Rookie Corner – 293 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 293

A Puzzle by Hippogryph

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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.

Sorry Hippogryph, but this is really not the standard of crossword that we expect from our Rookie setters.  There were far too many examples of good surface readings, accurate wordplay, misdirections and attention to detail.  With hardly a hair out of place, I think you would be far better suited to putting your talents to work in the NTSPP.  The commentometer reads at 1/28 or 3.5%

This review was prepared before my foray to a restaurant and any consumption of vin rouge so any miscounting of letters in this review (unlike Saturday’s NTSPP) is down to my usual (as opposed to wine-induced) incompetence!


1 Spooner’s potentially hazardous gardening technique is amazing! (11)
MINDBLOWING – A Spoonerism of Blind Mowing (hazardous gardening technique).  According to Chambers, Collins and the OED, the enumeration of the answer should be 4-7.

9 One hesitates about going back to western state (7)
WAVERER – The two letter word meaning about is reversed (going back) beside (to) the abbreviation for Western and a four letter word meaning state or declare.  Rather like A on B meaning B followed by A, I think that A to (or beside) B can made B followed by A.

10 Three times thirty? (7)
TRIPLEX – A written description of XXX (thirty in Roman numerals)

11 Crazy reloading endlessly after using first of bullets from ammo belt (9)
BANDOLIER – An anagram (crazily) of RELOADING after removing the last letter (endlessly) and adding the first letter in bullets.   Wordplay from definition does not work.  First of bullets in… would have been much better.

12 Trip to a higher place precedes death? (5)
UPEND – A two letter word meaning to a higher place followed by a three letter word meaning death.

13 Job rotation in Denmark’s a trial (4)
TASK – The answer is hidden and reversed (rotation in) in the last three words of the clue.

14 Deep-sounding owl flicked tail to head, quietly irritated. (3- 7)
LOW-PITCHED – The “owl” from the clue with the last letter moved to the front (flicked tail to head) followed by the musical abbreviation for quiet and a six letter word meaning irritated.

16 Two US states are restricted by licence to provide senior accommodation (6,4)
GRANNY FLAT – A five letter word for a licence around the abbreviations for New York and Florida and are (as in the unit of area).

19 Crack picture game (4)
SNAP – Triple definition of another word for crack or break, a photograph or picture and a card game.

21 Slow movement of fabulous ship on lake (5)
LARGO – The abbreviation for lake followed by the name of the ship used by Jason and the Argonauts.

22 Extremely poor behaviour of dishevelled tailors in Manhattan after vacation (6,3)
MORTAL SIN – An anagram (dishevelled) of TAILORS IN MN (the outer letters – after vacation – of Manhattan).

24 King Charles perhaps explains mix up having lost the vote (7)
SPANIEL – An anagram (mix up) of EXPLAINS after removing the X (having lost the vote)

25 Deprived children found in Orleans once Polish extremists displace the French (7)
ORPHANS – Remove the French masculine form of the from Orleans and replace with the outer letters (extremists) of Polish.

26 Rub out complex term in a technical abstract (11)
EXTERMINATE – The answer is hidden in (abstract) the third to seventh words of the clue.


1 Magicians strove excitedly to create transport machine (6,9)

2 US agent ran climbing business (5)
NARCO – Reverse (climbing) the “ran” from the clue and follow with the abbreviation for company.  Perhaps organised climbing business might have added an additional layer of complexity for the solver here.

3 Donkey without appeal could be on the menu? (7)
BURRITO – A five letter word (originally Spanish) for a donkey around (without) a two letter word for appeal.

4 Sudden emergence of leaders from Oxford University tragically cut short (7)
OUTCROP – The initial letters of Oxford University tragically followed by a four letter word meaning cut short.

5 Gross injustice in variable housing – I resign! (8)
INIQUITY– The IN from the clue and a letter representing an algebraic variable includes the I from the clue and a four letter word meaning resign.

6 Midas touch gained at the end of career? (6,9)
GOLDEN HANDSHAKE – Cryptic definition of a remuneration package give to a person who leaves a job.

7 Inferior Bostonian old boy taken in by fool (3-3)
TWO-BIT – The abbreviation for old boy inside (taken in by) a four letter word for a fool.  Bostonian indicates that the solution is an American term.

8 Banned, docked one hundred pounds, and discharged (6)
EXUDED – An eight letter word mean banned with the abbreviations for one hundred and pounds removed (docked).

15 Pro UK American President loses heart visiting Scottish Island (8)
UNIONIST – The surname of the US president involved in the Watergate scandal without its middle letter (loses heart) inside (visiting) a four letter word for a Scottish island.   The island is North or South Uist.  Together the islands (plural) can be referred to as Uist.

16 Goals smashed with hard boot covering (6)
GALOSH – An anagram (smashed) of GOALS H (hard)

17 Female Cockney’s less arrogant – unlikely to be a keeper (7)
FUMBLER – The abbreviation for female followed by a word meaning less arrogant without the H (cockney).

18 Theoretically, brother’s head is in excellent condition (1,6)
A PRIORI – The name for the head of a monastery inside a two letter word meaning in excellent condition.

20 Like wordplay with only one noun? That’s fine (6)
PUNISH – A word meaning like a pun (wordplay) with only one N (noun)

23 Being the most powerful, gallop ahead regularly (5)
ALPHA – The even letters in the fifth and six words of the clue.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner – 293

  1. We were very slow getting started but once we were underway it all flowed smoothly until we had a real log-jam in the NE corner with 10a and consequently 8d.
    Eventually got it all sorted.
    High quality clues throughout so hard to pick a favourite but we’ll be controversial and nominate the 1a Spoonerism along with the two that gave us the biggest fight, 10a and 8d.
    Thanks Hippogryph.

  2. I thought this was a top quality puzzle – nicely challenging and very enjoyable with accurate cluing and smooth surfaces throughout. My only concern was that at first I couldn’t see a clue for 23d on the PDF version of the puzzle; then I found it on page 2!

    Initially I thought there was an unclued “A” in 18a but on checking my BRB I see it gives both FL and FLA as abbreviations for Florida.

    Fighting it out for top spot were 1a, 10a & 26a.

    Thank you and well done, Hippogryph. Promotion surely beckons.

    1. Thanks RD – I’m really glad that you enjoyed it. Sorry about 23d spilling over – I don’t know what happened there?? On the additional “A” my intent was to go with the more common abbreviation of FL for Florida with the A being provide by ARE (as in the unit of area which is abbreviated to A). Thanks again for the positive feedback

  3. Thanks Hippogryph
    Very good, everything in the right places. 1a pick of the bunch, also liked 1d and 20d.

  4. A good crossword without too much head-scratching involved – my biggest grump was not realising that when I printed it off, the clue for 23d would appear on a piece of paper all on its own.

    Thanks to Hippogryph and, in advance, to our Man having a nice time in the South of France

    1. CS – 23d on one piece of paper, once turned over, has become drawing paper for Henry aged 3¼ years (as do all my print outs when completed).

  5. A top class puzzle that would not be out of place in a broadsheet newspaper – I thought that this was excellent and pitched at just the right level with smooth surfaces and clever misdirections.
    I remember that my attempt to clue the “Scottish Island” in 15d as a single island a long time ago was criticised on the basis that it’s only an island if preceded by North or South.
    I have many ticks on my printout – I’ll just mention 1a, 26a, 8d and 17d.

  6. I agree, a very good puzzle crafted with attention to detail and a good few penny-drop moments
    Plenty of candidates for top spot, so I’ll just say very well done for producing a puzzle of such a high standard overall
    Thanks Hippogryph

  7. Welcome back, Hippogryph.

    Certainly your best puzzle to date in my opinion, well-constructed, a good balance of different clue types, and just the right level of difficulty.

    Only a couple of things jarred for me, firstly 11a is an example of “wordplay from definition” when it should normally be the other way round, and secondly the construction of 9a appears incomplete, i.e. I don’t see any instruction to the solver that “western state” should come first. Overall though, an extremely enjoyable solve and it’s good to see such continued progress. My ticks went to 1a, 21a, 6d, 17d and 20d.

    Many thanks and well done indeed, Hippogryph.

  8. More than happy to join in the praise. Well done, Hippogryph. 1A, when I finally got it, is my top pick. One or two things…I don’t see what Bostonian hs to do with 7D and I’m familiar with the 4-letter abbreviation for 2D but not with the answer.

  9. Enjoyed this one very much – just got held up slightly by 10a & 8d which I see were also the problems for 2Ks.
    Not sure that the definition in 22a really equates to the answer and likewise the ‘touch’ in 6d but that’s just nit-picking.

    I particularly liked the hidden 26a (although the first read through frightened me no end!) along with 14&16a.
    Well done indeed, Hippogryph.

  10. Classy! Great stuff!! And delightful surfaces such as these are always a pleasure!
    And my only thought whilst solving has already been made by Gazza (re. North & South).

    This wouldn’t be out of place in many of the national cryptic dailies.

    Well done!


  11. Hi Hippogryph,
    I rattled through this one quite quickly (for me), getting quite a few straight from the definition. Perhaps I’m just on your wavelength. Never thought of 16d in the singular before. Favourites were 1a, 10, 20, 18. Good stuff.

  12. A pretty good one. Maybe no really mind-blowing clues, but a highish standard throughout, and good variety (the only thing is, I can’t quite figure out how the bits of 10a fit together). My favourites were 19a (good triple def) and 8d (nice surface reading).

  13. Tackled on-line – so no problem with printing 23dn – and found it a pleasant way to while away a train journey. Prolixic may pick up a few fine details but I didn’t find anything to make adverse comment on. In fact I’d expect to see Hippogriph’s next puzzle as a NTSPP.

  14. Very good puzzle. A couple perhaps where the definition is by example and unindicated, a couple of dodgy link words, but some lovely surfaces. Thanks Hippogryph.

  15. Really enjoyed this.
    Loved the Spooner.
    Thought the second word in 6d was Parachute… Had it been a touch down!
    That slowed me down a bit but soon corrected once I met Miffypops only friends in 25a.
    Thanks to Hippogryph for the fun.

  16. Thanks everyone for your favourable comments and encouragement – I’m really glad that you all enjoyed this one, and particular thanks to Prolixic for providing the generous comments and review (even before a glass of wine!). A final word of thanks to the keen eyes and patience of my test solvers. Hope to be back soon.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and confirmation of Hippogryph’s readiness to progress to the NTSPP slot, based on the standards of this puzzle.
    Enjoy the vin rouge whilst you can!

  18. I agree with Prolixic and am thinking, ‘Follow that!’ Unfortunately I think there’s a fair chance I might have to :(

  19. An excellent puzzle. Take a bow, Hippogryph!
    Loved the spoonerism and other ticks go to 25a, 26a, 8d, 15d and 20d.
    Promotion surely beckons!

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