Rookie Corner – 247 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 247

A Puzzle by DMS

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

DMS returns with the final Rookie puzzle of 2018. 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.

Welcome back to DMS.  The theme in this crossword worked well with a number of associated answers linking together well.  12 anagrams was on the high side.  You know you are in trouble if Gazza has to take is shoes and socks of to count them!  Some of the surfaces could be improved as they made little sense in their own right.  However, there were some very good clues as well from the well thought out anagram in 6/22/7 to the delightfully simple but effective 5d and the nice spot in 19d.  The commentometer reads 3.5/32 or 10.93%.

A very happy new year to all Rookie setters and solvers.  Here’s to a great 2019.


1 Hangs out with wimp, then rides off (4-5)
DRIP DRIES – A four letter word for a wimp followed by (then) an anagram (off) of RIDES.

6 Looked around Devon for five seconds (5)
NOSED – Replace the V (five) in Devon with an S (seconds) and reverse the letters (around).  For the cryptic grammar to work, the around needs to follow the letters to be reversed.  Your do not around something but something can be around.

9 Suspicion soon swept up broken cup (7)
SOUPCON – The soon from the clue includes (swept up) an anagram (broken) of CUP.  A couple of minor points.  The soon could have been clued with a synonym such as “just now”.  Also, were possible try to include wordplay in the present tense “sweeps up” rather than swept up.

10 Is it stranger than artist having unknown disease? (7)
ANTHRAX – An anagram (stranger) of THAN followed by the abbreviation for an artist and a letter used in algebra to indicate an unknown quantity.  The “Is it” at the beginning of the clue does not really work.  It could have been omitted.

11 Cooler claim of pugilist outside church (6)
ICEBOX – A phrase (1,3) that may be used by a pugilist around (outside) the abbreviation for Church of England.

12 Record of events in EU is the last chance to celebrate (8)
EULOGISE – A three letter word for a record of events inside the EU and IS from the clue and the last letter of chance.  Some editors will not allow constructions such as “last chance” to indicate the final letter.  Again, to avoid to much reliance on using the words in clue directly in the solution, perhaps “community” would have been better than EU.

14 Getting bigger without success? This was an issue on board (4)
GROG – A seven letter word meaning getting bigger removing (without) WIN (success).

15 Call for middleman and publicist? (5,5)
PRESS AGENT – A five letter word meaning “call for” and a five letter word for a middleman or factor.

18 Prepared to kiss sprite before sending back sweet? (8,2)
PUCKERED UP – The name of a sprite or fairy in Midsummer Night’s Dream followed by a three letter poetic term for before and a reversal (sending back) of a three letter word for a dessert or sweet.

20 Horse racing gets over regard for safety (4)
CARE – The answer is hidden in (gets) and reversed (back) in HORSE RACING.  Gets is not a strong hidden word indicator, particularly when combined with a reversal indicator.  Perhaps “holds back”.

23 Drunk footballers – not EFL – might be found here (3,5)
BAR STOOL – An anagram (drunk) of FOOTBALLERS after removing (not) the letters EFL.

24 Cruel split ending in divorce (6)
SEVERE – A five letter word meaning split followed by the final letter (ending in) of divorce.

26 Ace film featuring tuner set in museum? (7)
VENTURA – An anagram (set) of TUNER inside the VA.  Cryptically the & in V&A simply tells you to put the letters inside the V and A.

27 Played in a role on the wing (7)
AILERON – An anagram (played) of IN A ROLE.  Some solvers do not like definitions such as “on the wing” to indicate something on the wing in the same way that “in Italy” is disliked as a definition of a name of an Italian city.  Perhaps “Playing in a role, one on the wing” would overcome this.  Playing works better as a present tense anagram indicator.

28 Take care of unexpected runs? First at Edgebaston! (5)
NURSE – An anagram (unexpected) of RUNS E (first letter of Edgbaston (note the correct spelling).  Perhaps “first in Edgbaston” would be better as a first letter indicator.

29 Make sense of rubbish – not a lot – outside Switzerland (5,4)
LATCH ONTO – An anagram (rubbish) of NOT A LOT around (outside) the IVR code for Switzerland.


1 Serving food and discover there’s a bone in there? (7,2)
DISHING UP – A phrase (3,2) meaning discover around (in there) a four letter leg bone.

2 Routine operation 4 17 (2,5)
IN UTERO – An anagram (operation) of ROUTINE.  Whilst not liked by all solvers, reciprocal definitions where the solution to one clue provides a definition to the second and vice versa is sometimes seen in national crosswords.  Some editors will not allow a noun such as operation to be used as an anagram indicator.

3 Pervert – twice briefed during 1ac (6)
DOCTOR – The full name from the abbreviation (briefed) that appears twice in the answer to 1ac.

4 This is not contractually about tins (4)
ISNT– A contracted form (contractually) of the definition.  An anagram (about) TINS.  Like the use of about in 2ac, the about here should follow the letters to be rearranged.  Perhaps an exclamation mark to indicate contractually is being used in an cryptic form might be appropriate.

5 Busty? (10)
STATUESQUE Cryptic definition of the quality of a bust or another form of sculpture of a person.

6/22/7 Here, care is via the non-lethal variety! (8,6,7)

8 Dead before E111 shows up? Find a kettle! (5)
DIXIE – The abbreviation for dead followed by a reversal (shows up) of E + I + XI (the 11 in the final part of E111.

13 Fight, ideally found in this crossword? (4-3-3)
FREE-FOR-ALL – Double definition, the first for a fight and the second the principle on which the solution to 6/22/7 was founded.

16 14th? Without strong variation to that (9)
THEREUNTO – An anagram (variation) of FOURTEENTH without the F (strong).  I don’t think that this is an indirect anagram as 14th = FOURTEENTH is a direct transliteration of the wordplay required for the solution.

17 Matchbox? 4, 2 (4,4)
TEST TUBE – Split matchbox into match and box and provide four letter synonyms for each word.  Some editors do not like lift and separate clues that require solvers to divide a word into two without some further indication that this is required.

19 They’ll need to be informed if singer gets run down! (7)
CORONER – A seven letter word for a singer such as Bing Crosby with the R (run) moved one place downwards.  Referring to an individual as “they” to avoid gender assignment is so common place that it is acceptable (if not grammatically correct) usage.

21/23 Revered visionary of Nirvana – bungee jumping with no string? (7,5)
ANEURIN BEVAN – An anagram (jumping) of NIRVANA BUNGEE without the G (with no string).

22 See 6

25 Tramp beginning to sing out (4)
TART – A five letter word meaning beginning without the first letter (beginning) of sing.  The only major error in the cluing is that beginning is here doing double duty as the root word for the solution and a wordplay indicator.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner – 247

  1. We think that this is from another setter who is not exactly new to setting. Lots of clever clues that really had us head scratching. Think there might be a word doing double duty in 25d if we’ve got the parsing right.
    Certainly quite challenging and a lot of fun.
    Thanks DMS

  2. There’s a nice theme here with plenty to enjoy – thanks to DMS.
    I counted 12 anagrams which is rather on the high side.
    I think the ‘they’ in 19d would be better as ‘he’ and as 2Kiwis said 25d seems to be lacking something.
    The clues I ticked were 14a, 5d and 6/22/7d with its very clever anagram.

  3. Tricky in places. I agree with Gazza about the number of anagrams and the 19d ‘he’ and with both him and the 2Ks about 25d

    Thanks to DMS and, in advance, to Prolixic

  4. Most of my thoughts already covered above – 25d in particular re. double duty of one word. I particularly liked 5d’s ‘Busty?’ – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from that answer initially – and 21/23’s surface / wordplay interaction was both clever and amusing!
    Many thanks to DMS and to Prolixic for tomorrow.

  5. Enjoyable puzzle, DMS. Thank you. I spotted the mini-theme quite early on, which helped solve the long anagram at 6/22/7. Last one in was 25a, which I had difficulty parsing. 1a and 3d were my favourites. By the way, in 28a, you have a superfluous ‘e’ in ‘Edgbaston’.

  6. Welcome back, DMS.

    Certainly at the tougher end of the Rookie spectrum, it took quite a while to get started with this one and only slowish progress was made thereafter.

    I agree with Gazza’s points about the surfeit of anagrams and the other observations regarding 19d and 25d. I also think “playing” rather than “played” would have been better for 27a, and the cricket ground in 28a is misspelled. There were a few surfaces that could have benefited from a little more polish, I felt.

    My ticks went to 1a, 23a and the very ingenious multiple anagram that is 6/22/7d. Overall, I enjoyed the challenge and was glad to see many improvements from last time.

    Many thanks, DMS, and best wishes to you and everyone else for 2019.

  7. Think I was knee-deep in family when DMS made his last appearance so this was my first encounter with him.
    Not sure what to make of his style – it’s certainly ‘different’.
    Some of the surface reads elicited a wince and I wasn’t very convinced by some of the definitions but it was an interesting solve.

    1&14a were the highlights for me.

    Thanks, DMS, I look forward to the review from Prolixic and await your next puzzle with interest.

  8. I found this challenging and enjoyable in spite of some iffy surfaces. I have a few minor comments scribbled on my page:

    20a – I can’t quite decide if the answer is really a synonym of “safety”.
    23a – Drunk footballers would need more than one 23a, or perhaps not …
    26a – I’m not sure if this works as the museum is abbreviated to V&A not VA. I’ll be interested to see Prolixic’s opinion.
    28a – Spelling mistake.
    13d – I don’t think the definition works.
    19d – Should be “he’ll” not “they’ll”. (Although in today’s PC world perhaps it should read “person who needs …”)
    25a – Tramp is doing double duty.

    I’ll also be interested in Prolixic’s take on the circularity between 2d & 17d. I thought it was fine but I guess some purists may object.

    I had plenty of ticks: 1a, 14a, 3d, 5d, 6/22/7d & 8d.

    Well done, DMS, and thank you.

    1. Dave, isn’t the def for 20a “regard for safety”? PC points for being the first to consider that a coroner could be a woman! ‘They’ is widely used these days as a 3rd pers sing gender-neutral pronoun (as P says).

  9. It’s all been said already – I would agree with tricky, a couple of minor improvements, interesting and overall, enjoyable.

    Thanks DMS

  10. Interested to note that as yet nobody has commented about 16d. In our opinion, as the letters to be used are not written in the clue it is an indirect anagram. Quite solvable though.

    1. I must confess 16d was a bung-in, as it was the only thing that fitted – I was hoping Prolixic would enlighten me tomorrow.

    2. Thanks for the enlightenment – I only got the answer from crossing letters and what I took to be the definition. And as well as being an indirect anagram I think the indication of the letter to be omitted is a bit dodgy.

    3. Jolly Swagman unearthed some observations by Ximenes himself about indirect anagrams here. The basic point is that an indirect anagram is ok if there is only one choice (as here), or a very limited set of choices for the word to be scrambled.

  11. I don’t think I can add much to the comments others have made already. It was an intriguing puzzle with some very nice clues but a few dodgy ones. I particularly liked 14ac, 16ac and 5dn (although I needed a wordfinder for 5dn), also the reference to 1ac in 3dn. I’m in two minds about 19dn; on the one hand I dislike the gender-neutral ‘they’ but on the other hand I think it’s a neat bit of misdirection suggesting the answer is a plural not a singular noun.
    I’ll be interested to see Prolixic’s reaction but on the whole I thought it was a good puzzle although it could have done with a bit of polishing.

  12. Tough puzzle which I only finished with the help of wordsearch (starting with “Busty?” when I had only three crossers) and a couple of reveals (for 20a & 25d, both of which had cluing errors noted by P).

    A bit of a curate’s egg with respect to cluing and surfaces, but where they were good, they were very good indeed. I never actually worked out the NHS anagram, but having already solved BEVAN (after checking the spelling for ANEURIN!), I biffed it.

    Thanks DMS

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, as insightful as ever. Must have been difficult for you to fit in all this work for the blog alongside your church commitments over the New Year period – hope you actually managed to spend some time with your family as well!

  14. Hi all – and a happy new year!

    Apologies for tardiness, I’ve been in Scotland for Hogmanay and only just returned/recovered (delete as appropriate!) Apologies, also, for not replying to individual posts – normal service will resume next time (if I’m lucky enough to have a next time?!)

    Thanks for all your kind comments. It’s amazing that you’ve taken the time to firstly do the crossword, and then provide constructive feedback. And I do mean constructive. I take on board each and every comment. Thanks especially to Prolixic for the exhaustive review.

    Re 25d: I had originally put, “Tramp, beginning to single out (4)” but lost the extra two letters somewhere along the line!

    And 16d? It never occured to me that solvers would consider this indirect! Surely “10a – ridiculous bet (4)” leads to ANTE?

  15. And for anyone looking for a (usually) daily diversion on Twitter, I post clues under the name @7upislemonade these days!

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