Rookie Corner 416 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 416

A Puzzle by Coot

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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.

Welcome to Coot who continues to entertain and amuse with his crosswords.  The theme in this crossword was well handled.  Whilst inventive in the cluing (good) there were a small number of clues where the boundaries were pushed a little too far.  The commentometer reads as 4 / 32 or 12.5%.


1 Religious leader has time to chat (6)
RABBIT – A five-letter word for a Jewish religious leader followed by the abbreviation for time.

4 Sob softly then twitch – concealing the truth? (7)
CRYPTIC – A three-letter word meaning to sob followed by the musical abbreviation for softly and a three-letter word for an involuntary tic.

9 Trumpeting leaves Catholic king unsettled (5)
OWING – A seven-letter word for trumpeting or boasting without the abbreviations for Catholic and Rex (king).  I think that if A leaves B, it can imply removal or leaving behind.

10 Boxers maybe subject to damage (9)
UNDERWEAR – A five-letter word meaning subject to followed by a four-letter word meaning damage.

11 ‘Skin cyst infant’ duly requires left hand surgery immediately (9)
INSTANTLY – The right-hand halves (requires left hand surgery) of the first four words of the clue.  I am not sure that the wordplay quite works here.  It is not so much surgery, but there is no indication that the deletion indicator applies to each of the words in the clue.  Also, if you have A, B, C and D to be part of the deletion, you would need A, B, C and D require left hand surgery…

12 One dumped by Jane for enormous Spaniard…. (4)
JOSE – A two-letter indefinite article (one) is removed from (dumped) from the Jane in the clue and replaced by the abbreviation for oversized.

14 ….unfair treatment of confused amigos, writing off love? (5)
AGISM -An anagram (confused) of AMIGOS after removed the letter representing love or nothing.

15 Expert solves reportedly taking too long (6)
PROLIX – A three-letter word word an expert followed by a homophone (reportedly) of licks (solves)

16 Welcome officer working in Paris, perhaps (6)
HILTON – A two-letter word for a greeting (welcome) followed by the abbreviation for lieutenant (officer) and a two-letter word meaning working.

17 Prompt Gazza’s first to be introduced to model (5)
NUDGE  – The first letter of Gazza inside (to be introduced to) a four-letter word a model that poses naked.

20 Eastern area‘s baffled Senf (4)
FENS – An anagram (baffled) of SENF.

21 Objective of Spooner’s hairdresser slot? (9)
LETTERBOX – A Spoonerism of BETTER LOCKS (as pronounced) 

24 Obtaining ecstasy’s allowed in Gabon (9)
ELICITING – The abbreviation for ecstasy followed by a five-letter word meaning allowed, the IN from the clue and the IVR code for Gabon.

25 Those furthest away possibly overheard crucial scheme (5)
KIWIS – A homophone (overheard) of key (crucial) wheeze (scheme).

26 Flight attendant‘s unusually merry, essentially wasted (7)
STEWARD – An anagram (unusually) of R (the middle letter – essentially – of merry) WASTED.

27 Women who either do or will (6)
BRIDES – A cryptic definition of the answer to the vows asked of women in the marriage service.  Having married lots of women over the years, the response to the vows is I will, never I do.


1 Man that is just here.… (6)
ROOKIE – A four-letter word for a chess piece (man) followed by the abbreviation for that is.

2 ….because looking into Silvanus’s skilful tips brings joy! (5)
BLISS – The initial letters (tips) of the first five words of the clue.

3 Fashionable attire with silver designed to curry favour (10)
INGRATIATE – A two-letter word meaning fashionable followed by an anagram (designed) of ATTIRE AG (silver).  My own feeling is that where you have an anagram with an abbreviation as part of the letters to be rearranged, you should stick to abbreviation where the letter(s) are directly equivalent to the word clued (B for black), etc, as is the case in 15d.

4 Employee who’s on course for a cut? (5)
CADDY – Cryptic definition of a person on a golf course who assists the golfers, a cut being a type of golf shot.

5 You once brought round gold, ages ago (4)
YORE – The old English way of saying you around the heraldic term for gold.

6 Force to scratch itch and elope (3,6)
THE POLICE – An anagram (to scratch) of ITCH ELOPE.  I am not convinced that to scratch indicates the movement of letters.

7 Müller’s trademark attacking play? (6)
CORNER – Double definition of the feature of Muller deserts and attacking play in a football match.

8 Person capturing native tigers and snakes, principally? (8)
HUNTSMAN – A five-letter word for a person includes (capturing) the initial letters (principally) of the third, fourth and sixth words of the clue.

13 He might fly off to court daughter who’ll kiss (10)
WOODPECKER – A three-letter word meaning to court romantically followed by the abbreviation for daughter and a six-letter word for someone who kisses.

14 What’s made by 23? (1,3,5)
A BIG NOISE – Somewhat elliptical, but I think a double definition for someone important (another term for the answer to 23d) and the sound that the singer at 23 might make.  The clue does not quite hit the spot for me as the whole clue is the first definition and 23 on its own, the second.  

15 Good new opiate’s administered, which will dull the senses (8)
PINOTAGE – An anagram (administered) of G (good) N (new) OPIATE.  I am not sure that the solution in moderate amounts will dull the senses – too much yes – but I have found on occasion, a glass of red or two actually aids the solving process!

18 Unknown characters obscured artsy Fez tossing pancakes? (6)
AFTERS – An anagram (tossing) of ARTSY FEZ after removing (obscured) the letters used in algebra for unknown amounts.

19 Manages to leave ship, broken by the temperature (6)
EXISTS – a four-letter word meaning to leave with the abbreviation for steamship holding the T in the first part of the wordplay.  I am not sure that the definition match the solution as a synonym.  Nor am I convinced that the clue fully tells you to place the T in the first part of the clue into the abbreviation for steamship.

21 King bursts in to call up Scottish landowner (5)
LAIRD – The abbreviation for King (rex) inside (bursts in) a reversal (up) of a four-letter word meaning to call.  Oh so close to not repeating wordplay indicators.  King for R has already been used in 9a.

22 Am indebted to welcome provided by Big Dave initially – played! (5)
BOWED – A three-letter word meaning am indebted to inside (welcome provided by) the initial letters of Big Dave.  I am not sure that the cryptic grammar scans particular well as the clue resolves to A welcome provided by B

23 Return of keen singer (4)
DIVA – A reversal (return) of a four-letter meaning keen.

42 comments on “Rookie Corner 416

  1. Thanks Coot, very enjoyable.

    A few that left me scratching my head – perhaps 16a could have an indication that we were looking for an establishment in Paris, perhaps and I presume that Herr Müller is/was an exponent of the round ball game.

    I really liked 4a, 8d, 19d, and, of course, 20a. :smile:

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Senf, Gerd Müller was a German footballer who was a constant thorn in the side of the English. There is also a German food company of that name who produce a range of yoghurts branded as Müller 7d.

      1. Also, 16a could be an example of a person rather than an establishment, so I think that works

        1. Apologies if that’s not so well-known where you are, Senf. Pretty well-known in the UK I believe. I’m certainly more familiar with Müller 7Ds than I am with Paris 16A 😀

          1. My knowledge of football ‘stops’ some 24 years before I travelled West with the winning team of the 1966 World Cup, the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, and the first English team to do the same in 1968.

  2. Some lovely nods to this site (couldn’t come up with an anagram for me? :unsure: :wink: ) and plenty of clever ideas and technical adeptness.
    My favourites were 10a, 16a and 26a.
    I thought there were a couple of questionable anagrinds, and maybe a hint of an indirect anagram (I won’t pinpoint them before Prolixic’s review), but that could just be me being finicky.
    Senf @2, I think you have possibly misunderstood the Paris reference, unless I’m misreading you. It’s a very neat clue.

    1. Ah, yes, the young female member of the family who was frequently appearing in newspaper reports for probably the wrong reasons.

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Coot, with a puzzle which was a lot of fun including a theme dear to the hearts of the contributors to this blog.

    I have a few minor points most of which I’ll leave to Prolixic to comment on. I’ll just mention that 3d is straying into partial indirect anagram territory; and I think that “left hand surgery” in 11a is too imprecise for the removal of the first half of each of three words.

    Although it’s certainly a valid alternative spelling, your choice of agism rather than ageism just doesn’t look right to me,

    I had a lot of ticks with 10a, 16a, 1d & 7d my top selection.

    Well done, Coot, and thank you. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  4. Thanks to Coot for an entertaining puzzle – well done on getting so many themed references in.
    I thought that the Spoonerism was very good and I also ticked 9a, 10a and 16a.

  5. Many thanks Coot, lots of fun, plenty of head-scratching (which is good!), and the theme certainly helped in a few cases. 25a (a super homophone) perhaps needs ‘specialist knowledge’ to understand the defintion?

    I’d agree with Rabbit Dave on 14a and 3d, though personally I liked the clever wordplay in 11a. Also liked the further clever wordplay in 12a, 19d I think works but stretches the grammar a little, whilst 22d I’m not sure the insertion indicator quite works. Will be interested in Prolixic’s take on these, and also the anagram indicator in 6d. 13d and 15d I thought perhaps could benefit from tighter definitions?

    I’m particularly interested in Prolixic’s thoughts on 2d, one that previously I’d have been more than happy with … but in recent correspondence with an editor, a clue with “X Y heads” (for initial letters of X Y) was rejected, and I can see why (there’s no real indication of possession, as in “heads of X Y” or “X Y’s heads”) – I think this is essentially the same construction.

    My favourites amongst lots of good clues were 21a and 7d, and of course 18d (though I think it may have been a little fairer to have me e.g. “mixing ice cream” or “cooking desserts”?)

    Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic for review.

  6. Welcome back, Coot.

    This puzzle rekindled for me fond memories of Sprocker’s “Rookie Regulars” puzzle (RC 083) from November 2015, it’s well worth a look for those who didn’t see it at the time or don’t remember it. I do hope Sprocker will one day return with more puzzles.

    As far as today’s puzzle is concerned, I found it very entertaining to solve but equally I had a number question marks on my printed page, particularly with the looseness of many of the definitions, especially 27a, 14d, 15d and 18d. 3d is an indirect anagram in my book and, whilst a nice idea, I agree with RD that “left hand surgery” is not precise enough in 11a. The clues I liked best were 16a and 24a.

    As well as Coot, I noticed recently that many recent Rookies also have had puzzles published on the MyCrossword site, i.e. Meles, Gollum, Twmbarlwm, Widdersbel, Alf, Plumbwizard and Fez (apologies if I’ve omitted anyone), which is good to know, although I would always argue that the unique and detailed analysis Prolixic provides here cannot be replicated anywhere else.

    Many thanks to Coot, I hope we’ll see you again soon. Thank you for the name check!

    1. I stumbled upon MyCrossword following widdersbel’s excellent debut, where I think it was mentioned in the comments. But I’ve not published on MyCrossword, perhaps there’s another Fez? … this Fez is thus far exclusively available on Big Dave! (Although I have had one elsewhere under a different pseudonym)

      1. Sorry, Fez, I hope I’m correct with the others though!

        I don’t think you have a namesake on there, my mistake.

    2. Absolutely, Silvanus, the benefit of Prolixic’s wisdom is invaluable to aspiring setters. It was my main motivation for submitting my recent one here.

      I always enjoy Coot’s puzzles on MyCrossword. I should probably stop reading the comments until after I’ve had a go at this one…

  7. Thanks Coot for an entertaining puzzle. From the comments above it sounds like I found it harder than most & did resort to a few checks to be certain I was on the same wavelength. I liked 16a and 25a in particular.

  8. Well done Coot!
    I am not generally a fan of themes, but I thought this was a lovely nod to this blog.
    I agree with the positive comments made above and found this a lot of fun.
    16a, 25a, 21a and 21d were my top picks. 17a made me laugh – I don’t know Gazza, but may I imagine he would be first in line?
    Nevertheless there were some queries for me. Ones not mentioned to date:
    9a confused me as it has X & Y leaves Z when it should surely be the other way round
    10a can the answer be understood as ‘subject to damage’? It seems a bit of a stretch for me.
    11a is clever but I am undecided if it actually works (or even how you would make it work) – I await Prolixic for that one!
    19d has a surprising WP and, while I see exactly what you’ve done, I can’t decide if it’s OK. At best there seems to me to be a redundant ‘the’ in there.
    But perhaps even these are just you pushing the boundaries a bit, which generally I am happy to see. Certainly no major flaws that should detract from the enjoyment.

    1. hi DD,
      9a I think ‘leaves’ can work either way – “X leaves Y” might mean X ‘goes away from’ Y or X ‘discards/omits/forgets’ Y.
      10a I think you just need to split the two, “subject to” giving one part and “damage” the other. Agree it will be interesting to see Prolixic’s views on 11a (I liked) and 19d (I wasn’t sure).

      1. Thanks DD and Fez. The Clue Clinic website, which I find an invaluable resource, lists “leaves” in both directions as Fez has suggested. I think I realised I was testing the boundaries with 11a and 19d, and will also await Prolixic’s view with interest and a little trepidation. I felt that 11a relied on an interpretation of surgery to mean cutting off. I don’t remember seeing the 19d device elsewhere but hoped that the instruction to the solver was sufficiently clear to be considered fair.

        1. 9a – it’s a fair cop. I withdraw!
          10a I get the point, but am not that keen. Sorry!
          11a I think ‘amputating’ for ‘surgery’ would be fairer (and makes a better surface). With all the cosmetic surgery going on these days, surgery seems to be as much about addition as subtraction!!

          1. I considered “amputation”, which I agree would have made the word play clearer. But I felt that (for the surface) minor surgery would be more suitable. Chopping off a child’s left hand because of a cyst seemed both unlikely and a little dark to be appropriate!

  9. Hi everyone, and thanks for the warm welcome back and for taking the time to solve the puzzle and leave feedback.

    First, apologies to anyone whom I was unable to fit into the puzzle. I didn’t want to push the theme so far that it took over (and if the consonant-vowel ratio in a name is too high it does make things rather awkward)! Lots of interesting points raised so far. I’ll just address a few of them here and will be very interested to read Prolixic’s opinion, for which many thanks in advance.

    To address the anagrinds: there are a couple in here that I might question if I was solving rather than setting (!) but actually all of them are listed in the LRB, so I’m hoping that gets me off the hook!

    The question of what constitutes an indirect anagram is interesting. My understanding of the principle is that an indirect anagram is unfair because of the large number of permutations created by the potential synonyms and potential combinations of the letters. The case for my defence in this puzzle is that where there is an element of indirectness (particularly 3D and arguably 15D) it is pretty clear what letters are required, and hence the unreasonable number of permutations doesn’t arise. Had 3D needed gold rather than silver I like to think that I wouldn’t have used the same device, since it wouldn’t be clear whether AU or OR was required.

    I will be interested in Prolixic’s view of whether some of the definitions are too loose. Just to be clear on 14D, this is actually a DD (the whole clue forming one of the definitions, and “23” being the other).

  10. Loved this Coot, my only complaint is that I’m not in it!
    1a made me smile, thought 10a was great too and the Spoonerism was top notch. Perhaps favourite once the penny dropped was 16a. Great stuff.
    Thanks and thanks to our reviewer in advance.

    1. Thanks very much, Stephen. But what do you mean that you aren’t in it – there are 7 Ls in the grid and loads more in the clues!

      Seriously, though – I would have loved to have been able to include all the regulars but it simply wasn’t possible.

  11. Hello again Coot
    I enjoyed solving this, there were some good clues an the nod to RC was a bit of fun
    As has been mentioned there is room for improvement in one or two clues just to polish them up
    I try to avoid using online resources for anagram/positional indicators etc as some suggestions are decidedly dodgy

    Many thanks for the entertainment Coot

  12. Well that was a hoot Coot & chuffed to get a name check. I’m shy of 18d for completion but will try to resist a letter reveal – won’t be the first time Fez has had me befuddled.
    The theme certainly helped me twig one or two & there are a couple I’m struggling to parse.
    As ever I’ll leave the detailed analysis to those who know what they’re talking about but suffice to say I loved it. Plenty of ticks for me – 9,10,16,21,25&26a plus 4,8(obviously),13&15d.
    Many thanks

  13. Thanks, Prolixic, for the very thoughtful review and the unexpected disclosure at 15d!! 🍷🍷

    Great feedback for you Coot. A couple of further thoughts. I liked 27a notwithstanding Prolixic’s justified objection, so how about this?

    Women who say they will but never do (6)

    6d I agree with Prolixic, but I have some sympathy as, being unsure myself, I checked my LRB which lists scratch (wrongly IMO) as an anagram indicator.

  14. Thanks for the review Prolixic – 7&19d were the 2 I was struggling to parse. Not familiar with the brand & I also struggled to to see how the answer to 19d was synonymous with the def.

    1. BRB has “exists” as “continues to live (in unfavourable circumstances)” which I think justifies the synonym, e.g. “With little income, he barely manages/exists”

  15. Many thanks for review Prolixic, much appreciated as ever – and thanks again for a fine puzzle, Coot

  16. Thanks again from me too, Prolixic. I’m glad I tested some boundaries, even if I fell the wrong side on occasions. It’s a great opportunity to learn from your wisdom and experience.

    One inconsequential side-note: in 4D, by “cut” I was referring to a cut of the golfer’s prize-money, which generally forms the basis of the caddy’s remuneration. The alternative golfing meaning of “cut” hadn’t occurred to me.

    Many thanks again also to everyone for the feedback, and of course to Big Dave.

    1. Hi Coot, sorry not to have contributed earlier – long story – but I did appreciate the name check, thank you. Any chance I could have a svelte Italian next time?

      1. Haha – thanks, Jane – I’m not sure I can manage that but I did enjoy using a clue to turn you into Jose!

  17. Late to the puzzle as out yesterday but thoroughly enjoyed the solve today. We couldn’t parse our answer to 11a and 9a and we missed the anagram in 9d although we had the right answers. We picked the theme up early which helped with some answers. Our favourite has to be 16a, of course. Loved it. Thank you Coot. We look forward to your next one

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