Rookie Corner 406 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 406

A Puzzle by Hubble

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prologue. 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.

We are being spoilt at the beginning of this year with some very good Rookie crosswords.  Hubble does not disappoint.  There are some very minor issues but the commentometer reads as 1.5/33 or 4.5%.


9 Unaware old boy has to abide mostly with debts (9)
OBLIVIOUS – The abbreviation for old boy followed by a four-letter word meaning to abide without the last letter (mostly) and a four-letter word meaning debts.

10 Cut grass back towards middle of bank in May, for example (5)
WOMAN – A three-letter word meaning to cut grass reversed (back) followed by the middle letters of bank.  A minor point: towards may not be the best charade indicator here.  I would have preferred something like next to middle of bank.  However, towards can mean near as we are getting towards a solution so it is just about ok.

11 Sign up first of recruits caught by one in revolt (5)
ENROL – The first letter of recruits inside (caught by) a reversal (in revolt) of a four-letter word meaning one.

12 Quotes about boy and father’s youthful innocence (5,4)
SALAD DAYS – A four-letter word meaning quotes or utters around (about) a three-letter word for a boy and a two-letter word for a father.

13 Bond arresting individual in private say (7)
SOLDIER – A six-letter word meaning to form a bond around the letter representing an individual.

14 Row involving a knight good for city (7)
TANGIER – A four-letter word for a row or level around (involving) the A from the clue and the abbreviations for knight and good.

17 Getting worried, doctor attempted to create issue (5)
MATED – An insertion (getting) of a three-letter word meaning worried into a two-letter abbreviation for a doctor. I am not a fan of getting implying containment in a crossword clue as I do not thing it implies the inclusion of one part of the clue in another.

19 Dimwit nearly returning to school (3)
POD – A four-letter word for a dimwit with the final letter removed (nearly) and reversed (returning).

20 Drink whisky for large bet (5)
WAGER – A five-letter word for an alcoholic drink with the L (large) replaced by a W (Whisky).  When used in the NATO phonetic alphabet, the correct spelling is Whiskey.

21 Solo Scandinavian dismissing a guide from maze (7)
ARIADNE – A four-letter word for a solo operatic piece followed by a four-letter word for a Scandinavian without (dismissing) the letter A 

22 Oven in California beside the sea (7)
COASTAL – A four-letter word for an oven inside the three-letter abbreviation of the state of California.

24 Where to eat while training (6,3)
DINING CAR – Cryptic definition of where to eat on a train.

26 Each first lady on track (5)
EVERY – The name of the first woman named in the bible followed by the abbreviation for railway (track).

28 Material Tiffany longingly clutches (5)
NYLON – The answer is hidden (clutches) inside the second and third rows of the clue.

29 Those in favour announced exercise for visual issue (9)
EYESTRAIN – A homophone (announced) of ayes (those in favour) followed by a five-letter word meaning exercise.


1 Bird took the plunge in America (4)
DOVE – Double definition for the bird of peace and how Americans spell the past tense of dive.

2 Referring to more than one friend swallowing majority of bait (6)
PLURAL – A three-letter word for a friend includes (swelling) a four-letter word for bait without the final letter (majority of).

3 Malicious journalist supporting nasty guard (4-6)
EVIL-MINDED – A two-letter abbreviation for editor (journalist) beneath (supporting) a four-letter word meaning nasty and a four-letter word meaning guard.

4 Tanker bringing old weapons to the Queen (6)
BOWSER – A four-letter word for weapons used by archers followed by the two-letter regnal cipher for the current queen.  I think that the wordplay can bring the definition but am not convinced that the definition is bringing the wordplay.

5 Dealt differently after standards body separated (8)
ISOLATED – The abbreviation for International Organisation for Standardisation followed by an anagram (differently) of DEALT.

6 Had obligation, love, to marry (4)
OWED – The letter representing love or nothing followed by a three-letter word meaning to marry.

7 Setter’s secretary, Heather’s, piercing (8)
IMPALING – A two letter word meaning the setter is followed by the abbreviation for personal assistant (secretary) and a four-letter word meaning heather.

8 Social workers like hugging conservationists (4)
ANTS – A two-letter word meaning like around (hugging) the abbreviation for National Trust (conservationists).

13 Arab masquerade holds up dance (5)
SAMBA – The answer is hidden and reversed (holds up) the first two words of the clue.

15 Ann gets Wes to dance for those in the rag trade? (10)
NEWSAGENTS – An anagram (to dance) of ANN GETS WISE.

16 Rustic king sitting on range in Russia (5)
RURAL – The abbreviation for rex (king) on a four-letter word for a mountain range in Russia.

18 Audibly make effort to bend instrument (8)
TRIANGLE – A homophone (audibly) of try (to make an effort) followed by a five-letter word meaning to bend.

19 Child’s hero follows quiet clergyman (8)
PREACHER – The surname of a character Jack in the novels by Lee Child after (follows) the abbreviation for quiet.

22 Sailors each propping up officer’s cover for Iris (6)
CORNEA – The abbreviations for royal navy (sailors) and each after (propping up) the abbreviation for commanding officer..

23 Saw function featuring players (6)
TREPAN – The abbreviation for tangent (function) includes (featuring) a three-letter abbreviation for  a group of actors.

24 Eat chard in enormous bites (4)
DINE – The answer is hidden (bites) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

25 Number batting during finals in Edgbaston and Melbourne (4)
NINE – A two-letter word meaning batting inside (during) the final letters of Edgbaston and Melbourne.  

27 American tug (4)
YANK – Double definition.

33 comments on “Rookie Corner 406

  1. A very definite thumbs up from this side of the world. Clever clues throughout that had us having to do some head-scratching but not too much. Special mention for 10a and 21a but there were plenty of others we could have mentioned too.
    Thanks Hubble.

  2. Hi Hubble,
    Significant & continued improvement over your previous puzzles here – well done!
    I particularly liked the inventiveness in 10ac. One or two slightly obscure surfaces have sneaked in & some may see a few leaps in 13ac’s use of ‘individual’ (I won’t ‘spoil’ here!). There are many other good clues!!
    I usually make brief notes on all clues as I solve, which I am happy to share with you by email if you’d like. If yes, do ask Big Dave to put us in email contact – though I won’t be offended if not!
    All the best,

    1. I would be delighted to get your notes, Encota and have asked BD to send you my email address

  3. Thanks Hubble, very enjoyable – my special mentions go to 20a, 21a and 19d. Slight quibble with 19a link word. I had a different but valid answer for 24a originally – soon put right by crossers! Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Rookie Corner solve before where I didn’t make a single scribble, ?, or remark by any of the clues – I also solved it all before I’d finished my bowl of Mini Shredded Wheat too!

    Thanks very much Hubble and, in advance to Prolixic

  5. Very enjoyable with not too many hold-ups – thanks Hubble.
    I particularly liked 10a, 20a and 24a but my favourite clue was 19d (Child’s hero – excellent).

  6. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Hubble. My thoughts echo those of CS – except for the shredded wheat!

    I thought this was excellent, pitched at just the right level of difficulty, and it represented a significant improvement on your previous Rookie submissions.

    I agree with Encota about a couple of the surfaces but these were very minor issues.

    Although spoilt for choice, I’m going to pick 19d as my favourite.

    Well done, Hubble, and thank you for the fun.

  7. Welcome back, Hubble.

    There were very encouraging signs of progress in your previous puzzle and today’s effort has more than maintained that improvement. Congratulations. There seemed little to fault technically, but I didn’t warm to the definition in 10a (what was wrong with “Female cut grass back…”?) and “malicious” and “nasty” in 3d were too similar for me. A reversal of “evil” as “live” would have improved the clue, I’d venture. If I’ve parsed 17a correctly, then “getting” is being used as a containment indicator which I don’t think passes muster.

    My printed page contains a lot of ticks, my favourite clue is the deservedly popular 19d.

    Many thanks, Hubble and well done on continuing the upward curve.

  8. I didn’t understand how 17a worked until I read silvanus’ comment (and having understood it, I don’t have a problem with it); but apart from that I thought this was a delight. Particular favourites 19a (I think getting a good clue for a very short word is always an achievement), 21a, 29a, 15d and 23d, but I could quite comfortably have put ticks against the majority of the clues.
    Thank you for an enjoyable puzzle which seems technically sound, and challenging and imaginative without being difficult for the sake of being difficult.

  9. Done all bar one (23d) and loved it. As others have said 19d is a masterful bit of deception but I thought 21a was a cracking PDM moment when I parsed it. I will think about 23d a bit so I hopefully don’t have to reveal it. Gollum liked it so I must just be looking at it wrong. I am not even offended by being described as rustic in 16d. :)

    Just got 23d and if I have it correct yes it goes on my podium too.

  10. Lovely puzzle. Spot on I’d say for a Graun Quiptic or a Monday back pager. Top 2 for me are 19d&21a among any number. Don’t understand 23d though.
    Many thanks Hubble

    1. Huntsman, re 23d, put a three letter abbreviation for a company of theatrical actors inside a trigonometric function to get a type of saw.

      1. The saw has a very specific and obscure use I barely remembered from studying the history of medicine for O level over 40 years ago.

        1. They didn’t use the saw on me, just the drill. I lost all interest in concise crosswords after that. ;-)

  11. Nice to see you back again, Hubble, and this was certainly the best puzzle you’ve brought us. I think there’s room for further improvement in the surface read department but that’s something that will come in time.
    I’m afraid the Child’s hero was lost on me – obviously a gap in my reading knowledge, but I did have plenty of ticks on my sheet.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. Loved this, Hubble, thank you. Favourites are 12a, 21a, 24a, 22d and overall favourite 19d. Struggled with 23d, didn’t know this word for a saw. More of these, please.

  13. Smashing stuff.
    Not sure “getting” will do in 17a, and failed with 23d until I read RD’s comment.
    19d – I had the answer in and was staring hard at it until I seemed to grow a pair of cartoon donkey’s ears :-)
    I see an easy time with Mr. P tomorrow.
    Look forward to your next.

  14. Nice one, Hubble. I’m not sure if Wes and the women’s names are significant to a ghost theme. Probably not.
    Only a few technical issues for me – eg in three consecutive across clues, an iffy link word to a definition, a containment indicator that I don’t think is quite right, and a wrongly spelt NATO alphabet word. Nothing that an editor couldn’t easily correct though and maybe Prolixic will be more specific in his review.
    3d is technically fine, but you’ve defined Evil with the same meaning that it has in the solution, which isn’t ideal.
    Some good clues among many: 21a, 24a, 8d, 19d, 23d, 24d, 25d, all of whose surfaces were neatly plausible.

  15. Very enjoyable Hubble with one or two really good clues. Leaving any minor technical issues to Prolixic my highlights were 17,24&29a plus the excellent 19d, though it does require a little specialist knowledge to parse I guess. Good stuff.
    Thanks and thanks to the reviewer in advance.

  16. Thanks to Big Dave for publishing my latest Rookie puzzle, and to all of you who have taken the time to solve it and provide such nice feedback. I’m very pleased I seem to have avoided any really silly errors this time.

  17. Thanks for the review Prolixic. No wonder I couldn’t parse my 23d bung in (toecap). Not sure why I got the successful completion banner as I realised it was wrong once helpful hints were provided (thanks all).

  18. Well done Hubble. Late to the fray so all that needs saying has been said. I would just echo the need to aim for more polished surfaces now the technicalities have come good. I am struggling with worried in 17a, if anyone cares to enlighten me. I assume this is just me being thick as no one else has mentioned it. (I get worried as in consumed by, but not consumed on its own).

    1. Chambers defines eat as ‘to upset, irritate or worry’, so ate is just the past tense of that. It seems to be something more commonly seen in crosswords than elsewhere, though – I can see someone saying ‘Do you know what was eating him?’ more than ‘Do you know what ate him?’

      1. Thanks Twmbarlwm. I did see that as definition 5 in Chambers, but I just can’t make ATE fit the word play. As you say “was eating” is clear, but ATE sounds more like what the police in American Werewolf in London might say rather than a therapist. It doesn’t quite work for me..

        1. I tend to agree, although to be fair to Hubble it is a crossword staple that editors seem to be okay with.
          I think the problem is that eat meaning worry is ‘informal’ (Chambers), so the past tense rule might not naturally apply as it does for the primary meaning of eat and ate.
          It’s come up before, if you have a look at Rabbit Dave’s comment @1 here and the replies:

          1. Great spot that Twmbarlwm. I see it was really left unresolved then with Gazza’s best offering being ATE AWAY AT HIM, which is fine, of course, but radically different from ATE HIM! It surprises me that editors allow it but hey ho! I am firmly in the Rabbit Dave camp, so for future reference, don’t be ate that I’ll use it in my puzzles!

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and well done to Hubble for the low score on the commentometer.

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