Rookie Corner 427 – Now available – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner 427 – Now available

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Apologies for the delay in posting the review.  Real life has intervened over the last few evenings.  There was a lot to enjoy in this crossword and some inventive cluing.  Perhaps in some places, Dr Diva tends to over-elaborate the clues.  Whilst this can work, and I rather liked the “containing less richness” for “lite”, in other places it can make the clues misleading.  Whilst the intention of the clue is to mislead, it must do so in a way that the solution is unambiguous when the clue is solved.  In some places, I think that the over-elaboration produced too many ambiguities.  The commentometer reads as 4/29 or 13.8%.


6 Musical enthusiast returns with unusual mixture of fuel (7)
TUNEFUL – A three letter word for an enthusiast reversed (returned) followed by an anagram (unusual mixture) of FUEL.

7 Detail commonly behind rise in debt (7)
ARREARS – A common / vulgar word for your behind has its final letter removed (detailed) and a four-letter word meaning rise is included within them.

9 Bride-to-be seductively revealing a bit of fat (5)
OBESE – The answer is hidden in (revealing a bit) the first two words of the clue.  There is a tendency to over-elaborate wordplay indicators.  Revealing on its own would be sufficient as a hidden word indicator.  Adding “a bit” then suggests that the solution is a “bit of fat” which is it not and “revealing a bit” does not work as well as a hidden word indicator.  Whilst you can mislead the solver, the resolution of the clue must be unambiguous.  I am not sure that it is here.  Some editors will not allow the construction wordplay of definition.  Definition of wordplay, with “of” used in the sense of “from” works.

10 Redesigned a meme girl used as a way of communicating with many people (4,5)
MAIL MERGE – An anagram (redesigned) of A MEME GIRL.

11 Young man cutting baguette, for instance, is champion (7)
PALADIN – A three-letter word for a young man is included in (cutting) a four-letter French word for bread (baguette for example).  As a matter of style, I would have made it clearer that you are looking for the French word for bread using “cutting French loaf” or something similar.

13 Group rumoured to have established the gender of space invader? (6)
SEXTET – A homophone (rumoured) of SEXED (established the gender of) followed by the two-letter abbreviation for extra-terrestrial.

15 Footwear‘s arousing – hottest I’ll see! (8,5)
STILETTO HEELS – An anagram (arousing) HOTTEST ILL SEE.

19 Like thyme & rosemary? Chuck in a touch of elderflower with this! (6)
HEREBY – A five-letter word describing the qualities of thyme and rosemary includes (chuck in) the first letter (a touch) of elderflower.

20 One of two singing rabbits with sibling’s frame (7)
CHASSIS – One of the Cockney singing duo whose hits included “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” followed by the three-letter diminutive word for a sister (sibling).  The wordplay did not raise an eyebrow but did raise a smile which went a little way to removing the frown at the nonsensical surface reading. 

23 Openly gay couple, say, resolves to be greater than others (9)
OUTNUMBER – A three-letter word meaning openly gay followed by a six-letter word for a couple.

24 What we can all see – aide going mad before farewell! (5)
ADIEU – The film classification meaning available for all to see with an anagram (going mad) of AIDE before it.  What we can see is the film with this classification.  This would have worked better as “We can all see aide going mad before farewell.

26 Serious nets are quite different (7)
EARNEST – A anagram (quite different) of NETS ARE.

27 Loves nicking king’s unpleasant daughter’s food flavouring (7)
OREGANO – Two letters O (loves) include (nicking) the name of King Lear’s unpleasant daughter.


1 Bet both essential ingredients of advanced whitener… (4)
ANTE – The central letters (essential ingredients) of both advanced and whitener.

2 …break the law as a result of rotten finish (6)
OFFEND – A three-letter word meaning rotten followed by a three-letter word meaning finish.

3 Stop restriction over tiny particle of salt during explosive case (9)
ELIMINATE – A five-letter word over part of the chemical formula for salt all inside the outer letters (case) of explosive.  I don’t think that a tiny particle of salt leads to part of the chemical formula.  “50% reduction in salt” would have worked better here.

4 Half prompt old man from Paris about first event (8)
PREMIERE – Half of an eight-letter word meaning a prompt or memory jogger with the French (from Paris) for a father (old man) around it.

5 Calamitous safety rail inventions (5,5)
FAIRY TALES – An anagram (calamitous) of SAFETY RAIL.

6 Band tore up school letters (6)
TROUPE – An anagram (school letters) of TORE UP.  I think that as an imperative instruction to rearrange the letters, school letters should not appear after the letters to be rearranged.

7 Fanatical social media video clip (4)
AVID – The answer is hidden (clip) In the third and fourth words of the clue.  Try to avoid adding padding words in clues.  Here “social” does not contribute to the clue other than as padding.

8 Inspector taking nothing from inertia involving Union (6)
SLEUTH – Remover the letter representing nothing from a five-letter word meaning inertia and include (involving) the abbreviation of European Union.

12 Writings containing less richness and joy with paragraph missing (10)
LITERATURE – A four-letter word meaning diet (containing less richness) followed a seven-letter word meaning joy without (missing) the abbreviation for paragraph.  I cannot find authority in the main dictionaries for p being used as an abbreviation for paragraph.

14 Surefire trick swapping places; consequently sent back pieces (9)
CONCERTOS – A four-letter word meaning sure fire before (swapping places) a three-letter word for a trick all followed by a two-letter word meaning consequently reversed (sent back).

16 Hesitation supporting party for worker (8)
LABOURER – A two-letter word used when expressing hesitation underneath (supporting) a six-letter name of a political party.

17 Angry hornet goes to toilet (6)
THRONE – An anagram (angry) of HORNET.  Goes to does not work as a link word.  You would need wordplay gets to definition to make the grammatical construction of the clue to work.  “Angry hornet in the toilet” would have worked better.

18 Oddly missing from outdoor event, sparse crowd initially leads to change in island group (6)
ESCUDO – The even letters (oddly missing) of outdoor with the initial letters (initially) of event sparse crowd before them (leads).  I am happy with “to” as a link word in wordplay to definition as “to” can be used in the sense of “for” or “with the result of” according to Chambers.  I am embarrassed to say that it took four or five attempts to parse this clue satisfactorily before realising that “leads to” was not a link phrase but that “leads” was the positional indicator.  That was a nice piece of misdirection.

21 Each character in turn content leaving a field of flowering shrub (6)
AZALEA – The alphabet (each character in turn) without the middle letters (content leaving) followed by the A from the clue and a three-letter word for a field.

22 Rub up against a New Yorker’s pronounced bottom (4)
ABUT – The A from the clue followed by a homophone (pronounced) of an American term for a bottom.

25 Country this puzzling author ruled (4)
IRAN – The single letter representing the setter of the crossword followed by a three-letter word meaning ruled.

20 comments on “Rookie Corner 427 – Now available

  1. Thanks for posting this (and sorry if this puzzle has jumped any queue). Like everyone, I am just wishing Big Dave a speedy recovery.

  2. An enjoyable solve. I’m still not a fan of using ‘Wordplay of definition’ and a couple of those sneaked through. There’s an ‘inertia’ typo in there somewhere, too. A few other clues push the bounds a bit – I am sure Prolixic will guide you here. Oh, and good General Knowledge at 18d! Thanks to Dr Diva for sharing and Prolixic for posting. Best wishes for a speedy recovery BD!

    1. Thanks Encota. To me WP of Def and Def of WP have always seemed OK with they both can be derived from each other, but I will certainly try to take account of your reservation in future. The typo – yes, sorry. I thought the puzzle was ready to go and would normally have checked it over again and sent a correction (as BD will confirm!), but when news of his mishap came through, I just forwarded in on without a final check so something could get posted.

  3. Well worth waiting for with enjoyable clues and some cunning wordplay – thanks Dr Diva.
    I’m not convinced by the ‘tiny particle of salt’ in 3d and, unless I’m missing something, the ‘social’ in 7d is just padding.
    The clues I selected for the podium were 11a, 4d and 22d.

  4. Thanks Dr D, an enjoyable solve with lots of good ideas (as we’ve come to expect!)

    Aside from the typo in 8d, and the “social” padding in 7d, I thought there were a few ‘issues’ that I suspect are to do with personal taste for how ‘strict’ the grammar should be and/or how ‘stretched’ a synonym or idea is. So for me e.g. “what we can all see” in 24a doesn’t quite work, and 23a’s “couple, say” maybe stretching things, but I can appreciate the intent and they may work well for others – whilst I did like 13a’s “space invader”, 12d’s “containing less richness” and 25d’s “this puzzling author”, all of which I wouldn’t be surprised if they divided the crowd. 21d I think I ‘get’ but I’m not sure if it’s just a little step too far (a two-step process), similarly I’d have preferred the island group to be named in 18d – on the other hand, I thought the “king’s” could be reasonably omitted from 27a to improve the surface reading. These are really just personal observations though, as I am sure there are arguments either way in all of these cases – hope that makes sense!

    There were a few occasions where I thought the link word/phrase wasn’t quite right. 9a, 21d with wordplay “of” definition, also 17d “goes to” doesn’t work for me. Perhaps the trickiest example of this is in 18d though – with (I think, if I’ve parsed correctly!) wordplay “to” definition – I’m not keen on this construction but have seen it used before. (Also in 18d I’m not entirely convinced by the grammar… will be particularly interested to see Prolixic’s take on this clue!) Having said that, on other occasions I do like your use of perhaps slightly unusual linking words/phrases to improve the surfaces (10a, 23a, 2d)

    20a took me some time to parse – I like the “one of two singing rabbits” but wondered just how accurate/fair it might be… and after much thought decided it was perfectly fair and good fun! Not sure how it might translate for non-UK solvers, or even just those a bit younger than me. Purely from that wordplay, it was in line for my COTD – however, the surface is just a little bit weird, so instead I’ve plumped for the excellent 11a as the overall winner amongst plenty of contenders.

    Thanks again Dr Diva, looking forward to your next; thanks in advance to Prolixic; and apologies for my long-winded rambling!

    1. Wow, thanks, Fez, for your very comprehensive and very welcome appraisal. Glad it got the grey matter going. This was my first sortie “flying solo” and perhaps, as my test solver on my last few submissions, LBR’s ever-wise counsel would have reined me in a bit! But, as he will testify, I do sometimes like to push the boundaries a bit and am certainly aware there are instances of doing so here. It has always been the way I learn. Perhaps we can agree, even when I am adjudged to have strayed over the line, I am at least closer to it than in previous outings! But I will look forward, as ever, to Prolixic’s wise thoughts.

      1. DD. Well done for putting your head above the parapet and providing another puzzle. I’ve just been browsing this blog and have an incidental comment. Like Fez above, I’m not sure about the “goes to” in 17d. I was wondering if you could have left it out altogether with the briefer/more simple: Angry hornet’s toilet (6)? Just a thought …

  5. Welcome back, Dr Diva.

    Whilst solving your latest puzzle it did repeatedly occur to me that there were more flaws and “leaps of faith” than your last one, and then I read above that your previous test solver played no part here. I won’t enquire as to the reason for the co-operation being dissolved but I think good test solvers are worth their weight in gold and I have to say from experience that “flying solo” isn’t an ideal path to pursue.

    Whist the puzzle was enjoyable to tackle, I thought the anagram count was on the high side and I felt the surface readings were generally far less convincing this time. Some of my reservations have already been raised, I’m sure Prolixic will mention a few others.

    I’m really disappointed to say that I think this particular puzzle sees you going backwards rather than forwards, Dr Diva. I believe your last three puzzles have scored 20%, 15% and 13% on the commentometer, I would have liked to have seen you get single figures this time, but I think you’re going to be well short, I’m sorry to say.

    Many thanks for the puzzle. Thank you too to those stepping in to publish the crossword in BD’s enforced absence.

  6. That had us working hard but we did eventually get it all sorted. Scratched our heads about the singing rabbits until we looked in Google.
    A enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Dr Diva.

  7. Well done, Dr Diva – on the puzzle as a whole, and for getting it out there so quickly in the circumstances.

    I don’t have much to add to Fez’s detailed thoughts – lots of useful food for thought for you to chew on there. I thought “space invader” was fine but I think the more usual word here might have made more sense for the surface. Took me a long time to twig “one of two singing rabbits” and while I agree with Fez that it’s fun, I don’t think it’s “fair” (it’s inaccurate for one thing, and it’s missing a capital letter) but on the other hand, it did make me smile, so I can forgive that.

    Favourites for me were 11a, 19a, 25d. Perhaps “baguette” is a tad indirect, but it’s an easy enough mental leap to make, so I don’t mind that.

    Still a couple I’m slightly struggling to parse fully, so I look forward to Prolixic’s review.

    1. I had the same thoughts originally re rabbits needing to be singular and capitalised – but I think the clue works, as within the song being alluded to, they are indeed, repeatedly, singing ‘rabbits’ – i.e. it is the lyrical content not the title itself that is referenced. Probably still a bit ‘pushing the boundaries’ – but I agree it raised a big smile so certainly forgiveable even if, arguably, not absolutely strictly correct.

      1. Yes, I pondered the same justification but still not 100% convinced. Still, when a clue makes you smile, that papers over a lot of cracks!

    2. Thanks Widdersbel. I was aware it might be considered a “boundary pusher” but the (singular and capitalised) song starts with no less than 20 repetitions of rabbit, which justified it in my mind. Throughout the song they must sing rabbit 100+ times, so I considered it fair to say they were singing rabbits. But if Prolixic disagrees, I will take my medicine!

  8. Thank you, Dr Diva, for a generally enjoyable puzzle – and for stepping into the breech!

    I liked the way the clues in 1d and 2d did actually run together very smoothly. Some very clever clues (24a) good surfaces (7a) and broad smiles (9a, 15a) but a few quite strange (eg 17d) or uneven (eg 27a, 21d) surfaces and a couple of quizzical furrowed eyebrows (13a, 19a) as well.

    Not enitirely convinced that 20a works, and will be interested to see how a couple of my bung-ins parse (3d, 4d), so will look forward to Prolixic’s review (to whom my own thanks in advance).

    As ever huge respect for all who put their heads over the parapet, and thank you once again.

  9. Beaten by 7a, 8d &18d but an enjoyable distraction nevertheless. Thank you Dr Diva & Prolixic in advance.

  10. Thanks to all who have taken the trouble to comment. It’s been instructive and ALL feedback is welcome!!
    All we want now is BD to get back on his feet.

    1. Thank you very much for the excellent, fair and very enlightening review Prolixic. In defence of 20d against the charge of “completely nonsensical surface”, I think if you said ” singer has sister’s frame,” meaning physical build, it might not feature in the great lines of literature, but I hope it has some sense to it.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I think I’d expected a higher number to register on the commentometer but I was probably just annoyed with myself for failing on 14d and never having heard of 10a!
    Thanks to Dr. Diva for filling the Rookie slot at such short notice.

Comments are closed.