Rookie Corner 413 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 413

A Puzzle by Madcap

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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.

Welcome back to Madcap.  Nothing much wrong to report on.  There were just a few minor quibbles but overall this was inventive and fun.  The commentometer reads as 2.5/30 or 8.3%.


1 Money for jam traps Victor in serpentine plot (4,5)
SINE CURVE – Another word for a cushy job (money for jam) includes (traps) the letter represented by Victor in the Nato phonetic alphabet.

6 Mix porridge (4)
STIR – Double definition, the second being another term for a prison.

8 After you, I’m filled with special faith (8)
HINDUISM – A four-letter word meaning after followed by the letter that sounds like you and the IM from the clue including the abbreviation for second.  I am not sure that the word used for after is directly synonymous.  After implies a succession in position but the word used in the solution implies the absolute position.  Also, you need a homophone indicator to indicate that it is the sound of you that is part of the solution.

9 Arm waving of course is correct procedure, all OK? (3-3)
TIC-TAC – A four-letter word meaning correct and a four letter word for a sailing procedure all without the letter K  (OK or zero K).  Some editors might not like the lift and separate to get from OK to 0 K without some indication of the split required.  I think in the context of only two words from which the K has to be removed, all is acceptable.  My chief concern with this clue is that procedure is a loose definition.  Whilst not wrong, given the number of four-letter words that might be a procedure, I would have preferred “sailing procedure” or something similar.  As a minor point, as well, the clue breaks down cryptically to Definition IS wordplay, where it should be definition has wordplay.

10 Hear Rice Crispies maybe popping up one after the other (6)
SERIAL – A homophone (hear) of cereal (Rice Krispies maybe).  Watch the spelling of proprietary brands.  The breakfast cereal has a K in it – perhaps the setter became carried away with the OK in the previous clue!

11 Doctor eased end whenever required (2,6)
AS NEEDED – An anagram (doctor) of EASED END.

12 Number quits perverted matings in shame (6)
STIGMA – An anagram (perverted) of MATINGS without the letter N (number quits).

15 Sweet and sour starters of doughnuts, rolled oats and pancakes (4,4)
ACID DROP – A four-letter word meaning sour followed by the initial letters (starters) of the last four word of the clue (omitting the and from the count).

16 A little Shredded Wheat, mostly half eaten (8)
SOMEWHAT – An anagram (shredded) of WHEAT SOM (mostly with the final three letters removed – half eaten).

19 Represent badly by demo (6)
EMBODY – An anagram (badly) of BY DEMO.

21 Power exercises are taking place in a day and performed (8)
APPEARED -The abbreviations for power and exercises followed by the ARE from the clue all inside the A from the clue and the abbreviation for day.

22 Some priest ran ceremony, generating rapture (6)
TRANCE – The answer is hidden in (some) the second to fourth words of the clue.

24 Eggs on toast (6)
CHEERS – Double definition – adding old chestnuts to the food mix in the clues!

25 Excessively does hams (8)
OVERACTS -A four-letter word meaning excessively followed by a four-letter word meaning does.

26 Where clothes are worn back to front? (4)
SPOT – A four-letter word for some clothes such as jumpers and T-Shirts reversed (back to front).  I don’t think that the definition of where is sufficient.

27 Pick up spicy ham and spud weekly (9)
SPECTATOR – A homophone (pick up) of Speck (type of cured, lightly smoked Italian ham) followed by a five-letter word for a potato.


1 Cheese said to be in preparation for snap (5)
SMILE – What a person is supposed to do when Cheese is said before a photograph is taken.  I am not sure that the cryptic definition quite hangs together to produce the required solution.

2 Sleepy as a bell with no clapper – dead inside! (7)
NODDING – Split 2, 4 part of the solution indicates that a bell would not ring (no clapper).  Within this phrase add the abbreviation for dead.

3 Setter leaves hot food making it cold (5)
CHILL – Remove the single letter representing the setter from the end of a six-letter word for a type of spicy hot food.

4 Unusual note of lamb with infusion of black pudding! (3,4)
RUM BABA – A three-letter word meaning unusual followed by a three-letter word for the sound made by a lamb that included the abbreviation for black.

5 Full English before 10 causing stress (9)
EXTENSIVE – The abbreviation for English followed by the Roman numeral for 10 and a seven-letter word meaning causing stress.

6 Eat egg with no teeth, reportedly – triumph! (7)
SUCCEED – A homophone (reportedly) of SUCK SEED (eat egg with no teeth).  

7 Shortly home with a transfer (2,1,6)
IN A SECOND – A two-letter word meaning home followed by the A from the clue and a six-letter word meaning to transfer an employee temporarily to another firm.

13 Release admitting “I’m wrong” – hard men moved by this (9)
TROOPSHIP – A four-letter word meaning release includes (admitting) a four-letter word meaning “I’m wrong” and the abbreviation for hard.

14 Proverbs 1, say, for me is leading text (9)
APHORISMS – The letter representing 1 followed by a homophone (say) of for, the single letter representing me and a three-letter abbreviation for a text message.  There is no rule that homophones have to lead to real words when used in the solution and you will see them from time to time.  As a self-imposed discipline, I prefer not to use them.

17 As, for example, Spain allowed holding hands (7)
ELEMENT – The IVR code for Spain followed by a three-letter word meaning allowed that includes a three-letter word for hands or crew.

18 A little toad in the hole served in plated fricassee (7)
TADPOLE – The letter that looks like a hole in an anagram (fricassee) of PLATED.

20 City function stops breakfast with no meat. Shameless! (7)
BLATANT – The abbreviation for Los Angeles and a maths function inside the outer letters (with no meat) of breakfast.

22 Prime indulgence (5)
TREAT – Double definition, the first as you might to by putting a wash coat on plaster before painting over it.

23 Two queens provide supper perhaps (5)
CATER – A three-letter word for the animal sometimes known as a Queen followed by the regnal cipher for the current queen.

16 comments on “Rookie Corner 413

  1. That certainly took us into late in the week Toughie time but we did get almost everything sorted.
    Lot’s of clever wordplay and suspect that Prolixic won’t find too many flaws with this one.
    Thanks Madcap.

  2. Well done, Madcap, you seem to be moving in the right direction, and I enjoyed this. It was certainly quite a challenge, but good fun.

    Your surface readings are a bit of a mixed bag, but this is often the hardest part for a new setter, and this puzzle is an improvement in this respect too. Appropriately, I solved it whilst having breakfast.

    I have only a few comments and a lot of ticks!

    9a – I’ll be interested in Prolixic’s take as to whether or not “OK” is an acceptable instruction to remove a K. Also grammatically I think it should be “both OK” not “all OK”.
    10a – I assume you don’t have Rice Krispies for breakfast otherwise you might have noticed how to spell them!
    26a – I don’t think the definition works.
    14d – I may be wrong but I don’t think it’s valid for a homophone to be a non-word (i.e. “phor”, in this case). Let’s see what Prolixic thinks.

    My ticked clues were 6a, 16a, 24a, 17d, 22d & 23d.

    Many thanks, Madcap. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Re 14d – for what it’s worth, I was mentored in my early setting forays by Roddy Forman, who as you know was regarded as something of a guru. He certainly concurred with you about homophones – I can hear him now saying “that isn’t a word so no one knows how it might be pronounced”

  3. One of those crosswords where the RH side was considerably friendlier than the left, the SW corner took an age to solve.

    Thanks Madcap – my particular favourites were 24a and 18d. Thanks in advance to Prolixic

  4. An enjoyable and pretty tough puzzle I thought – thanks Madcap.
    My last area to solve was the SW and I still don’t see what the definition of 26a is.
    Top clues for me were 1a, 6d and 20d.

  5. Excellent! And I can only echo Rabbit Dave’s & Cryptic Sue’s combined comments above. Witty definitions, clever wordplay, …

  6. Thanks Madcap, good fun and pleasingly tricky in places – as for others, the SW holding out the longest.
    Thanks also to RD for parsing 9a, though I agree this may be stretching things a bit, and should be “both OK”. Also I thought a few synonyms possibly over-stretched (though happy to be corrected!) – in particular, not convinced by 8a “after”, 6d “egg”, and 7d “transfer”.
    Agree with others that definition in 26a is insufficient, and the grammar (“are worn”?) doesn’t seem quite right to me (how about “Notice jumper’s back-to-front”?)
    Just a few of the surfaces needed a little polish I thought (e.g. 12a, 21a) and 25a seemed a bit ‘same-sidey’.
    But also lots of clever constructions and amusing surfaces, plenty to enjoy – favourites included 1a (nice definition), 27a, 18d (although “the” is essentially padding I think you get away with it for surface reading!), 20d, 22d & 23d, with 24a and 17d taking the top spots for me.
    Thanks again – and in advance to Prolixic for review.

  7. Welcome back, Madcap.

    Definite progress made, I felt (i.e. fewer niggles), but I do think you are inclined to stick with a good idea even if that doesn’t translate into a very good surface, e.g. 17d. I firmly believe you need to be rather more ruthless and weed out those sort of clues and try to come up with smoother alternatives before submitting the finished puzzle. I love homophones, but four in one puzzle is overdoing it, and it really ought to have been five with “you” for U in 8a as well. I would have also preferred to see the verbal homophone indicators as “heard”, “picked up” and “said” (in the past tense).

    Some clues I really liked, especially the excellent 24a and 20d. Once again I was impressed by the number of themed clues, but I’d love to see a non-themed puzzle from you next time. Many thanks and congratulations on an enjoyable crossword, Madcap.

  8. The SE cornrr ofthis puzzle wa srathe tricky so I was pushed into 4* time for difficulty, as I couldnt break imyo tjat part of the puzzle. The clues were bit oblique. So it ws not quite as enjoyable as the usual Monday puzzle (3*).. However I liked 14a, 11a and21a
    . Thanks to Pommers for the hints and to the compiler.

  9. 24a is excellent and made me very excited when the penny dropped! But overall I struggled with this, Madcap, and resorted to the reveal button a lot. Even then I will have to wait for Prolixic to enlighten me in several instances, but as the better solvers here have given it, by and large, a thumbs up, that is probably down to me. Having said that, even before failing to solve the clues, I found several surfaces very inaccessible meaning that I just couldn’t get on your wavelength this time!

  10. I did rather better this time with no resorting to the ‘reveal’ button but I did give up on my usual habit of crossing out clue numbers as I solved them simply because I was so unsure that I’d correctly nailed the answers.
    There were certainly some good clues to be found, all of which have already been mentioned by others, but I think there is still work to be done when it comes to choice of wording.

    Thank you, Madcap, I’ll look forward to your next offering.

  11. More or less agree with previous comments – many fine ideas which augur well for Madcap’s future puzzles, but with a few surfaces that perhaps needed more work and/or the grammar tweaking (eg 12a).
    ‘Eggs on toast’ hard to resist, but unfortunately it’s an old Rufus clue from the DT, and I think I’ve seen it elsewhere too.
    I particularly liked the Shredded Wheat at 16a, and the homophone too – until I read the comments I hadn’t considered that a non-word might be verboten.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the ‘treatment’ definition of 22d which hadn’t entered my head, despite having utilised that sort of priming many times over the years!

  13. Thanks for the review, Prolixic.
    I’m still not sure about 12a, where grammatically quits should be quit, I think – number is plural in the surface, as in ‘a number of people have quit’. Obviously it needs to be quit for the removal of n, but the English grammar and cryptic grammar should both be correct. Unless I’m missing something…
    Re 8a, in Madcap’s defence, the Sunday Times for one accepts ‘you’ for ‘u’ without any qualification such as ‘by text’.
    Interesting that you contradict some of the comments on homophones. I guess that’s why they’re called homophone clues and not homonym clues.

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