Rookie Corner 429 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 429

A Puzzle by Jeemz

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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.

Jeemz has made good progress since his first crossword.  The points raised here are minor ones, but they are points that take a good crossword and make it an excellent one.  Getting that final polish is often the hardest stage.  More generally, getting the balance of clue types right is important and four homophone clues is, I agree, too many.  To create a crossword with the nine different pronunciations of -ough and not have any obscure words is a great achievement.

The commentometer reads as 3/32 (9.4%).


1 Crude sketches of hooligans (6)
ROUGHS – Double definition.

4 Towns in America detected where groundhogs hibernate (8)
BOROUGHS – A homophone of burrows (where groundhogs hibernate).  I think that detected works as a homophone indicator.  However, putting the homophone indicators in the middle of the definition and wordplay is not ideal.

10 Forces through last of barriers following star group (7)
PLOUGH – The final latter (last) of barriers after (following) a colloquial name for the constellation Ursa Major (star group).

11 Staggering range of French missile (7)
GRENADE – An anagram (staggering) followed by the French for “of”.

12 Butcher’s vehicle’s returning – hurry up! (4,5)
LOOKS – A four-letter word from the Cockney rhyming slang for butcher’s followed by followed by a reversal (returning) of a public transport vehicle with the S added from the vehicle’s in the clue.

13 Maybe bitcoins note was discussed (5)
DOUGH – A homophone (was discussed) of DOH (a musical note).  Maybe bitcoin note would be better to avoid issues ln relation to the need for an apostrophe.  

14 Fashion label (5)
STYLE – Double definition.

16 Like wet paint on bottom – disaster! (6,3)
STICKY END – A six-letter word describing the state of wet paint followed by a three-letter word meaning bottom.

18 Effects when musical film family performs topless (9)
TRAPPINGS – The name of the family in the Sound of Music followed by a five-letter word meaning performs with the first letter removed (topless).  As the family name inn the film s preceded by Von, this clue does not work, even if they later performed in real life as the …. Family.

20 Fungus the old like with toast crust (5)
YEAST – The two-letter old English form of “the” followed by a two-letter word meaning like and the first letter (crust) of toast.  Whilst I think that crust can indicate the first or top letter (think of the earth’s crust as the surface of the earth), I think it needs “crust of toast” of “toast’s crust” to indicate the first letter.  I don’t think that the coincidence that the final three letters of toast appear in the solution is an issue here as those letters are not used in the wordplay.

23 Increasingly endangered deer are regularly nurtured (5)
RARER – An anagram (nurtured) of ER (the even letters – regularly – in deer) ARE.

24 Roman is an itinerant somewhere within Italy (3,6)
SAN MARINO – An anagram (itinerant) of ROMAN IS AN.

26 More civilized than a villager? (7)
URBANER – Elliptical cryptic definition.

27 Taking shelter with large stray dog, discovered dingo (7)
LODGING – The abbreviation for large followed by an anagram (stray) of DOG and the inner letters (discovered) of dingo.

28 Hear of rustic prize giving setback (8)
HICCOUGH – A homophone (hear) of HICK (rustic) CUP (prize).  I think that some indication that the last syllable of hick and the first of cup are elided in the solution.  Hear slur of rustic prize would have overcome the point.

29 Cry of horror captured by the Spanish lakes (6)
LOUGHS – A three-letter word meaning a cry of horror in (captured by) the Spanish plural for “the”.


1 Anger about double-parking cars eventually produces repercussions (7)
RIPPLES – A four-letter word meaning to anger around PP (double parking) followed by the final letter (eventually) of cars.

2 Study of saucers? (7)
UFOLOGY – Cryptic definition of someone who studied unidentified flying objects.

3 Smelly socks beginning to achieve peak levels (5)
HIGHS – A four-letter word meaning smelly followed by the first letter (beginning) of socks.  For the cryptic grammar to indicate the first letter it should be sock’s beginning.

5 Is obliged by Diddly-Squat being non-starter (5)
OUGHT – A six-letter word meaning nothing or diddly squat without the first letter (being non-starter).  

6 Certainly no clue, riding on nameless ass (4-5)
OKEY-DOKEY – A single letter meaning no or zero followed by a three-letter word for a clue and a six-letter word for a donkey without the letter N (nameless).

7 Greek character enthralled by unusually large particle (7)
GRANULE – The Green letter NU inside (enthralled by) an anagram (unusually) of large.

8 Was incensed once Slough secured rising support (7)
SEETHED – A four-letter word meaning to slough or discard includes a reversal (rising) of a three-letter word for a support used in golf.  Try to keep wordplay indicators in the present tense where possible.  The first part of the wordplay continues to include the second.  “Was incensed when Slough secures rising support” would work better.

9 Causer of fatalities, four double bends AA in for re-configuring (8)
ASSASSIN – An anagram (for re-configuring) of SSSS (four double-bends) AA IN.

15 One who hopes for speech being understood internationally (9)
ESPERANTO – The aspirational international language whose name literally means “one who hopes”.

17 Being hospitalized see how crazy people behave (8)
INSANELY – A phrase 2, 3 meaning being hospitalised followed by a diocese (see) in the East of England.

18 The shortened part of golf course to get past (7)
THROUGH – The first two letters (shortened) of the the from the clue followed by a five-letter word for part of a golf course.

19 Type of workout song, sung by disrobed Robin and Charlie (7)
AEROBIC – A homophone (sung) of AIR (song) followed by the inner letters (disrobed) of Robing and the letter represented by Charlie in the Nato phonetic alphabet.

21 Tolerating a thumping noise within… (7)
ABIDING – The A from the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning thumping or enormous with a three-letter word meaning noise.

22 …to shrug off depressions (7)
TROUGHS – An anagram (off) of TO SHRUG.

24 Psychoanalyzing or psychotherapy protects backward child (5)
SPROG – The answer is hidden and reversed (protects backward) in the first three words of the clue.

25 Speaker’s delivery to the French god in Rome (5)
AUDIO – A two-letter word in French meaning “to the” followed by a three-letter Italian (in Rome) word for God.

33 comments on “Rookie Corner 429

  1. We thoroughly enjoyed working through this one. Very few rough edges that we could find and many we thought were very clever.
    Thanks Jeemz and as you can see noticed and appreciated your ‘theme’.

    1. Thanks 2Kiwis. Glad you enjoyed it and spotted the 9 homographs and replied with 4 of your own!

  2. Thank you Jeemz for a pleasant end to my Sunday evening cruciverbalism.

    Big smiles for 26a and 6d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. That’s another nice one, Jeemz. A couple I’ll wait to see parsed in due course but most of this fell into place and you’ve employed a neat theme that didn’t intrude on the solve. Favourites included 1a, 12a, 18a, 24a, 6d, 7d, 8d and 22d.

    A couple of minor points. I assume 4a is a homophone; is ‘detected’ enough of an indicator? A very small point indeed, but it would have been nice to find an alternative to ‘toast’ in 20a, given you are clueing a word containing the same three last letters.

    Thanks. PM

    1. Thanks PM. Good point about toast. I hadn’t spotted that. Yes detected is the homophone indicator – as in detecting sounds.


      There’s an art of knowing when.
      Never try to guess.
      Toast until it smokes and then
      twenty seconds less.”

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed, thank you Jeemz. Still one or two to fully parse and like the Kiwis we noticed the ‘theme’. We look forward to your next one and to the review.

  5. Nice work, Jeemz. An enjoyable puzzle with an interesting theme. As the 2Kiwis say, very few rough edges – not many nits worth picking. You should get a fairly easy ride from Prolixic for this one!

  6. Good stuff with a very well-worked theme – thanks to Jeemz.
    The clues I liked best were 12a, 1d and 18d.

  7. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Jeemz. It’s great to see you making steady progress, and I enjoyed the solve and the theme.

    I have only two very minor comments:
    – whatever Wikipedia says, surely the family in 18a are the “von Trapps” not the “Trapps”?
    – you need an apostrophe in 13a for the surface.

    I had a lot of ticks on my page and my top three were 28a, 1d & 17d.

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

  8. Hello again, Jeemz.

    You certainly didn’t make life easy for yourself including all those “ough” words, but the puzzle was very enjoyable to solve.

    I think four homophones in one crossword is probably at least one too many, even though I always try to include some in my own puzzles. Putting the indicator in the middle of the clue (like 4a) can often be problematic for solvers, as it isn’t always clear what is the definition and what is the homophone – I think “Towns in America where groundhogs hibernate, reportedly” would have been better. 2d was verging on the non-cryptic for me, I appreciate it’s not an easy word to clue however. My favourite clue was 17d.

    Many thanks, Jeemz.

    1. Thanks Silvanus for your very helpful observations. Glad you enjoyed the solve.
      Yes it was quite a task to include all of the 9 different ways to pronounce “ough” in English English but it seemed like a fun challenge to incorporate them into one puzzle.

  9. Thanks Jeemz, very enjoyable. The “theme” was well worked – and very useful for me, as I was struggling in the NW until spotting it!

    As I recall, your previous puzzles have had a few ‘nearly but not quite’ clues. For me, there are still a few, but in this puzzle these are perhaps more subtle (and perhaps just nit-picking!)

    Whilst, as RD observes, 13a perhaps needs an apostrophe for the surface, I think in 3d an apostrophe is needed for the wordplay (“xxx beginning” for me doesn’t quite indicate the first letter, as opposed to “xxx’s beginning / beginning of xxx”) – although I my be a lone voice here! Along the same lines, in 20a I’m not convinved “toast crust” indicates a single letter (and even if possession is indicated, e.g. “toast’s crust”, I’d think that was both ends?) On a very nit-picky level I’m not absolutely sure about the grammar in 24d.

    Homophones are of course very subjective – and I note this was a favourite of RD’s – but for me the syllables of 28a run together too closely for the intended homophone to really work (i.e. for me it should be “up” rather than “cup”). There were a couple of instances where I thought there was a little unnecessary padding – “was” in 13a, “once” in 8d. I do think the musical family is fine, though! (I did share RD’s reservations, until Googling)

    (One very pedantic thing for me – in both 10a and 1d an S is clued as the final letter of a plural. This is perfectly OK technically, and something I’d probably use if nothing else seemed possible, but personally I’m not keen as it seems that pretty much any plural word could be chosen. … somehow this isn’t as satisfying as it might be. But very much just a personal preference!)

    Lots of good ideas and humour on display; my podium is 6d, 21d and overall winner 17d. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Fez for your comprehensive review. Perhaps my apostrophizing (is that a word?) needs some attention!
      I did think long and hard about the homophone in 28a but decided the double “c” in the solution justified it. I also pondered on “crust” but decided that as a crust usually appears on the surface of things it was ok to use.

      1. As you’ll see, I share Fez’s reservation on 28a (and, yes, it’s a close run thing) but your justification resorts to the spelling when the clue’s a homophone! That, to me, is why it (just) doesn’t work..

        1. Hi Dr Diva.
          I’ll make one last effort to justify it! The way I saw it is that the double cc means there are two distinct homophones. The first syllable of the solution is an onomatopoeic representation of the sound made when afflicted by these. Try it – there’s the sound of a k at the end! The second syllable is an archaic (I presume) way of pronouncing cough so starts with a k sound.

          Any better?

  10. Hi Jeemz, a little bit of a curate’s egg for me, with some lovely clues (eg 11a, 24a, 1d, 24d) interspersed with some I found/find impenetrable (my shortcomings I expect!). I thought a few surfaces were a bit nonsensical (eg 10a, 5d, 9d) and in 28a. amusing though it is, I feel the ‘K’ sound’s doing double shift – will be interested in Prolixic’s take. Overall, though, it’s very accomplished and, what others have described as a ‘theme’, had me thinking “Wow, he’s made it hard for himself!!”.

  11. That was certainly a ‘different’ sort of theme, Jeemz, but overall I thought it worked quite well. My small number of queries have already been raised by others so I’ll await the wisdom of Prolixic where those are concerned except to say that there were a few surface reads that would have benefitted from a bit of tidying – 5&6d spring to mind.
    My top two were 18a (apologies to RD!) and 17d.

    Thank you, Jeemz, good to see you making progress.

  12. Very enjoyable Jeemz, not too difficult with the theme actually helping with a couple towards the end.
    I did notice the number of homophones, they are relatively easy clueing options I guess, but it didn’t spoil it in any way.
    My ticks go to 12,14,16&27a plus 1,9&18d.
    Many thanks and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Thanks for commenting Stephen. I did place the last two, I think unique, homographs of “ough” as the last two across solutions in the hope that the theme might help solve them.
      Not sure if homograph is the right term to use, as “ough” does not constitute a complete word in itself. The only proper homograph that I could think of, using “ough” in a word, was Slough, which is why it it appears in the clue for 8d. If anyone can think of another I’d be interested to know!

        1. Apologies LR. I’m referring to homographs that also heteronyms –  a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning from another word but the same spelling.

  13. A delightful puzzle with an unusual theme and some ingenious clues. If there were minor faults here and there I didn’t notice them – no doubt Prolixic will spot them. Difficult to pick a favourite clue, but I liked 16ac, 29ac, 17dn and 19dn. Thanks, Jeemz.

  14. Very good Jeemz, well done on the construction
    Thanks for the entertainment

  15. Reckon I must be the least observant would be solver out there. Completed without the theme remotely registering & had it done so my last 3 in (13,28&29a) would have spared my bonce a scratch or two. Very enjoyable indeed Jeemz . 6d my clear favourite but plenty of ticks elsewhere – 26&28a plus 9&18d to highlight just 4.
    Many thanks & look forward to your next puzzle

  16. Thank you Prolixic for your review. Your points as always really do make a difference to those of us still seeking to hone our compiling skills.
    I have just one comment on your review. You have attributed a higher level of complexity to 23a than I had intended. It was written a s a simple lurker with the solution contained (nurtured) in the words deeR ARE Rarer.

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