Rookie Corner 428 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 428

A Puzzle by Coot

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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:

A high impressive and polished crossword from Coot with only a couple of minor niggles in relation to 8d and 21d.  The commentometer reads as 1/30 or 3.3%.


1 Find accommodation in small flat given prior notice (5)
ADAPT – A three-letter abbreviation for apartment (small flat) with the abbreviation advertisement (notice) before it (prior).

4 Coot, ignored by colourful bird, about to move slightly (5,4)
BUDGE OVER – The single letter representing the setter removed (ignored by) from a seven-letter word for a colourful caged bird followed by a four-letter word meaning about.

9 Agree time to share ultimate in chocolate fancy (7)
CHIMERA – A five-letter word meaning agree followed by a three-letter word meaning time but sharing the letter E (ultimate in chocolate).

10 Hopefully improving, rejects good painkiller (7)
ASPIRIN – An eight-letter word meaning hopefully improving without the abbreviation for good.

11 Busy mum, a lutist, gets final offers (10)
ULTIMATUMS – An anagram (busy) of MUM A LUTIST.

12 Security organisation negative about cover for airport (4)
NATO – The two-letter word expressing a negative around (about) the outer letters (cover for) of airport.

14 Having reduced hazards, skied freely on red run (2-6)
DE-RISKED – An anagram (freely) of skied after (on) an anagram (run) of red.

15 Some players regularly boycotted teammates’ initiation (5)
OCTET – The even letters (regularly) in boycotted followed by the first letter (initiation) of teammates.

17 Major’s wife maybe not quite as we’d expect (5)
NORMA – A six-letter word meaning as we’d expect with the final letter removed (not quite).

19 Leaves work very, very loudly following warning (5,3)
SIGNS OFF – A two-letter word meaning very followed by the musical abbreviation for very loudly all after a four-letter word meaning a warning.

22 Leader of old English college (4)
EXEC – The two-letter prefix meaning old followed by the abbreviations for English and college.

23 Poorly constructed façade held for years (4-6)
HALF-DECADE – An anagram (poorly constructed) of FACADE HELD.

25 Green movement preserving health standards, essentially (7)
EMERALD – The middle letters (essentially) of the second to fifth words of the clue.

26 Job‘s less demanding when one ousts unionist (7)
CASHIER – A seven-letter word meaning less demanding with an A (one) replacing (oust) the abbreviation for unionist.

27 Note condition deleted in legal document (5,4)
TITLE DEED – A two-letter musical note followed by an anagram (condition) of DELETED.

28 Time to put one’s letters in order? (5)
SPELL – A double definition.


1 Result of investing in a vulgar pursuit, reportedly (7,8)
ACCRUED INTEREST – An homophone (reportedly) of A CRUDE INTEREST (a vulgar pursuit).

2 Boxer originally sought to emulate Queen for celebrity (1-6)
A-LISTER – The usual crossword heavyweight boxer followed by the the initial letters (originally) of sought to emulate and the single letter abbreviation for queen.

3 Temperature control matters to hot bats (10)
THERMOSTAT – An anagram (bats) of MATTERS TO HOT.

4 Scottish animals live like couples (8)
BEASTIES – A two-letter word meaning live followed by a two-letter word meaning like and a four-letter word meaning couples or joins.

5 Gracious way to open letter addressed to oneself? (4,2)
DEAR ME – How you might address a letter to your self.

6 Show series of sex positions (4)
EXPO – The answer is hidden (series of) in the final two words of the clue.

7 Alternative song inspired by principal character in Verne’s books (7)
VARIANT – A four-letter word for an operatic song inside (inspired by) the first letter (principal character in) of Verne and the abbreviation for new testament (books).

8 Can’t drive further, bursting – rueful stop or not? (4,3,2,6)
RUN OUT OF PETROL – An anagram (bursting) of RUEFUL STOP OF NOT.  As a phrase this does not appear  in UK dictionaries.  It seems to be a variant of the more usual phrase ending in steam, which is given in Chambers.  In any event, the solution is why you cannot drive further, not a direct synonym for it.  I think you should avoid phrases like this that does not have a separate entry in the dictionaries.

13 Noblewomen consider letters (10)
COUNTESSES – A five-letter word meaning consider followed by how you would spell phonetically two or more letters S.

16 Coffee’s up – drinking nine’s dicey? (3-5)
SIX-FACED – A reversal (up) of a type of coffee (preserving the ’s at the end) includes (drinking) the Roman numerals for nine.

18 Choose again to stagger current treatment (2-5)
RE-ELECT – A four-letter word meaning to stagger followed by the abbreviation for an electrical therapeutic treatment.

20 Milky-white Alabama State houses (7)
OPALINE – The State code for Alabama inside (houses) a five-letter word meaning to state or give a view on.

21 Leaders of birds above lake pass Coot perhaps (6)
BALDIE – The initial letters (leaders) of the third to fifth words of the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning to pass away.  Whilst you can have as bald as a Coot, I don’t think that this makes Coot directly synonymous.

24 Come to trail (4)
WAKE – Double definition.

38 comments on “Rookie Corner 428

  1. An enjoyable head scratcher, thanks Coot.

    Smiles for 17a, 1d, 16d, 20d.

    I am not sure if I have 22a correct, but if I have it appears to have C as an abbreviation for College which I can’t find in the BRB but it is in the Crossword Dictionary so I suspect that it might be in, say, Collins.

    25a – another one of those where we ask the question can essentially refer to multiple preceding words?

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi Senf. I subscribe to the online Chambers and c = college is one of the two dozen or so indicated abbreviations in there

    2. hi Senf, c for college is definitiely supported by the BRB app … originally though I was wondering if “den” might be a stretched synonym for college, and had Sir Anthony as a “leader of old” :-/ thankfully with electronic version available the check button came to my rescue. (And I think “essentially” is fine to refer to multiple words.)

    3. Many thanks, Senf. The hard copy BRB does have c=college. It is between “cold (water)” and “colt” in the entry that precedes “the speed of light”.

    4. A further thought on the observation regarding 25a. The issue with the indicator in question is knowing to how much of the fodder it applies. I’d argue Coot ought to be on fairly safe ground. There are six words in the clue. One is def and comes at the beginning; the other is indicator and comes at the end. The indicator applies to all the remaining words in the clue. As solver, knowing I was seeking a 7 letter word and seeing ‘essentially’, it’s a reasonable chance the def is at the other end. And the next thing I notice is the intervening fodder contains three even letter words and an odd. That’s going to give me three pairs and a single = 7. And, yes, those letters spell out a word that meets the def precisely. I see nothing misleading or unfair in that so wouldn’t quibble. Even though I suspect the rules, strictly applied, demand a qualifier.

      1. It could be a question of whose rules in terms of the ‘house rules’ of the different puzzle publishers.

  2. I really enjoyed this gentle offering, Coot. Plenty of smiles and a nice variety of devices – as well as a little self-deprecation methinks?

    I liked the definitions in 1a and 16d (very droll!). The surfaces in 11a, 14a, 17a, 26a, 28a and 4d were particularly nice and 1d is a delightful spot.

    Lovely piece of work, for which many thanks. I suspect Prolixic will have a relatively easy task ahead of him with this one. Congratulations.

  3. Thanks Coot, an accomplished puzzle I thought, very enjoyable.

    For me, more Senf’s “head scratcher” than PM’s “gentle offering” but all fell into place with plenty of fun along the way.

    There were quite a few words/phrases that I think are not exactly ‘obscure’ but not in Chambers either (4a, 14a, 23a, 1d, 8d, 16d) – all of which I thought ‘fair’ but with so many I wondered if they were chosen to accommodate a Nina … I’ve not been able to find anything though.

    Thanks in advance to Prolixic for review, I don’t think he’ll have too much to say – being very pedantic, perhaps the definition in 26a is just a little too loose, would have preferred e.g. “Bank job…”, but really everything seems technically sound with some nice amusing surfaces too.

    Tough to single out a favourite, but my shortlist is: 9a, 17a (even though maybe a bit dated – I’d have preferred the definition to be “Rule” but perhaps that’s getting into the realm of obscurities), 28a, 4d, 5d & 6d.

    Thanks again!

    1. Many thanks, Fez. There’s no NINA to spot. Words/phrases were generally chosen for their cluing potential from the options suggested by Crossword Compiler (although I ultimately regretted 8D, which I found particularly awkward to clue). Some of those you highlight, but I accept not all, are in Collins online. It’s an interesting question as to whether one can rely upon Crossword Compiler when assessing the fairness of words/phrases, particularly of compounds such as 23A and 16D.

      1. Coot, my personal opinion is that things like Crossword Compiler and Thesauri are very helpful aids, but not necessarily to be taken as gospel in terms of acceptability. The setter, assisted by his/her test solver(s), needs to exercise judgement to assess fairness.

        1. Yes, thanks RD, I agree with you entirely. I do frequently reject Crossword Compiler-suggested options on the grounds of obscurity. There was nothing in this grid that struck me as unfair during the setting process.

  4. An enjoyable puzzle with plenty of laughs. The SE corner put up the stiffest resistance. Thanks to Coot.
    I don’t really like the ‘to’ bridging the fodder in 3d.
    The clues I liked best were 9a, 25a, 6d and 21d.

  5. Bravo Coot!

    I thought this was tremendous and of very high quality throughout – if there’s been a better Coot puzzle then I must have missed it. I’m normally much less forgiving than others with surface reads but I had nothing to raise even an eyebrow this time, they were all excellent.

    My printed page is littered with ticks, I’ll plump for 27a as my overall favourite for the clever use of “condition” as an anagram indicator coupled with an ultra-smooth surface. 1d ran it close as a worthy alternative for top spot. Before the penny dropped, I must admit trying to make a case for EDEN as the solution in 22a, with the definition being “leader of old”, but although “den” can be a place for study, I thought defining it as a “college” was a huge stretch!

    Congratulations on a great puzzle, Coot, you should be very proud of what you’ve produced. Many thanks.

    1. Many thanks, Silvanus – that means a huge amount. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it.

  6. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Coot, with a puzzle which was great fun to solve with a good range of clue difficulty from easy to challenging and everything in between. Your cluing is commendably brief and your surfaces are generally nice and smooth.

    I can’t quite decide if 8d is fully rigorous but it is an amusing clue and probably OK.

    My ticked clues were 9a, 1d, 6d & 21d.

    Very well done and many thanks, Coot. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic, who I don’t think will be too over-worked when reviewing this.

    1. Thank you very much, RD. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you found 8d amusing. As I noted above, I didn’t really enjoy having to clue that one!

  7. One of the best puzzles to grace “The Corner” that I can remember in quite a while Coot, full of wit and misdirection.
    I have ticks throughout the grid…1,10,17&26a plus 1,6,16d along with my favourite, the LOL 21d, being the ones I’ve chosen to highlight.
    Many thanks and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Many thanks for your kind words, Stephen. If you were laughing out loud at 21d, I wonder whether, like PostMark, you have seen my Twitter photo!

      1. I haven’t but I did wonder if there was an element of truth in the very clever reference!

        1. Yes, and PostMark is similarly challenged … or should that be distinguished …

  8. Very accomplished, Coot, with a brevity of clueing i need to emulate myself. As others have noted, the wit was the great feature for me, though I wonder if the leap required in 21d from Coot to the saying to the word that might be derived from that was perhaps too much to ask. I feel “like Coot” might have been better without harming the surface significantly. Having said that it still gave me a good laugh!

    1. Thanks very much Dr D. I’m hoping that the inclusion of “perhaps” in 21D will get me off the hook….

  9. I’m another who tried to make EDEN work at 22a, although as Silvanus points out above, a den is hardly a college!
    I initially struggled to parse three in a row , namely 25a, 26a and 27a, so these get my nod as favourites, along with 1d and 20d.
    Thanks Coot – a very accomplished and very enjoyable puzzle.

    1. Thanks Shabbo. The alternative at 22a hadn’t occurred to me – thankfully, it turned out not to be a serious contender!

  10. A few sour grapes here, I’m sorry to say. Entries such as 14&23a plus 18d didn’t really do much for me. Having said that, there were certainly others that I enjoyed – 1,4&7d in particular.

    Thanks, Coot, good of you to bring us another puzzle for the Corner.

    1. Thanks Jane – sorry that it didn’t all hit the spot but good of you to solve the puzzle and feed back.

  11. Lovely stuff, Coot, well done. Not much to add to what others have said already. I’ve picked out 9a, 27a and 28a as my outright favourites, but could just as easily have picked a number of others.

  12. Good one, Coot. Quite tough but with some excellent clues – for me 9a, 15a, 3d, 4d and 20d were outstanding. 16d and 18d had me scratching my head, but my solving mojo is a bit rusty at the moment. No doubt the review will explain all and I’ll face-palm as appropriate!
    Congratulations on another VHC in last month’s Azed competition, by the way.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. And thanks again to everyone who took the time to solve the puzzle / leave feedback. Finally, thanks as always to Big Dave – wishing you well with your ongoing recovery.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and congratulations to Coot on getting such an excellent school report!

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