Rookie Corner 468 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 468

These Accents Seem Their Own Defense by Oraora

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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:

Welcome back to OraOra after a 19-month absence.  There was a slight improvement in the cluing but improvement could have been greater had points raised on the first crossword been addressed in this one.  A few points to mention are the use of deletion indicators being used to indicate the removal of a  random number of letters from a word and the surface readings.  Some of the spellings and clues suggest that our setter hails from the United States.  Spellings aside, the main times this was an issue were the use of cell to indicate a mobile phone and, possibly, an American term for nitrous oxide.  There were a couple of enumerations that had gone awry, but this may have been a transcription error when setting up the crossword in Crossword Compiler prior to publication.

There were some nicely observed clues, my favourites being 18d, 2d and 23d.  The commentometer reads as 5/28 or 17.9%.


7a  Figure less responsive (6)
NUMBER: Double definition, the first a noun, the second an adjective.

9a  Girl taken for a ride, reportedly, atop tailless snake (8)
ANACONDA: A homophone (reportedly) of ANNA CONNED (girl taken for a ride) followed by an A (atop tailless). Cryptically, tailless means to remove the last letter, not to remove all but the first letter.

10a  Lighting up infrared before emitting (11)
IRRADIATING: The abbreviation for infrared followed by a nine-letter word meaning emitting.

11a  First signs of squatters in residential form of address (3)
SIR: The initial letters (first signs) of the fourth to sixth words of the clue.

13a  Stevie, for one, steals (5)
NICKS: Double definition, the first being the surname of the singer / songwriter whose first name is Stevie.

14a  It can be tricky to unfasten metal that is reinforced endlessly (9)
BRASSIERE: A five-letter name of a metal alloy followed by the abbreviation for that is (id est) and the first two letters (endlessly) of reinforces.  As will 7a, you should not use endlessly to indicate the removal of an arbitrary number of letters from a word.

16a  Lay to rest one minute for meantime (7)
INTERIM: A five-letter meaning lay to rest or bury followed by the letter representing one and the abbreviation for minute.

17a  Complex mathematics? Another way: grab ale! (7)
ALGEBRA: An anagram (another way) of GRAB ALE.

20a  Heartily puts up big money for exotic birds (9)
OSTRICHES: The inner letters (heartily) of a five-letter word meaning puts up (as you might do with a blog entry) followed by a six-letter word meaning big money.

22a  Disease brought back after hot bath causing convulsion (5)
SPASM: The abbreviation form muscular sclerosis (disease) reversed (brought back) after a three-letter word for a hot bath.

24a  Conserve stuff (3)
JAM: Double definition, the first beloved of the Women’s Institute.

25a  Soothing infusion made from oatmeal blended with mice (8,3)
CAMOMILE TEA: An anagram (blended) of OATMEAL MICE.

27a  Bodyguard greeting blushing shooter (4,3)
HIRED GUN: A two-letter word of greeting followed by the colour of someone blushing and a three-letter word for a weapon used to shoot.  The enumeration should be (5,3)

28a  Artificial pearls cast every second, zinc orginally (6)
ERSATZ: The even letters (every second) of pearls cast followed by the first letter (originally) of zinc.   As with the setter’s first crossword, there is a tendency on occasions to produce a clue that works in terms of the cryptic reading but the resulting sentence (the surface reading) is meaningless.


1d  Newspaper keeper (8)
GUARDIAN: Double definition.  One of the hardest points to spot is alternative valid solutions to the clue you have produced.  I created no end of problems by confidently including “Observer” as the solution.

2d  Work out time before downpour (5)
TRAIN: The abbreviation for time followed by a four-letter word for a downpour.

3d  Mad cap boffins in hospital rags, headless (7)
HATTERS: The abbreviation for hospital followed by a seven-letter word for rags with the first letter removed (headless), the cap boffins being those proficient in making caps and other forms of headwear.

4d  Like the bird that catches the worm protects roost seriously (9)
EARNESTLY: The description of the bird in that catches the worm in the proverb around (protects) a four-letter word for a roost.

5d  Boy‘s laughing gas cocked up (3)
SON: A three-letter description of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) reversed (cocked up).  I cannot find and reference to laughing gas being referred to a NOS in the UK dictionaries.

6d  Poor Tom actor, forgetting note for one direction, becomes more tense (6)
EDGIER: The name of the character in King Lear who takes on the persona of Poor Tom with one of the musical notes replaced by the letter representing one and the abbreviation for east (direction).   Try to avoid repeating wordplay.  One for the letter I has already been used in 16a.   In this clue the first four letters of the character’s name are musical notes so indicating which one to replace would be better.

8d  Extinct cell type? (10)
BLACKBERRY: Cryptic definition of a defunct phone type.  As this is a UK crossword, using cell (an American term for a mobile phone) should be indicated as an American term.

12d  Apple juicer sounding cast down after exhale aloud (5,4)
CIDER PRESS: A homophone (sounding) of DEPRESS (cast down) after a homophone (aloud) of SIGH (exhale).  I don’t think that there is any way of getting the R sound required in the solution from the indicators in the wordplay.  The enumeration here should be (5,5)

15d  Dismiss leak (9)
DISCHARGE: Double definition. 

18d  Remember poet buried in hero’s setting (8)
ROSSETTI: The answer is hidden (buried) in the final two words of the clue.  The poet wrote the well known poem “Remember”.

19d  Repeating type of reaction, replacing variable with first trio of ingredients (7)
REDOING: A five-letter term for a type of chemical reaction with the final X (variable) replaced by the first three letter in ingredients.

21d  Fixed ASAP, I see (6)
STATIC: The Latin term for immediately or asap followed by the I from the clue and the letter that sounds like see.  As you are using a homophone of see, this should be indicated.

23d  Stroke new cloth (5)
LINEN: Another word for a stroke followed by the abbreviation for new.

26d  Shelter announced for open field (3)
LEA: A homophone (announced) of LEE (shelter).

The poem referred to in the title of the crossword is:

John Ashbery, “Some Trees”

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.

The perimeter of the crossword also spells our the first line and the first word of the second line of the poem.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner 468
Leave your own comment 

  1. We’ve finished the puzzle and found the Nina but still have no idea what it refers to, nor the significance of the title.
    With Google help we worked out 6d but think the reference a bit too abstruse.
    Lots of other clever clues though that took quite a lot of head scratching.
    18d gets our vote for favourite.
    The enumeration for 12d is wrong and should be (5,5).
    Thanks Oraora.

  2. A real curate’s egg for me. Like the 2Kiwis I don’t understand the significance of the title or the Nina. The fact that ‘Defense’ in the title is the American spelling may indicate something about the setter’s origin.

    A couple of specific comments:

    14a – ‘endlessly’ usually indicates last letter deletion, it appears to be indicating more here.

    12d – the homophone does not work for me.

    I did have a sprinkling of smiles 7a, 10a, and 4d among others.

    But there are several parsings that elude me and I will await Prolixic’s review with interest.

    Thanks Oraora and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Oraora. I had to check the BD archive to find your previous offering as it was quite a while ago. Despite having an American spelling in the title and some strange surface readings, this current one is certainly a significant improvement.

    I spotted the Nina but, like the title, I can’t divine the meaning; nor do I understand the relevance of “boffins” in 3d.

    The enumerations for 27a & 12d are incorrect, and you have repeated some of the same errors as last time by using “tailless” in 9a, “endlessly” in 14a, and “heartily” in 20a to refer to multiple letters to be removed or used. Also, I think you need to specify which of the four possible notes needs to be removed from the character in 6d. The less said about the “homophone” needed for 12d the better, and I won’t mention the vague girl in 9a. :wink:

    There were some clever clues in evidence and my top picks were 22a, 24a, 4d, 8d & 21d.

    Well done and thank you, Oraora. Please heed the advice from Prolixic and the other commenters as the basis for further improvements and do come back soon with your next puzzle. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Aha! Googling the Nina reveals that it is the first line of an American poem, with the puzzle title being the last line. This explains the US spelling.

      I’m sure our friend and fellow contributor Robert Clark will not have had a problem to identify this.

  4. Thanks Oraora, as others have said a real mixed bag here, in terms of both difficulty and precision. Some super clues – eg 24a precise and “simple” but effective, others asking a bit too much (eg 6d), some cryptic grammar not quite working (as RD has outlined & I’m sure Prolixic will have plenty of advice – thanks in advance). I assume 5d refers to N + Os for N20, which I think is perhaps a stretch, and in 21d the literal “immediately” may have been fairer/ more precise than ASAP? One minor point – the grid has several 3-letter answers with only one checked letter which is far from ideal. I Googled the title/Nina, nicely done, but not sure if there is any greater significance in this? Thanks again

    1. Fez, re 5d, “nos” is drug slang for nitrous oxide, which is confusing to chemists (like me) who know it as N2O.

  5. Thanks Oraora!
    Ignoring some odd surfaces, I liked much of this, but hit problems in some areas.
    7a got me off to a good start and I also liked 11a, 16a, 24a, 27a, 2d, 4d, 12d (unlike Senf, I like this, COTD), 15d, 18d, 23d.
    But I’m struggling to parse 20a, 6d, 19d
    14a is neither endlessly in the normal sense of final letter deletion nor as a 1st letter indicator, for which you could possibly make a case.
    3d I don’t get the definition
    5d I can see what you’re trying but don’t think it works
    21d I get what you’re doing but I think it needs more instruction.
    So for me you’ve done a pretty good job overall, but I am sure Prolixic will have some sage advice for you.

    1. DD. Yo’ve probably parsed those 3 by now, but I’ve got nothing better to do so here’s what I thought:

      20a. The middle 3 letters of a 5-letter word meaning “puts up” or accommodates a 5-letter word meaning “big money”.

      6d. I THINK this is someting to do with the film Poor Tom Is Cold actor Peter Outerbridge. So, and anagram (becomes) of OUTERBRIDGE, excluding (forgetting) OUT and note (B) and one direction (R = right) – giving the fodder ERIDGE, then EDGIER. *Not sure about this.

      19d. Remove the final letter (a variable) of a 5-letter oxidisation chemical reaction and replace it with with the first trio of the word ingredients.

      1. 6d I think Poor Tom is the disguise adopted by Edgar in King Lear. Replace the A (note) in Edgar by I (one) and E (direction).

  6. With RD having done his homework, I now realise where you took inspiration from for the puzzle title and Nina but it would seem that you still have a lot to learn on the compiling front. I don’t see how anyone can seriously justify using ‘endlessly’ as an instruction to remove 8 letters from a 10 letter word and you do need to work on some of those surface reads.
    Having said that, there were some good ideas on display here – 25a made me smile and my favourite was 4d.

    Please take careful note of the words of wisdom that will come from Prolixic and use them to your advantage for the next puzzle.
    Thank you for contributing to the Corner again, Oraora.

  7. Welcome back, OraOra.

    Eighteen months ago I made the following comment in relation to your previous submission: “I do detect potential, but the surface readings are definitely the area to concentrate on before your next puzzle”. Sadly, that still remains the case, as several here were either clunky or surreal or sometimes both. Riding tailless snakes and mixing oatmeal with mice, for example, ought to have been changed to something at least vaguely convincing. Prolixic pointed out to you last time that devices like “cut off” or “endless” cannot involve deleting an indefinite number of letters but still you make the same errors in this puzzle, which is very disappointing to see. I did tick a small number of clues, my favourite being 2d, but unless you take heed of the advice offered to you I really don’t see how you will achieve a low Commentometer score.

    Thank you for the puzzle, Oraora.

  8. Just popped in to say hello to another Ora.

    I would not dream of commenting other than to say I enjoyed solving this puzzle, albeit with a bit of electronic help.

    Well done to Rabbit Dave finding the source of the Nina.

  9. Something has gone wrong with the formatting of the post. I have tried to correct it but have run out of time as I have to be off to work.

    1. I’ve had a look but can’t see what’s wrong. The same thing happened to MrK the other day and he will know what to do once it is morning for him

  10. Thank you again, Prolixic, for your comprehensive review and to everyone for their attentive feedback. It has again proved invaluable.

    I’m glad everyone found the Nina from a favourite poem of mine. And apologies for any time wasted trying to find actors called Tom!

    I’m afraid my surfaces always oddly seem to make sense in the fit of writing, but I hope to learn from your advice (as regards my use of deletion indicators, as well) as I set to work on my next (and hopefully improved!) puzzle. Thank you again to Big Dave!

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, from which it would appear that Oraora still has much to learn. His enthusiasm seems to be undiminished so let’s hope he has finally taken your comments on board and produces a much improved puzzle next time around.

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