Rookie Corner 454 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 454

A Puzzle by Madcap

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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 creditable outing from Madcap.  The points are minor ones.  The commentometer reads as 2/29 or 6.9%


8a  Arab‘s returning soon (5)
OMANI: A phrase 2, 1, 2 meaning soon is reversed (returning)

9a  Recognised label backed adopting record by Texas first (8)
ACCEPTED: A five-letter record company label is reversed (back) and includes (adopting) a two letter abbreviation for a record and the initial letter (first) of Texas.  In order for the cryptic grammar to work, you need Texas’s first.

11a  Headline news results in discontented rally (4,5)
LEAD STORY: A five-letter word for results in by a two-letter word meaning results in and the outer letters (discontented) of rally.

12a  Cyclist‘s condition (5)
RIDER: Double definition, the second being a condition or clause added to a contract.

13a  Nationalist terrorist group captures vehicle to bring about liberated state (7)
NIRVANA: The abbreviation for Nationalist is followed by the abbreviation for the Irish Republican Army (terrorist group) including (captures) a three-letter word for a vehicle.

14a  Pirate imagined argument following fight (7)
SPARROW: A three-letter word for an argument after (following) a four-letter word meaning to fight.

15a  United? He got extraordinarily inspired by the club (3,8)
PUT TOGETHER: An anagram (extraordinarily) inside (inspired by) a six-letter word for a golf club.

20a  Common liberty ends after ancient city reduced to an oppressive regime (7)
TYRANNY: The final letters (ends) of common and liberty after a four-letter word for an ancient city with the final letter removed and the AN from the clue.  As with 9a, for the cryptic grammar to work, you would need ends of …

22a  Bridgea game for twisters (7)
PONTOON: Double definition.

24a  Campbell‘s 8 soup (5)
NAOMI: An anagram (soup) of the answer to 8a.  Some editors will not allow nouns to be used as anagram indicators.  As Campbell is a definition by example of someone called the answer, this should be indicated.

25a  Sweet perfume intensified by flower (9)
ROSEWATER: A four-letter word meaning intensified followed by a five-letter word for something the flows (flower).

26a  Secret special agent from the east about to talk when stripped (8)
PERSONAL: The abbreviation for special and a three-letter word for an agent or travelling salesman is reversed (from the east) and followed by a two-letter word meaning about and the inner letters (when stripped) of talk.

27a  Revelry and frolicking per se (5)
SPREE: An anagram (frolicking) of per se.


1d  &18 Perhaps Mick fails to collect Kate? (7)
ROLLING STONE: An elliptical clue to the group in which Mick Jaggers sings and something that gathers no moss (as in Kate Moss).

2d  Words are exchanged when she is being played (8)
MALAPROP: The name of the character in Sheridan’s “The Rivals” who gets her words muddled.  I tend to agree that the solution should include “Mrs”.

3d  Twist of fate is causing celebration (6)
FIESTA: An anagram (twist) of FATE IS.  I am not enamoured with causing as a link word, the wordplay does not cause the definition.

4d  Left wing or a Conservative? This is where to find out (10)
LABORATORY: Split 3, 2, 1, 4, this might mean one or two parties.

5d  Unpleasant and fussy – foremost, no character (4)
ICKY: A five-letter word meaning fussy without its initial letter.

6d  Avenue has double parking in area to fish (8)
APPROACH: The abbreviation for parking twice (double) inside the abbreviation for area and a five-letter word for a freshwater fish.  Try to avoid repeating indicators.  This clue has the third use of “to” as a charade indicator.  To is acceptable as a charade indicator in the sense of “in contact with” or “against”.

7d  Drinking 27 set up by artless bartender (6)
BENDER: Remove the ART from the last word from the clue.

10d  “Blackbird” number makes top spot (5)
CROWN: A four-letter name of a black bird followed by the abbreviation for number.

14d  I left his hype and lies, reeling with shameful embarrassment (10)
SHEEPISHLY: An anagram (reeling) of HS (l left his) HYPE LIES.  This clue breaks the cryptic grammar as the I operates as a pronoun in the surface reading but as a letter does not work with left when treated as a single letter. For example, you would say “letter leaves X” not “letter left X”.

16d  Taste gin cocktail – it’s extremely sharp (8)
TANGIEST: An anagram (cocktail) of TASTE GIN.  Curiously, cocktail is often seen as an anagram indicator and permitted by editors even though it is a noun.  There are some rules that are conventionally broken and cocktail as an anagram indicator seems to be one of them. 

17d  Nothing within listings for those that crow (8)
ROOSTERS: The letter representing nothing inside (within) a seven-letter word for lists.

18d  See 1d

19d  Proper as a monk might be (2,5)
IN ORDER: Double definition.

21d  Noisy streets in city (6)
RHODES: A homophone (noisy) of roads (streets).

23d  Latest directions (6)
NEWEST: Two compass directions, or three if you treat the first two letter as separate directions rather than one direction.

25d  20 per cent of steps lost in ladders (4)
RUNS: Remove one letter (20% lost) from a five-letter word for steps.

23 comments on “Rookie Corner 454
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  1. Thanks Madcap. I suspect that this is the puzzle that was ‘work in progress’ and was initially posted in error for your last Rookie.

    It took me a while to get going but with some head scratching I completed at quite a fast pace.

    Smiles for 14a, 24a, 26a, 19d, and 21d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. Thanks Madcap, very enjoyable – like Senf took a while to get on wavelength but all came together nicely. Just one pedantic quibble, in 9a and 20a I think the “first” and “ends” should show some sort of possession (eg “first of Texas”) And a couple of pedantic comments/questions too – personally I’m not keen on nouns as anagram indicators (24a, 16d); 25a’s “flower” didn’t seem quite right when applied to a generic term rather than a specific example; 14d I wonder if “Madcap leaves” might flow better grammatically? 1d/18d I’m not sure *quite* works (perhaps “…is one that fails…”?) Anyway all v minor stuff & nothing to spoil enjoyment – favourites include 8a, 11a, 14a, 15a & 2d. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Madcap, with your déjà vu puzzle. I thought it seemed familiar and I then I remember what happened when this one ended up on the PDF page for RC441. You said at the time this one was a work-in-progress but at a quick glance I can only see that only the definition for 13a has been changed and you’ve tidied up the numbering for 1/18.

    Your clues and nice and brief and your surfaces mostly smooth

    My repetition radar bleeped as in all of 20a, 26a & 6d you have used “to” to mean “by”. My only other comment is that I think the answer to 2d needs to be preceded by Mrs.

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

  4. Welcome back, Madcap.

    Like others, I really enjoyed this too, and the lack of a theme (unless I’ve missed it?) made it a better overall product than your earlier submissions in my opinion.

    I had similar technical quibbles to Fez and I agree with RD about 2d, but these are fairly minor points and ought not really detract from what was an excellent crossword overall. My favourite clue was 8a, but several others earned ticks as well.

    Many thanks, Madcap, and a Merry Christmas to you.

  5. None of the small technical issues made any difference to my enjoyment of this – so refreshing to get such a wealth of humour from one of our Rookie setters.
    Particular mentions for 1,14&24a plus 19&21d but I could have included several others.

    Many thanks, Madcap, looking forward to your next submission.

  6. My goddaughter hasn’t emailed me the back-pager this morning, so I thought I’d have a look at this RC puzzle. And what a fine one it is. Great clues and an enjoyable solve. No quibbles worth mentioning. I’ve ticked a few, but wii have to pick 8a as my favourite. Just to support the setter, which I always try to do:

    2d. I can’t see why Mrs needs to come into the equation. Mrs M is a play character/an imaginanary person and these are often referred to by surname only, without appellations. Such as: Geilgud’s Lear was exquisite. I’m sure there are better examples than that!

    6d. I think “to” is OK, in the sense of against, onto, upon or next to: Put your ear to (or even by) the wall.

      1. Apology accepted!

        By the way, I think you might have misunderstood my comment about “to”. It’s not the meaning I was querying but the fact that it was used three times – as also mentioned by Prolixic in his review.

        1. The “apology” wasn’t serious – it was just a device to set-up the Malapropism. I still think the clue’s OK. Maybe “this Mrs” instead of “she” would have been better? I don’t see how the 8-letter “solution” could include Mrs.

          I hear what you say about “to”, but I read your comment to siginify using “to” to mean “by” incorrectly 3 times. Prolixic has emphasised that “to” in this context is OK – something must have triggered thet specific confirmation.

          How the written word can so easily misconstrued! A bit like cryptic clues, really …

  7. Nice one, Madcap, some smashing clues here – especially liked 1a and the linked 24a, and 25d. I had a few technical quibbles but nothing too egregious and I’m sure Prolixic will pick up on anything worth mentioning.

  8. Very good Madcap, some nice ideas there.
    I’ll be interesting to read Prolixic’s take on a couple but they are mainly to satisfy my curiosity.
    1/18d is very clever (it would probably be allowed in the Independent but maybe not the Telegraph), 9a is a great spot as is 4d. I also liked 11&26a. Well done.
    Many thanks and in advance to Prolixic

  9. Well I agree with Jose re 2d. It was my fav once the penny dropped. Like Jane any small technical issues didn’t spoil my enjoyment either (though that’s because I didn’t notice any). The only clue I didn’t overly care for was 16d & I had plenty of ticks elsewhere – 8,11,14,20,22&24a plus 4,17&21d. I’m sure I’d add 1/18d but it’s the one solution to elude me & I’m resolved to think on & resist the temptation to reveal a letter.
    Thanks Madcap & well done.

  10. Ha! Managed to cause myself problems at the end, Madcap: solving 25d as steps = trips – 20% = RIPS so 26a was decidedly tricky! Sorted itself out in the end but I’ll admit to a judicious use of the Check button there.

    Favourites in this neat puzzle include 12a, 22a, 2d, 3d, 10d and 17d.

    My only tiny quiblet would be the use of ‘set up’ as your link in 7d which, in a down clue, confused me for a while. I don’t believe it’s incorrect technically – so I guess it’s about how misdirectional you want to be.

    Thanks. PM.

    1. Having run into the issue highlighted in 14d, think I read the parsing slightly differently: Prolixic has pointed out that ‘I left’ should be ‘I leaves’ and, whilst I completely agree with the point he is making, I took it as ‘I having left’ or ‘I left out’ or ‘I left behind’. Unfortunately we are unlikely to get a ruling on that but it seemed to work.

  11. Posting belatedly to say how much I enjoyed this super puzzle, Madcap. I thought it so polished it would not have disgraced the ‘back page’ of many a publication. It took a couple of minutes to get into, but from then on was plain sailing with plenty of smiles and PDMs throughout. Highlights for me were the 8a/24 combo, 1d/18d, 9a, 14a and 2d.

    Many thanks indeed, and thank you also to Prolixic, of course.

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