Rookie Corner 418 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 418

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

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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 belated review by Prolixic (having attended the superb Classic FM Live concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday night there was no time to write it up then).

Another enjoyable puzzle from Dr Diva.  The commentometer reads as 4/29 or 13.7%


6 Criticise expert’s article indicating remedy (7)
PANACEA – A three-letter word meaning to criticise followed by a three-letter word for an expert and the indefinite article.

7 Before assuming positive response, circle hideous building (7)
EYESORE – A three-letter word meaning before in the poetic sense includes (assuming) a three-letter word for a positive response and the letter that is circular.

9 Vacuous gravedigger buries a person who’s not quite dead (5)
GONER – The outer letters (vacuous) of gravedigger include (buries) a three-letter word meaning a.

10 A lasagne I cooked without discomfort (9)
ANALGESIA – An anagram (cooked) of A LASAGNE I.

11 Rallying cry of friend’s boring, though. Not half! (5-2)
TALLY-HO – A four-letter word for a friend inside (boring) half of the word though.

13 Party cancelled after overstepping the line? (2,4)
NO BALL – Read as statement this would indicate a party that has been cancelled though the solution relates to the result of a bowler overstepping the line.  The after in the clue here implies that the solution is “party cancelled” and is found after the wordplay, so perhaps should have been avoided.

15 An old falconer collapsed finally (4,3,3,3)
ONCE AND FOR ALL – An anagram (collapsed) of AN OLD FALCONER.

19 Review story about outstanding chronicle (6)
RELATE – A reversal (review) of a four-letter word for a story with a two-letter word meaning about around it (outstanding).  Try as I might, and having looked at the definition of outstanding, I cannot make outstanding mean that the letters in the clue go around.

20 Obscure celeb occasionally takes smack with son (7)
ECLIPSE – The even letters (occasionally) of celeb include a four-letter word for a smack and the abbreviation for son.

23 Got rid of unpleasant woman, primarily kicked out for ridiculing revered custom (6,3)
SACRED COW – A six-letter word meaning got rid of an employee and a three-letter word for an unpleasant woman with the K (primarily kicked) removed and replaced with an R.  I don’t think that the wordplay quite works here as there is no indication (other than straining the role of primarily) to indicate that the initial letter of ridiculing it used in the solution.

24 Hot rock publication’s academic?!! (5)
MAGMA – A three-letter word for a publication followed by a two-letter abbreviation for an academic degree.

26 Unreliable boat in Sicily on vacation (7)
SKETCHY – A five-letter word for a boat in the outer letters (vacuous) of Sicily.  Having used vacant as an outer letter indicator, perhaps a different indicator should have been used here.

27 Throw eggs first? Animal! (7)
ROEBUCK – A four-letter word meaning to throw with a three-letter word for fish eggs before it (first).


1 Presently unknown (4)
ANON – Double definition, the second being the shortened form of anonymous.

2 Contemptible principal character in show’s voluptuous (6)
SCURVY – The first letter (principal character in) of show followed by a five-letter word meaning voluptuous.

3 Most important mistress doesn’t close books (9)
PARAMOUNT – An eight-letter word word for a mistress without the final letter (doesn’t close) followed by the abbreviation for New Testament (books).

4 I get into fix with black French negligee (8)
PEIGNOIR – The I from the clue inside a three-letter word meaning to fix followed by a four-letter word in French for black.  The cryptic grammar of A get into B does not work here.

5 Medic turning a spot of serotonin to paste is nonsense (10)
CODSWALLOP – A three-letter word for a medic reversed (turning) followed by the first letter (a spot) of serotonin followed by a six-letter word meaning to hit or paste.

6 Filthy place for a pen (6)
PIGSTY – Two definition pointing to a place where farmyard animals may be kept and by reference to a filthy place.

7 Cut up head of mouse to test (4)
EXAM – A three-letter word meaning to cut reversed (up) followed by the first letter (head) of mouse.

8 Facilitate return of “The Spanish Curse” (6)
ENABLE – A reversal (return) of the Spanish for the and a four-letter word for a curse.

12 Get secured area completely surrounded (10)
LANDLOCKED – A four-letter word meaning to get or win followed by a six-letter word meaning secured.

14 Back on board, minor queen makes an entrance later (9)
AFTERWARD – A three-letter word for the rear on a boat (back on board) followed by a four-letter word for a minor with the regnal cipher for the queen included (makes an entrance).

16 Establish brief access to buxom woman without introduction (8)
ENTRENCH – A five-letter word meaning access without the final letter (brief) followed by a five-letter word for a buxom woman without the first letter (without introduction).

17 Leaders of countries resist insurgencies, sending extra soldiers for emergencies (6)
CRISES – The initial letters (leaders of) the third to eighth words of the clue.

18 Comment apropos result (6)
REMARK – A two-letter word meaning apropos followed by a four-letter word for a result or score in an exam.

21 Slim Bermudan’s somewhat flexible (6)
LIMBER – The answer is hidden (somewhat) in the first two words of the clue.

22 Feeling the pain of every unknown tip off (4)
ACHY – A four-letter word meaning every followed by the letter used to represent an unknown quantity without the first letter of the resulting letters (tip off).

25 Pick up badly damaged trinket (4)
GAUD – A homophone (pick up) of GORED (badly damaged).  This is one of those instances where technically the clue works but I question the fairness for the solver as there are a wide range of words that could mean badly damaged and the solution is an obscure word.

59 comments on “Rookie Corner 418

  1. A quality puzzle with a smattering of trickier clues scattered throughout the grid to keep us on our toes.
    A pleasure to solve. We’ll nominate 3d for favourite although we haven’t yet worked out the significance of the underlining in the clue.
    Thanks Dr Diva.

  2. A very enjoyable end to my Sunday evening of solving with just the right amount of head scratching except for 25d which was completely new to me and needed some reveals. Probably not that reliable but on-line resources indicate a less than perfect match on the homophone – I wonder what our experts will think.

    Standouts for me were 7a and 12d.

    Thanks Dr Diva and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thank you Senf.
      My mother was fond of saying “Oh gawd” when she spotted some trinket she considered tacky, leading, once we stumbled across the word to the refrain from the family “Oh gawd, more ****y ****”. So it’s a word I grew up with, though I appreciate now that’s not the case for everyone. But for me one of the joys of crosswords is learning new words as well as new definitions of familiar ones.

  3. A nice crossword to solve over breakfast – my only hold-ups were with 19a and 25d – I’m surprised to find something obscure in an otherwise friendly crossword when there are several words that would have fitted with the checking letters which solvers would have easily known

    Thanks to Dr Diva (I think you too may be on the path to promotion) and, in advance, to Prolixic

  4. Just a quick notice to those who’ve taken the trouble to comment and those who will. I am in Amsterdam on my 30th wedding anniversary today, so, with a view to the next 30 years, my opportunity to reply may be limited!!

  5. Welcome back, Dr Diva.

    A very enjoyable solve indeed, just one blatant flaw (4d) where the cryptic grammar would necessitate “gets” rather than “get”. “One gets” would solve that problem though. I don’t think it was a good idea to include “vacuous” and “on vacation” in the same puzzle, as to me the devices are too similar so perhaps “discontented” in 9a would have been a better option. I would have also preferred “it’s” rather than “after” in 13a as I believe the definition doesn’t quite work as it stands. Like Gazza, I felt the 25d homophone to be a tad ambitious.

    Those quibbles apart, very little else in the puzzle jarred, the surfaces have definitely improved from those in your earlier creations (although on occasion they could be smoother!) and some of the constructions were cleverly done. No stand-out clues for me.

    Many thanks, Dr Diva.

    1. Thanks Silvanus.
      Good points. Kicking myself for 4d when such an easy alternative was available.

  6. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Dr Diva.
    I eventually revealed a letter to get 25d – as CS says an odd choice in an otherwise friendly puzzle, and as Silvanus indicates a not very satisfactory homophone.
    My favourite clue was 14d.

    1. Has Silvanus turned into Doctor Who? He appears to have commented on your comment before you had had posted it!!

      1. Thanks RD. Don’t tell Mrs Diva it’s pearl. I’m managing expectations here! But she is drying her hair, so a quick chance to respond to a couple of points.

        Puzzled by the resistance to the homophone 25d. Collins’ recordings of the spoken words has them pretty identical (think of the answer with Y on the end).

        3d must have transposition error. It wasn’t meant to be underlined, though on my mobile DOESN’T has disappeared altogether!

        1. Thanks for clarification on 3d – I was puzzled by the “close” on its own (both for wordplay and surface) and the reference to underlining – perhaps it’s an Android formatting thing?

        2. I’d get her that pearl quickly if I were you, Dr Diva, before she sees the array of diamonds on display in Amsterdam!

          1. Haha, well, she is very easy going (and, many would say, needs to be!), so will be happy with her card!

      2. Sorry, I meant to say Senf, but Gazza is usually never far from my thoughts when it comes to homophones!

  7. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Dr D, with a puzzle that was a joy to solve. I found the top half considerably easier than the bottom but that is in no way a criticism.

    I have a few minor questions, which Prolixic’s review will doubtless answer:
    – I can’t quite parse 19a.
    – If I have parsed 23a correctly, is it acceptable for “primarily … out” to apply to both “kicked” and “ridiculing”?
    – Why is “doesn’t” underlined in 3d?
    – The cryptic grammar doesn’t work in 4d as mentioned by Silvanus.
    – The synonym for “result” needed for the answer in 18d seems a bit of stretch to me.
    – Is it OK in 22d for “tip off” to apply to the word before the preceding word?

    I had a lot of ticks on my page, and my top two clues were 6a & 8d.

    Well done, Dr D. Many thanks and congratulations on your Pearl Wedding Anniversary. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. 19a I think is a reversal of “story” with usual 2-letter “about” standing outside – but “about outstanding” would on its own also provide possible wordplay, so a tricky one to parse!

      1. Thanks, Fez. I was totally fixated on “about outstanding” as the wordplay and couldn’t see at all what part “review about” was playing.

    2. RD, 18d. In this case, I can see why you used the term “a bit of a stretch”, but I still generally don’t care for “stretch/stretched”. Listed for rusult in Chambers Thesaurus are: score, grade and m**k, so I reckon it’s OK.

    3. 22d. Vertically, write the synonym of every with the “unknown” letter underneath, and then remove the top letter (tip off). I think that’s OK …

    4. Thanks RD
      I think I am getting better at keeping the solver in mind, but, like you, await Prolixic’s views on the points you raise eagerly!

  8. A largely straightforward but very enjoyable puzzle which I thought well clued throughout. I did notice one or two of the things highlighted by the experts. The only head scratch was last in 25d & not only did I not know the definition synonym but didn’t care for the homophone either. Ticks for me – 7,13,26&27a plus 3&12d
    Thanks Dr Diva & happy anniversary

  9. Thanks Dr D, and congratulations on your anniversary. A very enjoyable solve.
    With 3d now cleared up, other than 4d (should be “one gets” as Silvanus suggests) just one minor quibble – not sure about the definition in 12d (if I’ve understood, which is far from a given – using noun to clue an adjective, and perhaps not precise enough anyway?)
    I can’t see (or rather, hear) any problem with the homophone – relying on BRB pronunciation guide, it seems pretty much spot on?
    Lots of good clues, my favourites were 9a for the grimly amusing surface, 1d and 8d.

    1. Oh dear, I’m clearly missing something obvious in 12d as it’s not been questioned by others and has been picked as a favourite a couple of times too!

      1. That got me thinking, and I see what you mean Fez – I didn’t question it when I solved it though

    2. My issue with 25d wasn’t with the pronunciation. I just thought gored = badly damaged alongside a not widely known word for trinket a bit out of kilter with the difficulty level of the rest of puzzle.

      1. Agree other choices (glue, grub, etc) may have been more in keeping with the rest of the puzzle, but perhaps our setter wanted to sign off with “Dr. D” at the bottom right?

        1. Well spotted Fez – I saw that (test solve) and I think that may well be the reason, but DD never confirmed nor denied that – come on, fess up Dr Diva or I’ll rubber stamp it :whistle:

          1. It’s a brilliant spot and clearly I would have done exactly that were I only that brilliant!

  10. Very enjoyable Dr Diva, one of those puzzles where a lot of the solutions jumped out at me from the checkers rather than the wordplay, which I then had to justify.
    I liked lots including 6a&8d but my favourite was 13a.
    Thanks and congratulations on your personal milestone.

  11. Welcome back, Dr Diva. I did feel the need to check on a couple of your definitions with the BRB and, like CS, I wondered why you’d opted for that particular answer to 25d when there were other, more universally acceptable, options to play with – perhaps it’s just the devil in you?!!
    I’ll mirror others and vote for 6a & 8d as the best entries.

    Thank you for the puzzle – enjoy your anniversary celebration.

    1. Thanks Jane. As I mentioned to Senf above, it’s a word that has a place in family history, so I actually chose it out of preference, for better or worse (as I once said)

  12. Excellent puzzle; most enjoyable, Dr Diva. Thanks very much for your efforts in putting together such a well balanced challenge. No problem with 25D for me; after forty nine years together, my wife has plenty!! :) Congratulations & thanks again; really enjoyed it.

  13. Just right for me, very enjoyable, apart from the parsing of 22d and 19a. Plus 25d which I couldn’t fathom at all. 4d with checkers fell from the wordplay and I was astounded to find it in the dictionary (sheltered life you know).
    Looking forward to your next, wherever it appears ;-)

  14. Thanks everyone for all your positive comments. Glad to be able to reply as Mrs Diva’s having a quick power nap (lunchtime wine, what else?!) before we head out again tonight. The sun is shining and the tulips are resplendent!
    I will look forward to and send my appreciation in advance of Prolixic’s review.

  15. Well done, Dr Diva. A lot of enjoyable and entertaining clues.
    With the ‘I get’ at 4d, aside from changing it to ‘one gets’ as Silvanus advises for this particular puzzle, there’s also the option of using ‘I must…’ or ‘I will…’ if you want to keep the ‘I’, depending whether it can fit the surface, of course.
    I loved the anagram for 10a but couldn’t decide if the definition was quite right – although it looks as if it could be justified as N American usage. But no one seems to have mentioned it so maybe that’s my mistake. There was a rogue ‘to’ as a link to the definition elsewhere, but not everyone’s a stickler about it.
    20a was the clear favourite for me – and I didn’t spot the Dr D in the SE. Amazing coincidence.

  16. A nice collection of straightforward clues withe some headscratchers well distributed. I had to work hard to parse 20a, 5d and 14d which once cracked became my favourite.

    Keep up the good work. Thanks for the entertainment and enjoy your weekend in Amsterdam!

  17. The review will follow but I did not get back from the Classic FM live concert until the wee hours of this morning

  18. An enjoyable solve; the only one I didn’t get was 25dn, where I agree with Prolixic’s comment; no real problems elsewhere.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and the insight regarding the clues that didn’t quite work. Much appreciated as always.

  20. Thanks for the review Prolixic, always much appreciated.
    Re “outstanding” in 19a …..out standing or standing outside?

  21. Late to the puzzle as we have been out of the country but thoroughly enjoyed solving it this morning. We needed to check 25d but otherwise words happily fell into place. We look forward to your next puzzle. Enjoy Amsterdam and Happy Anniversary.

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