Rookie Corner 380 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 380

A Puzzle by Amoeba

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another debutant today. 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.

Welcome to Amoeba.  This was a strong, promising debut crossword.  There were no major issues with the clues other than a slight tendency to repeat wordplay indicators.  Some of the longer clues became somewhat nonsensical as sentences in their own right but polished surface readings come with more practice.  Commenting on some of the points in the blog, I would say that the use of italics is fine.  It works best in clues like 22d where you are referencing a well known title.  Perhaps 4 italicised phrases was over-egging it .  The German theme worked for me with only 10a being a step too far in requiring the solver to know German words.

The commentometer reads as 3.5/30 or 11.7%.


1 Task German man’s lost husband with asking nudists directions to begin with (6)
ERRAND – The German for a man without (lost) the abbreviation for husband followed by the initial letters (to being with) of the seventh to ninth words of the clue.

5 Republican boarding train after offences – fundamentally that’s trespass (8)
ENCROACH – The abbreviation for Republican inside (boarding) a five-letter word for a train all after the central letters (fundamentally) of offences.

9 Amoeba admitted to mixing up a lilac for another flower (8)
CAMELLIA – A two-letter word for the setter (Amoeba) inside (admitted to) an anagram (mixing up) of A LILAC.

10 Routine from Rudi’s wingers leading to Leverkusen’s raucous comeback (6)
RITUAL – The outer letters (wingers) of RUDI followed by the German word (Leverkusen) for raucous reversed (making a comeback).    I think that requiring the solver to know the German word for raucous is asking too much.

11 Article in German by right-winger from secessionist parliament (4)
DIET – One of the German words for “the” followed by the right most word (winger) of secessionist.  Take care not to repeat wordplay indicators such as winger, used in 10a as well.

12 Smell sour, rotten article of Nancy’s, cut in stereotypically German manner? (10)
HUMOURLESS – A three-letter word for a smell followed by an anagram (rotten) of SOUR with the French plural word (Nancy’s) for “the” included (cut in).

13 Hot German treat missing essential ingredient (6)
STOLEN – A rich type of German cake without the central letter (missing essential ingredient).

14 A bite to eat in Kentish Town? (8)
SANDWICH – Double definition for a bite to eat and a town in Kent.

16 Stealing funny bits! (8)
GENITALS – An anagram (funny) of STEALING.

20 Half-German, and German upbringing, perhaps? (6)
GERUND – Half of the word German followed by the German word for “and”.

23 Religious leader‘s strange rites after publicity on the radio (4,6)
HIGH PRIEST – An anagram (strange) of RITES after a homophone (on the radio) of HYPE (publicity).  After has been used as charade indicator in 5a.

25 Perhaps Goethe discarded an original idea? (4)
GERM – The nationality of Goethe without the AN from the clue.

26 Capital philosopher (6)
BERLIN – Double definition for the capital of German and the name of a philosopher.

27 Popular first part to play, On Sloth (8)
INACTION – A two-letter word meaning popular followed by a phrase (3,1) for the first part of a play and the ON from the clue.

28 Make out with beautiful people? Cheers! (8)
HEARTENS – A four-letter word meaning make out followed by a four-letter word for beautiful people.  I cannot find the word for beautiful people required by the solution in the main UK dictionaries.  Setters should try to use only words defined in one of the main ones.

29 Most Sensible Soccer aficionados need extremely strong thumbs, for starters (6)
SANEST -The initial letters (for starters) of the third to ninth words of the clue.


2 Perhaps like Dickens, German is following Spanish royal (7)
REALIST – The German word for is after (following) the Spanish word for royal.

3 Encouraging con’s a gamble supported by endless white powder (7)
ABETTAL – The A from the clue followed by a three-letter word for a bet and a four-letter word for a white bathroom powder without the final letter (endless).

4 Spring festival in helipad disaster (9)
DELPHINIA – An anagram (disaster) of IN HELIPAD.  Perhaps some indication that this is an ancient festival would be fairer.

5 Dutch philosopher‘s calculations are rejected (7)
ERASMUS – A reversal (rejected) of a four-letter word for calculations and the ARE from the clue.

6 Prufrock headed north to protect island (5)
CORFU – The answer is hidden (to protect`) and reversed (headed north).  Where possible, try to keep clues in the present tense.  Prufrock heading north is protecting island.

7 Dead beast’s thrown up discharge (7)
OUTFLOW – A three-letter word meaning dead followed by a reversal (thrown up) of a four-letter word for a pack animal.  I am not sure that the first three letters are an exact synonym for dead.

8 Traditional lesson I followed in German (mostly) (7)
CLASSIC – A five-letter word for a lesson followed by the German word for I without the final letter (mostly).  Following has been used as a charade indicator in 2d.

15 Things that help you sleep better in dark times? (9)
NIGHTCAPS – A three-letter word word meaning out better or outdo inside a six-letter word for dark times of the day.

17 Not a good look? (4,3)
EVIL EYE – Cryptic definition of an baleful look.

18 Perhaps he inspires Obama, but not Clinton! (7)
INHALER – Cryptic definition.

19 Familiar right-wing magazine’s half-heartedly kind (7)
SPECIES – The familiar name for the Spectator magazine with the central letter removed (half-heartedly).

21 Topless resort? Hell yeah! (5,2)
RIGHT ON – Remove the first letter (topless) of a South coast beach resort.

22 Like A Virgin’s performance regularly endears you to the French (7)
NERVOUS – The even letters (regularly) of endears followed by the French plural for you.

24 Reach Germany, but setter’s lost at sea (5)
RANGE – An anagram (at sea) of GERMANY after removing the two-letter word meaning the setter’s.

49 comments on “Rookie Corner 380

  1. A puzzle of two halves most of the top half went in quite quickly and then I slowed down for the rest. I was intrigued by the ‘Germanic’ content in its various guises but perhaps it might have been ‘overdone.’

    Some specific comments:

    16a – Oh dear, for me, the less said the better.
    23a – I am not sure that the homophone element quite works.
    27a and 29a (for example) – I am not sure that I understand the need for italicisation within the clue.
    6d – ‘protecting’ rather than ‘to protect’ might have been a better lurker indicator.

    Overall, an enjoyable first effort. Please take note of what the real experts say in their comments and Prolixic in his review.

  2. Welcome to Rookie Corner Amoeba

    Like Senf I found this a puzzle of two halves – the top is a lot friendlier than the bottom. I have ? by four clues where I’m not entirely sure how I got to the solution. Unlike Senf, I thought the italicisation worked as both possibly the name of a play in 27a and a magazine in 29a. I thought your shorter simpler clues worked better than the wordier ones

    Take note of what Prolixic has to say in the review and I look forward to your second appearance here in due course

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Amoeba. This is a promising debut and I enjoyed the solve which, as Senf says, was more challenging in the bottom half than the top.

    I think you have used far too many foreign words, mostly German. However, your several different uses of German are inventive and presumably intended as theme. Nevertheless, I would advise Rookie setters to steer clear of gimmicks like themes until the basics have been honed.

    Not uncommonly for Rookies, some of your surface readings, particularly for your longer clues, fail the “Would this make sense if I overheard it in the pub?” criterion. This is something which will come with practice and the help of a test solver. More brevity will also help, and don’t be reluctant to rethink a clue entirely if it doesn’t quite make sense.

    Regarding Senf’s comment about italicisations, these are used to indicate a specific name of something like a book, a song or a play. So for me, Sensible Soccer (after a Googling search) is fine but I can’t find anything obvious to suggest that On Sloth and Capital are OK. I’m not sure about Like A Virgin as you have added ‘S to the song title and so I will be interested to learn Prolixic’s opinion of this.

    I don’t think “dead” is synonymous with “out” in 7d, and I can’t fully parse 19d. I can only think there must be a familiar term for The Spectator which I am not familiar with.

    There was a lot to like here and my top three clues were 14a, 15d & 18d.

    Well done and thank you, Amoeba. I look forward to your next submission. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. RD, The Spectator is commonly referred to as the “Speccie”; Capital continues the German theme, intended misdirection for a famous German philosopher’s work

      1. Thanks, Fez. At least I was on the right track with The Spectator but I couldn’t find anything with a quick look on Google. I did think about Das Kapital for 26a but ruled it out as you need to translate the name and drop the definite article.

        1. It’s unfortunate that, in the sense intended, an untranslated Das Kapital wouldn’t have worked (I think the term would be Hauptstadt?) – however, in translation the definite article is (necessarily) dropped as a matter of course, so I do think it’s still fair (particularly as solvers are already being encouraged to ‘think German’).

    2. hi Rabbit Dave – your point about themes and gimmicks is interesting.

      I think I’d previously have agreed, and did often wonder why Rookie Corner seemed to attract so many themed attempts as it would seem that’s adding an extra layer of difficulty for an inexperienced setter.

      But in my own experience, I then found that it really helped to have ‘something’ to base a puzzle around: as a starting point for putting a grid together, as something to focus on if/when having trouble with a particular clue; and, as an additional motivation. As a result both my Rookie offerings have been themed (one obviously, the other more subtly/self-indulgently), as are several other of my early attempts.

      Now that I’ve built up a bit more knowledge/confidence, I’m writing more ‘plain’ puzzles – based around particular words where I’ve (hopefully!) come up with a nice clue, but that didn’t fit into previous puzzles for whatever reason (too many clues of same type, repetition of indicators, a change to the grid, etc). With a little stock of clues I can build a grid based around these that still feels somehow ‘personal’ and therefore satisfying to compile.

      So I think the use of themes/gimmicks might perhaps be expected for Rookies, possibly even encouraged (and at worst, ‘tolerated’ or ‘forgiven’!) as they do provide that extra impetus to get setting.

      Anyway just a thought – and whilst I’m here I should thank you for your always detailed and constructive comments in the Corner – you’ve certainly helped me a great deal!

      1. I think that is a very interesting comment, Fez, and one that I agree with from my own experience. I attracted some criticism for giving myself the extra constraints of a ghost theme (plus pangram) in my Rookie debut but I didn’t really feel that these things hindered the setting challenge materially. As you say, it can add focus and motivation. My problems were more down to inexperience in clueing and I’m sure that if I created a new set of clues for precisely the same grid given the benefit of the feedback I received then (plus subsequent experience and test solver mentoring) I could make a much better job of it. I do think that theming is something of a personal taste and (as with linked clues) it’s possible that it can provide more amusement and satisfaction to the setter than the solver, which is something we setters should be mindful of.

        Anyway, back to Amoeba’s puzzle. I felt that the German theme in this case added to the fun overall – it was just about at the level of what I can remember from German ‘O’ Level 40 years ago! I thought this was an impressive and promising debut with some well-disguised definitions and generally sound surfaces, whilst agreeing with previous comments about the length of some of the clues and the difficulty of some in the bottom half. I had no complaints about the marmite clue (16A), which tickled my childish sense of humour. I also didn’t object to the italicisation, which I see in the same light as capitalisation and grammar, i.e. legitimate tools of deception. Thanks, Amoeba, and congratulations.

  4. Welcome to the Rookie club, Amoeba.
    I was rather put off by the first clue which seemed clunky and not very meaningful but after that I thought the puzzle got better and I enjoyed it.
    The German theme worked rather well I thought.
    My podium selections were 20a, 28a and 21d.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

  5. Thanks Amoeba, I enjoyed that a lot. For me, your least successful clues were all in the first half-dozen or so … I wonder if this might influence people’s overall opinion – I hope not, because from then on, the quality was much better with some really excellent touches. Thanks in advance to Prolixic for review.

    I did think the German theme was either slightly over- or slightly under-done … 11 (out of 30) Germanic clues – too many to be just a light touch, too few to be a really satisfying pervasive theme (given that these were clues, rather than entries – 11 thematic entries would be fine!) There were a couple of ‘Private Eye’ style clues that might raise eyebrows – 16a was LOL for me, 22d I also enjoyed although a less smooth surface, 21d another good’un (although the phrase, in that sense, is American so perhaps this should’ve been indicated).

    So those “less successful” starting clues? 1a just seemed a bit OTT, there’s probably something more efficient you could’ve done with the “and”; 5a “fundamentally” of course does often refer to something’s core elements, but I’d associate it with the end/bottom when used as wordplay (as opposed to eg “essential”); 10a also a bit long – a better surface if you know Herr Völler, however relies on a perhaps unfamiliar foreign word (I guess easy enough to work out, but not in the same vein as der, die, das, etc); 12a a really nice precise technical construction, but the surface doesn’t quite come off. (9a across was OK, and 11a I thought was great :-))

    Beyond that things really picked up and there were lots of ticks – 13a, 14a, 20a, 23a (I thought the homophone worked well), 26a, 28a (a real head-scratcher and PDM for me), 29a (although again appreciation of the surface needs ‘specialist’ knowledge, for me this was a nice blast from the past!), 2d, 8d, 17d, 24d. My overall favourite, though, was 5d.

    Thanks again, looking forward to further Amoeba puzzles!

  6. Welcome, Amoeba.

    A very promising debut, unlike others I didn’t find the bottom half to be significantly more challenging, just a couple in the SW corner needed a little more teasing out.

    I thought the German theme was very clever, but I wasn’t sure that 10a was fair to solvers unfamiliar with the language, who would probably need a language dictionary (or Google) to help them. I felt that the other themed constructions were fine, as they crop up frequently in cryptics, but having “article in German” and “article of Nancy’s” in successive clues wasn’t great. I don’t like “fundamentally” as a middle letter selection device, as to me it is more suggestive of the base or bottom of something than the centre. “Follow” was repeated in 2d and 8d as an indicator, as was “after” in 5a and 23a, and the verb in 6d would be better in the present tense, but all these are mostly minor points. I had several ticks on my printed page, I particularly liked 9a, 11a and 13a.

    Congratulations on a well-constructed debut puzzle, Amoeba. Many thanks.

  7. Thank you, Amoeba. We really enjoyed this puzzle and managed well until we arrived at the SW corner, specifically 18d, 19d, 24d and 28a, which we haven’t yet completely parsed and need some input from Prolixic. Our favourites were 13a, 20a, 27a and 21d. We look forward to your next puzzle.

  8. Welcome to the corner, Amoeba. I did approach this one with a sense of dread as my knowledge of German could be written on a postage stamp but in the event I think I sorted it all out with the exception of a couple of bits of parsing that await Prolixic’s review tomorrow.
    Not keen on 16a (but each to their own) and there did seem to be too many ‘wingers’ involved but there were also some goodies of which 17d was my favourite.
    Take careful note of what Prolixic has to say and we’ll hopefully see you back again ‘ere long.

  9. Approached with a similar sense of dread as Jane – my German would occupy a smaller section of that stamp than her’s would I’ll wager. Like Gazza the first clue almost put me off but must say I really enjoyed it & didn’t think the theme overdone in the least. Predictably there are 1 or 2 I can’t parse but reckon I’ve twigged most. Both 16a&22d made me smile so no complaints there. Plenty of big ticks for me – 12,13,14,20,23,27&28a plus 7,17,18,21&22d. Favourite was, predictably for me, the coincidentally topical 14a. I’ll look forward to your next puzzle. Thanks Amoeba.
    Ps if I’m parsing it correctly 28a reminded me of the appalling Blake Edwards movie that propelled Dud to movie stardom & left Pete very jealous drinking himself silly in Hampstead.

  10. Thank you everyone for the welcome, and the thoughtful and constructive comments – I look forward to more, as well as Prolixic’s review. Plenty to think about already, and plenty I instinctively agree with, particularly about the wordier clues not quite landing.

    The italicisations are part misdirection (e.g. 22a) and part just for slightly more pleasant surfaces when referring to a magazine, song, or book etc.

    As it happens I am not, by nature, a theme-y setter; this was originally produced for my dad, who is a retired MFL teacher, and contrary to Fez’s thinking I finally felt confident enough to add a bit of a theme (I agree 10a is a little nasty for a generalist audience). Should I be allowed back, my next puzzle is very unlikely to be themed!

    1. Good to hear from you, Amoeba.

      Regarding italicisations, I don’t know for sure but I imagine that, as a device intended to show the title of a book or film, etc., false use would not be allowed. For your four examples, my thoughts/questions are:

      26a – is it OK to translate “Das Kapital” to “Capital”?
      27a – does “On Sloth” actually exist as an entity?
      29a – this is fine. Although I wasn’t aware of it, Google tells me that “Sensible Soccer” is a video game.
      22d – I suspect that the ‘S will rule out the use of italics.

      Hopefully Prolixic will clarify 26a & 22d in his review.

      And yes, of course, you will be warmly welcomed back!

      1. Thank you Dave!

        I have to admit I didn’t consider italics as being a problem when creating the puzzle & wouldn’t instinctively rail against them as a solver. The primary reason was for surface smoothness (in the same way some newspaper/magazine house styles would be to italicise the name of a publication or song etc) with the misdirection an added bonus. But come to think of it I don’t remember seeing them often if at all in published ones, so am happy to be warned off them in future.

        26a – The Encyclopedia Britannica gives its English translation as just ‘Capital’:
        27a – No, that’s a pure invention on my part, and a little weak as a result
        29a – Slightly before my time, but yep!
        22d – Interesting. Thinking about it now, if there is an issue with italics I would have expected the rule to be ‘You should not part-italicise a definition’ (which I’ve done in 22d and 29a) and/or ‘You should not italicise beyond the definition’ (which I’ve done in 27a). If you’re talking about ‘A performance of the Madonna song’ then the apostrophe & s can’t be italicised, as they don’t form part of the song title. But you could easily avoid italics altogether, of course, and just rely on capitalisation for a similar effect as I’ve gone for.

        I hope that’s somewhat coherent in this stifling heat!

        1. Using italics for real or made-up books, films, shows, songs, etc. has been a regular feature since I started solving cryptic puzzles in 1970. So no problems from where I’m sitting.

  11. A couple of niggles but I thought this was good on the whole
    Couple of rounds with Prolixic and I think you’ll get there pretty quick
    Well done and thanks for the entertainment

  12. Hi Amoeba
    No point in me repeating what others have said, but overall I liked the moments of humour and, having a degree in German, I quite liked the theme, especially as the variety of uses led to some nice misdirection. On the other hand, I was glad of a degree in German, because I felt the theme could have made the puzzle inaccessible for some and 10a definitely steps over the line, I feel.
    Almost all my ticks went to some of your less wordy clues (14a, 16a, 15d, 17d, 18d, 21d, and 22d, though I feel the latter needs a ? and would be better without ‘performance’) . When I got to 14a I wrote a big YES, such was my relief to not have to face another clue with all the manufactured weight of the industrial Ruhr upon it (sticking to the theme!). A few of the surfaces, while not nonsensical, made for uncomfortable, heavy reading and seem forced (eg,1a, 10a, 12a, 3d). Pay heed to RD’s pub test and great advice not to “be reluctant to rethink a clue entirely” if it feels a bit like a square peg in a round hole.
    BTW I am happy with italics being used to enable a surface, whether the work suggested is real or not, as long as a really good surface justifies it. After all, why can’t a work of fiction be fictitious? (Prolixic may disagree!)
    But overall your efforts merit ending on a positive note – it was fun, it was challenging, it was creative, it was progress. Good on you!

  13. As usual, I’ve not read through other people’s comments so there may be some duplication. These are just a few comments without, I hope, going into too much detail.
    Firstly, the grid: with only two links between top and bottom this was essentially two puzzles, and in top and bottom halves there were only two links between left and right so we had essentially four mini-puzzles. This sort of thing can be very frustrating for solvers, although in this case I didn’t find it too much of a problem.
    Overall, though, this was an enjoyable solve, helped perhaps by knowledge of German although I’m not sure everyone would know the German for ‘raucous’ in 10ac. There were a couple of answers, 19dn and 28ac, I wasn’t sure of as I couldn’t quite see the parsing so I had to check on the website (I usually solve on paper) after I finished.
    12ac put me in mind of a remark attributed to Mark Twain (no, not the one about golf).
    I thought 16ac was a bit cheeky, but none the worse for that. I also liked 13ac, and I thought 20ac was brilliant.
    And you seem to have mastered most of the techniques and avoided most of the pitfalls. I guess this isn’t your first attempt.
    Thanks, Amoeba and in advance to Prolixic whose review I await with interest.

    1. You’re not kidding re raucous. No wonder I didn’t parse it. I was happy to get und…..

  14. Thanks Amoeba I quite enjoyed that.
    I have a full grid but quite a few where I’m not seeing the full picture. Tomorrow will most likely confirm that it’s my lack of skill that is the problem.
    16a is my favorite due to the “penny drop” and chuckle to follow, and thought the homophone at 23a looked unfair at first – but I’ve changed my mind and quite like it now.
    I will watch with interest for your next.

  15. Thanks Amoeba. An excellent puzzle. I enjoyed the theme, my O level German coping with everything except raucous ( I’m surprised you didn’t use a play on umlaut without the hesitation).
    I smiled at the bits, no problem with the hype homophone and use of italics seems fair game to me in a cryptic crossword.
    I look forward to your next one.
    With thanks to Prolixic in anticipation.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which sorted out my queries regarding 10&28a plus 19d – should have remembered about Bo Derek being a ‘ten’ but didn’t know either the German ‘raucous’ or the term for the Spectator. Still not sure about 18d – perhaps Obama is a smoker and Clinton isn’t?

    1. Jane, Bill Clinton famously said that as a young man he smoked pot but did not inhale. Barrack Obama has admitted that he did inhale! Don’t you just love politicians?!

    2. Hi Jane,

      Obama and Clinton both admitted that they’d tried marijuana when younger, but Clinton claimed he had not inhaled, whereas Obama said he had inhaled

      1. Ah, I knew the Clinton not inhaling bit, but not the Obama story. I know which one I believe more!

        1. And Tony Blair, as I recall, claimed that he hadn’t tried marijuana (which, having overlapped his time at Oxford, I frankly don’t believe) but that “if I had done, I would have inhaled”. Blair did have a way with words on occasion.

  17. Quite an enjoyable puzzle, which for me, like others, was a grid of two halves. Thank you, Amoeba, for raising your head above the parapet!

    I was turned off by the German theme, sorry (although I’m no great fan of themed puzzles at the best of times). Having only studied German for 5 terms a good few decades ago, and not even starting the O-level course, I was constrained by the limits of my background general knowledge, so 10a was a bung-in (indeed I thought the T was clued by the ‘leading to’, and had no idea how the ‘ual’ parsed).

    As others have commented, the surface reads need some polishing, 16a would upset and delight folk in equal measure, and “perfect 10s” (if that’s the origin for your use of it?) is questionable for the beautiful people – and I find it quite sexist, even offensive, in this day and age. I’m a subscriber to The Spectator but quite unfamiliar with “Speccie” as being a familiar reference to it. 4d was another bung-in and I agree with whoever suggested above including a reference to it being an ancient festival.

    There were some wonderful clues – loved the homophone in 23a, thought 5d, 6d, and 29a witty and well-constructed, and groaned out loud at 21d. All in all though I found it an enjoyable and impressive debut – thank you for the puzzle.

  18. An enjoyable puzzle. Personally I like themes so long as they don’t completely take over, and for my money the Germania didn’t; it just gave an overall structured feel to the puzzle.
    One or two that were a bit clunky (I am with those who felt that 1a needed a rethink); 10a required a knowledge of German which my O-level of long ago certainly didn’t supply, and as Gordon @15 pointed out, an unhesitating umlaut would have done the job; I barely understand 28a even having had it explained, and there is no way I would have solved it. 19d is probably a colloquialism too far, especially as in the age of the Internet the solver may not be based in the UK.
    But a lot that were very neat – 14a a simple but effective misdirection, as is 26a (I don’t have the least problem with the italics); 16a LOL (and if it offends you make sure you avoid Paul, let alone Cyclops); 22d something Paul would have been happy to have produced; 20a and 5d masterpieces of concise accuracy.
    I am daringly going to take issue with Prolixic about the fairness of 4d. The structure of the clue immediately has the solver looking for an anagram of IN HELIPAD, and although my classics graduate spouse wasn’t familiar with Delphinia, the flower delphinium is sufficiently familiar that you immediately start wondering whether a variant of the name might be the answer.

  19. Thanks to Prolixic for the review, and to those who’ve left comments since my first comment!

    Re: 28a and ‘TENS’ – my reference was a more modern (and hopefully less problematic!) one than ‘Perfect 10s’. People sometimes refer to someone’s attractiveness out of ten, e.g. refer to themselves as ‘a seven’ but someone extremely attractive as ‘a ten’. I assure you it does happen, for members of either sex!

    1. Nice try, Amoeba, but IMO it is really not fair to the solver – way too obscure. You have to be in that world/mindset to have any hope of getting that!

      1. Personally I thought it was innovative and gave a good surface (and a satisfying penny-drop). I don’t think it’s too obscure (see eg – I always regard BRB as ‘ideal’ but don’t think we should have to religiously avoid things just because they’re not in that specific reference), and certainly could be applied to either sex.

        1. This may be part of a much wider conversation, but given that crosswords regularly use somewhat obscure language (e.g. names of flowers, scientific terms, and so on), I think language that might be more familiar to a younger generation than an older one has to be fair game.

          1. I guess if you know the term it seems fair, if you don’t, it doesn’t. No doubting, as Fez says, that is was innovative, which I am all in favour of and until you try, you won’t know! I agree that popular parlance has its place as long as the terms used are very commonly heard. IMO, I don’t think this is (I certainly hope it isn’t!!). Certainly I have never heard it and, more relevantly, neither have my children (26 & 24) in any widespread sense, though one had heard the term being used once, told the person using it what she thought of him and erased it from her mind!

            In the broader discussion I’d agree that dictionary listings can’t always be the sole arbiter of acceptability. For example I once clued IN IT as AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH BRUV. Collins actually has a listing as INNIT so my clue was “wrong” but it is really just a spoken word and I’d question if there is a right or wrong as long as it is phonetically correct. The salient point is that the young say INIT/INNIT (particulary in London), the old moan about their sloppy way of speaking, but everyone is aware of it. TENS seems to me to be almost exclusively used by a sector of the young population without wider awareness of it. But that is just an opinion!! Interesting to know what others think.

    2. The 28a reference isn’t all that modern. I can well remember back in the late 60s/early 70s being in a group of young guys in a pub and some dude would pipe up with something like: “Look at that blonde over at the bar – definitely a 10!” Good days, those …

      1. You obviously didn’t watch the 1979 Dudley Moore film ‘Ten’ where his character rated Bo Derek’s character as an 11 out of (the more usual) 10

        1. No, you’re right Sue! All the more puzzling, if it has been around for so long and is widely used, that the dictionaries haven’t picked it up

  20. I was quite impressed by this puzzle — though for me it was a tale of four very separate quadrants. The German theme was amusing and accessible (that said, my PC alarm went off at the German manner stereotype – I’m sure there are some excellent German comics — like Eddie Izzard).

    Agree with crypticsue wrt Bo Derek TEN (though I admit had HEAR,KENS at first assuming anyone born in Kensington must be beautiful — clearly I’m the exception).

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