Rookie Corner 421 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 421

A Puzzle by Hubble

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 to Hubble with his fourth outing in the Rookie corner.  Looking back at the previous crossword, I think there are a few more errors in this one, so the commentometer is higher at 3/33 or 9.1%.  However, the overall feel of the crossword and the quality of the cluing was good.


9 Animal belonging to setter’s quite big (5)
ROOMY – A three-letter diminutive word for an Australian marsupial followed by a two-letter word meaning belonging to the setter.

10 Odd sister with head down standing beside banker in the east (9)
UNNATURAL – A three-letter word for a religious sister with the first letter (head) moved (down) followed by a two-letter word meaning standing beside and a four-letter name for a Russian river.  Head down does not work for the movement of a letter in an across clue.

11 Spice beer to produce refreshing drink (6,3)
GINGER ALE – A six-letter word meaning spice followed by a three-letter word for a type of beer.

12 Colour of estuary when source drained (5)
UMBER – The name of a northeastern river estuary without the initial letter (source drained).

13 Checked small garage in recess without parking (7)
STOPPED – The abbreviation for small followed by a five-letter word for a garage reversed (in recess) around (without) the abbreviation for parking.

15 Translates first three of Decameron’s poems (7)
DECODES – The first three letters of Decameron followed by a four-letter word for poems.

17 Nice of enemy to deliver writer (5)
DEFOE – The French word (Nice) meaning of followed by a three-letter word for an enemy.

18 Bird that Italian eats (3)
TIT – The answer is hidden in (eats) the middle two words of the clue.

20 Moderators welcoming poetic goddess (5)
ERATO – The answer is hidden (welcoming) in the first word of the clue.

22 European proposal could be shock (7)
EMOTION – The abbreviation for European followed by a six-letter word for a proposal tabled at a meeting.

25 Half-constructed road tunnel dark round building (7)
ROTUNDA – The first halves (half-constructed) of the third to fifth words of the clue.  I think that the indicator here can apply to more than one word here.

26 An old politician going on (5)
AFOOT – The indefinite article followed by the surname of an old Labour politician and former leader of the labour party.

27 Drop friends’ receptor cells in orifice (5,4)
TASTE BUDS – A five-letter word for a drop followed by an American term for friends.  

30 Record track disregarded by lightweight chart (9)
HISTOGRAM – A seven-letter word for a record without the abbreviation for railway (track disregarded) followed by a four-letter word for a light weight.  As lightweight is not the same as a light weight, I think that this should have been indicated.

31 Alaskan advocate introducing a companion to country house (5)
DACHA – The abbreviation for an American (Alaskan) lawyer or advocate includes (introducing) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for companion.


1 Gear up for game (4)
BRAG – A reversal (up) of a four-letter word for clothes (gear).

2 Spout, say, not working (5,3)
SOUND OFF – A five-letter word meaning say followed by a three-letter word meaning not working.

3 Some reporting purchaser for Jersey home? (4)
BYRE – A homophone of buyer (purchaser).

4 Noted drama to return following injury to aunt by discharged round (8)
TURANDOT – A reversal (return) of the TO from the clue after (following) and anagram (injury to) of AUNT RD (discharged round).  I don’t think that the by works to indicate an anagram of A and B.

5 Popular act for sure (6)
INDEED – A two-letter word meaning popular followed by a four-letter word meaning an act.

6 Unconventional census that is most reliable (10)
STAUNCHEST – An anagram (unconventional) of CENSUS THAT.

7 Having dressed, head of police investigated (6)
PROBED – A five-letter word meaning dressed after the first letter (head) of police.  I would have liked a stronger indication that the head of police goes before the dressed.  Head has also been used as an initial letter indicator in 10a so perhaps a different initial letter indicator should have ben used here.

8 Canon almost keels over after bishop’s smear (4)
BLUR – A four-letter word for a canon or law with the final letter removed (almost) is reversed (keels over) after the abbreviation for bishop.

13 Edge of channel disappearing to some degree on the rise (5)
SIDLE – The answer is hidden and reversed (to some degree on the rise) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

14 Before delivery, making bet (10)
PREDICTION – A three-letter prefix meaning before followed by a seven-letter word for delivery or accent.

16 Test coming up in South Africa creates opening (5)
STOMA – The annual car test is reversed (coming up) inside the abbreviation for South Africa.  Having used up as a reversal indicator in 1d, perhaps a different indicator the associated “coming up” here should have been used.

19 A little support for flag is routine (8)
TIRESOME – A four-letter word meaning a little underneath (support for) a four-letter word meaning to flag.

21 Expert picking up new word in broadcast (8)
ANNOUNCE – A three-letter word for an expert includes (picking up) the abbreviation for new and a four-letter word for a part of speech for a word.

23 Loves hugging Britain’s leading player (6)
OBOIST – Two letters O (loves) around (hugging) the abbreviation for Britain followed by the abbreviation for first (leading).

24 Belt around river in style (6)
NATURE – A three-letter word meaning to hit or belt reversed (around) followed by the three-letter name of. river.

26 One bearing husband’s pain (4)
ACHE – A three-letter word meaning one (as in a playing card) around (bearing) the abbreviation for husband.

28 Spin journalist has empty diary (4)
EDDY – The abbreviation for editor (journalist) followed by the outer letters (empty) of diary.

29 Quiet morning for idol (4)
SHAM – A two-letter word meaning be quiet followed by the abbreviation for morning.  As the solution is an obsolete meaning of the definition, this should be indicated as “old idol” or something similar.

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 421

  1. Tricky in places. Got 29d from the wordplay but don’t understand the definition.
    Our favourite and last in was the very clever 27a.
    Thanks Hubble.

  2. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Hubble, for what I found to be an enjoyable solve and it’s good to see you are making a steady improvement. I thought parts of this were quite challenging but that’s certainly not an issue.

    Two of your definitions seemed a bit dodgy to me: “style” in 24d and “idol” in 29d; and I have two technical comments on which I will defer to Prolixic when he publishes his review:
    – 25a. I’m not sure if “half-constructed” in 25a can apply to the following three words rather than just one.
    – 4d. “By” appears to be surface padding in the middle of the anagram fodder.

    My top three were 15a, 16d & 28d.

    Many thanks, Hubble, and well done. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. RD, just thought I’d comment whilst watching the snooker final. I’m not sure that dodgy is any better than stretched but “style” in 24a could be both as I can’t find it listed as a definition of the answer anywhere. But, somehow, it does feel OK – I’ll have to ruminate further. 29d: the answer is listed as a definition of idol in the BRB. Come on, Ronnie!

      1. 29d – yes, Jose, but it’s obsolete and so, if it is to be used, should be indicated as such.

        1. I suppose “unindicated” is an upgrade from “dodgy” – I’ll settle for that.

  3. Thanks Hubble, a very enjoyable puzzle – I thought there was a good mix of clues in terms of difficulty. SW held me up for a while.
    Like RD I can’t quite get 4d to work. I also wasn’t sure about the “head down” in an across clue. I thought I had answer to 2d but habitual press of check button on completion revealed an incorrect first letter … I can’t parse this ‘correct’ solution though, perhaps it is a mistake
    Lots of good clues – my favourites were 30a & 16d. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  4. Welcome back Hubble

    Quite a lot of the crossword was solver-friendly but a fair part of the bottom half wasn’t! I have one clue with a ? by it. The 2Ks and RD should look up the final word of 29a in the BRB in order to find the solution, which it does say is obsolete

    Thank you to Hubble for the breakfast entertainment and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review

  5. Hi Hubble
    I found this hard and needed help to complete it. Even then, some parsing and definitions elude me, but I also found much to enjoy.
    In 10a, I’m not sure “down” works as it’s an across clue and in 30a I feel “lightweight” needs a lift and separate instruction.
    I thought the balance of clue types was good and enjoyed the simpler 5d and 26a. Aoverall a definite improvement, I’d say.

    1. DD, 10d. I assumed that the first 2 letters of the answer were derived from a 3-letter synonym of “sister” with the first letter missing (with head down). But, it’s not unheard-of for me to be wrong …

      1. Jose, in that case where does the third letter of the answer come from?

        1. I’ve got this as a simple charade of (N)UN plus NAT (nationality = standing/status) plus URAL(banker in the east). But you guys have got me wondering now. What have I missed?

          1. “Standing beside” = AT. So: NUN with her “head” moved “down” -> UNN + AT + URAL.

            I don’t think NAT is a valid abbreviation for nationality – at least, it’s not in the BRB.

            However, that still leaves open the objection that you can’t move down in an across clue.

            1. Ah, I see – that’s probably the intended parsing. I suppose that “down” can just mean “along” without any suggestion of descending, as in: We moved down/along the train to find a quieter carriage. But I do think your objection could well be valid.

  6. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Hubble.
    My problems were in the NW rather than the South. I can’t parse 4d. I thought I had the answer to 2d but Fez’s comment made me check my answer and now I’m totally confused.
    My favourite clue was 26a.

    1. I think that the answer to 2d must begin with an S but the on-line version requires an R to show a successful completion of the crossword. I suspect that the solution has been incorrectly entered in the file behind the scenes that the on-line version uses to display the crossword and check the solutions.

    2. Gazza, I parsed 4d as TO reversed preceded by an anagram (injury) of AUNT RD (discharged round) but that doesn’t account for the “by”.

      1. Thanks, RD. That’s about as far as I got but the discharged RounD isn’t adjacent to (by) the anagram so I don’t think it works.

        1. I guess the “by” could work like “and” i.e. an injury to “[some letters] with / next to [some other letters]”? (Agree this doesn’t really work, though – a step too far)

  7. I felt that our setter had tried a bit too hard in places to make this tough, to the detriment of both surface reads and enjoyment.
    There were certainly some good clues to be found but equally several of the convoluted type that should possibly have been rewritten.

    Thanks, Hubble, apologies for being rather negative about this one.

  8. Welcome back, Hubble.

    I really enjoyed your latest puzzle and feel that each of your crosswords has shown an improvement, which is ideally how it should be.

    The “by” in 4d jarred for me too, and I would never recommend having “lurkers” in successive clues, particularly when one is a three-letter word. My printed page has quite a number of ticks though, my picks probably being 9a, 23d and 26d.

    Many thanks, Hubble. Keep up the improvement!

  9. I enjoyed this a lot Hubble and I have ticks throughout the grid.
    9,26&30a plus 2,14,21d&26d all hit the spot for me with 23d my favourite.
    Many thanks and in advance to Prolixic

  10. Thanks, Hubble. We found the bottom half more difficult to solve than the top half, although after reading comments above and revealing letters we see our 2d is incorrect. We had ‘going off’ when one spouts (talks) off! We struggled with 19d, 30a and understanding our answer for 29d. Favourites were 16d, 17a and 11a. Thanks to Prolixic in advance for explanations tomorrow.

  11. Thanks to BD for publishing my latest effort, and to all who’ve commented on it. I’d just like to give some insight into my thought processes regarding the clues that have attracted the most comments.

    10a I wasn’t thinking of ‘down’ as opposite to up, but as in eg down the line ie further from the start. I see now that ‘head back’ would have been a better choice.

    4d My intention was precisely as RD parsed in his response to Gazza, with ‘by’ meaning ‘alongside’, as per Fez’s comment.

    I don’t have the benefit of a test solver, which is a pity, as I think it would help eliminate most of the issues raised.

    Thanks again to everybody for the feedback.

    1. I’d be happy to test-solve a Hubble puzzle, if you like – though won’t be offended if not! I’m sure BD could put us in touch if that would be helpful. Thanks again for the puzzle, and to Prolixic for review.

  12. Coming to this rather late but wanting to record my thanks and plaudits to you Hubble for a super puzzle. I was fortunate to find myself on your wavelength from the off, and found this a reasonably straightforward solve: Tuesday/Wednesday DT backpager, I guess.

    My only ? marks were against 29d (unknown archaism to me) and 7d, and while I agree with the lightweight / light weight remarks, 30a was a clue I otherwise particularly enjoyed, likewise 25a when the penny dropped. I did enjoy the reasonably concise clueing. I do look forward to your next puzzle!

    My thanks again to you, and to Prolixic for the review.

  13. Solved a day late & with the aid of 1 letter reveal. There were a couple I couldn’t parse & can’t say I found it easy but thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. Like MG I too liked the concise clueing.
    Many thanks Hubble – look forward to your next contribution

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