Rookie Corner 425 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 425

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.

Quite an achievement from Madcap to get all of the across solutions to include homophones and not have any obscure words in the down clues.  There were a few minor issues in the clues but the commentometer reads as 2/29 or 6.8%


7 Tips of sweet carrots infuse retro pulse soup (7)
BORSCHT – The initial letters (tips) of sweet and carrots inside (infuse) a reversal (retro) of a five-letter word meaning pulse [BOAR]

8/20D Change disadvantage to advantage – that’s how to develop the ablest (4,3,6)
TURN THE TABLES – A reverse anagram where the solution reads as an anagram clue that gives “the ablest” as the result.  [TERN].  I don’t think that this is ideal as a reverse anagram clue.  The “the” is unchanged and the final word of the solution only requires you to me the last letter of ablest to the beginning.

9 Strip shows barring whips (4)
BARE – An eight-letter word for shows in a nightclub without a four-letter word for whips. [BEAR]

10 They cut down rushes and Spooner weeded remnants (4,5)
ROAD HUMPS – An Spoonerism of HOED (weeded) RUMPS (remnants) [ROE].  You need Spoonerism or according to Spooner to show the wordplay required.  Spooner on its own is not sufficient.

12 Extremes of hobby involve an element that is dangerous (5)
HAIRY – The outer letters (extremes) of hobby include (involve) a three-letter word for an element [HARE].  Unless you are a an ancient Roman or Greek solver, describing the three-letter word as an element is somewhat out of date!

13 Force way through messy scum line (6,2)
MUSCLE IN – A anagram (messy) of SCUM LINE.  [MUSSEL]

15 Person alone in audience (4)
SOUL – A homophone (in audience) of sole (alone).  [SOLE].

16 Wise, maybe from erring regularly that is (5)
ERNIE – The odd letters (regularly) of erring followed by the abbreviation for id test (that is). [ERNE]

17 Split payment (4)
RENT – Double definition for a tear and a payment made under a lease. [WREN].

18 There is no charge on this circuit of Tour Nine (8)
NEUTRINO – An anagram (circuit) of TOUR NINE. [NEWT]

20 Might this help recorder to make accurate notes? (5)
TUNER – A cryptic definition of something a musician might use. [TUNA].

21 You put acid in bath where adolescents meet (5,4)
YOUTH CLUB – The you from the clue followed a three-letter word for a bath that includes the chemical formula for hydrochloric acid.  [EWE].

22 Strike a light! (4)
LAMP – Double definition of a word meaning to hit or strike and something that gives light.  [LAMB]

24 Y-fronts (lace lining!) on man shooting the breeze (7)
YACKING – The Y from the clue before (fronts) the inner letters (lining) of lace and a four-letter word for a chess piece (man).  [YAK].

25 Quarrymen once brewed best ale (7)
BEATLES – An anagram {brewed) of BEST ALE.  [BEE OR BEETLE].


1 Primarily, it’s one tiny amount (4)
IOTA – The initial letters (primarily) of the last four words of the clue.

2 Outstanding cape lies in ruins (8)
ESPECIAL – An anagram (in ruins) of CAPE LIES.

3 One stoned as a result of singer on track (6)
CHERRY – A four-letter name of a a singer followed by the abbreviation for railway (line).

4 Duel with no quarter finally overwhelms game French peer (8)
DUCHESSE – The first three letters of duel (with no quarter finally) inside (overwhelms) a five-letter word for a board game.  I think in a down clue, overwhelms is not the best indicator for a containment indicator suggests more pressing down on.

5 Being heard, one such is, partially or wholly, in each across answer (6)
ANIMAL – Definition of what each across clue contains a homophone of.

6 Yarn read out engages you and me like this (4)
THUS – A six-letter word for a yarn without the READ from the clue followed by the pronoun represent you and me.

11 Balm on doily contains moisturiser (6,3)
ALMOND OIL – The answer is hidden (contains) in the first three words of the clue.

12 Newton’s rival deduced, from combining hydrogen and oxygen, fine conclusion in principle (5)
HOOKE – The chemical symbols for Hydrogen and Oxygen followed by a two-letter word meaning fine or acceptable and the final letter (conclusion) of the last word of the clue.

14 Children nip back, hiding inside (5)
INNER – The answer is hidden (hiding) and reversed (back) in the first two words of the clue.

16 Hot smoke rising with some momentary vision (8)
EPIPHANY – The abbreviation for hot and a four-letter word for something you smoke reversed (rising) followed by a three-letter word meaning some.

17 Locks scientists outside entrance with key inside (8)
RINGLETS – The abbreviation for Royal Society (scientists) around (outside) a five-letter word for a an entrance or bay around (with … inside) a musical key.

19 Cycling affected vehicles (6)
TRUCKS – A six-letter word meaning affected or hit with the letters cycled.

20 See 8 Across

21 Endlessly long duration (4)
YEAR – A five-letter word meaning long or pine without the final letter (endlessly).

23 Be full up for event (4)
MEET – A four-letter word meaning be full reversed (up).

27 comments on “Rookie Corner 425

  1. Lots of cleverness that had us working really hard. We saved 5d to last and then had some fun going through the answers all over again.
    Thanks Madcap.

  2. Welcome back, Madcap, with another entertaining puzzle which is technically pretty sound coupled with some inventive clueing. My main concern is that some of your surfaces definitely need polishing.

    5d was an interesting (albeit not very cryptic) way of telling the solver about the 15 homophones to be found in the across clues. A couple of these eluded me for a while but I found them all in the end.

    I have never come across anyone but an American using the expression “shooting the breeze” – but then again nor have I come across Y-fronts with a lace lining!

    I gave ticks to 15a, 17a, 21a, 25a, 6d,17d & 21d.

    Well done and thank you, Madcap. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  3. An enjoyable crossword, thank you Madcap and thanks in advance to Prolixic

    I see that, once again, the BRB disagrees with RD!

    1. Are you saying your BRB has an entry for lace-lined Y-fronts crypticsue???

  4. I enjoyed this. Quite accessible with several clues (eg 21a) where the definition was very clearly signalled but plenty to smile at and the background theme is nicely incorporated. Ticks from me for 8a, 18a, 3d, 14d, 19d. I was unclear about the deletion indicator in 4d – ‘with no quarter finally’ doesn’t suggest either the letter in question or the final letter. If it’s the fraction to be deleted, it seems slightly awkward. But I could be mis-parsing it completely. I am lost, though, when it comes to parsing 9a and would welcome elucidation. Thanks Madcap and Prolixic in advance.

    1. PM, isn’t 4d simply an instruction to remove the final quarter of duel, i.e. the L? For 9a, the shows are “cabarets” from which you need to remove some “whips”.

      1. Hi RD. Thanks for clearing up 9a. On 4d, the final quarter was the most likely and I still feel it reads slightly awkwardly. Prob just me. Minor point and certainly didn’t prevent solve.

  5. Very enjoyable but we couldn’t parse 9a until reading Rabbit Dave’s explanation above. We also needed to reveal the first letter of 24a to arrive at the answer. Last one in was 10a. Favourites were 21a and 4d and 17d. Thank you, Madcap and also in advance to Prolixic.

  6. Thanks Madcap, a very enjoyable solve. All seems good technically, just a couple of very minor quibbles – in 10a I’m not sure just ‘Spooner’ is sufficient (rather than e.g. ‘Spooner’s’ or ‘according to Spooner’), and in 24a I think the ‘lace lining’ ought to be ‘lining of lace’ or similar.
    I agree with RD that 5d might have been better disguised (e.g. “One’s heard in everything you’re putting across”?) but then again that would have really upped the difficulty – so making the theme ‘obvious’ was perhaps a more solver-friendly choice (I certainly needed the theme to get over the line, e.g. for 9a)
    My favourites were 17a, 22a, 12d, 16d & 17d.
    Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  7. Found lots to like in this Madcap. Well done!! Though easy enough from the definition, 8/20d didn’t work for me as a clue. I can’t establish out what purpose “that’s how to” serves, but perhaps I am not parsing it right. 9a I would never have got, so thanks to RD. But apart from some unlikely surfaces, everything seems technically good with a long list of favourites – 12a, 16a, 17a, 22a, 14d 19d, 21d

  8. A very enjoyable puzzle and the theme involving 5d is very clever, but I have to question its fairness – frankly the solution to 5d is impossible to get without solving a certain number of Across clues first (quite a few actually), so maybe it’s a tad too ambitious? I would have preferred to see “infusing” for the cryptic grammar in 7a and I agree with Fez that just listing the name “Spooner” isn’t quite sufficient, although everyone knows what was intended.

    My favourite clue, or combination of clues actually, was the 8a/20d twosome.

    A very well-constructed and fun crossword, thanks and congratulations, Madcap.

  9. Thanks for the helpful feedback, which will definitely inform my future puzzle construction. Just one response right now regarding 5D. The definition is meant to be ‘Being heard’. That is, ‘being’ as in ‘a living thing’.

  10. Nice one, Madcap, lots to enjoy here. I loved the Spoonerism, notwithstanding Fez’s fair observation. I’ll also add to the praise for the 8a/20d pair. Took me a while to twig the kind of element required for 12a but I like that one too.

    Re 5d – might just be a failure of imagination on my part, but I struggle to hear what I’m supposed to be hearing in several cases (even after working out what’s going on, I’m still unsure about eg 10a, 21a) – which made solving 5d that bit trickier for me. silvanus makes a good point – some stand alone wordplay element would have helped. It’s a nice conceit though, and adds to the overall fun of the puzzle. Keep up the good work.

    ETA: cross-posted with your explanation for 5d, which does let you off the hook a bit!

    1. W. If you’ve got the others, 10a and 21a should soon become apparent. Incidentally, 25a contains two! And 18a, if you manipulate the pronunciation of the second.

      1. Thanks to Prolixic’s explanations, I can see it’s simply a case of me being dense!

          1. Ha! Very good. I’ve seen far worse homophones than that in Guardian crosswords.

  11. Thanks Madcap for an enjoyable and reasonable accessible puzzle. I hadn’t noticed the various 5 downs (which was a bung in then search) in the puzzle
    I particularly liked 8a/20d plus 22&25a along with 1,3,6&23d.
    Thanks to Prolixic in advance too.

  12. I thought this was excellent. Well done Madcap. I first looked at this at midnight when it was first published and got hooked! Every time I got stuck and was about to retire, pennies kept dropping and I ended up completing it and having a late night. I hadn’t been able to parse 9a or 17d. Looking again this morning the penny dropped for 17d – ( kept thinking ingle was the entrance). Thank you RD for the of explanation for 9a – very tough clue to parse.
    All in all very entertaining. Favourite clues 8/20 and 25.

    I thought the theme was clever too. The checkers were needed to bung in 5d but I thought it was a fair way to notify us of the theme. It made me confident of the bung in for 9a even though I hadn’t parsed it.

    I look forward to your next one.

  13. One further comment. On first viewing the grid looked to be one that was as unfriendly as you possibly choose with very few checkers providing first letters of the solutions. However a scatter gun approach enabled me to find the easier clues which did help to unlock those that were more challenging – so not a problem in the end.

    There may be some technical issues, as others have pointed out, and no doubt Prolixic will elucidate if there are. However nothing got in the way of the solve for me. So thanks again.

  14. As with your previous puzzles, I made very heavy weather of this, Madcap, although I realise that probably has more to do with my wavelength than your setting abilities!
    The theme was good fun and I particularly enjoyed 12,13 &21a.

    Thank you for bringing us another challenge.

  15. Like Jane I made heavy weather of this & needed a letter reveal to nudge me to completion. Thought it a very well constructed puzzle & loved the animal homophones, all of which I identified once that penny dropped. The Spoonerism was my last in & possibly my favourite along with those Y- fronts. Add me to those unable to parse 9a – thanks RD.
    Thanks Madcap & well done.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and thanks to Madcap for that clever idea with the ‘across’ clues – took the puzzle up quite a few notches here!

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