Rookie Corner 415 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 415

A Puzzle by Bonster

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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 Bonster.  With the exception of 6d, the obscurities of the previous crossword have been addressed and I did not spot and repetitions of wordplay indicators other than one repetition of “first” in 9a 24a.  The whole crossword was much more solver friendly whilst maintaining the accuracy of the cluing and a fair level of difficulty.  There are only a small number of comments to that the commentometer reads as 2 / 30 or 6.7%.


1 Impudent youngster with trendier photographer (14)
WHIPPERSNAPPER – The abbreviation for with followed by a six-letter word meaning more trendy and a seven-letter word for a photographer.

9 Solver in French town’s first operational research school (5)
TUTOR – The two-letter word French singular for you (solver) followed by the first letter of town and the two-letter abbreviation for operational research.

10 Explain playwright cycling on track’s missing stretch (9)
INTERPRET – The name of the playwright Harold with the first letter at the end (cycling) followed by a two-letter word meaning on and the track from the clue without (missing) the four letters meaning stretch.

11 Tiara slipping to side (5)
RAITA – An anagram (slipping) of TIARA.

12 Passing wayward tennis star, having lost serve initially (9)
TRANSIENT – An anagram (wayward) of TENNIS STAR without the first letter (initially) of serve.

13 How to make bloke be humble (10)
DISHEARTEN – A word meaning to remove the centre from something as you would to get from bloke to be.

14 Evens? On the contrary (4)
ODDS  – Cryptic definition of a betting term that is the opposite of events.

16 Man of note taking taxi back to hotel (4)
BACH – reverse (back) a three letter word for a taxi and follow with the abbreviation for hotel.

17 Status Quo covering Prince love the round idolisation (10)
APOTHEOSIS – A phrase (2,2) meaning the status quo around (covering) the abbreviation for prince, the letter representing zero or love, the the from the clue and the letter that is round.

23 The best hooter for a sporting occasion (5, 4)
SUPER BOWL – A six-letter word meaning the best followed by the bird that hoots.

25 Hand in first of poker events already traumatic – fold! (5)
PLEAT – The abbreviation for left (head) in the first letters (first) of the fifth to eighth letters of the clue.  I think that you need a different construction to indicate that the first letters of two or more words have to be selected.

26 Lacking home talent (9)
INABILITY – A two-letter word meaning home followed by a seven-letter word for talent

27 Some get a leg over to bring joy (5)
ELATE – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (over) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

28 Tobacco man with no heart follows Conservative’s long-winded narrative (6, 3, 5)
SHAGGY DOG STORY – A four-letter word for tobacco followed by a three-letter word for a man without the central latter (with not heart), a four-letter word meaning follows and four letter word for a conservative.


1 Wet notes among bundle (7)
WATERED – Two two-letter words for musical notes inside (among) a three-letter word for a bundle.

2 Constitutional song’s opening bars almost in as written (9)
INTRINSIC -a five-letter word for the opening bars of a piece of music without the final letter (almost) followed by the IN from the clue and a three-letter word meaning as written.

3 Run through auditor’s assistance for sexual deviant (7)
PERVADE – A homophone (auditor’s) of PERV AID (assistance for a sexual deviant).

4 Party schedule’s overwhelming Imogen to begin with (7)
ROISTER – A six-letter word for schedule around (overwhelming) the first letter (to begin with) of Imogen.

5 Compound how quickly child’s hair gets infested? (7)
NITRATE – A way of saying that a child gets nitsE

6 Die like a Scandinavian man? (6)
PERISH – I defer to those who think that this might be like Per (a Scandinavian man’s name).  I think it is asking a little much of a the solver to be familiar with Scandinavian men’s names.

7 European by lake is strangely frightening (5)
EERIE – The abbreviation for European followed by a four-letter name of a lake.

8 Condition outdated bodywork onboard ship (6)
STATUS – An earlier form (outdated) of the spelling of tattoo (bodywork) in (onboard) the abbreviation for a ship.

15 Outlaw reckless road speed (9)
DESPERADO – An anagram (reckless) of ROAD SPEED.

16 One’s close to defeat in Edgbaston’s opener (6)
BESTIE – A four-letter word meaning to defeat followed by a single letter word meaning in and the opening letter of Edgbaston.  I for in is not an abbreviation recognised in the main dictionaries.

18 Sensation of person dying oddly variable (7)
PRODIGY The odd letters of person dying followed by a letter used in algebra for an unknown variable.

19 Match with Hearts over – bad news for The Foxes (5-2)
TALLY-HO A five-letter word meaning match followed by the abbreviation for hearts and over.

20 Speak fast (7)
EXPRESS – Double definition

21 Consequence of eating plenty, yet it’s a problem (7)
SATIETY – An anagram (problem) of YET IT’S A.  Some editors will not allow a noun (problem) to be used as an anagram indicator.

22 Seeking the truth gets distressing (6)
TRYING – Double definition

24 Fruit and veg chain (5)
PEACH – A three-letter word for a vegetable followed by the abbreviation for chain.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner 415

  1. We had a few problems in the NW which delayed our solve somewhat. Lots of clever clues to enjoy unraveling. 13a gets our tick for favourite once we sorted out how it worked.
    Thanks Bonster.

  2. Welcome back Bonster and thank you for a much more solver-friendly crossword. I still have a few clues where I’m not entirely sure how I get the solution. My favourite clue was 23a

    Thanks also, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. Thanks Bonster, a very enjoyable puzzle, lots of tricky clever clues (with enough simpler ones too, to help out!)

    I think the initial letter indicators in 25a & 16d only apply to one word, when they need to refer to multiple (apologies if I’ve misunderstood these), and not sure the anagram indicator in 21d quite works – but these are fairly minor pedantic quibbles.

    My favourites, amongst plenty to choose from, were 13a, 18d & 24d

    1. Fez, 21d. The first 2 online lists of anagram indicators I viewed both included the one used. But is there a definitive/official list somewhere?

      1. I think it’s a bit jarring, grammatically, using a noun as indicator in this instance.

  4. Very enjoyable puzzle – thanks Bonster.
    I enjoyed some of the neat touches, e.g. ‘outdated bodywork’ in 8d.
    I ticked plenty of clues including 10a, 13a, 6d, 18d and 24d.
    More like this please.

  5. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Bonster. This was a much more accessible puzzle than your first offering and I enjoyed the challenge, even though I can’t parse my answers to 6d & 8d. Your surfaces are generally very good although I can’t make a sensible interpretation when reading 17a.

    – The pedant in me can’t resist pointing out that, unless the solver is an intimate acquaintance, 9a should start with “vous”! :wink:
    – Strictly speaking, I don’t think 5d needs “child’s”, although its inclusion does improve the surface reading.
    – One for Prolixic: can 13a mean remove three letters from the middle? I thought it could only be one.
    – If I am parsing 16d correctly, I can’t find any justification in either Collins or Chambers for “i” = “in”.
    – Like Fez, I am not sure about the validity of either the use of “first” in 25a to apply to more than one word or the anagram indicator in 21d. A couple more queries for the judgement of Prolixic.

    I had lots of ticks, and my favourite was 24d.

    Great stuff, Bonster. Many thanks and please keep them coming, Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

      1. Perhaps “a little bit like” would be clearer? A Scandinavian man(‘s name), “to some extent”

        1. I’m assuming (or guessing) it’s: Die (def), like = PER, a Scandinavian man = IS (H)elvetian. (or a native of Switzerland).

          1. I think it’s using ISH = (somewhat) “like” – Per is the Scandinavian man, so solution is “a bit like Per”

            1. Hmm! I think you are probably right, Fez, but it’s not a very satisfactory clue in my opinion.

            2. Yes, that sounds right! The Scandinavian Per, a variant of Peter (just found it on Google). A good clue!

  6. Hi Bonster, I agree with the comments already made though the grid effectively made this two puzzles with little connecting them. But it marks a definite progression for you and showed some witty invention. I will need Prolixic’s help to parse a couple though!

  7. Welcome back, Bonster. I did get the impression that you’d scaled back somewhat on the difficulty element this time but I still struggle with your penchant for over-complicating clues – 9a for example.
    I’ve got a few answers that await the wisdom of Prolixic and I have to admit to using the ‘reveal’ function in a couple of instances.
    Top clues for me were 11&23a plus 24d.

    Thank you for bringing us another puzzle.

  8. Welcome back, Bonster.

    As others have said, a much more accessible puzzle this time which is so much better as a consequence. The surfaces were mostly excellent too, which added to the enjoyment of the solving process.

    I would concur with Fez and RD about multiple first letter selections needing indicators in the plural, but there were very few, if any, other points that raised my eyebrows. My podium consists of 1a, 23a and 15d. I did think 14a was rather weak though.

    All in all, a significant improvement on your debut puzzle, which is always pleasing to see. I think you are more than capable of not just maintaining this standard but exceeding it, so I hope your third puzzle will be even better. Many thanks and congratulations on a fine crossword, Bonster.

  9. Loved this, thanks Bonster. Refreshing and amusing clueing throughout producing some real smilers.
    I liked several including 1,10,13&23a plus 18&19d.
    Thanks also, in advance to Prolixic

  10. Very enjoyable, though I agree with Silvanus re 14a and would add 13a too
    A lot to like and not much to quibble about, so many thanks for the entertainment Bonster

  11. Crikey Bonster if, as Jane says, you’ve scaled back on the difficulty it’s just as well that I missed your debut puzzle as this one is plenty tough enough for the likes of me. I did however thoroughly enjoy the solve & needed only 1 letter reveal to complete though there are 3 I still can’t parse (9&13a plus 8d even after Gaza’s comment)
    Though the surface reads perhaps don’t quite do it I really liked the wordplay elements of both 17&28a (very Graun type clues I thought). Tops for me was 23a & with plenty of ticks elsewhere – 1&10a plus 5,18&24d. I’ll work on 13a to see if I can figure out what I’m missing.
    Many thanks

    1. Very much agree re 17 & 28a – great wordplay, but surfaces not quite there. I suspect both could be tweaked (rather than completely overhauled) to improve this. Though to be ultra-pedantic, 28a does essentially repeat an indicator already used in 13a.

  12. Thanks Gazza. We couldn’t parse 13a until we read your comment. We found the top half much easier to solve (maybe less difficult would be more accurate!) than the bottom half. Nevertheless, an enjoyable challenge. Thank you Bonster. We look forward to your next puzzle and to Prolixic’s review.

  13. Thanks very much to Dave for publishing the puzzle, to Prolixic for the review and providing technical advice, and to all who attempted the puzzle for your very encouraging comments. For those unsure of some parsings, they were all intended as Prolixic listed. GK is so difficult to gauge! I’m a complete ignoramus but I thought Per was a widely-known Scandivian name.

    I was amused by the i=in quibbles. I was solving a broadsheet puzzle which included this device not long before writing this, and had the same niggle. But when I checked my Chambers it was there. I’m not keen on it but it was handy for this clue (16D). Perhaps to be avoided though.

    1. Hi Bonster. Thanks for a great puzzle.

      I recently treated myself to the Chambers app because, as much as I love books, the BRB itself is quite unwieldy and the app makes looking up words (and abbreviations) much easier. Using the app doesn’t give i = in. However, having just checked the BRB, I see it is there under the entry i’. Lo and behold, if you enter i’ in the app, it does give the meaning of in. I guess that means it’s sort of OK but, as you say, perhaps best avoided.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up my couple of parsing issues. Can’t help thinking that our setter would be doing himself a favour by checking in advance that things he considers GK are as widely known as he imagines!
    See you again soon, Bonster.

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