Rookie Corner 437 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 437

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.\

A very good (though tough) outing from Jeemz.  All the comments are minor ones (and there are not that many of them) which is a very good sign.  The commentometer reads as 1.5/28 or 5.3%.


1 Quiet misgiving – first for advocate of mummying (15)
PRESERVATIONIST – The musical abbreviation for quiet followed by a an eleven-letter word for a misgiving and the way that first could be written.

9 One new story has Ecstasy displacing current virus possibly (9)
INFECTION – The letter represented by one, the abbreviation for new and a seven-letter word for a story with the abbreviation for Ecstasy replacing the abbreviation for current.

10 Senorita, 19, wearing moleskin? (5)
TAUPE – The answer is hidden (wearing as in “in”) in the words Senorita and the answer to 19a.

11 Kind of introduction for technology consumer, not American (6)
TENDER – The first letter (introduction for) of technology followed by a seven-letter word for a consumer with the US (not American).

12 Oath occasioned by rage Rob developed with hotel (8)
BEGORRAH – An an anagram (developed) of RAGE ROB followed by the abbreviation for hotel.

13 Idle talk of going back to taking part in musical (3,3)
HOT AIR – A reversal (going back) of the TO from the clue inside (taking part in) a four-letter name of a 1960’s hippy musical.

15 Of no help when peacekeeper’s unserviceable base almost overrun (8)
UNUSEFUL – The two letter abbreviation for peacekeepers followed by the abbreviation for unserviceable, the letter representing the base used in natural logarithms and a four-letter word meaning overrun without the final letter (almost).  I think that you need to use overrunning to indicate the synonym required.

18 Getting tense – what for? (8)
TWIGGING – The abbreviation for tense followed by an eight-letter word meaning getting told off (what for?).

19 Overturns optimistic arrests (6)
UPENDS – A two-letter word meaning optimistic followed by a four-letter word meaning arrests or stops.

20 Logs the fuel used to charge this outbuilding (8)
WOODSHED – Cryptic definition of a place where logs may be stored.

22 Make error when sundry rules oddly ignored (6)
MISCUE – The abbreviation for miscellaneous followed by the even letters (oddly ignored) of rules.

25 Side run well by volunteers (5)
RAITA – The abbreviation for run followed by a two letter word that means well in health terms (with the 1 considered an I) and the abbreviation for the old territorial army (now the Army Reserve).  I know that volunteers is still used but it should really be indicated as old volunteers given it is now roughly ten years that the name changed.

26 Diner returning pastry stirs up a riot (9)
TRATTORIA – Reverse (returning) a four-letter word for a pastry and follow with an anagram (stirs up) a riot.  For the grammatical construction of the cryptic reading of the clue, stirring up would be better.

27 Guy ordering tape prepared for taking pictures early on (15)


1 Celebrate creation of poet – hand-written (5,3,4,3)
PAINT THE TOWN RED – An anagram (creation of) POET HAND WRITTEN.

2 Sprightly Biden – if leadership’s somewhat contrary (5)
ELFIN – The answer is hidden and reversed (somewhat contrary) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

3 Avoiding Eton’s left-winger appearing on both sides of school pitch (9)
ESCHEWING – The first letter (left-winger) of Eton on both sides of the abbreviation for school followed by a four-letter word for pitch.  As a counsel of perfection, perhaps having an initial letter that did not contain the four letters at the end of the solution would be better..  

4 Fruitless product of Chateau acquiring top mark (4)
VAIN – The French word for wine (product of Chateau) includes (acquiring) the letter representing the top mark in an exam.

5 Highlighting time batting then being bowled, going for first of googlies (8)
TINGEING – The abbreviation for time followed by a two-letter word meaning batting and the BEING from the clue with the B (bowled) replaced by the first letter of googlies.

6 Trump‘s gone with Democrat on top (5)
OUTDO – A three-letter word meaning gone followed by the abbreviation for Democrat and the first letter (top) of top.  Some editors will not allow “on top” as meaning the top of on.

7 Break up bonfire – that’s something to bring down temperature! (9)
IBUPROFEN – An anagram (break) of UP BONFIRE.

8 All of article on virgin ancient queen’s realm no good (3,5,7)
THE WHOLE SHEBANG – A three-letter word for the direct article followed by a five-letter word meaning virgin or intact, a five-letter word for the Ethiopian realm of a biblical queen and the abbreviation for no good.

14 Fitting dog with two hoops (9)
TAILORING – A four-letter word meaning to dog or follow together with a letter that looks like a hoop and a four-letter word for a hoop.

16 Playing I spy, short of deceptive reasoning (9)
SOPHISTRY – An anagram (playing) of I SPY SHORT.

17 Release a continental so-called cheese (8)
UNFETTER – The French masculine form of “a” followed by a homophone (so called) of feta (cheese).

21 Old cycling legends (5)
STALE – A five-letter word for legends or stories with the letter cycled around.

23 Gracious soldier, a favourite of the Queen (5)
CORGI – A three-letter exclamation meaning gracious followed by the abbreviation for an American soldier.

24 Shouted: “start us off with pudding” (4)
SAGO – A homophone (shouted) of SAY GO (start us off).

25 comments on “Rookie Corner 437

  1. We could just about repeat the comment we made about the latest NTSPP.
    It took us quite a lot of time and effort but very rewarding to finally get everything sorted.
    Too many ticks to select any one for favourite but the chuckle that came from 24d would come close.
    Thanks Jeemz.

  2. An enjoyable puzzle producing quite a few chuckles – thanks to Jeemz.
    I ticked 11a, 20a and 14d with my favourite being 18a.

  3. Many thanks Jeemz, I found this tough at first but managed to get on wavelength … very satisfying with lots to enjoy. Loved 18a’s “what for”; 23d perhaps overall favourite but superb throughout Three teensy quibblets:
    – 25a perhaps ‘old volunteers”?
    – 3d not sure of synonym for “pitch” (probably my ignorance though!)
    – 6d (if I’ve parsed correctly), “on top” for me isn’t “top of on”
    But these are minor points, overall I found this very impressive indeed and a joy to solve, many thanks again Jeemz (and in advance to Prolixic)

    1. Fez, 3d. I do have recollections of that synonym of “pitch” being used by my elder relatives when I was young. It is listed in the SOED as meaning: throw, fling, lob.

  4. Welcome back, Jeemz.

    A setter brave enough to choose a grid having a perimeter containing no black squares always deserves extra kudos from me, I know from experience that it doesn’t make life easy. This puzzle was extremely impressive, many of the constructions were very clever (especially 10a) and there was a good mixture of different clue types. I do feel that the difficulty factor could have been reduced though, I found it very challenging in places and that meant I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. It was still excellent though, and a very low Commentometer score awaits, I’m sure. My favourite clue was 18a.

    Many thanks, Jeemz, and congratulations on your upward progress.

  5. Hi Jeemz. I enjoyed your last on here and this one came across as pretty polished. A nice range of both difficulty and devices; plenty of variety and no small amount of wit.

    18a made me smile, as did 20a – a nicely deceptive straightforward cd. 26a is a nice surface for a word that pops up surprisingly often. I’m not always a fan of 15 letter solutions but 1d was very nicely done as was 3d, if I’ve parsed it aright, and with another lovely surface. 14d and 17d my favourites for the wit.

    No technical queries from me. Thanks for the puzzle and, in advance, to Prolixic.

  6. Crikey, Jeemz. You’ve ramped up the difficulty factor with this one, and I found it a real challenge. For me this falls into the “puzzle to be admired rather than enjoyed” category.

    I share Fez’s reservations about 3d & 6d, and I’m not totally convinced by the definitions for 10a & 25a, although in the case of the latter I suppose “side” is a vernacular expression for the required meaning.

    I did however have a lot of ticks with 11a, 18a & 24d making to onto my podium.

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

  7. Thank you Jeemz, very enjoyable, though I needed a couple of letter reveals to help along the way. Some very inventive clueing – I liked 10a for this, though not sure that ‘wearing’ is the right word to describe what you have to do to find the answer – I may be missing something. Similarly, like a couple of others above, 6d doesn’t quite work for me. Loved 24d and 26a. Thanks again.

  8. This was very hard going for me and I still have a couple where I’m not sure of the parsing. I’m sure it’s been cleverly constructed and will doubtless get a commendable reading from the commentometer but as for enjoyment, I have my personal reservations.

    Thank you for the puzzle, Jeemz, sorry that it proved to be almost out of my reach.

  9. Many thanks to all for your comments. I had realised this one was on the toughie side by backpager standard as my test solvers had told me so! I was trying here to use a wide variety of clueing devices to provide the deception rather than relying on rarely used synonyms whilst trying to make surfaces as smooth as I could. Knowing the high solving capabilities of most of the regular reviewers here, I thought I’d go with it to see if everything worked.

    Having 4×15 letter clues did mean that I ended up with a pretty obscure term in 27a, which I’d rather not have done, but I rather got stuck with it.
    Maybe the synonym for “pitch” in 3d is a rarely used one, but I felt it was ok as I’ve certainly heard the expression “wing it in” to mean throw a ball in quickly and I did find examples of it when googling it.
    I’m glad a few clues raised some smiles along the way, and that it provided some satisfaction for solvers, even if you did have to work for it!
    Thanks again everyone for taking the time solve and review it. Your comments as ever are taken to heart.

  10. Really enjoyed this puzzle, thank you Jeemz. A good Friday backpager or mid-week Toughie, I felt, and none the worse for being that challenging. The four around the outside fell reasonably swiftly: I somehow remembered 27a and loved the Rider Haggard book, so was thinking along the wrong line when parsing my answer until the penny dropped! Not sure I have understood 10a so will await the review with interest. I concur with Silvanus that the commentometer will likely have a low score.

    13a – personally I was uncertain of the reversal instruction – the smooth surface notwithstanding, does “going back to” work the same way as “to going back”?
    15a – well and fairly clued, but what an ugly word!
    24d – loved the clue and laughed aloud, but for me although it is necessary for the surface, ‘with’ didn’t work as the “equals definition” part of the clue (sorry, I’m a layman at this and don’t know the proper terms).

    Ticks all over the place, but podium places went to 2d (laughing at the intended incongruity), 8d, and 1a.

    Many thanks indeed, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. MG, 13a. I quickly convinced myself with: a reversing lorry = a “going back” lorry. So, why not a “going back” TO = OT? Maybe slightly unconventional phraseology, but fine in a cryptic clue I think.

  11. As expected, very few points of order from our blogger – and a couple of those are stylistic. Well done Jeemz. I feel for you with TA – it has been a convenient abbreviation for a long time and then they go and change it on us! Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to accommodate. (I only discovered that the National Indoor Arena – a convenient source of the letters NIA and on my doorstep near Birmingham for much of my life – had irritatingly changed its name, just as I was publishing a puzzle in which it appeared.)

  12. Like RD, I have to admit to admiring rather than enjoying this Jeemz (with plenty to admire. I had minor gripes about 1a where mummying isn’t mummifying in my book and in 13d for me “going back to” isn’t the same as “to going back” as the verbal phrase is intransitive. Other than that there was little technical to concern me, but I found the surfaces at times a little heavy going TBH and I missed the humour that others have pointed to – so perhaps it is just a wavelength thing.

    1. I had the same question over mummying but Chambers gives one of the meanings of mummying as mummifying so Jeemz is on solid ground here. I was happy with going back to, as it can be read as going back, to.

      1. Yes I had checked it and was as surprised as anyone else that it was ok! I was going to uses mummification but mummying of course added a bit of deception to the clue.

        1. I agree that using a rare synonym (mummying) instead of a common one (mummifying) can, per see, engender some misdirection. I had the same thoughts about programme/program in RC 435.

  13. We found it tough and had to have a couple of reveals to finish the puzzle – but we still enjoyed the challenge. Favourites were 1a, 1d, 8d, 14d, 16d and best of all 24d. We didn’t know 27a so Google helped us there. What a word! Many thanks, Jeemz, but please make the next one easier. Thanks also to Prolixic.

  14. Just a thought about TA in 25a (probably not worth mentioning). Although in the UK the TA became the Army Reserve in 2014, I understand that India still has a TA. So, maybe “volunteers abroad” could have been used?

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I did eventually sort out all the parsing with the exception of 10a which I’m still not particularly happy about!
    Well done to Jeemz for getting such a good score but perhaps you could lighten up on us a bit next time?

  16. Congratulations Jeemz on a very good puzzle! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was both challenging and entertaining. I have too many ticks to itemise them all; my favourites are 10a, 11a, 18a, 20a, 8d, 17d, and 24d.
    I was able to follow the wordplay correctly without recourse to help in all but one clue, 13a. I am most grateful to Prolixic for explaining this and for the excellent review. Very much appreciated.
    Thank you very much Jeemz and I look forward to your next puzzle. A little less tough would be most acceptable!

    1. Thanks Catnap for your comments. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I realise there were some pretty tough parsing required to unravel the clues in this puzzle: “going back to,” “on top” among others and some solutions were words that are not in every day usage. The convention used for 10a was a bit experimental as I’d not seen it used before, so I’m glad it worked for most solvers.

      Message received that next one should be a bit less taxing!

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