Rookie Corner 453 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 453

A Puzzle by Jeemz

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 continues to provide tougher crosswords but with increased precision in the wordplay they are much fairer that the earlier crosswords.  Other than a couple of typos and the repetition of heart / heartless, the only point to note is the use of words to indicate the first / last letter where the cryptic grammar does not quite work.

The commentometer reads as 2 / 32 or 6.3 %


1a  Comical ironic clap welcomes bit of praise for fellow headmaster (11)
COPRINCIPAL: An anagram (comical) of IRONIC CLAP includes (welcomes) the initial letter (bit) of praise.

7a  Going back unprepared for fighting (3)
WAR: A three-letter word meaning unprepared (as uncooked food might be) is reversed (going back).

9a  Turns across posh car at the front (5,4)
ROLLS OVER: A four-letter word meaning across is preceded by (going first) a five-letter word for a posh make of car.

10a  Shady international right wing group imprisoned (5)
UNLIT: The last letter (right wing) of international inside (imprisoned) a four-letter word for a group.  I don’t think that right wing on its own indicates the last letter.  Shady right wing of international group … would have solved this.

11a  Heartless sadist lurking in awful dressing room (6)
VESTRY: The outer letters (heartless) of sadist inside a four-letter word meaning awful.  I think in the adverbal sense, the clue awfully would be the usual word however the usage of awful is supported by Chambers.

12a  Engaged in hank-panky in Scarborough capturing Angela’s heart (8)
TOGETHER: How someone in Yorkshire might say “the other” (sexual relations or engaged in hanky-panky) with the inner (heart) two letters of Angela’s included inside (captured).  There is a spell checker in crossword compiler, available when you have the review / edit clues screen open.  It would not have caught the typo in hank though!  To have heartless in one clue and heartless in the next is not good.

13a  Encouraged by art subject possessing good depth (6)
NUDGED: A four-letter word for an unclothed person featuring in a painting includes (possessing) the abbreviation for good followed by the abbreviation for depth.

15a  Plan to drop Christmas announced (8)
SCHEDULE: A homophone (announced) of SHED YULE (to drop Christmas).

18a  By stealth, in style, with Spassky’s Hungarian openings displacing knight (8)
SHIFTILY: A seven-letter word meaning in style has the opening N (knight) removed and replaced by (displaced) the initial letters (openings) of Spassky’s Hungarian.

19a  Check husband’s past at university (4,2)
HOLD UP: The abbreviation for husband followed by a three-letter word meaning old and a two-letter word meaning at university.

21a  Pressing case for high ball with gin cocktail (8)
LOBBYING: A three-letter word for a high ball followed by a two-letter word meaning with and an anagram (cocktail) of gin.

23a  This shows touch of recognition for compiler here? (6)
BYLINE: Double definition, the first being another word for the touchline on a football field and the second another word for describing the author.

26a  Provocative dance’s vulgar ending replaced with a wiggle (5)
TWEAK: A five-letter word for a provocative dance has the R (vulgar) ending replaced by the A from the clue.

27a  First and foremost, say out loud what science teacher did (9)
TAUTOLOGY: A homophone (out loud) of TAUGHT ‘OLGY (what science teacher did).

28a  Enjoys shiatsu regularly (3)
HAS: The even letters (regularly) in shiatsu.

29a  Refute special backing is fostering dissertation being put together (11)
SYNTHESISED: A four-letter word meaning refute and the abbreviation for special are all reversed and include (fostering) a six-letter word for a dissertation.


1d  Vehicles circling a holiday home (7)
CARAVAN: Two three-letter motor vehicles around (circling) the A from the clue.

2d  These can provide a fix for cycling accident (5)
PILLS: A five-letter word for an accident has the letters cycled around.  You should not use definition for wordplay.

3d  Renegade unresting in revolt (9)
INSURGENT: An anagram (in revolt) of UNRESTING.

4d  Chap against being embroiled in Council of Europe (4)
COVE: The abbreviation for versus (against) inside (embroiled) the abbreviation for Council of Europe.

5d  “Needs must” according to police? (8)
PERFORCE: A three-letter word meaning according to followed by a five-letter word for the police.

6d  Dictator’s country – a parasite! (5)
LOUSE: A homophone (dictator’s) of LAOS (country).

7d  Surprisingly found how large could be tallest man’s best friend (9)
WOLFHOUND: An anagram (surprisingly) of FOUND HOW L (large).

8d  One finishing work and going to bed? (7)
RETIREE: Double definition.

14d  Those who drool for footballers perhaps (9)
DRIBBLERS: Double definition.

16d  Self-titled Engish equine, modelled on unicorn stallion origins (9)
EPONYMOUS: The abbreviation for English followed by a four-letter word for an small horse (equine) and the initial letters (origins) of “modelled on unicorn stallion”.  The spell checker would have caught the typo in English.  Again, as with 10a, “origins of” … or … “originally” would provide a better cryptic reading or

17d  Jelly food soft dull and heavy weight (8)
PLANKTON: The abbreviation for soft followed by a four-letter word meaning dull and a three-letter word for a heavy weight.

18d  Smatter of intrigue creeping into school (7)
SPLOTCH: A four-letter word for a plan or intrigue inside a three-letter abbreviation for school.

20d  Blind-drunk – can see in black and white? (3-4)
PIE-EYED: A three-letter word meaning to see is inside (can … in) a four-letter word meaning black and white.

22d  Positive statement containing evidence of one king in heavens above (5)
YIKES: A three-letter word for an affirmation (positive statement) includes (containing evidence of) the letter representing one and the abbreviation for king.

24d  Clubs can be somewhat unfair on spectators (5)
IRONS: The answer is hidden (somewhat) in the final three words of the clue.

25d  A lot like Norwegian artist having Norse extraction (4)
MUCH: The name of the Norwegian artist who painted “The Scream” without (extraction) the abbreviation for Norse.

35 comments on “Rookie Corner 453
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  1. Top quality clues all the way through.
    A real pleasure to solve.
    Favourite out of many to choose from is 27a.
    Thanks and well done Jeemz.

  2. Thanks Jeemz a bit of a head scratcher for me with some parsings to be explained by Prolixic.

    Smiles for 12a (but is there a ‘Y’ missing in the clue?), 19a, and 17d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Jeemz. Following your previous “beast” of a puzzle, I approached this one with trepidation. I needn’t have worried, you have taken on board the comments about the difficulty of your previous offering and produced a very fine crossword for us to enjoy despite the two typos.

    I did find the NE sector more challenging than the other threequarters but it was still at a manageable level for me. Although the answer to 12a was fairly obvious from the definition, checkers, and the indication that it containing the letters GE, the final bit of parsing eluded me for quite a while.

    My only other comments among a sea of ticks are that a couple of your surfaces were a bit strained, notably 7d & 17d, and I don’t think “awful” = “very” in 11a as one is an adjective, the other an adverb. “Awfully” is OK as a synonym of “very” but, of course, would have been totally unacceptable for the surface.

    My top picks were 7a, 18a, 19a, 27a, 1d, 3d, 20d & 25d, with 27a probably best of the bunch.

    Well done and thank you. Jeemz. I feel promotion may be beckoning. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks for RD for your comments. Glad you found it wasn’t a “beast” this time! Chambers does show awful as an adverb with just “very” as the definition. It might jar a bit but “I think that’s awful kind of you” might be an example of how it could be used..

  4. Morning Jeemz, some head-scratching and reveals required for me, with a handful of parsings still escaping me. Nonetheless, it seems a very competent offering and I enjoyed your homophones particularly. However I found some surfaces a bit perplexing or, at least, demanding of several readings to extract a plausible meaning. I will be interested to read Prolixic’s take, which, judging by 2kiwis obvious enthusiasm, will no doubt confirm my limitations as a solver!

  5. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks to Jeemz.
    I hadn’t spotted either of the typos until I read the comments above, which I suppose says something about the way we read.
    The top clues for me were 12a, 15a and 27a.

  6. Well done, Jeemz, some fun here – enjoyed the punning at 15a and 27a, and 26a is amusing. Liked 5d too.

    There were a few places where I felt the grammar could be tighter (eg 19a, 2d) but your intentions are generally clear enough and the clues gettable, so I’m not quibbling.

    Baffled by 10a and 29a though. Look forward to some clarification from Prolixic on the obvious points I’m missing…

    A couple of minor typos are excusable when you don’t have an editor scrutinising your work.

    1. 29a is refute and special in reverse containing (fostering) academic dissertation, widders, but I can’t help with 10a which has beaten me too.

      1. Aha! I can see it now, thanks, PM.

        And thanks RD and Gazza for 10a – that one feels a wee bit too much of a stretch grammatically for my liking.

  7. Enjoyed this a lot, Jeemz. 12a was lol, echoes of today’s Independent in 13a, 26a and 27a both brought a smile, 5d was nicely done and 20d was an amusing take on the phrase. Many thanks. I shall look forward to tomorrow and the review.

  8. Many thanks Jeemz, lots to enjoy – my favourites were 12a, 15a and 27a. Just a few minor pedantic quibbles – in 10a and 26a, a bit of a bugbear of mine, I think the indicators should convey possession somehow (e.g. “international’s right wing”, “ending of vulgar”) – and extending that logic, this also applies to 16d’s “origins” although that construction seems to be more widely accepted. A few words seemed redundant – 29a’s “is”, 20d’s “can” and 24d’s “can be”, all of which I think could be lost without spoiling the surfaces, whilst in 22d “evidence of” seems unnecessary although perhaps required for surface reading. I may be missing something in 23a, I’m assuming it’s a cryptic definition but I dont really ‘get’ it? But all very minor stuff in an enjoyably challenging solve, thanks again – and in advance to Prolixic.

      1. I may well be wrong but I took it as a cryptic definition, the “by” referring to the position of the solution in an article? Maybe Jeemz will clarify.

        1. Thanks Fez for your comments. Yes 23a is a double definition. I did think this might be read as an all-in-one definition but as you point out it doesn’t quite work that way. The purpose of “can” in 20d is meant as an instruction to include a word meaning see in a word meaning black and white. I see what you mean about the other redundant words but they are included to improve the surface reading.

          1. haha, yes I’ve used “can” in that way before too, but didn’t “see” it here, d’oh! Very nice … I’d maintain the “in” does the job anyway, but yes perhaps the surface is enhanced your way.

  9. Welcome back, Jeemz.

    A much more solver-friendly puzzle this time and it was far more enjoyable for that reason.

    It was a pity that “heartless” and “heart” (deleting and selecting the middle letters respectively) appeared in successive clues, I thought, when it was easily avoidable. My other quibbles were mostly minor ones that others have already mentioned. My favourite clue was 15a.

    Well done on the improvement shown, once again I think a fairly low Commentometer score awaits.

    Many thanks, Jeemz.

    1. Thanks Silvanus for your observations. I had of course checked for repetitions but my “repetition radar” missed that one! Glad you like 15a.

  10. Thank you, Jeemz, and I agree with RD and Silvanus in that you have dialled back a little on the difficulty scale which was a definite bonus where enjoyment of the solve was concerned.
    Like Gazza, I hadn’t noticed the typos until they were pointed out, just as well they weren’t deliberate!
    Picks of the bunch for me were 7,15&19a plus 5&7d.

    I doubt that the commentometer will find a great deal to mark you down on.

  11. Jeepers Jeemz, I found it quite difficult to get on your wavelength, thus quite tricky but most seem happy in that respect so it’s probably me.
    If I have a criticism it’s that a couple of the surface reads were a bit lacking in credibility (but it’s a difficult skill) and the awful/very synonym just doesn’t work, though if you’re supported by Chambers who am I to argue.
    I particularly liked 15,26 (a real smiler) &27a
    Many thanks and to Prolixic whose review I look forward to reading

  12. Struggled a bit in the NE but got there in the end albeit failed to parse 10&12a. Didn’t notice the typos & very much enjoyed the puzzle. I’ll leave the detailed critique to the experts & will just say 15&27a, easily my top 2, are really top notch.
    Thanks Jeemz

  13. Many thanks to every one who’s taken the time to solve this puzzle and comment on it. Your supportive observations are very helpful and much appreciated. I’m glad that some of the clues brought a few smiles.

  14. All went well to begin with but we ended up having to reveal some starting letters. We didn’t notice the missing l in Engish but we did see the that hank needed a y. Like some others we didn’t like awful as an adverb. We think the very cold weather froze our brains! Enjoyable despite the challenge. Thank you Jeemz and we look forward to your next. Thank you also to Prolixic in advance for your words of wisdom.

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