quick crossword, not a cryptic.

    Anyway, good work all told, thanks!

    1. Agree. The clue suggests an anagram of coils I, inside and anagram of tandoor, which is not correct. Spread, blended or peppered would have worked better.

      I’m still grumpy about 9a (convinced that would be constext) , but Glenmorangie beckons, so back to trying to clue ionisations and such like… :smile:

      1. I think that 7a works if you just treat COILS as the fodder then install the anagram of COILS and I (separately) into the anagram of TANDOOR.

      2. In 9a, Prolixic takes issue with “writings” plural, but I think, like others, that the ‘s in “prisoner’s” may be the main problem – to some. But not one I’d be bothered about – I’m fairly lax about cryptic grammar.

  11. Prolixic, thanks for the assessment of my effort. I think the puzzle could have done with a bit more editing, which I will endeavour to sort out for my next submission. Although I agree with most of your comments, I think you may have missed the “in” in 6dn, where I defined HARMONIC as “IN concert”, not just as “CONCERT…

    Looks like I’m still a way off having something accepted by a daily,,,

  12. It occurs to me that 14a would work perfectly, in terms of wordplay, if the clue had read Stain caused by new coils installed in reconditioned tandoori. Of course pedants would then argue that the surface is meaningless: “tandoori” refers to the food, not the oven it’s cooked in. Perhaps someone can come up with a version that fixes the surface?

  13. Thanks loonapick: I really enjoyed this. 17a is very neat and 27a brought back happy memories of boyhood comics. Agree also with previous commenters about 11a and 13d. Maybe in the latter you could even miss out the “He’s”.

    I don’t think the ‘s in 9a is a problem in the cryptic reading: Prolixic has explained the mechanics and this seems to be a fairly common strategy in daily puzzles, informing the solver that one word has another word [added] to arrive at the solution.

    Just an alternative suggestion for 26a: Orang-utan in film club.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. It never ceases to amaze me how, with often the slightest of tweaks, you can transform a somewhat ‘iffy’ clue into something so much better.
    It must be endlessly frustrating for our Rookies!

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