Rookie Corner – 252 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 252

The Clue is in the Clue by Whynot

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another puzzle from Whynot?  Why not?  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 to Whynot.  A highly enjoyable crossword.  The clues in green are self-referential being types of cluing devices that setter use.  Only a few loose ends to comment on.  The commentometer reads at 2.5 / 30 or 8.3%.


1 Means of shifting H and Charlie we cooked up (10)
WHEELCHAIR – An anagram (cooked up) of H CHARLIE WE.

7 Teas to sample this way (4)
EAST – The answer is hidden (sample) in TEAS TO.

9 Crowd in self-help group maintaining an element of enthusiasm for simple life (6)
AMOEBA – A three letter word for a crowd inside the abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous includes the first letter (element of) enthusiasm.

10 Diminishment of resources … penny dropped? (8)
DELETION – Remove (dropped) the abbreviation for penny from a word meaning a diminishment of resources.

11 Could this help you out, if you get the drift? (8)
SNOWSHOE – Cryptic definition of a type of footwear needed in cold weather.  With cryptic definitions, you have to be careful that there is only one solution.  Here, an equally valid solution would end “boot”.  Whilst checking letters will assist, you should aim to ensure that each clue can be solved without the need for cross-checking letters.

13 Element not found much in poisonous extract (6)
CURARE – The chemical symbol for copper (element) followed by a four letter word meaning not found much.

14 Feeling evoked by Eroica’s first movement (7)
EMOTION – The first letter of Eroica followed by a six letter word meaning movement.

15 Former Prime Minister talking casually in car as one passed (7)
CADAVER – The name of Mr Cameron in its informal form inside the CAR from the clue.

17 Daily promo beginning to enervate (7)
CHARADE – A four letter word for a cleaner followed by the abbreviation for advert and the first letter (beginning to) enervate.

19 Like Boris Johnson at school: messy, might you say? (7)
ETONIAN – The name given to pupils at BJ’s public school that also gives its name to a type of pudding finishing with Mess.

22 Take security measure that could be hair-raising? (4,2)
LOCK UP – Definition and cryptic definition of another way of saying your hair is on end.

24 Beam back heart of young hare for consumption (8)
REVERSAL – Reverse a five letter word for an intense beam of light and include the central thee letters of leveret (heart of young hare).

25 By itself encompassing the opposite of nothing (3-2-3)
ALL-IN-ONE – A five letter word meaning by itself includes encompassing) a reversal (the opposite) of a three letter word for nothing.

26 Write three notes and call it a day (6)
RETIRE – Three musical notes added together.

28 Self-satisfied face on lass at last (4)
SMUG – The final letter (at last) of lass followed by a three letter word for a face.

29 Travels by boat, we hear, and lodges where merchandise is displayed (10)
SALESROOMS – A homophone (we hear) of sails (travels by boats) followed by a five letter word for lodges.


2 Nearly in and on my back. Doesn’t that sound like ‘something else’?! (7)
HOMONYM – A four letter word meaning in with the final letter removed (nearly) followed by the ON from the clue and a reversal (back) of the MY from the clue.

3 Examine setter orally (3)
EYE – A homophone (orally) of I (setter).

4 Number on bus? (9)
COACHLOAD – Cryptic definition of the number of people on a bus.

5 Went off, as duck did first off (6)
ADDLED – A seven letter word describing how a duck moved with the final letter removed.

6 Imam, say,  switches sides then loses head and remains (5)
RELIC – A seven letter word for a person such as an Imam with the L and R swapping places (switches side) and the first letter removed.  The definition would suggest a plural ending in the solution but it is in singular.

7 Get in, thanks to not entirely passive actor, perhaps (11)
ENTERTAINER – A five letter word meaning get in followed by a two letter word meaning thanks and a six letter word meaning passive with the final letter removed (not entirely).

8 Scene of half-formed desire for whip (7)
SCOURGE – A two letter abbreviation for scene followed by half of the word of and a four letter word meaning desire.

12 Roger with Floyd and myself intruding on man for sport (5-6)
WATER-SKIING – The surname of the musician Roger in Pink Floyd followed by a singular letter meaning myself inside the name of a chess piece (man).  Perhaps a little too much general knowledge of band members and the grammatically incorrect myself for I.

16 Program of protection against force encircling Russian domain (9)
ANTIVIRUS – A four letter word meaning against and the internet domain name for Russia around a three letter Latin word for force.  I think that an indiction that the word for force was the Latin word.

18 Petty criminal‘s cover put up with to some extent (7)
HOODLUM – A four letter word for a type of head covering that can be put up followed by a four letter word meaning to put up with with the final letter removed (to some extent).

20 A sort of ‘granma’ (7)
ANAGRAM – The A from the clue followed by an anagram (sort ot) of GRANMA.

21 Tribulation of soldiers somewhere on the Kent coast (6)
ORDEAL – The abbreviation for other ranks (soldiers) followed by the name of a Kent costal town.

23 Seasonal festival for writing (5)
PROMS – A three letter word meaning for followed by the abbreviation for manuscript (writing).

27 Starts to tinkle on organ excessively (3)
TOO – The initial letters (starts to) of the third to fifth words of clue.

81 comments on “Rookie Corner – 252

  1. A lot of fun finding all the clue types. Our last one in was 15a and we thought that the middle part of the answer was a bit of a stretch for solvers… but we did get it. Plenty to enjoy and a good level of difficulty.
    Thanks Whynot.

  2. My original comment disappeared into the ether, but just to reiterate: I enjoyed this very much, although I found 15a and some others in that vicinity rather hard.

  3. I really enjoyed that – 15a was my last one in too – spotting the definition, working through the alphabet (not very far!) and then I saw what the ‘casual’ former PM was all about

    I haven’t got a particular favourite but I thought the ‘clue’ clues were good

    Thanks to Whynot and in advance to Prolixic

  4. Great fun with lots to like – thanks Whynot. I thought it was quite tricky but well worth the effort to stick at it. 15a was my last answer but a great laugh when the penny dropped so that’s my favourite but I also ticked 13a, 5d and 16d.
    4d doesn’t seem very cryptic – or am I missing something?

    1. Thanks, Gazza. No, 4d is straightforward once you’ve reframed to put route signage out of mind. Happy to see a couple of commenters have apparently found that an enjoyable leap.

  5. I enjoyed that too, good fun all round. I did wonder whether the 6d definition gives the plural, and on checking found Chambers agrees.

    Good puzzle overall so well done and thank you Whynot.

  6. Thanks Whynot
    Very enjoyable as usual. 15a would have been my last in, but I’m afraid I cheated – nice clue, just done by the unhelpful crossers and impatience.
    The clue clues were good, not intrusive, 25a favourite of those.
    Other ones I liked, 1, 7, 9, 26 across, 18, 23 and especially 4 down.
    A shame there’s no 2 of 2.

    1. Thanks, Mucky. Sorry you didn’t hold out to get 15a. You’re right that all vowel crossers made it a bit of a pig (npi, Dave, if you’re readinig!). That’s partly why I didn’t use a synonym like ‘vehicle’. You would have found it high on an alphabetical wordsearch or not too much of a slog to do, like Crypticsue, the old-fashioned way.

  7. 15a wasn’t my last in because for some reason 23d took quite a while to see. Loved both those clues, and also marked 13a, 14a, 26a, 7d and 8d. Enjoyed the “clue in the clue” clues very much too.

    I was thinking I daren’t mention any niggles today, but fortunately there weren’t really any to speak of (though I had the same thought as Gazza on 4d). Have convinced myself that the definition of 6d works too, so that can be added to favourites.

    Liked the use of the Russian domain in 16d, but weirdly can’t find in in Chambers, even though it is all over the internet.

    Thanks Whynot for a great puzzle, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  8. By far the most enjoyable Whynot puzzle I’ve had the pleasure to solve, it was very good fun.

    I see that I’m in excellent company as 15a was my last answer in as well. I found the right side of the puzzle considerably tougher than the left side.

    I’m with Mucky rather than Gazza and Kitty regarding 4d, I really liked the subtlety of “number” having two possible meanings, quite Rufusesque. My other ticks went to 15a (when I finally got it) and 28a. I can’t recall seeing “sample” used as an anagram indicator before.

    Many thanks, Whynot.

  9. I thought this was excellent. Nicely challenging, particularly in the NW corner with 15a my last one in, and a lot of fun.

    A few observations:
    – I can’t parse 10a.
    – In 25a I can’t quite convince myself that “one” is “the opposite of nothing”.
    – 12d, the Floyd needed is a bit obscure but it works very well in the clue. However, ME please not MYSELF!!
    – Assuming I’ve got the right synonym for “put up with” then “to some extent” is actually “half of”. Clearly that is factually correct but I’m not sure whether or not it is acceptable for a cryptic clue.

    I had lots of ticks with double ticks for 1a, 13a, 15a, 26a, 4d & 8d.

    Many thanks for an excellent puzzle, Whynot, and to Prolixic for his review tomorrow.

      1. That doesn’t work because my answer was DILUTION which fits the checkers and definition nicely!

        Thanks very much for putting me wise, LBR. But now I’m worried because I already had five clue types: 17a, 24a, 25a, 2d & 20d.

        1. Dave, the answer to 10a isn’t DILUTION. You have to drop (or delete) a P from a word meaning (very precisely) “diminishment of resources”.

          2d isn’t one of the themers: the clue isn’t an example of the thing named by the answer, and in any case, that’s not quite what we call a clue of the type I imagine you’re thinking of. A bit of a red herring!

          I appreciate your sensitivity to ‘myself”: I was asked on the phone recently “and what is the name of yourself?”! However, I think the use of myself here is very common colloquially and if you’re being pedantic, ‘me’ would be grammatically incorrect.

          In 18d you use three-quarters of the word for ‘put up with’.

          I hope Gazza has enlightened you as to the correct parsing of 25a.

          Thanks for the double ticks!

          1. Thanks for replying, Whynot, and thanks again for an unusual but nice challenge.

            – Yes, Letterbox Roy above put me straight on DILUTION.
            – I confess to being duped by your red herring in 2d. Well done!
            – “Myself” is grammatically incorrect. “Me” is correct in the context of the clue surface(i.e. “with … and me”).
            – I was thinking of “lumber” but, on reflection, not only is it too long, it’s not quite right. I’m happy with “lump” and the clue is fine when only one letter needs to be removed.
            – Yes, thanks to Gazza’s explanation, I now understand 25a.

            1. Hmm… looks like I may well have been out-pedanted there! Do you think the “with” overrides the fact that Roger, Floyd and I are all (loosely) subjects of the verb?

                1. Excellent way of avoiding the problem, Gazza, and one I think we’ve seen used here rather recently?

              1. Hmm, indeed … Food for thought. I would have said that “with” should take precedence but, on reflection, I’m not 100% certain.

                The difficulty here comes from the need to use “with” to mean both “and” (for the surface) and “as part of” (for the wordplay).

                On balance I prefer “me” because you want to disguise the link to Pink Floyd and make it seem that Floyd is another person, so “Roger with (Floyd and me) …” is better than “(Roger with Floyd) and I …”.

                It definitely shouldn’t be “myself”, but the choice between “me” and “I” is not as clear cut as I first thought, and, hey-ho, it’s only a crossword.

                I will now be cursed with this earworm for the rest of the day:

                1. Yes, you’ve caught the nub of the problem. In fact, I thought of putting a comma after “Roger”, but I think some would say that’s unfair. I agree Gazza’s found the ideal solution.

      1. Thanks very much Gazza, I’m not having a great time with my parsing today! I had parsed 25a as:

        ALL IN [by itself encompassing] + ONE [the opposite of nothing]

  10. Took me quite a while to work out the parsing of some – 15a & 16d being the main problems (thanks to Kitty for the pointer towards the latter!). I also fell for the red herring at 2d.

    Just to be different, my favourite was 26a.

    Thanks, Whynot, that was certainly quite a challenge!

  11. Lovely puzzle, thanks, Whynot. Like many commenters, my last one in was 15a. The answer to 13a was a new word to me, though readily solved from the clue and I loved 12d, being a bit of a prog. rock fan myself. Definitely a high standard Rookie and worthy of a higher platform in my opinion.

    1. Many thanks for your kind words, Kelotoph. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of 13a. It’s used by Amazonian tribes to poison arrow-tips and, if memory serves correctly, by Rosa Klebb to poison 007 with in From Russia With Love.

  12. A good crossword – I really enjoyed it – not too tricky but certainly not a doddle either – just right.
    Like others 25a my last one – unlike others it still is, in other words I can’t do it! Damn.
    I have a couple of other answers which I’m not sure about – I think they’re probably right but I don’t know why they are.
    I thought there were lots of good clues – just a few are 9, 14 and 24a and 2, 4 and 23d. My favourite was 22a because it made me laugh.
    With thanks and congratulations to Whynot for the crossword and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for the review tomorrow

    1. psst – Kath, while no-one’s looking, 25a is a type of clue. The enumeration should give the game away, see Gazza’s reply to RD @9 :whistle:

      1. Thank you but, yes, I did of course mean 15a and I still can’t do the blasted thing – I feel a sleepless night coming on . . .

        1. Mr Cameron (to friends) ‘in’ an everyday vehicle = ‘one passed’.
          No naughty step here :smile:

  13. I enjoyed this crossword, with its interesting and original mini-theme.
    I too tripped myself up over DILUTION, which doesn’t quite work. For some reason, DEPLETION didn’t come to me as the fodder for the wordplay, but with that the clue is sound.
    My favourites were AMOEBA and CADAVER. and there were many other good clues.
    I read with interest the comments made on some of the finer points, but I have nothing to add to those.
    Congratulations to Whynot. I too am looking forward to reading the review tomorrow.

    1. Thanks, Alan, and thanks for your contribution to the making of this puzzle.

      (Pssst! yourenotsupposedtosaytheanswerstillthereviewcomesout)

      1. (I apologise to all. I’m not a frequent commenter, but I should not have been so stupid as to forget the convention here of not revealing answers on the day.)

  14. Still stuck on 15a and 8d but not to worry Tony.
    Really enjoyed what I solved so far and loved the themed answers.
    Specially 17 and 25a.
    Really liked the Seasonal Festival in 23d and the image conjured in 1a made me laugh. Being a sucker for good old British desserts, 19a is my favourite.
    Thanks to Whynot for the fun.

    1. Thanks, Jean-Luc. 15a does seem to have caused some difficulty for most, perhaps because of the lack of consonants crossing., My reply to Mucky has a good tip in it, but bear in mind the definition is a little cryptic. In 8d you need to start with a theatrical abbreviation for ‘scene’.

      I bet you make a great 19a! Personally, although I’ve heard of it, I’ve never ‘eton’ one :-)

      1. Thanks,
        Finally got them.
        Was on the right track but as my mind works in the most bizarre way : I thought an Ex MP might be called Hathaway but casually pronounced hataway which is what one does when a hearse passes.
        I prefer the Cameron story though.

  15. Hi whynot.

    I have been trying to do this all day but kept being interrupted.

    I am very impressed. This is the best I’ve seen from you. It is on the harder side, which I think is where you belong as a setter. I got stuck on the RHS and used reveal to get me going again, but that is just my laziness.

    There is precious little to criticise. I’m not sure why people focus on the bus number, that seemed an obvious cd to me (though it highlights the difficulty in writing cd’s – it’s so hard to convey the misleading interpretation as the first reading). I struggled more with 11a, though clearly it is a pun on out and drift, but it could have many answers. I find cd’s really hard. Rufus is amazing.

    20a beautifully revealed the theme. I also wondered about 2d, but as you say the clue doesn’t use the device.

    For a brief horrible moment I thought 19a was going to be ETONISH. 20d saved me.

    Lots of good stuff I noticed. Waters bridging the two words in the answer, instead of just clueing water. One note is repeated in 26a. Smooth surfaces throughout.

    Excellent puzzle, well done.

    1. Many thanks, Dutch. Creating a puzzle that you of all people can apparently find almost nothing to improve on is quite an accloade, and I’m proud of it.

      What you say about cryptic definition clues is very true. I was unsure at first about 4d, as I figured there would be a small number of people who would not necessarily be unerringly drawn to the route number on a bus, but in the end I felt that had to be the first thing that would come to most minds. Maybe someone like ‘Dave’ Cameron, who’s probably never caught a bus in his life, wouldn’t be misled.

      Sometimes with cds, you do need crossers to be really sure as there’s no wordplay to confirm, and there’s always the possibility of a word of the same length you haven’t thought of satisfying the definition. Unfortunately I fell into that trap with my last Rookie, where STAG NIGHT and PARTY both met “Pre-match do”. Happily the crossers did decide it in that case.

      Thanks again for the feedback.

  16. I got, and parsed, 15A but got well and truly stuck on 4D! I didn’t much like the use of “shifting” in 1A, but that’s for personal reasons, and I too had ‘dilution’ for 10A I enjoyed the solve, but don’t have anything ticked. Thanks Whynot.

    1. Hmm – 1a. I regularly do ‘shiting’ for my paraplegic father. I prefer to call it making him comfortable. Perhaps shifting could be construed as a tad gauche?
      Best avoided in my view.

    2. Chris, I did wonder if ‘shifting’ might sound a tad insensitive, but if you think of it used intransitively, it doesn’t really have a sting. Like those Olympians who excel in sport while chairbound: they really shift!

      Anyway, I’m very sorry if you took offence. My own mother could only get about with mechanical help for the last ten years of her life and I have every sympathy for anyone who is so robbed of autonomy.

      1. I’m not offended, but I live with someone who needs a wheelchair these days so I thought there might have been a better word. Conveying or transporting, perhaps.

    1. Someone put this one up on the Guardian blog recently. Don’t know if you saw it. I wonder if it’s related to your clue?

      Number of fingers? (5)

      It’s beautiful, because the enumeration seems to answer the question.

            1. I got it from the crossers before I saw this, the same way Crypticsue got CADAVER. I was leaning towards ‘SAMUEL something’ before I realised..

              My friend’s dad wrote the screenplay for the film and he still gets quarterly royalty fees I think.

  17. Prolixic, thank you very much for the review, which I have not yet finished reading, but have interrupted to point out early that 2d is not a theme clue, even though it is similar to a type of cluing device (homophone). In fact the 5th theme word, being the name of a device used in the clue itself, is 10a, DELETION, which involves deletion of the letter P from DELETION. The clue therefore had no definition but its form.

    1. The comment editor has misunderstood angle brackets. In 10a, it’s a deletion of P from dePletion (diminishment of resources). Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      I have now read the full review, for which I thank you again.

      11a Good point. I didn’t think of BOOT. I agree it is best if the solver is not bound to rely on check letters.

      In 6d, I thought you could say “the remains of this martyr are a holy relic.” LetterboxRoy says he “found Chambers agrees”, but I’m not sure exactly what it says. My old BRB (1986) says ‘remains’ is sometimes used with a singular verb (which is different), and, perhaps crucially, gives ‘relics’ as a definition, so I think I must cede the point.

      16d Yes, I think it would have been fairer to indicate ‘vis’ as Latin, even though it is also an English word, since it is rather obscure.

      Thanks again, Prolixic.

      1. Remains must be ok for relic.
        Chambers, 1st def. for remains (n pl): that which is left
        1st def. for relic: that which is left after loss or decay of the rest
        While you might have a relic, or plural relics, remains is a plural noun. A relic consists of remains, not remain.

  18. Many thanks to all who have commented. Sorry I haven’t been able to respond to you all individually, but have engaged mostly with those who raised queries or needed a little help with the clues.Those have led to some interesting discussions too, but equally appreciated are those who just wrote in with their “ticks”. It is very gratifying to see all the expressions of enjoyment engendered by my little box of tricks. Thank you.

    My greatest regret for this puzzle was that I couldn’t work in perhaps my favourite of the clue-in-the-clue clues I devised:

    This? (7, 10)

      1. Heh!Heh! Nice try, Roy, but it doesn’t match the enumeration. Need some crossers? (Surely not!)

              1. … but it has a definition: “This?” (and is also defined by the theme, which, let me state it again, is: a cluing device used in the clue in question). DOUBLE DEFINITION doesn’t fit, though!

                Is that the Gordon who is nearly as hopeles as me (Tony) at doing the Guardian Genius (this month at least)?

                Genius No 187 by Vlad

  19. An interesting comment from Prolixic about 11a. I live in New England, where we often have to deal with vast amounts of snow. When I was solving I had no idea which of snowplow, snowtyre (or hereabouts, snowtire), snowboot, snowpick, snowmelt or snowrake (there are probably more) — or (of course) snowshoe was the answer! Whatever, it was a fun puzzle for a very cold day with snow on the ground — thanks, Whynot!

    1. Oops! Of course the Inuit have 57 words for snowshoe …

      I must admit, the worst it gets here usually is “should I take the bus instead of going by bike?”. I’ve never even seen a snowshoe except on TV and I’ve never even heard of some of those things you mention…

  20. Many thanks Whynot- a masterful crossword.
    I also was beaten by cadaver.
    Thanks also to Prolixic for enlightenment with Pink Floyd and parsing of sco at 8d

  21. Thanks for a fun puzzle, Whynot. A good idea, nicely executed. I thought there were lots of well-constructed clues, although I must confess that the reference to Pink Floyd passed me by (on the other side of the moon, presumably).

  22. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I also enjoyed reading the comments that this one generated – well done, Whynot.

  23. Busy blog.
    Thanks to Prolixic for the explanations and again to Whynot for the nice challenge.

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