Rookie Corner 435 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 435

A Puzzle by Hubble

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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:

Hubble is coming on leaps and bounds.  Other than a couple of minor issues, this was an excellent crossword, not too easy but not unnecessarily complex.  The commentometer reads as 1/28 or 3.6%.


7 Cut price of fancy material? (8)
LACERATE – Split 4, 4 the solution might imply the cost of delicate ornamental fabric.

9 Heather hides love for symphony (6)
EROICA – A five-letter word for heather includes the letter representing love or zero.

10 Baker initially keeps icing loaf nonchalantly (4)
KILN – The first letters (initially) of the last four words of the clue.

11 Divulged, on returning, room where aliens might be (5,5)
OUTER SPACE – A three-letter word meaning divulged followed by a two-letter word meaning about or on the subject of reversed (returning) and a five-letter word for room.

12 Spell at table using deck file (6)
RUBBER – Double definition.

14 Caught Superman’s admirer with half of bitter in arcade (8)
CLOISTER – The abbreviation for caught followed by the four-letter name of Superman’s girlfriend and the last half of the word bitter.

15 Ignores parodies about Romeo (6)
SKIRTS – A five-letter word for a parodies around (about) the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.

17 Roman is coming back on the double to fly (6)
TSETSE – The third person indicative conjugation of the Latin verb to be (Roman is) reversed (coming back) and repeated (coming back).

20 Fundamentalists embracing real change for middle easterners (8)
ISRAELIS – A four-letter name to a fundamental group for the formation of an Islamic State around (embracing) an anagram (change) of REAL.  I think change can come after the words to be rearranged as change might be used in “sex change” meaning a change of sex or “climate change” meaning a change of climate.  However, as a proper noun is being clued, Middle Easterners would be better as the definition.  

22 Dad’s bird is too old (4,2)
PAST IT – The possessive form of a two-letter word meaning father followed by a three-letter word for a bird.

23 Sportsperson‘s dish fixed first by couple of erectors (4,6)
FAST BOWLER – A four-letter word for a dish preceded by (first) aa four-letter word meaning fixed and all followed by the first two letters of erectors.

24 Unusual regiments (4)
RARE – Split 2,2 this would suggest a couple of army regiments.

25 Irishman at church’s spirited meeting (6)
SEANCE – A four-letter Irish name followed by the abbreviation for church.

26 Sailors‘ tests include late manoeuvres (8)
MATELOTS – The four-letter word for annual car tests around (includes) an anagram (manoeuvres) of late.


1 Wears out work clothes in the army (8)
FATIGUES – Double definition.

2 Restrict announcement of downfall (4)
REIN – A homophone (announcement) of rain (downfall).

3 Enjoy champion eliminating last of Azurri (6)
SAVOUR – A seven-letter word for a champion or redeemer without (eliminating) the letter letter Azurri.

4 1000 wearing damp jumpers in washing areas (3,5)
WET ROOMS – The Roman numeral for 1000 has around it (wears) a three-letter word meaning damp and a four-letter word being the diminutive form of kangaroos (jumpers).

5 Introduces technology to make small blends (10)
COMPOSITES – Include (introduces) the two-letter word for information technology in a seven-letter word meaning make and follow with the abbreviation for small.  A very minor point but as an imperative instruction “introduce” might be better than “introduces”.

6 Military boss immersed in French island’s hard water (6)
ICICLE – The abbreviation for commander-in-chief (military commander) inside the three-letter word in French for island.

8 Tempt learner once programme arithmetic is scrapped (6)
ENTICE – A nine-letter word for a learner without (is scrapped) a three-letter word for a program on a phone or tablet and the letter representing arithmetic.  As both Chambers and Collins allow programme as an alternative to the more usual program for computer code, this is ok in the clue.

13 Ogre with head dipped in salt water vessel (10)
BRIGANTINE – A five-letter word for an ogre with the initial letter moved down one space (head dropping) inside a five-letter word for salt water.

16 Discuss lecture in the past (4,4)
TALK OVER – A four-letter word for a lecture and a four-letter word meaning in the past.

18 Relocate Germanic leader entertained by kingdom (8)
EMIGRATE – The first letter (leader) of Germanic inside (entertained by) a seven-letter word for a kingdom ruled by an emir.

19 Like unknown smoker in Scotland providing shelter (6)
ASYLUM – A two-letter word meaning like followed by one of the letters representing an unknown quantity in algebra and three-letter word used in Scotland for a chimney.

21 Did away with old band’s broadcast (6)
SLAYED – A homophone (broadcast) of Slade (old band).

22 Pinch rodent eating pastry? On the contrary! (6)
PIRATE – A three-letter word for a rodent inside a three-letter word for a pastry.

24 Burn exercise daughter has left (4)
RILL – A five-letter word for exercise without (has left) the abbreviation for daughter.

Finally, a word of thanks to Silvanus for holding the fort last week.

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 435

  1. Thank you Hubble for an enjoyable end to my Sunday evening cruciverbalism although I did need a couple of Reveals to get across the Finish Line.

    I think it might be a tie between completion and an empty cereal bowl for CS.

    Smiles for 7a, 17a, 23a, 2d, and, especially, 24d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic(?).

  2. I enjoyed this puzzle which was just right in terms of difficulty for Rookie Corner – thanks Hubble.
    I think ‘programme’ in 8d needs to lose its last two letters.
    I ticked 7a, 9a and 24a but my favourite (because it made me laugh) was 22a.
    More like this please.

    1. Re 8d, ‘program’ is certainly the usually spelling for the computer software meaning, but Chambers and Oxford allow the ‘programme’ spelling as well — so I don’t think it’s wrong as such as spelt in the clue, just unconventional.

      Maybe the surface reading, which I didn’t really work out, is meant to suggest a different kind of programme (as in a scheme/curriculum) for which the -me is required (in British English)?

      1. I think you need to remove (is scrapped) APP (programme/program) and R (one of the 3 Rs) from APPRENTICE (learner).

        1. Yeah, I got that: it was the intended surface reading which I hadn’t managed to work out!

  3. Welcome back, Hubble.

    Another very competent puzzle which I enjoyed solving. I agree with Gazza about 8d, and the cryptic grammar in 26a really demands “including” rather than “include” .”Change” as the anagram indicator in 20a jarred for me, as did the definition not having capital letters initially. 9a was my favourite clue.

    I don’t think Prolixic will be too busy on his return, and I think a fairly low low score awaits from the Commentometer.

    Many thanks, Hubble.

    1. S, 8d. The spelling in the clue is listed in the BRB and also as a legitiimate variant spelling in Collins, so isn’t the use of the less common spelling merely a good bit of valid misdirection/leading up the garden path?

      1. Whichever spelling is used I don’t see any misdirection at all in the surface reading of the clue.

        1. The obvious misdirection when reading the clue is that the reader could easily be led into considering some other type of programme instead of a computer programme/program, or app, as suggested by Smylers above.

          1. Having the word “arithmetic” after it would make most solvers think of a computer program, I’d suggest, so I’d disagree that “obvious” misdirection is involved, but perhaps the setter might enlighten us all on what he had in mind if he pops in later.

            1. Yes, if the very common “program” was used! But by using the very uncommon (nowadays) spelling solvers could easily be lured into thinking about, for example, a TV programme involving arithmetic (Countdown, for instance). Of course, it might not have been deliberate misdirection and the setter may pop in to confirm. But if they do, it will then be filed under “unintentional misdirection”.

              1. *Misdirection doesn’t always have to be intentional by the setter. Occasionally, misdirection is in the eye of the beholder (or solver). If program had been used, I would have parsed this clue much quicker. But because the uncommon spelling was used I was sidetracked for quite a few moments into musing about TV programmes involving arithmetic, Therefore, the wording of the surface caused me initially to be misdirected/sent down the wrong path. If this wasn’t the setter’s deliberate intenion is irrelevent.

                1. Apart from Countdown, can you genuinely name a single other TV programme that involves arithmetic?

                  1. No, not a current one, but I watch it every day and my brain immediately latched on to (TV) programme/arithmetic, which quite logically/reasonably threw me off track (or misdirected me) for a short while. “Program” would certainly not have caused that. So, maybe just for me, unintentional misdirection. I’m not complaining, incidentally – I think it’s and excellent clue and the unconventional spelling made it just a tad trickier to parse.

  4. I, too, needed a couple of reveals to complete this but persevered as I was enjoying it so much, especially 12, 17 and 26a and 3, 21 and 24d for the clever deception.
    Thank you, Hubble for producing such an entertaining challenge.

  5. Didn’t need any straight reveals, but did use the ‘check’ on a couple of guesses that fitted, and then worked out the parsing afterwards. Thanks Hubble, I enjoyed that.

  6. Perhaps at the tougher end of puzzles we normally see in Rookie Corner but all fairly clued I thought. However, I haven’t been able to parse 8d – my problem I’m sure, as no-one else has mentioned it. SW corner last to fall where I needed a couple of reveals. I thought the definition in 23a was a little too vague perhaps but readily parsed once I saw it. I liked some of the simpler clues best: 11a 1d (neatly clued) 4d 16d and 22d which made me laugh. So that’s has my top spot.

    Well done Hubble and thanks for the challenge.

  7. Well done, Hubble. This was fun. Lol moments with 11a and 22a, 3d is smooth, nice surface in 22d and 24d is nicely misdirected. I was looking to include both a D and an L – having PELD at one point and, hopefully, checking the dictionary!

    One constructive observation if I may? Little I can see to criticise, technically, but a few surfaces left me feeling you could have been smoother. Eg. 4d and 6d or, perhaps, the ‘nonchalantly’ in the otherwise promising acrostic. I’m always looking for the picture or scenario the solver is conjuring up and those all left me struggling a bit.

    Otherwise, I’m with those above who enjoyed this.


  8. I very much enjoyed this one – quite a challenge for Rookie Corner but competently handled by our setter. Perhaps a few surface reads that could have been more polished but that’s definitely in nit-picking territory.
    Tops for me were 9&22a (oldie but still smile-worthy) plus 16,19&21d.

    Thanks and well done to Hubble – I forecast an easy time of it for the commentometer!

  9. Thanks Hubble, very enjoyable. Loved the definition in 10a and lots of other fun bits of trickery and misdirection. My favourites were 7a, 12a, & 24a. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  10. My thanks as ever to the Big Dave team for publishing my puzzle and to all the people who have taken the time to provide the feedback, which is always most welcome, and apologies for not being able to express my gratitude earlier.

    Re the program/programme discussion. I did have quite a debate with myself about which to use. I know that the majority of, if not all, people with an IT background would always use the American spelling, whereas I’m pretty confident that non-IT people outside America would most often use the English English version. For example, main stream newspaper reviews of software products commonly used ‘programme’ before the ubiquitious use of app became popular.

    In the end, I plumped for the latter because it added some misdirection. I was thinking of a programme (syllabus) of study that became more appealing to the learner when arithmetic was no longer part of the programme. I was also influenced in my decision by the varyingly used ‘disc’ (as in CD) or ‘disk’ for data storage.

  11. Out all day yesterday so late to the crossword but found it very enjoyable, 22a being our favourite. 12a and 23a were last in and 13d took a while. Now going to read the comments above. Thank you to Hubble and Prolixic

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and well done to Hubble, who came away with a practically clean sheet from the commentometer.
    The only thing I’m still unsure about is how ‘drill’ fits into 12a – can someone help me out?

      1. Sorry, Gazza, I am referring to 12a but the word I can’t get my head round is ‘file’ – goodness knows why I typed ‘drill’!

          1. Thank you, Gazza. I wouldn’t associate a file with a rubbing action, far more abrasive, but I suppose it works in the same way.

            1. Perhaps surprisingly, one of Chambers’ definitions of “rubber” supports the definition directly: “A thing for rubbing with, such as … a file …” – I’d originally assumed this was a clever whimsical sort-of-made-up-definition.

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