Rookie Corner – 267 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 267

A Puzzle by Rags

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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 of this puzzle by Silvanus follows:

I was greatly honoured to be invited to deputise for Prolixic this week. Whilst the Commentometer might be having a week off too, I can confirm that my Repetition Radar was switched on as usual, but it bleeped just the once! Welcome back to Rags with another example of the very enjoyable type of crosswords that we have come to expect from him, with some commendably concise cluing.


9a –How do leading characters escape classic tragedy? (5)
HELLO: One of Shakespeare’s more famous tragedies, without its first two letters (“leading characters escape”).
Although the definition appears in Collins, I couldn’t find it in Chambers, not even as a regional alternative.

10a –Secretly like a soldier (9)
PRIVATELY: A cryptic way of describing something in the manner of one occupying the lowest Army rank.
Perhaps a comma after the definition and a question mark at the end of the clue might have been useful additions.

11a –Spot on – I fancy drinks! (7)
POTIONS: An anagram (“fancy”) with the fodder preceding it.

12a –Subject drinker to Italian food (7)
RISOTTO: A charade consisting of the abbreviation for (a school) subject plus a synonym for one who drinks excessively and “to” from the clue.

13a –He edited article to be unorthodox (9)
HERETICAL: HE (from the clue) plus an anagram (“edited”) of ARTICLE.

16a –Dada proponent occupies tavern, stumped (5)
ERNST: The surname of a German pioneer of the Dada movement is hidden within (“occupies”) the last two words of the clue.
I think something like “German painter” would have been fairer to solvers as a definition, although it would not have been hard to guess the answer, even for someone not possessing the required General Knowledge.

17a –Polite competence test at a brewery for youngster (3)
PUP: A less crude way to describe what incompetent types are considered incapable of organising at said establishment.

19a –Prospect of difficult time in hospital? On the contrary (7)
THOUGHT: The abbreviation for “hospital” inside a synonym for difficult, followed by the abbreviation for “time”, i.e. the opposite of what the wordplay of the clue is suggesting (“on the contrary”).

20a –Pair coming back in proudly (3)
DUO: The solution is hidden within a reversal (“coming back”) of “proudly”.

22a –’Just Eat’ app now serving starters wearing these (5)
JEANS: The initial letters (“starters”) of the first five words in the clue.

23a –Highest possible, say, majority (9)
UTTERMOST: Synonyms for “say” and “majority”.

25a –Allowing Her Majesty to leave signage (7)
LETTING: Another word for “signage” minus our Queen’s royal cipher.

27a –Trade in fine art from the East by fellow in charge (7)
TRAFFIC: A charade consisting of the abbreviation for “fine” plus ART (from the clue) reversed (“from the East”) with further abbreviations for “fellow” and “in charge”.

29a –Icon drunk magic port (9)
PICTOGRAM: An anagram (“drunk”) with the fodder following it.

30a –Republic’s back to front airline supplier (5)
SCUBA: Possessive form of a Caribbean republic with its final letter moved to be first (“back to front”).


1d –What karate enthusiast does, perhaps, quickly (4,4)
CHOP CHOP: Slightly cryptically, repeated actions of someone practicing karate.
Chambers has the answer as hyphenated, but it’s shown as unhyphenated in Collins. I’m unconvinced that the wordplay suggests more than one instance of CHOP, without having a word like “repeatedly” or a phrase like “more than once” included as well

2d –‘Fiddler on the Roof’ critic (6)
SLATER: A double definition, the first a little cryptic.

3d –Two sailors turning up undistinguished (2-2)
SO-SO: A reversal (“turning up”) of the abbreviation for Ordinary Seaman, twice.

4d –Job Centre put us under pressure to find work (4)
OPUS: The middle letter of JOB, plus an instruction for US (from the clue) to follow the abbreviation for “pressure”.
Strict adherents of Ximenean cluing might feel that only Job’s Centre could clue “O”!

5d –It provides a little power in personal banking (10)
MICROLIGHT: A cryptic definition of the type of single-seat aircraft that has a very small power source.
Once again, I think a question mark might not have gone amiss at the end of the clue.

6d –Cut flower stand (4)
DAIS: A type of common flower with its final letter removed (“cut”).

7d –Organised, one’s essentially a full marks editor (8)
NEATENED: The middle letters (“essentially”) of ONES plus a top mark (in certain sports, say) and the abbreviation for “editor”.
It’s a moot point whether “full marks” is fair without describing its context, e.g. in a diving competition. Full marks in other instances could mean many different numbers.

8d –Setter’s stocking filler? I’m not buying that! (2.4)
MY FOOT: An interjection expressing disbelief that could also represent what Rags might put in a stocking.

14d –Show disapproval of our skirts (5)
TUTUS: A synonym for “show disapproval” plus a pronoun that is the objective case of “we”.
Whereas “of us” can mean “our”, I don’t think “of our” (or “our” on its own) can equate to “us”, if that was the setter’s intention.

15d –Does she sing at dawn or refrain? (6,4)
CHORUS GIRL: A cryptic reference to the singing of birds in the early morning and a synonym for “chorus”, either of which might involve the answer.

16d –Log space, time, energy and resistance (5)
ENTER: A two-letter word for a (printing) space, plus abbreviations for the final three words.
This is the second instance of “time” being used to clue the letter T.
“Resistance” was misspelt in the clue.

18d –Procedure of Bill cutting cost (8)
PRACTICE: A word for what a bill (in Parliament) creates inside (“cutting”) a synonym for “cost”.

21d –Colour blind? Wrong predication, suggests goggles flogger (8)
OPTICIAN: An anagram (“wrong”) of PREDICATION with the three letter primary colour inside it hidden (“blind”).

22d –Bird eating cut banger (6)
JALOPY: The bird that is also the pseudonym of the Telegraph’s Wednesday backpage setter outside (“eating”) a synonym for “cut”.

24d –It’s not on, saving leftover (6)
OFFCUT: The opposite of “on” plus another word for “saving”.

26d –Hero vows liberation at first (4)
IDOL: Split (1,2) the first three letters of the solution refer to what is said at the conclusion of marriage vows, plus the initial letter (“at first”) of “liberation”.

27d –Self-addressed book (4)
TOME: Split (2,2), this could be how a label to oneself is written.

28d – Inexplicable feeling arising after a church recess (4)
APSE: A reversal (“arising”) of the abbreviation for extrasensory perception following “a” from the clue.

19 comments on “Rookie Corner – 267

  1. A most enjoyable, competently put together puzzle. Our last one in and it took quite a lot of head scratching time was 5d and we haven’t yet worked out the wordplay for 17a. Actually, typing that last sentence caused the penny to drop for 17a and caused another LOL.
    Much appreciated.
    Thanks Rags.

  2. I was mildly surprised to see another puzzle from Rags in Rookie Corner as I thought he had earned promotion after his previous offering. Nevertheless I was very pleased to find this one here this morning as he is clearly an accomplished setter. It was pitched at just the right level of toughness and I enjoyed the challenge very much. The clues were commendably brief, and the wordplay was concise and accurate.

    It took me a while to parse 9a & 17a but the pennies finally dropped for both, which are very clever. I understand “full marks” in 7d and “Colour blind?” in 21d but I’m not convinced that either is strictly accurate and I’ll be interested to see our special guest reviewer’s take on these.

    My page is littered with ticks but I’ll just mention 17a for the LOL moment, 30a for its brilliant definition and 27d for its brevity and simplicity.

    Very well and thank you Rags. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to our SGR.

      1. Aha! That explains it. Thanks, Dave.
        Perhaps you could consider a Monday slot which alternates between Rookie Corner and NTRCP? :wacko:

        1. That sounds like an excellent idea – perhaps ‘fledglings’ would cover it?

  3. Lots to enjoy here – thanks, Rags.
    I have lots of ticked clues including 17a, 19a, 4d and 6d but my favourite (for the brilliantly disguised definition) is 9a.

  4. Looks as though the site has finally recovered from its attack of the Monday morning blues.

    Thank you for a very good puzzle, Rags, just the odd twitch here over a couple of the surface reads – 22a & 21d spring to mind and the slightly jarring ‘drunk’ in 29a. Otherwise, a most enjoyable solve with some good constructions.

    My personal favourites were 9a plus 4&6d.

    Looking forward to the review from our guest RC host and to further puzzles from the ragged one.

  5. An enjoyable puzzle, though there were a few I couldn’t parse (or else the parsing I came up with didn’t seem right), principally 17ac, 5dn and 7dn. My only real criticism otherwise is for 18dn where the letters representing ‘bill’ are presumably the word for what a bill becomes when passed into law – not quite the same thing, though others may not have an issue with it.
    But I liked 9, 16, 22 and 27across, 2 and 22 down. Thanks, Rags.

  6. Great fun – challenging but not too challenging, just right!

    I agree with exit on the ‘bill’ comment and, like Jane, I couldn’t quite make the surface work in 22a. However, there are so many clues here to like: I particularly enjoyed 11, 13 and 27d.

    Many thanks!

  7. Thank you for rustling up a fair review which was interesting. Thank you SGR (nearly my initials, hence Rags)

    Given the diversity of faves and hmms – you can’t please all of the people etc…, so a good spread is ideal in my book.

  8. Thanks Rags for a satisfying puzzle. If I have any criticism it is that some of the cryptic definition elements are a little *too* cryptic (as Silvanus has hinted – to whom thanks also) and in 23 the definition is slightly dodgy, as we can after all have ‘the uttermost depths’.

  9. It’s a first – a Rookie Review of a Rookie Puzzle!

    Very well done, Silvanus, for writing such a concise but comprehensive review. You had big boots to fill on this occasion which you have done admirably.

  10. Many thanks for the review, Silvanus, I can’t think of anyone better qualified than yourself to deputise for Prolixic.
    It’s one thing to possess the necessary skills to review a setter’s work, quite another to do it without allowing personal preferences to cloud one’s judgement.
    Quite a busy few days for you in crosswordland!

  11. Thanks for the review, Silvanus, particularly for the parsing of those I struggled with – and as for 17ac: doh!

  12. I found it difficult to get onto Rags’ wavelength, but once there, I discovered much to enjoy. What a lot of really good clues! I ticked off several for particular mention — 9a, 22a, 27a, 2d, 4d, 8d 15d, and 22d. Lovely puzzle, Rags!

    Thanks so much for your excellent review, Silvanus. Alas! I never did get 5d, and I didn’t understand the parsing of 21d. Like so many other clues, it’s clever!

    Much appreciation to Rags and to Silvanus.

  13. I found this v good, nice and snappy and racy. I thought the oblique definition ones a touch strained, but the cryptic wordplay was near-imeccable throughout. Faves 19a + 23a.

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