Rookie Corner – 258 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 258

A Puzzle by Harold

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another puzzle from Harold. 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.

Harold returns with a Rookie crossword that came within a whisker of achieving 0 on the commentometer.  There is a lot of excellence shown in the cluing.  The only two points are very minor with an over reliance of taking the A from the clue (five times) and adding to the solution and one weak link word.  The commentometer reads as 1 / 29 or 3.4%.


1 A way to liberate broadcaster (6)
AUNTIE – The a from the clue followed by a five letter word describing a way to liberate or free someone.

4 Words spoken softly while meeting a date in Rome (6)
ASIDES – A two letter word meaning while followed by (meeting) the fateful day in the in Roman calendar.

9 Banking service retrospectively provides temporary cover for damage (4)
SCAB – Reverse (retrospectively) the abbreviation for Bankers Automated Clearing Service.

10 Intense old lover superseded by a bit on the side at work? (10)
PERQUISITE – A nine letter word meaning intense has the EX (old lover) replaced (superseded by) PER (a).

11 Fear of ferret I found in secretary’s clutches (6)
PHOBIA – A three letter word for a ferret and the I from the clue inside (clutches) the abbreviation for personal assistant (secretary).

12 Miserable bastard having left angrily is even more miserable (8)
MEASLIER – An anagram angrily of MISERABLE after removing (having left) the abbreviation for bastard.

13 Greek character almost overwhelmed by indifferent setter’s profanity (9)
BLASPHEMY – The Greek letter Phi with the final letter removed (almost) inside (overwhelmed by) a five letter word meaning indifferent and followed by a two letter word meaning belonging to the setter.

15 Strange ability youth’s beginning to notice (4)
EPSY – The abbreviation for extra sensory perception followed by the first letter (beginning) of youth.

16 Writer having brief tantrum about work (4)
POPE – A three letter word for a tantrum with the final letter removed (brief) round the abbreviation for opus (word).

17 Carelessly cut and paste ends of section as piece is removed (2,7)
EN PASSANT – An anagram (carelessly) of AN (cut and) PASTE SN (ends of section).

21 Accommodation in Seattle’s ready (8)
QUARTERS – Double definition for accommodation for members of the armed forces and another word for 25 cent pieces (Seattle’s ready).

22 Take delight in pressing a good herb (6)
LOVAGE – A four letter word meaning take delight in around (pressing) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for good.

24 Decent boss unfortunately not up to scratch (6-4)
SECOND-BEST – An anagram (unfortunately) of DECENT BOSS.

25 Curse grass and heroin (4)
OATH – A three letter type of cereal or grass followed by the abbreviation for heroin.

26 Little and Large entertaining backward Liberal Democrat (6)
TIDDLY – A four letter word meaning large (as in a ???? sum) around (entertaining) a reversal (backward) of the abbreviation for Liberal Democrat.

27 Contract to pay for Thackeray’s last letter (6)
TREATY – A five letter word meaning to pay for followed by the last letter of Thackeray.


1 Drink like a fish in deserted pub (7)
ALCOHOL – The A from the clue followed by a four letter word for a Pacific salmon inside a five letter word word a pub with the inner letters removed (deserted).  The only real comment to make is that the structure Definition LIKE wordplay does not work particularly well.

2 Bigwig rejected an old coin (5)
NABOB – Reverse (rejected) the AN from the clue and follow with the slang term for an old shilling.

3 Blame every devil first (7)
IMPEACH – A three letter word for a devil before (first) a four letter word meaning every.

5 Shut up, bottling question, or tell all (6)
SQUEAL – A four letter word meaning shut up or enclose around (bottling) a two letter abbreviation for question.

6 Exposes near miss brought about after 50% reduction in capital (9)
DISCLOSES – The miss from the clue around (brought about) a five letter word meaning near or stingy with the first letter of miss reduced by 50% (in terms of Roman numerals).

7 Composer totally lacking guts for surfeit (7)
SATIETY – The surname of the French composer Eric followed by the outer letters (lacking guts) of totally.

8 This politician briefly shows up in the afternoon (5,8)
PRIME MINISTER – The abbreviation for in the afternoon expanded to give the name of political office.

14 Healthy stuff could be dope for us (9)
SUPERFOOD – An anagram (could be) of DOPE FOR US.

16 Puritan heartless, not cautious (7)
PRUDENT – A five letter word meaning puritan followed by the outer letters (heartless) of NOT.

18 Sort of cast in a stellar non-European production (3-4)
ALL-STAR – An anagram (production) of A STELLAR without the E (non-European).  Some editors will not allow nouns such as production as an anagram indicator as a noun cannot indicate an instruction to move things around.

19 Periodically close account missing a line (7)
NIGHTLY – A four letter word meaning close or nearby followed by a five letter word for an account without (missing) the A L (line).

20 Gangster sustains bitter disagreement concerning tenure (6)
FEUDAL – A four letter word meaning a bitter disagreement over (sustains or holds up) the firs name of Mr Capone.

23 Fiddle with a pansy (5)
VIOLA – A four letter word for a fiddle followed by the A from the clue.  Perhaps a few foo many occurrences of taking the A from the clue and including it in the solution.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner – 258

  1. This was Toughie level for us and we thought it was an extremely well put together puzzle. 1a was our last one to sort out but will probably come more readily to mind for UK solvers.
    Thanks Harold.

  2. What an excellent crossword! I wasn’t sure about the subtraction in the miserable bastard clue, but it’s so funny that I really couldn’t care less whether it’s kosher or not! Congratulations, Harold.

  3. I worked from corner to corner and then came to a halt in the NE which took me a fair time to sort out. There are some very good clues in the mix, the particularly sneaky 10a deserving special mention. I particularly liked 21a for the d’oh moment and 26a because it made me smile

    Thank you to Harold and in advance to Prolixic

  4. Great puzzle which makes up for our not having a Toughie on Mondays – thanks Harold.
    I wasn’t sure about the abbreviation in 12a but the BRB confirms that it’s ok so that’s my favourite just for the surface reading.
    Other clues I ticked included 10a, 17a and 6d.
    More like this please.

  5. A very good puzzle Harold, well done.

    I struggled with the parsing in places and thought some of it was Toughie territory. I very nearly put in a different answer which fitted the checkers for 17a, but hesitated because I couldn’t make it work, a near miss! 7d & 10a last in, the latter took an age to work out.

    Many thanks to you and in advance to Prolixic

  6. Thanks Harold, excellent puzzle.
    NE caused some trouble here too, but all turned out ok. The only one I can’t fathom is 1d – can’t get the deserted pub bit, and I’m wondering if ‘like’ is doing anything.
    I kept on coming across parts of clues that looked like they might be loose in the way that many rookie puzzles are, but that turned out to be clever and deceptive.
    To pick a couple I liked:17, 21a
    A couple of minor dislikes: a shame in 21d that your def and wordplay coincide. I suppose it could be read as a double definition, but I don’t think that’s what you meant. I think you meant fiddle + A = pansy but you also have fiddle + A = fiddle.
    In 1a, I didn’t like ‘way to’. I suppose what you have is a ‘way to liberate’ but you could put ‘way to’ before any verb. I found it a bit of a fudge.

    1. Got the deserted pub now. Usually such deserted things are given in the clue. For me, two letters of a synonym are too far from what is in the clue to have a meaningful association with it. So like is not doing anything but filling, though I think that’s fine.
      Watch out for how much you’re using ‘a’ for A. It doesn’t seem to be one of the things that gets picked up on for repetition, but it can be overdone. You also use a in a couple of other ways, and once, in 4a, it’s just attached to its noun without being part of the wordplay.

  7. Well done Harold,

    I was enjoying this at a nice pace then was surprised with 4 clues at the end that took me quite a bit longer than the rest! I got 21a, very nice, then was left with 10a 17a and 6d, which all took me a while to parse. Very tidy!

    I’d say 10a and 17a are not common words, which adds to the difficulty. Perhaps clues for hard words should be easier, just a thought. i also didn’t think 7d was a common word, which was coupled with a general knowledge composer.

    The only quibble I have is with “like” in 1d, which mucky also highlighted. If it’s a link, I’m not keen.

    I too considered the English version in 17a, allowed by the checkers, at a time when i thought the definition was elsewhere. I needed brb to check the intended definition.

    Loads to like. Seattle, setter’s profanity he afternoon politician are all excellent, as are the “hard” clues.


  8. Welcome back, Harold.

    I’m not sure if it was a deliberate policy on the setter’s part to crank up the difficulty, but I definitely found this one significantly harder than his last.

    Once again there was much to commend, very clever wordplay on many occasions and pretty good surfaces for the most part. As others have said, I didn’t care for “way to liberate” to clue the verb in 1a, and ideally I would have preferred a “definition by example” indicator in 21a, but very little else to mention. My pick of a very good crop is probably 24a.

    I’m sure that an excellent score on the commentometer will be registered later on. Many thanks, Harold.

  9. :phew: Good to see another puzzle from you, Harold.

    This one was a real Toughie, particularly in the NE corner, and I still can’t parse 6d. In Sherlock Holmes’ terms, it was more like a four-pipe problem than a three-pipe, but it was very accomplished, very enjoyable, and well worth the effort.

    The abbreviation needed in 12a is not in my BRB and I can’t recall coming across either the fish in 1d or the composer in 7d before. It is a pity that the answer to 23d is also a type of fiddle as well as a pansy.

    Your surfaces and wordplay are generally of the highest order, and there are plenty of great clues from which to try to pick a favourite. I’ll adopt my usual cop out and go for a podium selection: 10a, 11a & 17a.

    Well done, Harold, and looking forward to your next offering.

  10. Hi Harold,
    Good stuff. A couple I can’t parse, but I enjoyed it. 10a was a struggle, but I finally got there. Had to reveal a couple of letters in the SW corner.
    26a was my favourite.

  11. Got there in the end but found this one very tough and, to be honest, not particularly enjoyable. Perhaps it’s just beyond my ‘pay grade’!
    I did like 1,16&24a so those took podium places.

    Thanks, Harold, sorry that I wasn’t really up to the challenge.

  12. Thank you to all who have commented and for all your observations and suggestions, which I have found helpful and encouraging. This puzzle was intended to be of the level of difficulty of standard Toughie/Times crosswords, which is the standard I’ve been aiming for since the first two I did, one of which was published here in December. Since then, I’ve had a puzzle published on Alberich’s website (last month), and I posted one on the 1 Across magazine website in December.

    The clue for 1D was a late replacement. An earlier shot which I rather liked was “Every fish is hooked, but not on this”, but I wasn’t sure whether the cryptic grammar was sufficiently watertight and rejected it.

    I’ll look in again tomorrow after Prolixic has published his review.

    1. Thanks very much for popping in, Harold, and thanks again for an excellent puzzle. For what it’s worth, your original version of 1d gets my vote.

      1. Hate to disagree with you both, but it’s already a slightly obscure type of fish, so the lack of a solid definition doesn’t work for me.

  13. Like others, I struggled with the NE corner, needing wordfinder help, but nothing to complain about once I saw rhe answers. My only comment is that there was very little linkage between the four corners – it was almost four separate mini-puzzles.
    Thanks, Harold,and I guess your next one here will be a NTSPP.

  14. I found this tough, but enjoyable nonetheless and got there in the end. I needed the review to parse 10a. I don’t have a quibble with 1d in itself, but that type of clue construction causes me to wonder what the difference is between a clue where one has to solve a clue and then remove letters (‘local’ in this case) and an indirect anagram, which is generally frowned upon.

    Thanks Harold (I enjoyed your offering on the Alberich site as well, by the way). Thanks also to Prolixic for the review.

    1. So pleased you enjoyed the puzzle on Alberich’s site. (Now you know the source of my pseudonym: he’s currently curled up in front of the fire, enjoying his afternoon snooze.)

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which sorted out the three answers I hadn’t managed to parse satisfactorily – 10a plus 1&6d.
    I’m sure that Harold will be delighted by his ‘score’!

  16. Thanks, Prolixic, for the kind and perceptive review, and also to those other solvers who have provided helpful comments and suggestions since I dropped in yesterday. I hope to be able to submit another puzzle before long, but shall make a concerted effort to check it over very carefully before doing so!

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