Rookie Corner – 262 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 262

A Puzzle by Zplig

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prologue. 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.

Whilst this was markedly easier than Zplig’s previous crosswords, there are still a number of loose ends that need to be tidied up to make solving the crossword a smoother experience.  There are some excellent clues – often these are the deceptively simple ones such as 24a or 4d.  However, a few things to concentrate on are using the correct part of speech when constructing a synonym, a little more attention to ensuring that words in the clue are not transcribed straight into the answer, thinking a little more about the cryptic grammar and trying to avoid repetitions in the wordplay.   The commentometer reads as 5/30 or 16.7%.

1 No-good swine loses money in roulette spin (9)
PIROUETTE – Remove the G (no-good) from a three letter word for a swine (farmyard animal variety) and follow with the roulette from the clue without the abbreviation for pounds sterling (loses money).  In the cryptic readings “loses money in X” does not read grammatically as an instruction to removing the letter.  Perhaps losing money would have worked better here for the cryptic grammar.

6 Southern type of fabric (4)
SILK – The abbreviation for southern followed by a three letter word meaning type.  Some editors will not allow wordplay OF definition.

8 VAR’s used in abrupt cross (8)
TRAVERSE – An anagram (used) of VAR inside a five letter word meaning abrupt.  In terms of anagram letters to be rearranged, I am not keen on using abbreviations in this way and anagram of three letters is not much of a challenge.  The anagram indicator “is used” is weak – used in what way?  It does not indicate strongly a movement of the letters.

9 Phony legal action quoted by party (6)
PSEUDO – A homophone (quoted) of SUE (legal action) followed by a two letter word for a party.  Legal action in the clue is a noun but is used to indicate a verb in the solution.  Legal action would give suit rather than sue.  Phony is the (mainly) US spelling so the UK phoney would be better here.

10 Some mature couples make up (6)
RECOUP – The answer is hidden (some) in the second and third words of the clue.

11 During turmoil her plans change (8)
SHRAPNEL – An anagram (during turmoil) of HER PLANS.  I think that “In turmoil” would better suit the surface reading and work better as the anagram indicator.

12 Shakespeare’s first part about battle (6)
ACTION – A shortening of the phrase “Act One” (Shakespeare’s first part) followed by a two letter word meaning about.  As Shakespeare’s first part is being as representative example of a playwright, perhaps “Maybe Shakespeare’s first part…” would be better.

15 Perhaps Eddie can sing? (8)
NICKNAME – A four letter word for a prison or can followed by a four letter word meaning sing or betray.

16 Smooth talker initially called nervous (6,2)
STRUNG UP – The initial letters (initially) of smooth and talker followed by a phrase (4,2) meaning called or telephoned.

19 Pin down the Fountain of Youth, say? (6)
LEGEND – A three letter word for the part of a body sometimes referred to a pin followed by a three letter word meaning dead.  I am not convinced by down meaning the same as the final three letters of the clue.  You can down a plane in the sense of destroying it.  To destroy something means to bring it to an end but this does not make down and end synonymous.

21 Buddhist rejects her innermost essence as she is trying to find peace (8)
MEDIATOR – What a Buddhist does to achieve inner peace without its central letter (rejects her innermost essence).  As meditation is not unique to the Buddhist tradition, I think that some clearer indicator of the practice involved rather than the performer of the practice is required.

22 Sleeping dog gives off good humming sound (6)
DOZING – Remove the G (good) from the dog in the clue and follow with a four letter word for a humming sound.

24 Dance routine (6)
GROOVE – Double definition for an informal word for a dance and another word for a rut or routine.

25 Publically I make suggestion (8)
OVERTONE – A five letter word meaning publicly followed by the full spelling of the number represented by I.  Publicly would give overtly.  Perhaps In public I make suggestion would be better as “in this wordplay you fine this definition”.  Watch out for correct spellings.  Publically should be publicly.

26 Positive ex-student loses first choice (4)
PLUM – The abbreviation for positive followed by a four letter word presumable meaning alumnus without the first letter (loses first).  As the word for the ex-student is an Americanism, this should be indicated – perhaps “Trump’s ex-student”

27 Study a woman’s clothing – that’s forward! (9)
READDRESS – A four letter word meaning study followed by a five letter word for women’s clothing.


1 Hunt lost upper class funds (5)
PURSE – A six letter word meaning to hunt or chase without the second abbreviation for upper class.

2 Rule against smearing garlic mayo over pasta (7)
RAVIOLI – The abbreviation for rule followed by another word for garlic mayonnaise around (smearing … over) the abbreviation for versus (against).

3 Open University starts to name rude immodest professors (5)
UNRIP – The abbreviation for University followed by the initial letters (starts to) of the final four words of the clue.

4 Cicero denounced this deceitful senator? (7)
TREASON – An anagram (deceitful) of SENATOR.

5 Investigator delves into odd miracle through trial and error (9)
EMPIRICAL – The abbreviation for private investigator inside an anagram (odd) of MIRACLE

6 Stay out or miss out on life (5,2)
SLEEP IN – Double definition (I think) with the first meaning to have a lie in.

7 A damsel in distress? A man looking to impress! (6,3)
LADIES MAN – An anagram (distress) of A DAMSEL IN.   A shame that the “man” from the clue also appears in the solution.

13 About the rotating pig fat, it contains a large mass (9)
CATHEDRAL – A two letter word meaning about followed by the “the” from the clue and a reversal rotating of a four letter word for the rendered fat of a big.  Whilst not incorrect, I think that “holding” would be better than containing here for the definition.

14 Sack get-up worn with anger (9)
NIGHTWEAR – A anagram (worn) of WITH ANGER.

17 University document’s the same for everyone (7)
UNIFORM – A three letter abbreviation for university followed by a four letter word for an official document to be filled in.

18 Fanciful poser – an actor’s image (7)
PERSONA – An anagram (fanciful) of POSER AN.

20 Newspaper‘s fixed view, dry and English (7)
GAZETTE – A four letter word for a fixed view or state followed by the abbreviation for teetotal and the abbreviation for English.

22 Queen’s in utter state of fear (5)
DREAD – A single letter abbreviation for queen inside a four letter word meaning utter.  I think to make the four letter word required by the solution, you would need to use “utterly”.

23 No·2’s? They’re taboos (2-3)
NO NOS – The no from the clue followed by the abbreviation for numbers (2’s).  Having the first word in the clue as the first word of the solution is unfortunate and should be avoided.

18 comments on “Rookie Corner – 262

  1. A competently put together puzzle that was good fun to solve. Lots of clues that took some thinking about giving a very satisfactory level of difficulty. 1a set the standard for the rest of the clues so will nominate it as favourite.
    Thanks Zplig

  2. Just spotted the ‘error’ in 7-down. Oopsies! I suppose ‘He’s …’ instead of ‘A man…’ Would fix it.
    Thank you pre-emptively for all your comments (And post-emprively to 2Kiwis!)

  3. It took me a little while to get on the Zplig wavelength but I did enjoy the solve. II’d agree with the setter that ‘He’s’ works better in 7d The repetition radar did bleep but I’m sure Prolixic will point out exactly where this occurs

    Thanks to Zplig for the early morning brain exercise and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review

  4. Enjoyable puzzle with a number of well-disguised definitions – thanks Zplig.
    I picked out 1a, 27a and 14d as the medal winners.

  5. A well put together puzzle which I enjoyed too. I liked the inclusion of some slightly colloquial synonyms, that added a bit of fun for me.

    Only a tweak or two away from a really good puzzle so well done and thank you Zplig.

  6. That’s more like it, Zplig, a far more accessible puzzle than your previous ones. I enjoyed this and only had a few reservations –
    19a – not totally convinced by the synonym for ‘down’.
    21a – thought this needed the pruning shears!
    1d – shame that the letter to be deleted appears twice in the root word.
    7d – I see that you’ve already commented about this one.

    Top two for me were 1 & 27a.
    Many thanks for the challenge – more like this would be very welcome.

  7. Welcome back, Zplig.

    It was a great pleasure to meet the setter at the Birthday Bash in January and I’m delighted that he has produced another crossword for Rookie Corner. Like Jane, I thought it was pitched at a more accessible level than its predecessors, and consequently it was more enjoyable to solve.

    Still a few areas to work on, I’d suggest, in particular the cryptic grammar jarred in several places and I felt some of the definitions were fairly liberal (11a, 15a and 4d raised this solver’s eyebrows). “Lose” was used three times as a deletion indicator, and “good” appeared twice for “g”.

    My ticks went to 16a, 27a, 18d and 22d.

    I hope you’ll submit another puzzle soon, well done on the progress made with this one, Zplig, and many thanks.

  8. Hi Zplig,

    I’ll echo some of the comments above. Thanks for the puzzle. More details below, with spoilers removed. I hope these are useful :-)


    10a ok
    3d ok
    7d *** in the def and answer not ideal
    6a good
    18d ok
    4d Good knowledge – I needed to check the definition.
    16a ok. Im never so sure about ‘stretched’ use of ‘initially’ but that’s just me, it is often seen
    13d ok
    26a I do like the non-gender specific word for ex-student and hope it catches on more in the UK as it has done in the US!
    17d good
    11a def? Feels more like 2 anagram indicators
    9a legal action : noun vs verb?
    6d good clue
    15a ‘perhaps Eddie’? Don’t get the def.
    8a. ‘used’ as an anagram indicator? A reversal indicator might be better here as it can help the surface too, eg Cross VAR rejected in brief (8), or similar
    1d you have two Us but have not indicated which to delete
    1a hmm. It kind of works as … but something feels slightly odd about the wordplay. Interested to see what Prolixic thinks
    21a ok. tricky
    14d wordplay good. Surface slightly clunky
    25a why does ‘publically’ mean ‘overt’??
    27a good clue, esp def
    22d good
    19a don’t quite get the second half
    20d good
    22a another G removal that doesn’t feel quite right
    23d hmm. ‘No’ in the clue??

      1. That is exactly the kind of colloquial definition (& dead etc) that added to my enjoyment.

  9. Very nice, and just the right level of difficulty for a bit of a workout (with some of the parsing, mostly) but not a slog. My picks are 1A and 25A. Thanks Zplig.

  10. I thought this was good and, like LBR, really appreciated some more modern synonyms than are usually seen in crosswords – 16a and 22d are the ones that I can find now – thought there were more.
    I dithered about a few answers and am now stuck with one that I can’t do – 21a – I have an idea but can’t make it work – oh well, too bad.
    My pick of the clues include 1, 16 and 27a and 2, 7 and 20d – and quite a few others too.
    With thanks and well done to Zplig for the crossword and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  11. Thank you Prolixic and all for your advice.
    Let’s see if my next one will be clear of most issues!

  12. Some very good ones here – I liked 12a, 15a, 24a (v apposite surface reading), 25a, 2d, 23d (I found this a bit sneaky, but good nevertheless). A few niggles: I was puzzled by the absence of a reversal indicator for VAR in 8a. In 9a, PSEU is presumably a homophone for SUE, but ‘sue’ is a verb, not a noun as indicated by ‘legal action’. In 1a, ‘loses money in’ seems cryptically ungrammatical to me – it would require something along the lines of ‘money is lost in…’. In 11a, I find ‘During’ unsatisfactory as part of the anagrind – ‘In turmoil..’ instead would have made it a v good cluie, I think. And in 13d,, ‘it contains a large mass’ seems very forced as a definition of the answer. But, overall, a v neat puzzle

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