Rookie Corner – 246 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 246

A Puzzle by Brunel

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have another setter making his debut. 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.

Welcome back after the Christmas festivities.  I hope that you all had an enjoyable time and are not too turkey laden and hungover.

Welcome to Brunel.  This was a very good debut crossword.  I suspect it was not his or her first foray into setting given the standard of the clues.  There was a good deal of inventiveness in the clueing – for example in 11d and 21d that produced a smile when the penny dropped.  The only points on the wordplay are technical ones where the wordplay did not quite work grammatically.  The commentometer reads at 3/30 or 10%.


1 Designed to prevent accidents, note, if seal cracks (4-4)
FAIL-SAFE – A two letter musical note followed by an anagram (cracks) of IF SEAL,

5 Witness attending trial (6)
ATTEST – A two letter word meaning attending followed by a four letter word for a trial.

9 When reversing, this should be seen by idiot (3)
OAF – A reversal of the abbreviation “for the attention of” (this should be seen by).

10 Athens’s foremost times captured by Leander in freeform piece of verse (11)
ALEXANDRINE – The first letter (foremost) of Athens followed by the letter representing times or multiplication inside (captured by) an anagram (freeform) of LEANDER IN.

12 Pub reportedly with classy food, but showing vulgarity (10)
INDELICACY – A homophone (reportedly) of another word for a pub followed by an eight letter word for classy food.

13 Problem with eye test? Yes, to some extent (4)
STYE – The answer is hidden in (to some extent) TEST YES.

15 A retro painting of retro panic (6)
ALARUM – The A from the clue followed by a reversal (retro) of a five letter word for a type of painting.

16 Secretly kept prostitute cheated on the BBC (7)
HOARDED – A homophone (on the BBC) of whore (prostitute) did (cheated).  The homophone does not work for me as the vowel sound in “did” is not pronounced the same way in the solution.

18 Sunni with dervish leader changes and relaxes (7)
UNWINDS – An anagram (changes) of SUNNI W (with) D (Dervish leader).

20 A box, one used in city or country (6)
LATVIA – The A from the clue and another word for the box you watch and the letter representing one inside (used in) the abbreviation for Los Angeles (city).

23 Endorsement for entry or passage, but not tourism, initially (4)
VISA – A five letter word for a passage without the T (but not tourism initially).  Perhaps there was not enough correspondence between passage and vista.  Whilst a vista can be a view into the distance, especially one bounded narrowly on both sides, that does not make a passage a vista. 

24 Girl has huge suture opening internally, revealing old operation (10)
BARBAROSSA – A seven letter name for a girl includes (has … internally) the abbreviation for oversized (huge) and the first letter (opening) of suture.  Some editors would not allow, suture opening as grammatically, it does not indicate the first letter.  It would need to be suture’s opening.  The difference between this and the earlier initial letter indicator (Dervish leader) is that “Dervish leader” can mean leader of the Dervish” whereas suture opening does not mean opening of the suture.

26 Romantic land of lamp light’s beginning to appear in Eastern lake (7,4)
EMERALD ISLE – The name of a type of signalling lamp and the first letter (beginning) of light inside (appearing in) the abbreviation for eastern and a four letter word for a lake.

27 Youngster of eight, say, lacking energy (3)
CUB – The type of number of which 8 (along with 27, 64 and 125, etc) is an example (say) without the abbreviation for energy.

28 Neatly secured articulated lorry, unloaded after one (6)
TIDILY – A homophone (articulated) of tied (secured) followed by the letter representing one and the outer letters (unloaded) of lorry.  A minor point but one for I has already been used so, ideally, a different indicator should have been used.

29 Perform drag routine? (8)
TRANSACT – Split 5,3, this could indicate a performance by a transvestite (drag routine).


1 He might like a dish of eggs, fried, scrambled, no end of pepper! (6)
FOODIE – An anagram (scrambled) of OO (eggs – from the shape of the item) FRIED without the R (no end of pepper).  Having the deletion indicator after the anagram indicator means that you need some further indication of the deletion – perhaps scrambled with no end of pepper.

2 I don’t believe in field sports (7)
INFIDEL – An anagram (sports) of IN FIELD.  I think that sports only works as an anagram indicator in the sense of casual (as in a sports jacket) but to function as an adjective, it would need to come before the words to be rearranged.

3 A pigmy might make this pitfall for the unwary (5,5)
SMALL PRINT – Cryptic definition of a the type of words in a contract designed to catch the unwary by reference to the footprint (perhaps) that a pygmy might make.

4 National requirement – a case of red and mild condiment (6,7)
FENCH MUSTARD – The name of a foreign national from across the channel followed by a four letter word meaning a requirement, the A from the clue and the outer letters (case of) red.

6 Third from left in photo. Back row (2-2)
TO-DO – The third letter from the left in photo and a three letter word for a “.” all reversed (back).

7 Gave out drug, wearing gloves? (7)
EMITTED – The abbreviation for ecstasy followed by a six letter word that could mean wearing mitts or gloves.

8 Article by mainly crooked policeman causing deep concern (3,5)
THE BENDS – The definitive article followed by a word meaning crooked without the final letter (mainly) and the abbreviation for Detective Sergeant (policeman).  A picky point but I think that creating would be better link word here as the wordplay does not cause the definition but creates it.

11 Scientist, perhaps, attached to fizzy cola – oh, he drinks too much! (7,6)
ALCOHOL ABUSER – An anagram (fizzy) of COLA OH followed by a phrase (3,4) describing a scientist by reference to the facilities he or she may occupy.

14 Ground acorns beat this for providing vegetable oil (6,4)
CASTOR BEAN – An anagram (ground) of ACORNS BEAT.  A stylising point, “this for providing vegetable oil” is a slightly clunky definition.  Perhaps “a source of vegetable oil” might have given a smoother clue.

17 Extremely bent copper tries improperly to arrest Victor (8)
CURVIEST – The chemical symbol for copper followed by an anagram (improper) of TRIES around (to arrest) the letter represented by Victor in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

19 Kanye to finish in upmarket area (4,3)
WEST END – The surname of the rapper whose first name is Kanye followed by a word meaning to finish.  

21 Belonging to leading cult, Order of Flyers, possibly (7)
INSECTA – Split (2,4,1) this would indicate that someone belonged to the leading cult.

22 Browser chat (6)
RABBIT – Double definition, the first being an animal that browses when it is not in its burrow.

25 Incredible high (4)
TALL – Double definition, the first being used with “story” to indicate an incredible tale.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 246

  1. A few clues here had us scratching our heads but on the whole it all went together relatively smoothly for us. Thought that 24a was a bit too obscure and needed Google help. 21d was one where we took a while to understand the parsing so we’ll nominate this for favourite.
    Nice puzzle, Thanks Brunel.

  2. Thanks Brunel, very enjoyable. One or two Hmms on completion and I did need some electronic assistance for a handful of clues. Also two or three parsings are eluding me completely, so I will have to wait for Prolixic’s review on those.

    Favourite – 11d – the scientist ‘element’ gave me a big smile when the penny dropped on it, with 7d a close second.

    Thanks again and well done.

  3. This was really good stuff with lots to enjoy – thanks Brunel.
    I got the 24a operation from the checking letters – I don’t like the use of ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ to clue proper names (though some professional setters do this, so you’re in good company).
    I particularly liked 15a, 28a, 8d and 11d but my favourite was the very clever and d’oh producing 6d.
    More like this would be very welcome.

  4. As others have said a very enjoyable crossword. The SE corner took me an age to sort out

    I agree with Gazza that more would like this would be very welcome. Thanks to Brunel and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Welcome, Brunel.

    I found this quite challenging in places, but there was a great deal to enjoy and it was evident to me that the setter had put a lot of work into creating and refining the puzzle. Overall, a very strong debut.

    My ticked clues were 5a, 10a, 12a, 13a, 15a, 28a, 29a and, my overall favourite, 11d. I was a little surprised that Senf didn’t nominate 4d!

    Congratulations and thanks, Brunel. Happy Christmas to all.

  6. A good puzzle that had me thinking for a while. One or two unfamiliar words made it harder, but I was able to finish with a little help.

    A solid effort indeed so very well done and thanks for the challenge Brunel

  7. I very much enjoyed this accomplished Rookie puzzle, which was challenging in parts, particularly the SE sector with (perhaps surprisingly for me) 22d my last one in. I assume it must be the name of a browser but it’s not one I’ve ever heard of.

    10a & 21d were new words for me but the wordplay was clear in both cases. I still can’t parse either 26a or 6d and will await the review for enlightenment.

    It was unfortunate that the wordplay for 8d used “bent” as a synonym for “crooked” and “bent” also turned up in 17d.

    I had lots of ticks on my page. 11d was my favourite and 5a, 12a, 15a & 29a were jostling for podium positions.

    Very well done, Brunel. Please can we have some more from you soon.

    1. For 6d you need to ignore the crossword convention that punctuation should be ignored. In 26a the lamp is the trademarked name of a signalling device.

      1. Thanks very much, Gazza. For 6d I did think of that but unfortunately not at the same time as I considered “back”.

      2. Interestingly, today’s (Boxing Day’s) crossword in the Indy requires you to ignore the same convention in exactly the same place (6dn) in the grid.

  8. Good fun, many thanks Brunel! Some very clean surfaces which worked well.
    I look forward to the next :-)

  9. I had all manner of issues with this one but it would seem that I’m out on a limb here so will keep my thoughts to myself and await the review from Prolixic with much interest.

    Thank you, Brunel, my apologies for not getting onto your wavelength.

  10. I thought this was really first-rate, and a fun exercise for Christmas afternoon. Like everyone else I had the most trouble in the SE.

  11. Thanks for the review Prolixic. With reference to 23a, passage/vista, which I think was one of my Hmms, the Chambers Crossword Dictionary does have vista in its listing for passage but I agree with you that it is a bit of a stretch.

    1. Thesauri often have very loose synonyms. One thing editors pick up on is the use of loose synonyms from a thesaurus. It is always best to start from the dictionary definition.

  12. Thanks Prolixic – best wishes to you too. I’m not turkey laden, but…

    Completely agree about thesauri use – similarly, some of the CC indicators can only be used in a certain sense and some are just plain bad.

    Well done again to Brunel for a good puzzle

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up several of my issues with this one and well done to Brunel for the low score on the commentometer.

  14. Great stuff. Took a while to come to this with so many Christmas specials to do. Unfortunately I never resolved a knot of answers in the SE. BARBAROSSA was very difficult and I think with an easier one there I might have completed, although I was fixated on athe possibility of an obscure internet browser for 22d, so maybe not. Never did parse 6d (no wonder!), but it had to be what it was. I agree with P’s remark about 14d, which contributed to my problems in the SE. On the other hand I thought 16a was great and the homophone works fine for me. Favourite clue was 29a, which I’m sorry to say was one of the ones I didn’t get. I also wondered about ‘passage’ for vista, but it’s in Chambers. Aldis isn’t, otoh (or I didn’t find it), but it rang a bell and I was confident about the answer. 25a was very neat too.

    Thanks Brunel!

  15. A belated note to say thanks to all who posted comments about my puzzle, and I’m encouraged that the feedback was generally OK! I’ve now completed my next puzzle, and will keep bashing away.

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