Rookie Corner – 272 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 272

A Puzzle by Hippogryph

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Hippogryph returns with a much improved brewing themed crossword.  The only points are minor ones.  The grid was not the most friendly with four separate crosswords but you see ones just as bad in the daily papers.  The commentometer reads as 2 / 28 or 7.1%.


1 Hotel located in loud, crude, retrograde, period dockside accommodation (8)
WHARFAGE – Include (located) the abbreviation for hotel in a reversal (retrograde) of the abbreviation for load and a three letter word meaning crude and follow with a three letter word for a period of time.

5 Digest contents of kebabs or burgers (6)
ABSORB – The answer is hidden (contents of) in the final three words of the clue.

9 Possibly tailors newspaper deal (3,5)
RAG TRADE – A three letter informal term for a newspaper followed by a five letter word for a deal.

10 Stony image of saint appearing on a weekday (6)
STATUE – The abbreviation for saint and the A from the clue followed by a three letter abbreviation for one of the days of the week.

11 Renovates church and uses organs? (8)
RESPIRES – Split 2-6, the solution might mean putting a new steeple on a church.

12 House of Lords’ representatives split and leave the lobbies for ever (6)
ALWAYS – The initial letters (representatives) of House and Lords, are separated (split) and removed (leaving) an eight letter word for lobbies.  I think that representatives does not work ideally as an indicator of initial letters and, as used in the clue, would give HOL.  However, an alternative parsing would be that as an abbreviation, H and L are the representatives of House of Lords.  Even so, the clue could be simplified to “House of Lords divides and leaves lobbies for ever.

14 Relative has genetic ear disorder (5-5)
GREAT-NIECE – An anagram (disorder) of GENETIC EAR.

18 Rampant Lionesses consume a light alcoholic beverage (7,3)
SESSION ALE – An anagram (rampant) of LIONESSES includes the A from the clue.  Perhaps consuming would word better and the cryptic grammar reads An anagram of A consume B and consumes would break the surface reading.

22 Blend unopened white and unfinished red to make one or the other (6)
EITHER – An anagram (blend) of HITE (unopened white) and RE (unfinished red).  Three anagram clues in a row is a little unbalanced.

23 Triumphant expression after fermentation reportedly produces excitement (8)
BROUHAHA – A phrase 2,2 representing a triumphant expression after a homophone (reportedly) of brew (fermentation).

24 Barnsley chops not specified initially? 25a might order this (6)
BARLEY – An anagram (chops) of BARNSLEY without (not) the first letter (initially) of specified.

25 Dealer in 24a is to acquire a deep knowledge about Lithuania (8)
MALTSTER – A six letter word meaning to acquire a deep knowledge around (about) the IVT code for Lithuania.  Two interlinked clues where one defines the other are seen in national crossword but infrequently as you can end up in a catch 22 situation of not being able to solve either of them without having solved the other!

26 Former copper found in front of empty safe – pardon? (6)
EXCUSE – A two letter word meaning former followed by the chemical symbol for copper and the outer letters (empty) of safe.

27 Free crooked gangster after bishop provides testimonial (8)
REFERRAL – An anagram (crooked) of FREE followed by the first name of Mr Capone (gangster) after the abbreviation for Right Reverend (bishop).


1 Suspicious about councillor’s slogan (3,3)
WAR CRY – A four letter word meaning suspicious around (about) the abbreviation for councillor.  Watch for repetition of wordplay indicators.  We have already had about as a containment indicator.

2 Majestic time of year (6)
AUGUST – Double definition, the second being a month of the year.

3 Measure distress experienced during grand finish with no beer (6)
FIRKIN – A three letter word meaning distress inside (during) a six letter word for a grand finish without a three letter word for beer.

4 Religious Venetian leader misses the point and travels north feeling anxious (3-7)
GOD-FEARING – A four letter word for a Venetian leader without the E (misses the point) is reversed (travels north) and followed by a seven letter word meaning feeling anxious.

6 Preserving or losing one’s nerve? (8)
BOTTLING – Double definition for preserving vegetable or fruit and a word meaning losing one’s nerve.

7 Informal square won the wooing competition? (8)
OUTDATED – Split 3-5, the answer might mean got more dates in a wooing competition.

8 He might make 80 shilling mixing beer cocktail with broken straw – no amateur! (8)
BREWSTER – An anagram (cocktail) of BEER STRAW without the A (no amateur).  A minor point but, if possible, try to avoid having words in one clue that form part of the solution to another.  For example, brew in the solution here is repeated in the next clue.

13 Do a maltier brew – perfect! (6-4)
TAILOR MADE – An anagram (brew) of DO A MALTIER.

15 Line up American behind incomplete sign (8)
ASSEMBLE – An American term for the bottom or behind followed by a six letter word for a sign without the final letter (incomplete).

16 Exotic secretion, endlessly mysterious (8)
ESOTERIC – An anagram (exotic) of SECRETION without the final letter (endlessly).

17 Eternal advice to overworked hand on watch perhaps (8)
TIMELESS – Split 4, 4 this might be an instruction to a watch hand that is overworked.

19 Gentle sound held in during heartfelt surprise conversely (6)
RUSTLE – The answer is hidden (held in during) and reversed (conversely) in sixth and seventh words of the clue.

20 Transported on Gold Falcon? (6)
RAPTOR – A four letter word meaning engrossed or transported followed by the two letter heraldic term for gold.

21 Wander once into party and turn up the volume (6)
BARREL – A three letter word that originally meant to wander of the right path (we have erred and strayed like lost sheep) inside the abbreviation for Labour (party) with all of the letter reversed (turn up).

26 comments on “Rookie Corner – 272

  1. That had us working hard and we still have to sort out the parsing for 12a. We picked up the ghost theme quite early on and it was a help in pushing our thinking in the right direction with several answers.
    Good fun all the way through.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

    1. My take on 12a – a synonym of lobbies with the initial letters (representatives) of House and Lords removed (split and leave) results in a synonym of for ever (or should it be forever?).

  2. Thanks Hippogryph. I can’t remember how I fared on your previous puzzles but I really enjoyed this one although it took some head scratching to complete it.

    I particularly liked 22a and 19d.

    Thanks again.

  3. I enjoyed this one very much, although I failed to parse 12a. I don’t remember seeing “representatives” for first letters before, but it seems fair enough. I liked 5a, a great example of its type. I did not understand the definitions of either 7d or 21d, my fault no doubt. Only noticed the theme too late to help much.

  4. Very enjoyable puzzle (or should that be four puzzles?) with a theme that even I noticed – thanks Hippogryph.
    I thought that this was pitched at just the right level. I liked 22a, 7d and 13d but my favourite clue was 15d.
    More like this would be very welcome.

  5. Thanks Hippogryph
    Very good, polished puzzle. It’s a tricky grid for solvers, but there’s just enough help in each of the four corners, the theme helping once it became clear.
    Liked 22 & 27, among others.
    In 7 & 21, I wondered why you included ‘informal’ and ‘once’. I don’t think they’re necessary, nor do they add anything to the surface.

    1. Hi Mucky, thanks for the comments. I added informal to indicate that it is a colloquial use of the word in 7d’ Likewise I was surprised to find in Chambers that the relevant component of the wordplay in 21 down is archaic use so I thought it fair to indicate that by adding the “once”. I agree that they don’t add anything to the surfaces. Thanks again and glad you enjoyed it

      1. Yes, the effect of them was clear, it was why you had decided those words needed indicators I wondered about. Part of the fun is working out which is the intended meaning of the words in the clue. If you spell it out you’re depriving your solvers. That meaning of square is quite standard, and in fact the surface of the clue requires it to take that meaning (albeit it’s a noun in the surface and an adjective in the solution) so you’ve already alerted the solver that way.
        In 21d, I think it’s the physical wandering, or roaming, that’s the archaic use (as in the knights). Looking at it the other way around, with to wander meaning ‘to go astray, deviate from the right path ..’, the word in the solution seems a perfectly acceptable and current synonym. That’s how I looked at it when I solved the clue.

        1. Thanks Mucky, I was just trying to be fair to the solver by indicating a non-standard use of the word

  6. I found this to be hard work, never really got on the setter’s wavelength. Perhaps I was prejudiced by a very unhelpful grid – as Gazza notes, four mini-puzzles.

    I do have a reservation or two – eg ‘representatives’ doesn’t work for me. 15d probably my pick of the bunch.

    Well done on a finely honed challenge Hippogryph, I will be interested to see Prolixic’s review, for which I thank him in advance.

  7. First of all, there are some excellent surfaces here – this is a very high-quality puzzle, in my mind! Lots of accuracy features, too – hints at archaic words, for example. Very enjoyable, thanks Hippogryph.

    I particularly liked:
    5a, 14a (though some might comment on the anagrind), 22a, 26a, 16d, 6d, 13d, 27a (my favourite), 3d, and 8d (and its excellent implied Scottish indicator)

    7d ok. ‘Informally’ might have been better, i.e does ‘informal square’ mean ‘square, informally’? That old debate…
    And 12a I hadn’t parsed this one until I read Senf’s helpful hint – thank you. Representatives? Not sure.

    Very enjoyable and wouldn’t be out of place in a daily national, in my mind. I’m very keen to read what Prolixic thinks tomorrow!



  8. Like LBR, I found this hard work too, but there were several very good clues to be found during the struggle. I felt that the surfaces were better than previously, so well done to the setter for that.

    Unfortunately, 12a doesn’t work for me either, and “about” was repeated as a containment indicator. Having both “held in” and “during” in 19d seemed unnecessary too.

    Like others, my favourite clue was 27a.

    Many thanks, Hippogryph.

  9. I also enjoyed this (15 and 27 faves).

    Nobody else has mentioned the interdependence of 24 and 25. Fair?

      1. Not sure I didn’t like it: got 24 from wordplay and puzzle theme, then held in RAM while solving 25. Just wondered if others thought this was a fair demand to make on a solver. I declare an interest: I tried something similar in a puzzle recently, and rejected it on fairness grounds.

        1. Just my preference, but I simply don’t like cross-referenced clues, I find them a little irritating, unless they are cryptically disguised and add something to the clue.

          To my mind, a clue should be solvable in its own right, without checkers or references, nor GK; nothing but wordplay which should all be in the clue.

          There’s a theme?

          1. Beer and brewing would seem to be the theme, unless I’m missing something.

            I thought this was an excellent puzzle with some great surface reads.

            Keep them coming, please, Hippogryph!

  10. OK puzzle technically, though I have difficulty parsing 12a, and surely, in 24a + 25a, it’s not on to cross-refer clues to each other. A few of the surface readings I found too laboured (1a, 25a, 4d), Faves 27a, because I did find this surface reading of the complex cryptic wordplay consistent + apposite, + 6d (very neat double definition).

  11. Thanks Hippogryph, good fun. I haven’t read others comments, so excuse duplication.
    I have ticks against 1ac, 12, 27, 8 and 21.
    Real ‘aha’ moments in 11 and 3 – 11 is pretty cheeky.
    18 is not in any dictionaries, but reasonable.
    In 7, the ‘informal’ seems unnecessary.

  12. This was good. No real problems although the mutual cross-referencing of 24 and 25 caused a bit of head-scratching at first – ‘Barnsley chops’ was a nice bit of misdirection. And full marks for the ‘split’ indication in 12 and for indicating the American usage in 15.

  13. Thanks to all for your helpful comments and to Prolixic for the encouraging review. I’m really pleased that most of you enjoyed it and reflected a sense of improvement in my puzzles which is rewarding to read. I’ve noted the main points that caused concern – grid selection and interdependent clues.

    Just a couple of additional clarifications. The intended parsing of 12a was as per Prolixic’s second interpretation ie H and L are representatives of House of Lords through the listed abbreviation.The intended parsing for 24a is a removal of NS (chops not specified initially) to leave the answer rather than an anagram

    Thanks again

  14. The explanation for 25a says it’s an anagram of BARNSLEY minus S. But that leaves an N left over — what happens to that? Thanks.

    1. For 24a you have to chop out the initial letters of Not and Specified – there’s no anagram.

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