Rookie Corner 460 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 460

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 lot to like in this crossword but it was not without its problems.  Usually, these came not from pushing the envelope but from more subtle grammatical errors in the clue.  The commentometer reads as 4.5/28 or 16.07%


1a  Flamboyant style of Ronaldo’s shell companies (6)
ROCOCO: The outer letters (shell) of Ronaldo followed by the abbreviation for company twice (companies).

4a  Rascal shown to be unsound (8)
IMPAIRED: A three-letter word for a rascal followed by a five letter meaning shown.

9a  Kardashian perhaps might take less initially for dress … (6)
KIMONO: The three-letter forename of one of the Kardashians followed by the abbreviation for “or nearest offer) (might take less initially).

10a  … even that’s for something rather fruity (8)
SMOOTHIE: A five-letter word meaning even followed by the abbreviation for “that is”.

12a  Little chance Old Master said he “improves one’s view” (8)
OPTICIAN: The first two letters of opportunity (little chance) followed by a homophone (said) of Titian (Old Master). As the first two letters of opportunity are not a recognized abbreviation, I don’t think you can use little to indicate the two letters.

13a  Private ultimately breaks wind, taken aback by attack (6)
STRAFE: The last letter (ultimately) of private followed by a reversal (taken aback) of a five-letter word meaning breaks wind.  I don’t think that a construction of wordplay by definition works with by as a link word.  The definition can be given by the wordplay, but not the reverse.

15a  Gathered unyielding Etonian’s provoked in time to get reaction (12)
FERMENTATION: A homophone (gathered) of FIRM (unyielding) followed by an anagram (provoked) of ETONIAN into which is inserted (in) the abbreviation for time.  I am not convinced that “in time” is a valid instruction to insert the T.

18a  Vulnerability detected in a cracked lichee shell (8,4)
ACHILLES’ HEEL: The A from the clue followed by an anagram (cracked) of LICHEE SHELL.

21a  As regards bringing back staff, send second letter and give it a different title (6)
RENAME: A two-letter word meaning as regards followed by a reversals (bringing back) a three-letter word for staff and the second letter of send.  I think that you would need send’s second letter to validly indicate the second letter.

22a  Friends from Provence nuts about starting to make waves (8)
TSUNAMIS: The French (from Provence) four-letter word for friends preceded by (starting) an anagram (about) of NUTS.

24a  Discovered popular outlet with journalist (8)
INVENTED: A two-letter word meaning popular followed by a four-letter word for an outlet for steam or air and the abbreviation for editor (journalist).  I am happy with the synonym.  A mathematician may discover a formula or proof for a mathematical theorem.  In doing so, he may have invented the specific methodology for doing so.

25a  Filling in CAPTCHA® as suggested by Harry (6)
HARASS: The answer is hidden in the third to fifth words of the clue reading the registered symbol as a R.  Another clue where we have wordplay by definition.

26a  Heaven’s above – system’s not clear! (5,3)
MILKY WAY: A three-letter word meaning system preceded by a five-letter word meaning not clear.

27a  Agree to accept delivery? (6)
ASSENT: Split 2,4 might this indicate agree to accept delivery.  Almost but not quite.


1d  Playboys receive high commissions (4-4)
RAKE-OFFS: A five-letter word for playboys includes (receive) a three-letter word meaning high.  Grammatically, the structure of the clue (A receive B) does not work.  Receiving would be better.

2d  Pointing Norman out at first, then Beryl removing clothes in a lifeless part of town (8)
CEMETERY: A building bonding substance (pointing) without the N (Norman out at first) followed by the inner letters (removing clothes) of Beryl.

3d  Guilt over cash payment (10,5)
CONSCIENCE MONEY: A ten-letter word meaning guilt over a five-letter word for cash.

5d  Stockroom e-mailed back internal note (4)
MEMO: The answer is hidden (internal) and reversed (back) in the first two words of the clue.  Back having been used as a reversal indicator, a different indicator should have been used here.  Also, I think you need something more like internally for the hidden word indicator.

6d  Ages many thousands of rocks (1,5,2,7)

7d  Warm up‘s time spent in wrong theatre (6)
REHEAT: An anagram (wrong) of THEATRE after removing an abbreviation for time (time spent).  As T for time has already been used, a different indicator for the abbreviation should have been used.

8d  Cockney woman joins parliament as someone looking to make cuts (6)
DIETER: A three-letter word for a woman without the initial H (Cockney) after (joins) a four-letter word for a parliament.

11d  Comedian told story of aviator (7)
WAGTAIL: A three-letter word for a comedian followed by a homophone (told) of tale (story).  Some editors will not accept wordplay of definition as a clue structure.  Also, I think that this clue falls foul of the word association football rule.  An aviator means a person who pilots an aircraft.  An aviator can be a flier and a flier can be bird but this does not make someone who pilots an aircraft a bird!

14d  Snappy like some rich Icelanders (7)
STYLISH: Double definition, the second being a synonym (like) the four-letter word for the solution hidden in (some) the last two words of the clue.     Tricky but I think that this works well.

16d  Charge for every winning position, including finale of game (8)
PERMEATE: A three-letter word meaning for every followed by the winning position in a game of chess that includes the last letter (finale) of game.

17d  Finish schedule not far apart (5-3)
CLOSE-SET: A five-letter word meaning finish followed by a three-letter word meaning schedule.

19d  Tenor is enthralled by strange platitude (6)
TRUISM: The abbreviation for tenor followed by the IS from the clue inside (enthralled by) a three-letter word meaning strange.

20d  Slash the middle of shower curtain and unleash evil cry (6)
SNIVEL: The outer letters (slash the middle of) in the two words “shower curtain” followed by an anagram (unleash) of EVIL.  I have always been advised not to use the outer letter of two words in clues.

23d  Cheese knife tarnished slightly (4)
FETA: The answer is hidden (slightly) in the second and third words of the clue.

47 comments on “Rookie Corner 460
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  1. A clever puzzle that we very much appreciated and enjoyed.
    We guessed 14d from the definition and checkers but have no idea about the wordplay.
    Thanks Dr Diva.

    1. Thanks 2kiwis. 14d is “like” what lurks later. Unusual, I know, but it in effect gives the solver 2 definitions from which to derive the answer, so I thought it fair. I’ll leave it to others to say, though!!

      1. Many hours, on and off, of pondering and Googling and still no nearer an explanation of the wordplay for 14d. Suspect there is an allusion to someone not familiar to us.

  2. Thanks Dr Diva – very enjoyable but I did have some hold-ups in the SE, that I needed some reveals to confirm, and I’m with the 2Kiwis on 14d.

    Smiles for 13a, 27a, 6d, 8d, and 11d.

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

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Dr Diva. It’s been quite a while since your previous offering and I really enjoyed the solve. There were a lot of good clues in evidence, but for me a few fell into the “nearly but not quite” category: 15a, where I thought “with” would have been better than “in”; 8d needed to start with something like “That woman East Ender …”; I felt the definition in 11d was too much of a stretch; and, in 20d, shower-curtain should have had a hyphen.

    I know you like to push the boundaries and there are two particular examples here in 27a & 14d. I will be very interested to learn Prolixic’s view of the acceptability of these. The parsing of 14d had me stumped for quite a while until I realised that you appear to have created a new clue type – an indirect lurker!

    The pedant in me can’t help pointing out (pun intended!) that “pointing” uses mortar not cement, but 2d did make me laugh.

    I awarded a lot of ticks – 1a, 4a, 9a, 13a, 24a, 26a, 2d, 3d, 16d & 19d.

    Well done Dr D and thank you for the fun. Please do keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  4. Really enjoyed this puzzle, many thanks Dr Diva. We can’t parse 14d so will await Prolixic’s review. Favourites are 6d, 2d, 13a but lots of others came close. We look forward to your next one.

    1. Thanks RD. Unfortunately issues over submissions in the summer (for understandable reasons) caused delay. I have produced several more since.
      Well done on 14d – will be interested to hear the verdict! But I can’t find use of a hyphen in shower curtain.

      1. Sorry Dr D, I wasn’t clear about shower curtain. I agree it doesn’t seem to exist with a hyphen but I thought it might be better as “remove the middle of” possibly only applies to the following word. With more thought “screen” instead could fit the bill.

        1. Ah! I see what you mean RD. Your point was one I discussed with LBR. My thinking was twofold: 1. Shower curtain is a single entity and so the remove could apply to it as such . 2. in another puzzle elsewhere “People who mow naked and cultivate pansies (4, 7)” has a similar removal instruction over 2 words to give HOMO. So I justified it on that basis but, as ever, I am keen to learn.

  5. Well I’ve Googled all the elements I can find in 14d and, even with RD’s enigmatic observation, I still cannot get anywhere near parsing so will look forward to tomorrow’s annotations. The puzzle was fun and you’ve certainly been imaginative; as RD says, a lot of ‘nearly but quite’ and those little things will smooth out in time. I did not spot the trick in 25a (though that could also be eyesight!) so it was the other one of the two that remained unsatisfactorily parsed. Favourites include 4a, 9a, 1d, 6d (I feel I have seen that somewhere recently; it’s a nice spot), 19d and 23d.

    Thanks for putting this one in and to Prolixic in advance.

  6. Welcome back, Dr Diva, good to get another of your compilations to tackle.
    Like PostMark, I initially struggled with the parsing of 25a – guilty of reading just what I thought I needed to – and still haven’t nailed those rich Icelanders, but there’s still time for that particular penny to drop.
    Tick list here comprises 4,25&27a plus 3,8&14d.

    Thank you for the enjoyment and hope you’re saving those pennies for the emerald which is due in 4 years time!

  7. Welcome back, Dr Diva.

    A very enjoyable solve that included in 6d one of the best anagrams I’ve ever seen in Rookie Corner. There were some cryptic grammar issues unfortunately – 25a is “wordplay by definition” and 11d “wordplay of definition” which both run counter to convention. “Receive” in 1d ought really to be “receiving” and “back” was used three times as a reversal indicator. 20d was a nice idea but the construction doesn’t really work for me. I felt both 21a and 2d were unnecessarily wordy.

    All in all, very good fun but a few rough edges that took the shine off an otherwise creditable puzzle. Many thanks, Dr Diva.

  8. I haven’t been commenting for a while but am always intrigued enough by a Dr Diva offering! I hope all are well here at Rookie Corner.
    Good fun all round – took me a good fraction of an hour to solve (ok, with a few interruptions). Some neat ideas. I’ll await help from Prolixic on 14d though! Ah no, I see what you’ve done. Is that heading toward the ‘indirect anagram’ equivalent-category? I think your ‘like’ does let you get away with a second definition like this. Interesting!
    A few more comments in the ‘per clue’ feedback below. I look forward to your next.
    13a why ‘by’?
    18a a lichee has a shell: I’ve learnt something today – thanks!
    25a I like the (R) use!. But why ‘by’?
    5d ‘back’ is an ok reversal in a Down clue (for me at least) but there’s probably better. ‘internal’ slightly clunky
    6d nice anagram
    21a clunky
    24a does ‘discovered’ really mean ‘xxxxxxxx’? I disagree! I’m recalling a ‘Was Mathematics xxxxxxxx or discovered?’ discussion from decades ago.
    19d good
    10a good
    20d good, though some won’t like the use of ‘shower curtain’
    14d I can find one definition but am lost after that! Aha! I see! Interesting …

    1. Thanks for your feedback Encota. I am flattered!
      Like is certainly key to making 14d work, if work it does. I will await the verdict!
      24a – I know what you mean, but both Collins, meaning 3, and Chambers 4th Ed Crossword Dictionary both list it.
      25a Yes, Harry’s should have started the clue to allow be omitted

  9. Thanks for sharing this, Dr Diva. I agree with Silvanus that 6d is superb.

    I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to keep bashing my head against 14d in an attempt to make sense of it but I look forward to Prolixic revealing all.

      1. Ha! Well, I decided to come back and have another look and I just spotted it. Actually kind of like it.

        What didn’t help me is that solving this on the Puzzazz app, there’s a line break between rich and Icelanders.

        Is it legit? Well, “some editors…” – they’d probably allow it in the Guardian.

  10. Very enjoyable Dr Diva….yes a few technical issues that others have highlighted, and I know from experience it’s a tad frustrating when you submit a puzzle and in the intervening time between publication you feel you’ve improved somewhat….but it’s a popular spot and at least you’re going in the right direction!
    The ones I particularly liked were 4,14,&22a plus 6,19&20d (even if some editors wouldn’t allow it, just for ingenuity!)
    Many thanks, look forward to the next, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Stephen. I do a lot of walking and am familiar with the feeling one has reached a peak only to find higher ones beyond! But as long as the direction of travel is right!

  11. Really enjoyed this accompaniment to my lunchtime sandwich, thank you Dr D.

    Smiled at 14d when I eventually understood the parsing of my answer, but I do wonder whether it’s legit; 25a stumped me until coming here when the light dawned – again, whether it’s legit is for much greater minds than mine, ie Prolixic. 6d anagram was brilliant, and 20d was super – especially the surface read: I could hear the background music! Many others gave a lot of pleasure, and I do look forward to your next puzzle(s).

    Many thanks Dr D, and in advance also to Prolixic.

    1. Thank you so much Mustafa. Glad you were able to get on my wavelength. I share your questions about legitimacy of 14d and 25a, but love that RC affords the opportunity to find out!

    2. Thank you so much Prolixic.
      I see straightforward solutions to most of the problems you indicate (some of which you suggest yourself) and am frustrated at my apparent inability to spot them myself. (Note to self: Keep working at it!)
      Just on 12a, Collins (meaning 3) has OP as an abbreviation for opportunity, as in “photo op”. But happy you’ve given 14d the thumbs up!!

  12. Great puzzle, Dr Diva; many thanks. Thoroughly enjoyed the clueing and a challenging but most enjoyable solve. Afraid, I too, await the explanation for 14D!! Thanks for your efforts putting it together; respect!!

    1. Thanks Deebee. I hope it won’t disappoint when you do find out! But it is there to see with ” like” the keyword!

  13. Excellent, insightful review (as ever) – many thanks Prolixic!!
    And I love your “word association football rule” phrase :-)

  14. Sorry I’m late to this Dr D but hugely enjoyable with plenty of your customary wit and invention I think all has been said, but 14d (which also defeated me) is fabulous, and I liked the cheeky lurker in 25a (“not all editors will accept….?”) and the sublime anagram in 6d, amongst plenty of others. So it’s a little frustrating to also see the sprinkling of grammatical errors, as described in Prolixic’s excellent review – the great ideas always make a Dr D puzzle lots of fun, ironing out those quibblets would really elevate things! (Have to disagree on invent / discover though – the mathematician discovers an existing truth, and may invent a method for revealing/exploiting it, but they’re two different things imho) Many thanks again, looking forward to another Dr D soon!

    1. Thank you Fez. Very much appreciated. I too am frustrated with the grammar errors. No excuses – I just have to do better, albeit I feel I am making progress (very slowly).
      I can see both sides of the invent/discover debate. But one can argue that no one can ever truly invent anything as they can only use materials that are available to one and all. They only uncover the existing potential offered by those materials through using new processes, and, perhaps more germanely, they are listed as synonyms in the Chambers 4th Edition Crossword Dictionary and Collins describes invent as “to create or devise (new ideas, machines, etc)”. As in your example, it is in the sense of creating new ideas that, I would argue, they overlap. But that is just me.
      At the very least they are mightily closely associated!!

    2. Semantics can be confusing, surprising and sometimes rather subjective. Collins Online Thesaurus and The Chambers Thesaurus both list discover/invent as synonymous. But I’m not entirely convinced they are direct/precise definitions. Newton discovered/fathomed out gravity – but he didn’t invent it, did he? Its been there for billions of years!

    3. I pondered on invent/discover too. Not the same in my book though Jose makes the point well that there is some subjectivity. For me, discovery is about finding something that is already there but hitherto unknown; invention is the creation of something new. But there is muddying of the waters – the search for a cure to an illness involves both discovery and invention and it’s hard to know where the line is drawn. But, at the – rather pathetically – ‘gut feel’ level, there is a distinction and I’d avoid using them as synonyms.

      1. TBF I don’t disagree PostMark. I think you can make the case for some overlap, but I checked it and it was confirmed so …
        But I might find and alternative in future!!

  15. A day late to the fray, but glad I joined in. Thanks Dr Diva for a very entertaining puzzle. I struggled with some of the synonyms, my fault not yours! I had no trouble with 14d. “Some” always puts me on lurker alert and it came to me straightaway. I heartily agree that the 6d anagram was as good as it gets!

  16. Very late to this Dr Diva but just popped in to say how much I enjoyed it. Didn’t parse 14d & doubt I ever would have done in 6d – which was my runaway favourite.
    Look forward to your next one – hopefully not as long a wait.

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