Rookie Corner 433 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 433

A Puzzle by Widdersbel

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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:

Welcome back to Widdersbel who continues the high standard established in their first crossword.  Apart from a wobble in the first two down clues, there is very little to comment on technically.  The cluing was of a high standard and nicely misleading.  The commentometer reads as 1/28 or 3.5%,

My thanks to Silvanus for holding the fort last week whilst I was away following the death of my mother.  He will be back in the chair next week as well.


1 Where to find footnote accepting liability? (12)
UNDERWRITING – A cryptic and straight definition, the second by reference to insurers accepting liability.

8 Revolting bike – renovate to improve value (7)
UPCYCLE – A two-letter word meaning revolting followed by a five-letter synonym for a bike.

9 Type of porcelain cat lounges about (7)
LIMOGES – A three-letter word for a cat has a four-letter word meaning lounges around (about) it.

11 Micromanages goats (7)
NANNIES – Double definition, the second being the term for female goats.

12 Uproar about love for Brigitte Bardot? (7)
CLAMOUR – The single letter abbreviation for about followed by a phrase 1’5 for how a French person (such as Brigitte Bardot would say love.

13 Old sports car (original model) avoiding bridge (1-4)
E-TYPE – A nine-letter word for an original model without avoiding a four-letter word for a bridge or span.

14 Daughter inspired by a campaign for right to enter (9)
ADMISSION – The abbreviation for daughter inside (inspired by) the A from the clue and a seven-letter word for a campaign.

16 Manager checks out luggage (9)
SUITCASES – A four-letter slang word for a manager followed by a five-letter word meaning checks out or reconnoitres. 

19 Aloof Falstaff consumes cheaper cuts (5)
OFFAL – The answer is hidden (consumes) in the first two word of the clue.

21 Show approval before fight – having delayed start, of course (2,5)
NO DOUBT – A three-letter word meaning show approval before a four-letter word for a fight with the initial letter moved back (delayed).

23 A fan of University College Hospital is speaking regularly (2,5)
IN TOUCH – A four-letter word meaning a fan of followed by the abbreviations for University, Collage and Hospital.

24 Set a test – Widdersbel’s on fire, making a comeback! (7)
EXAMINE – A four letter word meaning belonging to me after (on) a reversal (making a comeback) of a three-letter word meaning to fire or make redundant.

25 Heathen in ploughed field (7)
INFIDEL – The in from the clue followed by an anagram (ploughed) of FIELD.

26 Largest human botched criminal act (12)
MANSLAUGHTER – An anagram (botched) of LARGEST HUMAN.


1 Release “Big Apple” from prison? That’s hard to explain! (7)
UNCANNY – An expression 2-3 meaning release from prison followed by the abbreviation for New York.  I am not sure that this clue works having the “from prison” after “Big Apple”.  Of all the clues, this is the one that does not have a convincing surface reading.

2 How the Romans put an end to nouns? (7)
DECLINE – The word used grammatically to describe the construction of nouns in Latin in the nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative and ablative senses.  As this was done in the past, the structure of the clue, it suggests the answer should have ended with an additional D.  My mnemonic when studying Latin for the order of the declensions was “Naughty Virgins Always Give Dirty Answers”.

3 Restricting amps, designed shortest devices for dimming lights? (9)
RHEOSTATS – The abbreviation for amperes inside an anagram (design) of SHORTEST.

4 Imbecile rector from the south clutches holy object (5)
RELIC – The answer is hidden (clutches) and reversed (from the South) in  the first two words of the clue.

5 Repeatedly and endlessly feeble small gongs (3-4)
TAM-TAMS – A four-letter word meaning feeble has its last letter removed (endlessly) and is repeated then followed by the abbreviation for small.

6 Was this cocktail mixed for Norwegians, perhaps? (7)
NEGRONI – A compound anagram where the solution and the WAS from the clue when rearranged (mixed) gives the word Norwegians.  To solve, delete the letters in was from Norwegians and rearrange the letters.

7 Main attribute of insect queens in flight (12)
QUINTESSENCE – An anagram (in flight) of INSECT QUEENS.

10 Alien chokes large bear in illegal wrestling move (12)
STRANGLEHOLD – A seven-letter word meaning alien includes (chokes) the abbreviation for large and is followed by a four-letter word meaning to bear or carry.

15 Suspicion of girl reportedly offering presents (9)
MISGIVING – A homophone (reportedly) of MISS (girl) following by a six-letter word meaning offering.

17 State I name “Austria” (7)
INDIANA – The word used in the Nato Phonetic Alphabet for I followed by abbreviations for name and Austria.

18 Relatives with money touring America (7)
COUSINS – A five-letter word for money or loose change around (touring) a two-letter abbreviation for America.

19 Unable to function, lacking computers? (3,2,2)
OUT OF IT – Double definition, the second part semi-cryptic.

20 Fish with end of tail docked hit the rocks (7)
FOUNDER – An eight-letter word for a type of fish without (docked) the last letter (end) of tail.

22 Greek character‘s old name for part-time soldiers (5)
THETA – Split 3,2, the answer would suggest the name of the volunteer army.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner 433
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  1. A superb quality puzzle. Every clue cleverly and accurately put together. A real pleasure to solve.
    2d gets our vote for top spot but that feels a bit unfair as there are just so many really good clues.
    Thanks Widdersbel.

  2. What the 2Kiwis said!

    Cereal left in the bowl for CS.

    Smiles for 25a, 2d, 17d, and 19d.

    Thanks to Widdersbel and in advance to Prolixic/Silvanus.

  3. A fun solve – thanks Widdersbel. It took me a moment to parse 13a but that was my usual PICNIC* issue. I felt the definition at 2d might have been slightly improved to match the answer – but apart from that it all seems to work, with some clever surfaces throughout. Well done!

    *Problem In Chair Not In Crossword

  4. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Widdersbel. I found some parts of this very challenging, but I thought it was a superb puzzle from start to finish.

    I’m not sure how well-known the abbreviation for University College Hospital in 23a will be to solvers outside London, and I think the answer to the question posed by 2d should be “declined”. Although 1d is very amusing, it is the one surface which I found unconvincing.

    My page is covered with ticks, and I kept changing my mind on my favourite clue as the solve unfolded. In the end, I could reasonably settle for anything but 2d.

    Very well done, Widdersbel, and many thanks for the fun. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to the reviewer.

    1. Uni College Hosp as 3 separate abbreviations? Also I think 2d can be read in present tense (although its a little counter-intuitive!)

      1. Yes, the fact that the three elements stand alone as abbreviations was my self-justification for running with it. And yes, the intention for 2d is for it to be read in the present tense, though I realise that perhaps sits a bit oddly when talking about the (ancient) Romans. I originally tried to do something far more elaborate with that clue, working in a reference to Gibbon, but decided to keep it simpler in the end. Maybe it’s ended up being a bit of a compromise.

  5. Lovely puzzle, Widdersbel – very well done. Lots of great clues but I’ll pick 9A, 12A, 26A, 6D and 10D as favourites.

  6. Thank you for another great accompaniment to breakfast Widdersbel.

    Thanks in advance to the reviewer

  7. Many thanks everyone for your very kind and generous comments so far. And I’m equally grateful for the observations about parts that don’t work so well – all fair points, and very useful feedback. And thanks in advance to the reviewer, of course.

  8. Many thanks Widdersbel, another super puzzle – with some tricky clues but plenty of footholds. 5d was new to me. My favourites were those that took a little while for the penny to drop: 9a, 13a, 21a, 24a (wondered far too long about the last two letters), 17d (and here spent far too long trying to connect the cruciverbalists’ favourite princess to Austria) Also very much liked 6d which I have a feeling Prolixic may appreciate – thanks in advance for review!

  9. Welcome back, Widdersbel.

    Once again, some superb clues in evidence with only a couple of quibbles for me. Like certain others, I felt 2d didn’t quite work and I would have preferred 6d starting “This cocktail was mixed…”. Although it is sound as a clue, I thought the surface in 1d was less than convincing.

    Tough to choose a favourite from such a good selection, but I’ll opt for 15d.

    Many thanks, Widdersbel, I’m sure you’ll have a very low Commentometer score from Prolixic.

    1. Thanks, Silvanus. Both you and RD have mentioned the surface of 1d as being less than 100% convincing and looking at it again with hindsight, I completely agree!

  10. A superb puzzle with smooth surfaces and nary an obscurity in sight – many thanks Widdersbel.
    From a long list I selected 12a, 13a, 24a and 6d for honourable mentions.
    More puzzles of this quality please.

  11. Excellent Widdersbel, I really enjoyed this. I have to admit several of the solutions arrived on an earlier bus than the parsings and there’s one I’ve still to work out…but I’ll keep pondering.
    Impossible to pick a podium so I’ll restrict myself to a winner….and that is 21a. Great stuff.
    Thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic

  12. Splendid puzzle, Widders. As good as any you’ve done with some lovely gentle touches and humour in evidence. 11a made me laugh, 16a is very neatly assembled, 21a has an almost hidden definition. Lovely natural surface in 7d, 10d is another funny surface and, like Fez, I was desperately seeking Diana at one point.

    My only raised eyebrow was ‘consumes’ in 19a which read a little like a container rather than a hidden indicator? But, as one who has regularly convinced himself that his unorthodox hidden indicators work, I am no authority! As a wise man once said, it did not stop me solving the clue.

    Great job; thanks for an enjoyable romp.

    1. Thanks, PM! There’s a lot of “feel” involved in choosing indicators, and I felt consumes worked OK in that clue, but the setter is probably the least qualified person to offer an objective opinion on these matters.

  13. An excellent puzzle, as many above have already noted. Great fun as well, which for me is equally important.
    I’m still scratching my head over the parsing for 17d – probably just me being stupid.
    Ticks from me for 1a, 13a, 21a, 23a, 25a, 6d, 18d, 20d and 22d…and the winner is 1a for its simplicity and smooth surface read.
    More of the same, please, Widdersbel.

  14. Most impressive and accessible, well done indeed Widdersbel.
    I did have to check on the 5d gongs and wasted a fair amount of time on the parsing of 17d – I was another in the Princess Di camp rather than the phonetic alphabet!
    So many tick-worthy clues, I’ll just single out 1a plus 18&22d as personal favourites.
    I sense a low score on the commentometer and hope we see more from you ‘ere long.

  15. I can only echo all the positive comments made earlier. This ticked all the boxes for me – hugely enjoyable, just the right amount of working out required, several PDMs and lots to make me laugh. 5d was a not very educated guess but it worked! Many thanks to Widdersbel and I hope that there are many more of these to look forward to.

  16. Plenty of very good, sound and entertaining clues, definitely one of your best, which is a good sign as it’s probably a couple of months old at least.
    You seem to push the limits with some clues eg 21a, 1d and 2d, which I think solvers like to see, and when that comes off, as in 24a (took me a while, but a nice pay-off) and 17d, it’s excellent. There’s one or two that I’m not sure about, but I guess they’re just things that bother me and not anyone else, so they’re probably fine. Eg in 23a, I’m still wondering if the wordplay is quite right for the solution – should there be an ‘as’ before ‘a fan’ to match the part of speech? Even more pedantic (you must be used to me by now!), I thought the parentheses in 13a marred the cryptic grammar and would have been better as commas or even dashes. But most solvers’ mantra seems to be ‘ignore all punctuation’, so again that’s probably just me.

    1. Thanks, Twmbarlwm. I’m glad you think the “pushing the limits” clues work. My rationale for 23a is that you can replace “a fan of” with the letters required for the solution in a sentence without affecting meaning or grammar: “I am a fan of Miley Cyrus” = “I am xxxx Miley Cyrus”. I completely agree with you about the brackets in 13a – parenthetical commas would have been better.

      1. Yes, I see where you’re coming from on 23a. Looked at in that way you could probably delete the ‘is’ too, perhaps?

  17. Very impressive and very enjoyable. Difficult to choose a favourite but we’ll go for 16a followed by 19d. More, please, Widdersbel.

  18. Many thanks, Prolixic, for the review. Especially grateful that you should take the time to give your usual detailed insight at a time when crosswords are probably not your first concern (my condolences to you and your family).

    I’d love to have hit zero on the commentometer but have no complaint with the points that have been raised, and I can’t be unhappy with 1/28 – there’s always room for improvement! In any case, what is far more important to me than being technically perfect is that people actually enjoy solving the puzzle, so I’m over the moon with all the positive feedback – I won’t reply to everyone individually, but thanks to each of you who have taken the time to solve and comment, it’s what makes it all worthwhile. The other thing that’s fascinating (and often surprising) from the setter’s point of view is seeing which clues people pick out as favourites.

  19. Arriving late to say congratulations to Widdersbel on a tour de force of a puzzle – tremendously enjoyable and (having not been unduly delayed by either 1d or 2d or giving either a second thought) I had no constructive comments to make, other than “more, please!”.

    Condolences to Prolixic, and many thanks for the review.

  20. I loved it – very inventive! Finished with half a doz to explain, but as usual, it was just me.
    Hope to see you again soon.

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I was so sorry to learn of the loss of your mother, it must be a very sad time for your family.

    Well done indeed to Widdersbel, keep up the good work!

  22. Very late to the party as I saved the puzzle for later in the week. However, it was worth the wait for such an excellent puzzle – notwithstanding the ‘wobbles’ in 1dn and 2dn. Thanks, Widdersbel and Prolixic.

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