Rookie Corner – 251 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 251

A Puzzle by Hippogryph

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Several of us met Hippogryph at Saturday’s Birthday Bash.  Today you can tackle his latest puzzle. 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.

The good news is that I survived the Birthday bash without being thumped by the gathered rookie setters.  The better news is that Hippogryph was there and the best news is that he set todays Rookie crossword.

As we have come to expect from Hippogryph, this was a great crossword.  There were only one or two rough edges that need  little polishing.

The commentometer reads as 1/32 or 3.1%,


7 Added protective barrier to aid mental disorder (9)
LAMINATED – An anagram (disorder) of AID MENTAL.

8 Extra battalion guards capital (5)
RABAT – The answer is hidden in (guards) the first two words of the clue.

9 Fritter cooked with unwrapped suet provides source of health food? (5,4)
FRUIT TREE – An anagram (cooked) of FRITTER UE (the central letters – unwrapped – of suet.

10 Strong man finally? Not quite (5)
ATLAS – Take a phrase (2,4) meaning finally and removed the final letter (not quite).

12 Wellington crowd backs British Queen? (6)
BOMBER – Reverse (back) a three letter word for a crowd and follow with the abbreviation for British and the regnal cipher for the current queen.  It would be better to indicate the definition by example closer to the definition.  Maybe Wellington crowd…

13 Knocked back extract from dandelion, a grapefruit, rare nut product… (5,3)
ARGAN OIL – The answer is reversed (knocked back) and hidden (extract from) the fifth to seventh words in the clue.

16 …suggested by mum, since keeping ale unopened? (7)
SILENCE – The since from the clue includes (keeping) the ale from the clue without the opening letter (unopened).

19 Train me mistakenly to give support for religious calling (7)
MINARET – An anagram (mistakenly) of TRAIN ME.

22 Maori tit disturbed Myna bird? (8)
IMITATOR – An anagram (disturbed) of MAORI TIT.

25 Most exposed area within French port (6)
BAREST – The abbreviation for area within the name of a French port in Brittany.

27 Saying not from the B.C. period (5)
ADAGE –Split (2,3), the answer would be suggestive of not being from the BC period.

28 Express dejection during public mistake (9)
OVERSIGHT – A verbal sound made when expressing dejection inside (during) a five letter word meaning public.

29 Void that is in bread – quite the opposite! (5)
INANE – A three letter type of Indian bread inside the abbreviation for that it.

30 Stones bareheaded beauty hiding in religious community? (9)
JEWELLERY – five letter word for a beauty without the opening letter (bareheaded) inside a five letter word describing the Jewish people.


1 Barnet musical party? (6)
HAIRDO – A four letter word for a 1960’s rock musical followed by a two letter word for a party.  Barnet can be used to indicate the style according to Chambers, not just that which is styled.

2 Tragic Greek character buried sailor in slab of clay (8)
PITIABLE – The Greek letter used to indicate the ratio of a circles diameter to its circumference followed by four letter word for a slab of baked clay using in roofing, flooring, etc inside which (buried … in) you include the abbreviation for a sailor.

3 Trade ban leads to Trump’s election result (6)
BARTER – A three letter word for a ban followed by the initial letters (leads to )the final three words of the clue.

4 ‘Allo ‘allo! Cafe owner breaking law after fresh start (7)
RENEWAL – The name of the café owner in ‘Allo, Allo followed by an anagram (breaking) of LAW.

5 Turns up almost unreal leather dress (6)
KAFTAN – A four letter word meaning unreal (as ???? news) with the final letter removed (almost) and reversed turns up followed by a three letter word meaning leather or hit.  I think that grammatically, it should be turn up for the cryptic grammar to work.

6 Is climbing, embracing a remote expedition (6)
SAFARI – Reverse (climbing) the IS from the clue and include (embracing) the A from the clue and a three letter word meaning remote.

11 Reportedly unattractive plant (4)
UGLI – A homophone (reportedly) of ugly (unattractive).

14 On-air odds – one in eight? (3)
OAR – The odd letters of ON-AIR.

15 Ending could be drawn out (3)
LOT – Double definition – the first as in someone’s fate and the second something like a short straw that could be drawn out to make a decision.

16 Runner misses out, lacking supplement. (3)
SKI – A five letter word meaning misses out without the abbreviation for postscript (lacking supplement).

17 Floral decoration for casual wear – not sure? (3)
LEI – A seven letter word meaning for casual wear without the SURE from the clue.

18 Wells’ classification, maybe only half capacity? (4)
CITY – Half of the word capacity.

20 Tune with a groove might be used for pest control? (3,5)
AIR RIFLE – A three letter word for a tune followed by another word meaning a groove.  As the weapon in question, is so named for the grooving the barrel, this was perhaps a little too samey?  The surface reading is not up to the quality of some of the others in this crossword.

21 Quietly look back to foresee … (7)
PREVIEW – The abbreviation for quietly followed by a six letter word meaning look back.  Not sure what the ellipsis is doing here.

23 Antique quarter welcomed in African houses (6)
MEDINA – The answer is hidden in (houses) the third, fourth and fifth words of the clue.

24 Giant eastern stew pot (6)
TAGINE – An anagram (stew) of GIANT E (eastern).

25 North African TV cookery lady loses track – twice? (6)
BERBER – The name of Mary, the TV cook formerly of the Great British Bake-Off without the abbreviation for railway (track) with the remaining letters repeated (twice).

26 Oasis venue perhaps has signed up American artist (6)
SAHARA – Reverse (signed up) the HAS from the clue and follow with the abbreviations for American and artist.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 251

  1. We enjoyed that. The SE corner was the stumbling block and took longer that all the rest of the puzzle for us. The breakthrough came with 28a so that gets our vote for favourite.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

  2. Enjoyable puzzle – thanks Hippogryph. I liked 28a and 16d but my favourite was the ‘support for religious calling’ in 19a.
    I liked 12a as well but thought that the ‘definition by example’ indicator should be near the first word rather than at the end of the clue.

  3. A good puzzle. No quibbles as such, but I did think it a little odd to have four consecutive checkers in 13 & 22, meaning only two letters were required to solve the clue. I thought a couple of the anagrams were a little obvious too – eg ‘train me mistakenly’ but I agree with Gazza that ‘support for religious calling’ is great fun.

    None of that detracted from an enjoyable solve so thanks Hippogryph.

  4. Hi Hippogryph – it was great to meet you on Saturday.

    I didn’t solve with an analysis hat on (there are people here much better at the technical feedback, anyway). What I can say is that I enjoyed the solve and that I found it of around back page difficulty level.

    My favourites are 19a and 28a, and I could have added a couple of the anagrams too.

    Thanks to Hippogryph and in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  5. An enjoyable solve, with a few tougher ones – thanks Hippogryph! A few of my comments, along with my solving order, is appended below. I liked the last two I solved – 30a and 25d – in particular.
    And 4d :)

    Keep ’em coming!


    1d ok. Is the QM essential?
    7a good
    3d good
    6d good; I agree the ‘a’ is required, rather than trying to shoe in the 4-letter adverb
    11d ok; perhaps something of a chestnut?
    25a ok
    8a good
    10a ok; perhaps something of a chestnut?
    13a good. Hadn’t heard of that, thanks
    14d good
    17d ok. Is the QM essential?
    24d ok. I can’t decide on this one; the ‘stew’ feigns doing double duty which is fine, but as an instruction for the wordplay it feels slightly disjointed from the words before it. I think it is good but I look forward to seeing what Prolixic thinks!
    27a ok
    19a ok. Might ‘giving’ work slightly better that ‘to give’? Not sure
    15d ok
    26d ‘signed’ clearly works well for the surface, and just about for the wordplay! Inventive
    28a good
    29a ok
    22a ok
    5d good
    12a ok
    23d nice wordplay. Unless there’s a theme I have missed (probably, knowing me!), then there are two Africans placed rather closely together in the space of three clues – might be worth changing one of them
    4d a good clue :-)
    2d very plausible surface
    18d some editors won’t accept what you’ve done with the last two words, though the more liberal puzzles should be fine with it!
    16a nice use of tenses
    16d don’t get the wordplay – I’m clearly missing something here! Ah, got it, THAT sort of supplement
    20d didn’t like this one so much. I guess the word for ‘groove’ and the final answer are slightly too close together (for my liking), given why the final answer is called that. I hope that’s isn’t too convoluted – I didn’t want to give the answer away!
    30a good
    25d good.

    1. Hi Encota, really glad that you enjoyed it – thanks so much for the clue-by-clue feedback that’s really helpful. Just to say that there is a gentle theme…
      thanks again

  6. Welcome back, Hippogryph.

    I’m sorry that I didn’t have the chance to say hello and have a chat on Saturday, perhaps next time?

    This was another enjoyable puzzle to solve, with a good balance of different clue types. The occasional surface failed to convince, but I’ve noticed that such instances seem to get fewer with each of your succeeding puzzles, so that has to be a positive. The specific “café owner” in 4d was a little too helpful, I felt, and I wasn’t sure if your original intention was for 23d to be linked to 21d or not, as only set of ellipses was shown.

    My top three clues were 8a, 25a and 1d, with 25d earning the widest smile.

    Many thanks, Hippogryph, and I look forward to your next one.

  7. Still my current run of spotting themes continues (I think I’ve got this one?!)

    I have one ? and also, although I know 11d must come from a plant, I think I’ve always seen it clued as fruit up to now

    Thanks to Hippogryph and Prolixic – nice to see you both on Saturday

  8. Hippogryph, it was great to meet you over the weekend, put a face to the name, and have a chat.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle which was nicely challenging and full of good ideas. A few of your surfaces could benefit from a bit of polishing and that would provide the icing on a very good cake (just like CS’s cake on Saturday!)

    – I can’t relate “ending” to what I think must be the answer for 15d.
    – I don’t think 17d quite works. The word from which “sure” is removed is not synonymous with “casual wear” unless it is followed by “wear” itself. I hope that makes sense!
    – In 20d the second word of the answer is synonymous with “groove” only as a verb so the “a” is simply padding for the surface.
    – Similarly for 26d, “signed” is padding for the benefit of the surface.

    There were very many good clues here and my two favourites were 25a & 1d.

    Very well done. It can’t be long before promotion beckons.

    1. The word for ‘groove’ in 20d can be be a noun as well as a verb. The BRB has it as ‘a groove on the inside bore of a gun’.

      1. Thanks, Gazza.

        It’s not in my very old, much used and much loved BRB, which strangely does however include “rifling” as a noun meaning “the spiral grooving of a gun bore”.

        It’s a bit like never wanting to throw away a comfortable old pair of slippers, but I have taken Silvanus’ advice given to me on Saturday afternoon and ordered a copy of the latest edition (which, knowing my luck, means the next edition will be published very soon).

    2. Hi Rabbit Dave,
      Likewise I really enjoyed meeting you on Saturday and finding out the background behind the name. Thanks for the comments. Just on 17d, Chambers defines the adjective form of the word as “for casual wear” so I thought that was ok? Really glad that you enjoyed it and thanks again for the feedback
      best wishes

  9. Like others I enjoyed the solve and thought that there was a good mix of clues.
    If it were a back page puzzle I would estimate a ***/***.
    Last in was 23d which eluded me for ages ,not sure what I was looking for-nicely misled .
    Liked 25d and 20d, agree with RD that the a is superfluous.
    Well done.

  10. Really enjoyed the solve and the theme.
    The only thing I question is the relationship between the definition and the answer in 1d as Cockney is my second language.
    Thanks to Hippogryph for the great fun.

      1. What’s the use of havin’ an artful when all the Stoke goes down the frog on pigs and Nancy Doors. Savvy?

        I thought that was Barnet Wood = hood?

        I’ll get me Nanny and Scapa, China.

      2. Yes, Senf, but it’s taken a non-native English speaker to point out that there is a difference between hair and hairdo! Possessing neither, it is not an area of expertise for me. Respect to J-L.

        1. Thanks very much for the review, Prolixic, and particularly for the Barnet clarification. It’s yet another thing that’s not in my ancient BRB reinforcing my urgent need for the new one which I’ve just ordered.

          Congratulations, Hippogryph, what a good review you’ve got from Prolixic. The acid test!

          1. I should have checked too as I have the latest version.
            Didn’t have a Scooby doo.
            Thanks to Prolixic for the review and again to Hippogryph for the crossword.

  11. Thanks very much to Prolixic for the review and encouraging suggestions which are much appreciated. The surface reading in 20down was meant to suggest a song with a disco beat (groove) being played to scare away the birds or the rats. Thanks to all of the bloggers for your kind comments which have given me further encouragement to complete my next puzzle. Special thanks also to all those I met on Saturday at the Birthday Bash for your friendliness and for the valuable advice. See you all soon

  12. I made heavy weather of this and have only just finished. All my own fault. But the more clues I unravelled, the more I enjoyed the puzzle and the harder I kicked myself for taking so long. The biggest kick was reserved for 5D, my last one solved (but incorrectly and for no good reason as ‘tartan.’ ). That I, of all people, should not have twigged The Donald’s favorite 4-letter word is shameful.

    Thanks Hippogryph! A terrific puzzle!

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