Rookie Corner 469 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 469

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

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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.

Another cracker from Dr Diva.  With the exception of 6d, which I think just missed the mark, most of the comments are technical ones to smooth the cryptic readings of the clues.  The commentometer reads as 4/30 or 13.3%.


1a  Card crime overwhelms news outlets (8)
COMEDIAN: A three-letter word for a crime goes around (overwhelms) a five-letter word for news outlets.

5a  Pattern of some unfulfilled returns, initially authorised in Chester (6)
MOSAIC: A reversal (returns) of the first three letters of some (unfulfilled) followed by the initial letters of the last three words of the clue.  I think initially can indicate the initial letters of more than one word.

10a  Dance student takes part in casino game, allegedly (5)
POLKA: The abbreviation for learner (student) inside (takes part in) a homophone (allegedly) of poker (casino game).

11a  Wealthy traveller‘s black dog (3-6)
JET-SETTER: A three-letter word meaning black followed by a six-letter word for a breed of dog.

12a  Hesitant coppers enthralled by document with naked nuns on the front (9)
UNDECIDED: A three-letter abbreviation for a branch of the police force (coppers) inside (enthralled by) a four-letter word for a document all preceded by (at the front) the inner letters (naked) of nuns.

13a  Pipe paraphernalia or taxidermist’s stuffing? (5)
AORTA: The answer is hidden (stuffing) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

14a  What you call a Mountie that’s not wearing a Husky (6)
HOARSE: Remove (not) the abbreviation for “that is” from Mountie and find a synonym for the word that remains (what you call) and include (wearing) the  A from the clue.  I think “that’s not” is insufficient to indicate the removal of the abbreviation for that is.  Normally A wearing B implies B is outside A.

15a  Nifty folding of old outfit by Belgian buddy (7)
ORIGAMI: The abbreviation for old followed by a three-letter word for an outfit and the French (Belgian) word for a buddy or friend.

18a  Medical department’s booze causes wind (7)
ENTWINE: A three-letter abbreviation for a medical department followed by a four-letter word for a type of alcohol (booze).

20a  US soldier stops flipping racket and produces amazing results (6)
MAGICS: The two-letter abbreviation for a US soldier inside (stops) a reversal (flipping) of a four-letter word for a racket or confidence trick.  Perhaps removing the “and” then changing produces to producing would give a better cryptic reading.

22a  Change of focus in support for a common language (5)
SLANG: A five-letter word for a medical support with the middle letter (focus) changed to the A from the clue.

24a  Not committed to giving up cake? (5-4)
FANCY-FREE: If you were rid of these dainty cakes, you would not be committed.

25a  Personal pride in sacking Welsh fort (4-5)
SELF-WORTH: An anagram (sacking) of WELSH FORT.

26a  Experimental broadcast about unoccupied terrestrial housing (5)
TRIAL: A three-letter word meaning broadcast is reversed (about) and included in (housing) the outer letters (unoccupied) of terrestrial.

27a  Start to send petitions for nebulizers (6)
SPRAYS: The first letter (start to) of send followed by a five-letter word meaning petitions.

28a  Perhaps Victoria went off and got covered in feathers? (8)
PLUMAGED: A four-letter word for the fruit of which Victoria is an example followed by a four-letter word meaning went off or got older.  Perhaps the cryptic grammar would be better with “getting” or “to get” instead of “and got”



1d  Shy away from calling for police officer to be sacked? (3,3)
COP OUT: How protestors may call for the sacking of a police officer.

2d  Male frog’s, like, right clumsy (9)
MALADROIT: The abbreviation for male followed by the French (frog’s) phase (1,2) for like and the French word for right.  For this to work, frog would need an initial capital.

3d  Main way of reporting clash over coach’s style (4,11)
DUAL CARRIAGEWAY: A homophone (reporting) of duel (clash) followed by an eight-letter word for a coach and a three-letter word for style.  Perhaps finding an alternative definition to avoid the repetition of way in the definition and the solution would be better.

4d  Determine today’s rate (7)
ADJUDGE: The abbreviation for Anno Domini (today) followed by a five-letter word meaning to rate or assess.  Perhaps the word required for rate is too similar to the definition. 

6d  How computers make cuts? (9,6)
OPERATING SYSTEM: The procedures that a surgeon may use in the theatre.  I am not convinced that there is an adequate definition in this clue.

7d  Growth achieved without my mastery (5)
ASTER: Remove (without) the MY from the last word of the clue.  The cryptic reading does not quite work here as the clue resolves to “definition achieved wordplay” and should be “definition achieved by wordplay”.

8d  Column dramatically collapses after mall is cleared (8)
CARYATID: An anagram (collapses) of DRAMATICALLY after removing (is cleared) the letters in MALL from it.

9d  Workshop where horses emerge lion-hearted (6)
STUDIO: A place were horses are bred followed by the middle letters (hearted) of lion.

16d  Vigorously grinds cocoa, so not available for corresponding (9)
ACCORDING: An anagram (vigorously) of GRINDS COCOA after removing (not available) the SO in the clue.

17d  Historically Iran, for the most part, stores no mineral remains (8)
PERSISTS: The six-letter description of the old region that is now Iran without the last letter (for the most part) followed by the stores from the clue after removing (no) a three letter word for mineral.

19d  Try somersaulting off in the middle of climbing tree non-stop (6)
EFFORT: Reverse (somersaulting) the OFF from the clue inside (in the middle of) a reversal of the TREE from the clue without the final letter (non-stop).

20d  At last get introduced to blokes who’ll essentially produce flavouring (7)
MENTHOL: The final letter (at last) of get inside (introduced to) a three-letter word for blokes and the middle letters (essentially) of who’ll.  I think that essentially can refer to the middle two letters where there is an even number of letters in the relevant word.  Howeverthe cryptic reading resolves to wordplay produce definition.

21d  Implied virtually every investor liked each decision from the outset (6)
VEILED: The initial letters (from the outset) of the second to seventh words of the clue.

23d  Some loveable rogues are better than others (5)
ABLER: The answer is hidden (some) in the second and third words of the clue.  The link word here does not work as cryptically, the clue resolves to “Wordplay are definition”.  Perhaps “maybe better than others” would be better.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner 469

  1. A real head scratcher for which I needed e-help to get across the finishing line.

    Smiles for 11a (a bit of an oldie but goodie), 27a, 2d, and 9d.

    Thanks Dr Diva and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. Thanks Senf. This was compiled some 6 months back, when I hadn’t a clue about assessing the difficulty level. Ii still find it hard TBF, but am getting better at it I think. There are also a number of clues that I would rewrite now. Thanks for giving it a go though!

  3. I enjoyed this and thought the difficulty was about right – thanks Dr Diva.
    I don’t understand 6d although the checkers made the answer obvious.
    2d is rude (and the frog needs capitalisation) but it did amuse me.
    The clues I liked best were 18a, 20a and 24a.

  4. Like Gazza, I enjoyed this and thought the difficulty about right

    Thanks to Dr Diva and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Well done Dr Diva, I enjoyed teasing this one out and for the most part could see where you were going with each clue and thought there was some clever stuff in there.
    Some of the surface reads seemed a tad “manufactured” but I know it’s a difficult skill to create smooth natural ones.
    12a made me smile, I could just about imagine the scenario, I thought your lurker at 13a was neat (some is always a bit of a giveaway for the one at 23d!), liked 15d though maybe a question mark needed?… and originally I wondered why Belgian and not French, though after reading Gazza’s comment I see we have a reference to the French in the clever 2d! Also liked 18&22a a lot, 1d was really good, as was 17d too.
    Many thanks DD and in advance to Prolixic.

  6. Thanks Dr D, good fun with a few tricky moments.
    The device in 2d is mild/jocular but I think still unnecessary (“Monsieur Hulot’s, like….” would have done the trick with an appropriate surface for those that remember the great Tati!)
    I don’t *quite* get 14a, and a few other minor quibbles e.g. repetition of “way” in 3d’s definition and solution, 9d’s “lion-hearted”, and the links in 28a “and got” (“to get” would work) & 20d’s “produce” (maybe “provide you with”?)
    But overall very enjoyable, with faves 11a, 18a, 26a, 1d, 8d (nho but nicely clued), 17d, 19d & 23d. Thanks again – and in advance to Prolixic.

  7. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Dr D with what seemed to me to be an accomplished puzzle, which was a lot of fun to solve. I’m am probably midway between Senf and Gazza/CS in terms of my assessment of the difficulty.

    I am not sure that 14a quite works but I may be missing something in the wordplay and, like Gazza, I don’t understand 6d although the answer is obvious.

    There are a couple of technical issues about which I am unsure and await the judgement of Prolixic: can “initially” encompass more than word; and can “essentially” mean more than the one or two central letters?

    I wondered for a moment if 5a included a self-reference as Diva is Latin for Chester, but that was a red herring. The fact that we had 8d in a recent Telegraph puzzle helped me enormously.

    I have a lot of ticks on my page, with 11a, 12a, 18a & 24a the cream of the crop.

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

    1. I too didn’t think 14a worked until I realised the significance of the “that’s – not”

      1. Ah thanks CS – would prefer “that is” in full, and not sure the “not” is in right place grammatically – but “get” the parse now!

  8. Welcome back, Dr Diva.

    A very accomplished puzzle indeed, congratulations! I found it a slow burner, tricky initially but the grid yielded quite readily thereafter. I’m not totally convinced by 14a or 6d, and thought that 4d was a little “same-sidey” but, apart from these points and a couple of other “hmms” already raised by others, the rest of the clueing was excellent and to have so few anagrams in a thirty-word grid deserves much respect. My top two clues were 11a, 1d and 17d.

    Well done on the progress you’re making and thank you for a very enjoyable puzzle to solve.

  9. Thanks to everyone who has given this a go and taken the time to comment. A really busy day at work means I can’t respond individually, but I am pleased you all seem to have found much to like. I can’t argue with the quibbles. As I said to Senf, there are things I would have tweaked had I been compiling this now instead of 6 moths ago!!

    1. So you measure puzzles in moths (75–80 days, according to some unreferenced website I just found and didn’t bother reading properly); meanwhile the Telegraph Puzzles Editor measures his marriage in Chelsea Managers — 19 today.

      Congratulations to you on an accomplished and well-received puzzle, and to Chris and Emma on their marriage.

  10. Absolutely splendid puzzle, Dr Diva, one I would have been happy to see and tackle mid-week on the backpage of one of the main newspapers. Reasonably straightforward, and you evidently worked hard on the surface reads: I particularly enjoyed 12a (a genuine laugh out loud at that surface), 2d (ditto) and 21d. I thought the deception in 18a, 25a and 9d very clever. And once I parsed 14a … super.

    You wait ages for a column sculpted like a female to come along, and then 2 appear in a matter of days! Briefly tried to get Hercules P to fit somewhere in 15a, but was not to be.

    Not entirely convinced by 6d, but that’s the full extent of my list of anything less than complimentary about any clue in this wonderful puzzle which deserves a much wider audience among the BigDave devotees.

    Chapeau, Dr D, and thank you. And thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  11. Welcome back, Dr Diva. You certainly enjoy using complex wordplay but I thought most of it worked well – just have a couple of queries which Prolixic will doubtless answer.
    Interesting to see that JL has described himself as being a frog in the comments on today’s back-pager so obviously he’d be quite sanguine about your 2d! He did counter by saying that they refer to us as ‘roast beef’……….
    Like RD, I was grateful that we’d come across 8d recently and I gave podium places to 10,11&15a plus 1&4d.

    Many thanks and hope we don’t have to wait ‘moths’ for your next one!

    1. Sorry to have been absent from today’s comments, but I am very grateful for them all. It is very humbling that so many of you take the time to attempt my puzzles and offer feedback. RC has been and continues to be a very valuable forum for my learning. Hopefully no Frogs were harmed during the making of this particular puzzle.

  12. Thank you, Dr. Diva.

    Hooray! I finished it, without electronic intervention, apart from the anagram thingie.

    It was enough of a challenge to make me proud of the finishing, and with no more “that’s the answer, but I don’t know why”‘s than I get from other contributors.

    So you stay on my list of possibles: “Who is this one by? Dr. Diva? Yes, I will give it a go.” Cheers :-)

  13. Many thanks for your comprehensive review, Prolixic, which I am sure Dr D will find very beneficial.

    Regarding 20d, is it OK to use “essentially” to mean the middle three letters of a word with an odd number of letters? I’ve seen it used many times to mean the middle letter of a word with an odd number of letters, and also to mean the middle two letters of a word with an even number. However, I can’t recall ever coming across it being used for more than one or two letters, as is the case here.

    1. It is a good question, RD, which I pondered at some length when compiling this puzzle, but could find no compelling reason (other than what is ‘normal’) not to allow it.. I agree it is traditionally used in the very sense you describe of ‘at heart’ and yet at the same time essentially conveys the sense of in the main/substantially/for the most part/fundamentally etc.. Could it be that it should be able to indicate either a central letter or middle pair (at heart) as well as all the central letters (substantially etc)? It would not be the only indicator to have more than one potential interpretation. In the end I decided to allow it and see what the great and good of BD’s blog thought, so thanks for picking up on it!

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which sorted out my couple of niggles, neither of which turned out to be justified!
    Thanks again to Dr Diva for his latest contribution to the Corner.

  15. Just completed as we’ve been away without effective internet access. Really enjoyed this, Dr Diva, thank you. Took a while to get the grey matter working again. Now to catch up on all those NTSPP and Rookie puzzles we’ve missed.

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