Rookie Corner – 268 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 268

A Puzzle by Chameleon

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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 by Prolixic follows.

Many thanks to Silvanus for keeping my chair warm last week whilst I was away on holiday and doing an excellent job in the process.

This week, Chameleon has produced a much more accessible and more enjoyable crossword that eschewed must of the complexities of the first crossword whilst retaining a great deal of inventiveness.  The commentometer reads at 3/32 or 9.4%.  The crossword is also a pangram with all the letter of the alphabet used in the solutions.


1 Doctor Seuss’ essentially Saxon old county (6)
SUSSEX – An anagram (doctor) of SEUSS followed by the central letter (essentially) of Saxon.  If you are going to have an anagram, there needs to be more rearrangement than simply moving one letter.

4 Big Dave enemy?! (7)
GOLIATH – The name of the giant slain by the young shepherd David (a big enemy of David).  Whilst not wrong, I am cautious about using a contracted form of name for someone who is always referred to by their full name.

9 Finished herb-covered starter off after just a small amount of vino (9)
VARNISHED – The first letter (just a small amount) of vino followed by a word meaning that a food dish has been covered in herbs without the first letter (starter off).

10 Order of Saint Mark (5)
STAIN – An anagram (order) of SAINT.  Another anagram where only one letter has to be moved.

11 Setter chases naked Eros (O, tragic lover!) (5)
ROMEO – The inner letters (naked) of Eros followed by a two letter word for the setter and the O from the clue.

12 Equine stud knocking down fences: ultimately gallop will be five times as great (9)
QUINTUPLE – The inner letters (knocking down fences) of equine and stud followed by the last letters (ultimately) of gallop, will and be.

13 Lie twice about rank… (7)
RECLINE – A two letter word meaning about and a single letter meaning about followed by another word for a rank or queue.

15 …in a nauseous way? Without question! Oh, without a doubt! (6)
EASILY – An eight letter word meaning in a nauseous way without the abbreviation for question.  I think that the Oh should be omitted as it contributes neither to the wordplay or to the definition.

17 Echo musical note right back (6)
REVERB – A five letter musical note and the abbreviation for right all reversed (back).

19 From an Asian region, leaders of Pakistan and India welcome UN injection (7)
PUNJABI – The first letters (leaders) of Pakistan and India around (welcome) the UN from the clue and a three letter word for an injection.

22 Noah’s ship delivered 7 changing sides for senior heavenly messenger (9)
ARCHANGEL – A homophone (delivered) of Ark (Noah’s ship) followed by the solution to 7 down with the final R changed to L (changing sides).

24 The Spanish swimmer’s appendage is very delicate (5)
ELFIN – The Spanish word for the followed by a three letter word for part of a fish (swimmer’s appendage).

26 Refined urinal – not one moony! (5)
LUNAR – An anagram (refined) of URINAL without the I (not one).

27 Missile throwers hurl canes all over the place (9)
LAUNCHERS – An anagram (all over the place) of HURL CANES.

28 Chameleon‘s in favour of evenly sampling other hues (7)
PROTEUS – A three letter word meaning in favour of followed by the even letters of other hues.  I am not sure that even figuratively, the definition quite matches the solution.  A person who is changeable may be described as like a chameleon or a chameleon but they would possibly (but not very commonly) be described as protean but not like a proteus or a proteus.

29 Acquainted with duo set in motion (4,2)
USED TO – An anagram (in motion) of DUO SET.


1 “More cruel reverse anagrams?”… (7)
SEVERER – An anagram (anagrams) of REVERSE.  Anagram can be both a transitive and an intransitive verb.

2 …”Get lost!” (Second Chameleon “Rookie” alarms many at first) (5)
SCRAM – The initial letters (at first) of the third to seventh words of the clue.  

3 To sum up, epic tomb in sea’s foundations washed away (9)
EPITOMISE – Remove the final letters (foundations washed away) from the fourth to seventh words of the clue.

4 Follow up on fancy in the style of Cupid, say (7)
GODLIKE – A three letter word word meaning follow is reversed (up) over (on) a four letter word meaning fancy – as in would you fancy a cup of tea.

5 Composer of record on the radio (5)
LISZT – A homophone (on the radio) of list (record).

6 As football fans sing, Palace mostly play with energy (1,8)
A CAPELLA – An anagram (with energy – energetically) of PALACE PLAY with the final letter of play removed (mostly).

7 Hire wardrobe assistant? (6)
HANGER – If you think of H-IRE, solution has the same structure of H followed by another word for ire.  I think that you need more indication of how the solution relates to the hire.  Maybe something along the lines of “Hire components for wardrobe assistant”.

8 Means of settling somewhat niche query (6)
CHEQUE – The answer is hidden (somewhat) in NICHE QUERY.

14 Regularly curse second riot for increasing loudness (9)
CRESCENDO – The odd letters (regularly) in curse followed by an anagram (riot) of SECOND.

16 Grammatical constructionsyou learn about them after cases (9)
SENTENCES – Double definition – the second being what a convicted person learns about after the case.

18 Very good feature from The Crossword Centre (3,4)
BIG PLUS – Look at what you see in the centre of the crossword grid!  Although the solution is not in the dictionaries, idiomatic expressions like this are often used sufficiently well to be fair game.

19 It’s exercise, whatever way you look at it (4-2)
PULL UP – A palindrome (the answer is the same whether you read up or down).

20 Independent company bags “writer’s writer” (7)
IONESCO – The abbreviations for Independent and company include the way the write may refer to himself or herself.

21 Interpol lawmakers have taken up smack (6)
WALLOP – The answer is hidden and reversed (have taken up) in INTERPOL LAWMAKERS.  Perhaps having taken up would have given a smoother cryptic reading.

23 Come to understanding of lesson over time? On the contrary (5)
AGREE – A three letter word for time over the abbreviation for Religious Education (subject).

25 Quaker reading banished devil (5)
FIEND – Remove (banished) the single letter meaning reading from a word describing a Quaker.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 268

  1. A very good and cleverly put together puzzle that we thoroughly enjoyed despite being defeated by our last two. These were 28a and 18d. We hoped that maybe a missing letter for the pangram would help us but we already had a full alphabet. Lots of ticks on our page.
    Thanks Chameleon.

  2. Thanks Chameleon, I really enjoyed this. Although I had a few ‘bung ins’ that I will have to wait for the review to fully understand.

    For example:

    7d – I get wardrobe assistant but not hire in relation to the answer.

    28a – I don’t see a link between ‘you’ and the answer which was easy enough to derive from the clue.

    Some that I liked – 12a, 17a, 3d, and 18d.

    Thanks again.

  3. Firstly, I’ll begin by saying that I’ve discovered an alternative law to that of the Gnome, but I’m not sure what you’d call saying to Mr CS ‘this is a very good crossword, but I’m stuck’ which did the trick and enabled me to finish it off before I’m dragged off to the garden centre

    This is an excellent crossword with some splendid d’oh moments eg 4a. Like Senf I’m not sure about the ‘hire’ in 7d but for 28a I would tell him and the 2Ks to look up the solution in the dictionary. For 18d I’d tell the 2Ks to look at the grid.

    Thank you to Chameleon – more like that please – and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Splitting an infinitive, I have to semantically beg to differ on 28a – a chameleon can change colour, and is not a blind, cave dwelling amphibian, while the Greek god in the answer was reputed to be able to change shape.

      1. Hi Senf. My reasoning for this definition was more to do with figurative uses of the definition and the solution, than the amphibian and the mythological figure. Figuratively calling someone – say, a versatile artist – a “vertiable chameleon” seems basically the same as “a musical Proteus” to me. If protean and chameleonic are synonyms does that mean Proteus and Chameleon (in figuarative senses) are too? I did wonder whether the definition was satisfactory. I’ll be interested to see Prolixic’s view tomorrow.

        1. Thanks Chameleon. My analysis was based on me being an engineer, I tend to see things analytically. I will also be interested to read Prolixic’s view.

  4. Very impressive and very enjoyable – this is far better than many puzzles seen in the papers. Thanks, Chameleon.
    I liked 7d (when the penny dropped) but I think you probably need ‘separated’ or something similar in the clue.
    Top clues for me were 13a, 17a and 4d but my favourite (for the d’oh moment) is 18d.
    I hope that you’re already working on your next puzzle.

  5. Wow! Many thanks and very well done, Chameleon. I certainly wasn’t expecting this after your disappointing first Rookie puzzle. I wondered if you would take on board all the comments on this blog but you have clearly done that and more. This one was extremely accomplished and very enjoyable.

    Gazza has managed to say pretty much everything that I wanted to say, even including my two d’oh moments with 7d & 18d, the latter being my favourite too.

    There are a very few minor technical points but I won’t steal Prolixic’s thunder by mentioning them today, and, although most of your surfaces are fine, there are a handful, particularly with some of your longer clues, which are rather strained.

    I shall look forward with enthusiasm to your next offering.

  6. What a huge improvement, well done indeed, Chameleon.
    I have a couple of queries which Prolixic will doubtless deal with and, as RD said, there were a few strained surface reads, but overall the standard of this puzzle was excellent.

    My personal top three were 17a plus 18&23d.

    PS Did anyone else have the urge to put ‘gremlin’ as the answer to 4a!

  7. Welcome back, Chameleon.

    Add me to those who were delighted to find a much more accessible puzzle this time, and with some excellent clues contained therein. Chameleons are known for their adaptability, of course!

    Much as I liked the popular 18d as well, I couldn’t find the solution actually appearing in either Chambers or Collins (Online), (nor in Crossword Compiler). My pick of the clues were 4a, 13a and 16d. Two points I’d suggest you try to avoid in future puzzles:

    1. Definitions which share most of the same letters (6) with the solution (e.g. 9a)

    2. Anagrams where only one of the original letters requires rearrangement (e.g. 10a).

    Certainly a distinct improvement on your last puzzle, for which many congratulations are in order. Thanks and well done indeed, Chameleon.

    1. Hi silvanus. Thanks for your comment.

      I hadn’t spotted the issue with 9a, thanks for the heads up. With 10a I was aiming for a hopefully generous clue to give people a foothold. On the 18d solution, I was a bit worried about it not appearing in the dictionaries, but I hoped it was one of those phrases which, while not likely to be recorded in a dictionary, is enough of a cliched pairing of words that it’s fair game as an answer (I justified it to myself because I couldn’t find as well-worn phrases as mortal sin, worst enemy, little birdy, good person and tall tale in the OED). Thanks again.

  8. Thanks Chameleon, very enjoyable
    The wordplay for 7d is a trick often used by 4a – I wonder if that’s an intentional reference, or a weird coincidence?
    4a’s a brilliant clue, I also particularly liked 16d 18d and 13a.
    There were other features that reminded me of 4a’s puzzles; eg. 3d and 12a, in which the solutions are there in the clue but hidden somehow. Clues like this I lump together with anagrams, hidden words, acrostics & alternate letter clues. No matter how skilfully you hide the solution, it’s always a mechanical process extracting the fodder from the clue once you’ve worked out what the trick is. The pleasurable steps of working out the right meaning and then finding a synonym (which for me are the essence of a crossword) are missing. Too many of this type of clue makes the puzzle a) easy and b) dull, which I suppose is why some papers limit their use.

  9. Many thanks for the kind words so far. I’m very glad that some of you who didn’t enjoy my last one have found more enjoyment in this one. I’m looking forward to Prolixic’s thoughts tomorrow.

  10. Good stuff! I’ll need Prolixic’s review to parse some of my answers & I have to admit that I needed the reveal option for 7d, 18d, 20d & 28a.

    Thank you Chameleon & now it’s time for the grandchildren to arrive & when I become a human trampoline for Henry the 2½ year old!

  11. 18d – I was going to suggest that “This Crossword Centre” might be better … so that “Cross” is actually in the middle.

    Alas, I didn’t look at the grid. Nice clue!

    A very entertaining puzzle! Thanks Chameleon!

  12. Well this was certainly plenty more accessible and a bit more fun than the last, despite a query or two.

    Can’t really add anything constructive to what’s been said already, so I’ll just say very well done on a great effort and thank you Chameleon.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m glad you thought it was an improvement on the last one. I’ve never really thought about anagrams where only one letter needs to be moved, but it’s an odd coincidence that there were two so close together in this grid. I can see why they’re not ideal.

    I realised “Dave” for “David” was a bit of a stretch; the “?!” at the end of the clue was intended to let solvers know they’d need to take a bit of a leap.

    The suggested “components” indicator for 7 is a good one and fits the surface very well, so I’ll use an indicator like that next time I write a clue of this type.

    Regarding “Proteus”: I think that during setting I looked it up on the online OED, which has it as “allusive. (A type of) a person or thing which can assume various forms, aspects, or characters; a changeable, variable, or inconstant person or thing”, with the most recent citation being from 2000. In a lot of the citations it’s used to describe a physical thing, but in several of them “Proteus” is used for a person and could be swapped for “Chameleon” without the meaning changing. I couldn’t check this usage was in Chambers as I don’t own a physical copy (and I think I’m right in saying only some of it is available online), so I took a gamble.

    Thanks again to Prolixic and all the solvers

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the parsing of 7d which I hadn’t fathomed – as always, so simple when someone points it out!

    Hope you enjoyed your holiday – did you manage to leave the ‘issue’ behind and spend the time alone with your wife?!!

  15. What a huge improvement from your last puzzle, Chameleon! Very well done. I enjoyed it very much. My fave was 4a, one of my last in and which really made me laugh. I also particularl liked 4d, 18d, 20d and 21d. Thank you very much, Chameleon.

    Many appreciative thanks for the review, Prolixic. I too am grateful for the reasoning behind 7d. I certainly didn’t know how ‘hire’ related to my answer.

  16. Entertaining, crisp puzzle with a wide range of cryptic devices. I found one or two clues a bit inaccurate cryptically. Faves were the oblique definitions 4a and 16d.

  17. Very late to the party – it’s been a busy week and I didn’t get to this till Thursday night. What can I add? Nothing really, except to echo what Brunel says.

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