Rookie Corner – 282 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 282

A Puzzle by Chameleon

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Wow.  Possibly the best Rookie crossword to date.  This was a tour-de-force of setting getting so many names into the clues and solutions without making the theme feel forced.  Records broken too.  I think that this is the first Rookie blog where the number of comments exceeded the comments on the back page crossword.  Also, this is the first time where the commentometer notionally has hit the 0 mark – with such excellent cluing I might turn a blind eye to the repeat use of last as a final word indicator!

My final duty is to hand over Chameleon to the tender mercies of Big Dave as the NTSPP editor.

On the subject of the NTSPP, look out for something special next weekend as we hit the 500th crossword.


1 Welcome new recruit (first attempt’s ultimately lacking) (4,2)
TAKE ON – How you might describe the first attempt at filming a scene with the final letter removed (ultimately lacking)

4 Man in the Corner? That’s me! (6)
ROOKIE – A four letter word for one of the pieces on a chess board that starts on the corner square followed by the abbreviation for that is (that’s).

8 See Wire regularly boarding Wolfgang’s car, maybe (4)
VIEW – The even letters in Wire inside (boarding) a two letter abbreviation for a German (Wolfgang’s) make of car.

9 Wimp out of beating up Rye cads with Kitty (7-3)
SCAREDY-CAT – An anagram (beating up) of RYE CADS with a three letter word for a kitty.

11 Hippogryph’s wings fly with nous to island (6)
HONSHU – An anagram (fly) of HH (Hippogryph’s wings) NOUS.

12 British editor publishes blog articles – they support people who have retired (8)
BEDPOSTS – The abbreviations for British and editor followed by a five letter word meaning publishes blog articles.

13 What might limit a crossword? It could be mere tripe (9)
PERIMETER – An anagram (it could be) of MERE TRIPE.

15 As Prolixic becomes very productive, codeword is made to unravel (4)
FRAY – To make Prolixic become prolific change the X to an R.  Do the same to a codeword in the Nato phonetic alphabet for the solution.

16 Dutch’s sure about conclusions of Cape Town lady (4)
JANE – A two letter Dutch word meaning yes or sure followed by a reversal (about) of the final letters (conclusions) of Cape and Town.

17 A stumping, say? That’s what Exit’ll be after (9)
DISMISSAL – Two semi-cryptic definitions (the first in cricket and the second more generally) of the solution.

21 Fan of sponsored feature on this site gets books (8)
ADHERENT – A phrase 2,4 that might describe a sponsored advertisement on a website followed by the abbreviation for New Testament (books).

22 A range of high points picked out from easier Rags (6)
SIERRA – The answer is hidden (picked out from) the last two words of the clue.

24 Perhaps son by marriage rejected communist’s means of getting high (10)
STEPLADDER – A phase (fanciful) that might describe a cold child joining a family after the re-marriage of his parent followed by a reversal (rejected) of the colour associated with a communist.

25 Old person reported tattooist (4)
INCA – A homophone (reported) of “inker” (tattooist).

26 Mucky material in the Listener (6)
EARWAX – Cryptic definition of a secretion in part of the body that is traditionally removed with the aid of a paper-clip.

27 Skinny‘s magician-like dexterity delivered to audience (6)
SLIGHT – A homophone (delivered to the audience) of sleight (magician-like dexterity).


1 Having skipped first half, Whynot turns up in exciting ‘Rite’ interval (7)
TRITONE – Reverse (turns up) the final three letters (having skipped first half) of Whynot inside an anagram (exciting) of RITE.

2 Fruit skin peeled with sage, mostly (5)
KIWIS – The inner letters (peeled) of skin followed by a word letter word meaning sage with the final letter removed (mostly).

3 See 16

5 Work too hard on Void and Gonzo’s latests (6)
OVERDO – A four letter word meaning on followed by the final letters (latest) of Void and Gonzo.

6 Instruments from Spooner’s rendition of certain harmonious triads (9)
KEYBOARDS – A Spoonerism of B-CHORDS (certain harmonious triads).

7 Rex has no right to operate on LetterboxRoy’s extremities… Indeed! (7)
EXACTLY – Remove the first letter (has no right) from Rex and followed with a three letter word meaning to operate and the outer letters (extremities) from LetterboxRoy.

10 Having eaten last bit of lettuce, RabbitDave hops around like T rex (11)
ABBREVIATED – Put an E (last bit of lettuce) in an anagram (hops around) of RABBIT DAVE

14 Host finishes off wi-fi connection gremlin – one who once blocked Gazza’s access to net? (9)
INNKEEPER – The final letters (finishes off) of the fourth to sixth words of the clue followed by a six letter word for a goalie (one who once blocked Gazza’s access to net).

16/3 Hardy fellow is a kindred spirit of CrypticSue’s, it seems (4,3,7)
JUDE THE OBSCURE – A cryptic definition of a Thomas Hardy character in similar vein to the crypticness of Sue.

18 A chill in the air as one “Chameleon” flees botched court case (7)
MISTRAL – How the setter (one “Chameleon”) might be indicated in a clue removed (flees) from an eight letter word for a botched court case.

19 New Porcia out at last, and it looks like a peach (7)
APRICOT – An anagram (new) of PORCIA followed by the final letter (at last) of out.

20 Dave’s up and getting stuck into new article (1 of 50) (6)
NEVADA – Reverse the DAVE from the clue inside the abbreviation for new and the indefinite article.

23 Having a look at turkey in Grub’s sandwiches (5)
– The answer is hidden (sandwiches) in fifth to seventh words of the clue.

66 comments on “Rookie Corner – 282

  1. Congratulations, Chameleon, that was wonderful! So clever to have got so many themesters in …though not all ;(

    1. Thanks very much! And, sorry… Yours was one of the names I would have liked to find room for. Maybe I’ll do another puzzle like this to rectify all the omissions, or another setter could scoop up the names I missed.

  2. What glorious wonderful fun that was. Amazing to be able to get so many theme names into the clues and into the answers. One of the clues that gave us the biggest laugh was 10d, largely because of the bizarre picture conjured up by the surface reading, but you had us laughing all the way through.
    Many thanks Chameleon, especially for 2d.

    1. Thanks very much! You might be interested to know that for a long time “your” clue was:
      Juicy sources without which Wikipedians may be sadly pained (5)

      I eventually decided that that’d need two anagram indicators to work properly as a subtractive anagram.

      Thanks again. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Very enjoyable and well done on the theme. I look forward with interest to the reactions of those ‘named’ like the 2Kiwis above.
    Outstanding favourite was actually a non-theme answer – 24a!
    Thanks Chameleon – I don’t think you can be classified as a 4a any more.

    1. Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say – sorry if you thought the def of 4a was faulty, though :). For the record, I tried various other hidden answer clues for the 23d slot, and one of them was ‘Dutch and Senf have a couple of pointers (5)’ for HANDS. (I think Kath and Senf, Kath and Silvanus, and Silvanus and Senf for SANDS were also on the cards at various stages). Thanks again.

      1. Oh no, there is nothing wrong with 4a. I was trying to suggest that you are ready for ‘promotion’ to the NTSPP (or similar).

  4. I’ll agree with the first two commenters that this was wonderful fun with some splendid surface readings, particularly the vision conjured up by 10d.

    You do have to read the clue for 16a quite carefully to get the correct nebulous lady – I originally wrote in a different one and when I couldn’t get the occupation of our Monday blogger into 14d, had to have a rethink

    Thanks to Chameleon for the excellent crossword and in advance to Prolixic for the equally excellent review

  5. Great fun indeed – many thanks to Chameleon.
    I wrote the ‘wrong’ lady into 16a and when I’d finished I wondered why Chameleon hadn’t got Jane into that slot – then the penny dropped and I realised that ‘about’ was not being used as a containment indicator.
    I ticked 24a, 26a and (naturally) 14d but top billing has to go to the hilarious 10d.

    1. I thought the same thing, but the penny never dropped on ‘about’. I even checked the name I constructed was known to Google (it is!). I’m wondering whether Prolixic will go for ‘about’ before the fodder. Slightly poetic word order? Otoh, it should have been obvious it was the familiar name, hence what ‘about’ was doing.

  6. This was absolutely brilliant. A perfect tonic for a Monday morning with laughs all the way.

    I did the same as Gazza and originally put in a much more obscure lady’s name for 16a which satisfies both the checking letters and the wordplay if you use “about” as a containment indicator. In view of the theme, I decided to change it to Jane (neither an obscure lady nor an obscure name) but, not being as switched on as Gazza and Chameleon, I assumed that the wordplay was inaccurate – silly me! Thanks, Gazza, for the explanation.

    24a came very close to selection as my favourite, but what else could I pick in the top spot except the wonderful 10d?

    Very well done, Chameleon, and many thanks. Promotion beckons …

  7. Very funny, great job.
    Favourite was 19d, a super clue made even more peachy by the context.
    Could someone give me a hint as to how 15a works? I can see the Prolixic/very productive link, but can’t put it all together.

    1. The NATO Phonetic Alphabet [code] word for X is ….
      Change the X in Prolixic to make the word mean very productive
      Put the letter you used for that change to replace the first letter of the NATO alphabet word and you get a synonym for unravel

        1. Yes, I wondered why it was that particular codeword. I don’t really see the link with the X of Prolixic which is substituted for. I did get it by just accepting what “codeword” must stand for based on the def.

          1. It was intended as “in the same way that (=”as”) Prolixic becomes Prolific (ie through an X–>F substitution), a codeword can become a word for ‘to unravel'”, so there’s no implicit link between Prolixic and X-Ray. In the same way that “As deity becomes canine, limb becomes setter” could mean “As GOD becomes DOG, LEG becomes GEL”. It’s tricky, but I thought the instructions would be quite precise and clear once read in the right way. But maybe not!

            1. Yes, I understood how it worked but why is that a codeword? Is it just because it’s one of the NATO phonetics? I think when wordplay is tricky like that you have to be extra careful to find good synonyms.

              1. I’ve often seen “codeword” on its own used as the definition for solutions like ECHO, CHARLIE, FOXTROT etc before, so I figured it was an acceptable way to indicate one of them in wordplay too. It’s a lot more generous than the widespread use of “river” or “flower” to indicate one of countless possible rivers, isn’t it? Possibly should have gone for a more direct, X-ray-specific term.

                1. Sounds fair enough when you put it like that. I personally don’t remember seeing ‘codeword’ used that way (but don’t dispute that it has), and hadn’t really thought of the phonetic alphabets consisting of ‘codewords’, though I guess that exactly what they are! The clue does seem to have caused trouble for many, but perhaps they just didn’t see that a substitution was indicated (I did).

            2. Now that you’ve explained it that way, I think it works ok, though I still find the ‘is made to’ a little confusing/awkward. Does the ‘to’ go with ‘unravel’ or with ‘made’. I think you need something equivalent to ‘becomes’; your LEG/GEL example is clear because you have becomes for both parts, but neither ‘is made to’ nor ‘is made’ is an obvious substitute for ‘becomes’. Petty quibbles, though.

              1. Actually, I was thinking the same thing, but held off saying anything. Maybe:

                As Prolixic becomes very productive, codeword changes to ‘unravel’.

                1. For what it’s worth, I was hoping “is made” was equivalent to “becomes”, as in a sentence like “a sad experience is made easier with friends’ support” – with “to” part of the def. But I think strictly speaking that only really works with a mentally inserted “into” after “made”. Well, I’ll certainly be interested to see Prolixic’s take on this one!

  8. Excellent Chameleon – solved with a broad smile :good:
    You’ve clearly not just got the hang of this cryptic lark, you’re having fun with it which is fantastic to see
    A lot to choose from in this quality puzzle but apart from 7a & 22a (naturally) I’ll nominate 26a, 7d, 5d and the wonderful 10d as favourites
    If there are any inaccuracies I was having far too much fun to notice, and how you managed to smoothly incorporate so many themers without making any of the clues stilted or forced is a remarkable feat
    I’m very pleased for you, I know what an achievement this represents

    Very well done and thank you, I’m still smiling…

  9. More than happy to share a name-check with my regular Birthday Bash escort!
    Some of my ticks went to clues that others have mentioned – 26a plus 10&19d but I also added 4&21a to my list.

    Good fun, Chameleon, thank you.

    1. Glad you liked “your” clue, Jane. I used “Cape Town lady” because Dutch’s about section on the Meet the Bloggers page mentions that he was introduced to crosswords by a woman he met at the University of CT – just in case anyone thought the choice of setting was a bit random!

  10. Hi Chameleon,

    This was really good fun to solve, well done indeed.

    Although I’ve tried to make allowances for the constraint of the theme, I do think that there was an over-reliance on using or removing final letters, at one point in the Down clues there were five such instances in the space of seven clues. Admittedly, all were clued differently – big tick for that at least! My other quibbles related to 25a, where I wasn’t convinced by the definition, and 15a, which I felt was something of an unfair, two-step clue. My favourite was 26a.

    This crossword brought back happy memories of a similarly-themed puzzle, “Rookie Regulars” by Sprocker from 2015 (Rookie Corner No. 083). For those that haven’t previously seen it, and even for those that did solve it at the time, it is well worth re-visiting.

    Many thanks, Chameleon, I hope you’ll keep up the good work with your next one.

    1. I meant to say earlier that I discovered Sprocker’s puzzle halfway through setting mine while searching the Rookie archives for useful names. It was great fun.

      Thanks for solving – very glad you enjoyed it even without a personalised clue.

  11. Deliciously entertaining from start to finish and so very clever. Congratulations Chameleon. My top picks are 4A, the wonderful 10D, and 14D but there were several more not far behind.

  12. Wow. What a pile of fun that was. And I can finally say I made it into a clue, I’m humbled and honoured. What a lovely puzzle, Chameleon.

  13. That was fun. Took me a while to parse 16a and I’m stuck on 20d and 26a. I wanted “earthy” but it doesn’t work. I’ll look at the hints tomorrow. Thank you CS for recommending this. Being inquisitive, I’d love to know just how many crosswords you do on a daily basis?

    1. You’re almost there with 26a. What might cause a blockage in your personal listening device? As for 20d – your answer is one of the fifty situated across the ‘pond’.
      Obviously only CS can answer your ‘how many puzzles’ question but I reckon it’s phenomenal, particularly if you take into account all the test solves that she undertakes.

        1. Thanks, JB, so was I although I can assure you that Dutch doesn’t agree with many of my conclusions, particularly when it comes to the current Brexit debacle. I hope the clue made him smile if he got to see it – I think he’s on unpaid leave at the moment.

  14. I loved that. So clever. You will not be a 4a for much longer, I suspect!
    The man in the corner was great – I haven’t seen that used before. I also enjoyed the one who blocked Gazza’s access to the net.
    I agree that 15a is a bit too tricky – I biffed it and relied on CS’s explanation above.
    Great fun!
    Please keep them coming.

  15. The review will be delayed until Tuesday evening. I am off to the Mamma Mia party at the O2 and did not have time to prepare the review before leaving.

  16. Hi Chameleon,

    Bit late solving today …

    Great fun – thank you for the enjoyable solve! Loads of good clues but if I had to pick a couple then 14d and 10d were particularly witty! As an aside, I too fell for the ‘trap’ at 16a that appears to have caught a fair few people here.

    Just the right mix of clue accuracy and image-creating surfaces. Hard to describe that as the work of a Rookie – well done & Thanks again!


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Encota. I did briefly consider something like “Accept Enkota’s spelled wrong! (4,2)” for 1 across, but thought that was a step too far.

  17. Many thanks to those who have commented for the kind comments and for giving the puzzle a try at all. I’ll look forward to hearing Prolixic’s thoughts after Mamma Mia.

    (Incidentally, the third puzzle I posted online had an ABBA theme, but I’m not how many of those early clues would pass muster now…)

  18. Nicely done Chameleon, well impressed with the number of theme references (though I think they took you too far in the case of 20 and 26). Particular faves 2,10,14 and 24.
    Still can’t parse 15 but I’ll give it to the end of the day.

    1. PS
      Had JENA for 16ac, but that’s not the usual spelling – can you change ‘lady’ to ‘battle’ please?

    2. Got 15 eventually, the wording doesn’t quite work for me.
      ‘What makes Prolixic very productive, making inner image unravel’ ?

  19. Magician-like dexterity on display here, and the author no 4a. Thoroughly enjoyable and very solvable. Almost too many good clues to mention, but I’ve noted 4a, 12a, 21a, 6d, 10d, 14d, 16/3d and 19d. Also like that 2 was Kiwis (2Kiwis). I actually liked the Whynot answer better than the clue, because I don’t recognise the ‘Rite’ reference. Is it an opera? I thought of another clue with the same definition but a more familiar (to me) reference:

    In the interval, essay voicing Antony as a common man

    Many thanks, Chameleon. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

    1. Very glad you enjoyed it, Whynot. I had the Rites of Spring in mind for that clue. An earlier clue there was something like “Interval’s somehow ‘tonier’ having brought Whynot’s finale on board (7)”. Very glad the significant clue number for the Kiwis answer was picked up on, as it was quite a challenge to rig the grid so that that’d work. I nicked the idea from a puzzle Arachne did in honour of Fifteensquared’s Eileen, where SQUARED was at 15 across.

      1. I thought it was worth pointing out the 2 KIWIS since no-one else had. I remember Arachne’s puzzle well: a tribute to Eileen on her 80th birthday, I believe, with SQUARED entered at 15.

  20. Great fun, with particular favourites being 5d (Void and Gonzo’s clue), 7d (LbR’s clue), 10d (RD’s clue) and 14d (Gazza’s clue). Nice to be included, too. :)

    Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t give Jane her rightful place at first. Sorry Jane! It took a while to parse 15a (Prolixic’s clue) too.

    Thanks and very well done to Chameleon and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  21. Loved this puzzle. Very clever, just the right difficulty level for me. Like a couple of others I also had ‘Jena’ as an answer – sorry Jane! I also could not parse 15a. Looking forward to NTSPP fare from Chameleon, I think!

  22. Ho hum – I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that I got overlooked by many when it came to 16a. I shall blame it on Chameleon’s sneaky use of ‘ about’ because you all surely know of Lady Jane as immortalised by The Rolling Stones, not to mention Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England – even though she only reigned for nine days!

    1. Not to mention Jane Austen! Sense and Sensibility was simply “By A Lady” in the first edition.

      1. Quite right, I had forgotten! I shall add that one to my list of ‘super Janes’ – I spent so many years suffering the ‘plain Jane’ taunts of primary school that I’ve always felt the need to stick up for Janes. As chance would have it, my younger daughter has married a man from one of the oldest IOW families – his surname is Janes!

  23. I meant to comment yesterday but forgot. Congratulations on a very entertaining puzzle. I don’t think you’ll be a 4a for long. Hard to choose a favourite from a long list including 4a, 8a, 15a, 21a, 25a, 14d and 20d.

  24. I think Maskarade used Guardian setters in a similar way for one of his double Bank Holiday specials in the Guardian, and so did solver, 15² commenter and one-time Rookie AlanB (Browne) in a couple of very good puzzles he once brought to an S&B. You can find them here:

  25. Being a night owl for some reason! Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and for finally convincing me that the dreaded commentometer can score someone a zero – well done, indeed, Chameleon.

    By the way, Prolixic, I laughed at the thought of a cold being brought into the 24a family! Hope you enjoyed your evening at the O2.

  26. Thanks very much, Prolixic. I never would have expected a zero. Thanks for the lenience on that pesky “last”…if only I’d spotted it in time I could have used “bottom” for the lettuce.

    Thanks to all solvers and commenters. For more on a similar theme, I really recommend the Sprocker and AlanB puzzles mentioned by other commenters above. I’d love to see another rookie have a go at this idea but with all the regular commenters Sprocker and I didn’t find room for.


  27. Very clever, all the wordplay with the setters names. The one I liked most, though, was one of the others, viz, 26a – amusing, devious double definition.

  28. Thanks, Chameleon — and congratulations on being honoured in yesterday’s Toughie!

    This is the first Rookie puzzle I’ve completed without any hints (though I had seen some comments first, so I was aware of the theme in general and a few specific points). You are so clever! It’s great when the result of a setter’s abilities is such fun surface readings and incredible theming, rather than too-difficult clues.

    Thank you to the early commenters who made this sound fun. I usually look at Rookie corner, but only attempt the puzzle if it sounds enjoyable and not too hard.

    I do, however, always read Prolixic’s critique, to pick up useful information on clue-writing. As such, this crossword, with a commentometer of 0%, was a complete failure!

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