Rookie Corner 473 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 473

A Puzzle by Hopping Rhino

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

It is good to see Hopping Rhino continuing to improve.  There were a couple of clues that I thought were a little overambitious but the difficulty level has been toned down and there were fewer technical errors.  The commentometer reads as 2/30 or 6.7%.


6a  English writer cycling to see American philosopher (7)
THOREAU: The abbreviation for English and a six letter generic word for a writer with the letters cycled.

7a  Start working with firm (5)
ONSET: A two-letter word meaning working followed by a three-letter word meaning firm or not runny.

9a  Submariner withdraws warning (4)
OMEN: A reversal (withdraws) of Jules Verne’s submariner captain.  I think withdraws in the sense of draws back is acceptable.

10a  Could be medal or pin. It’s the same either way (10)
PALINDROME: An anagram (could be) of MEDAL OR PIN.

11a  Haughty royalist (8)
CAVALIER: Double definition.

13a  Hired very keen beginner – initially overly needy (4,2)
TOOK ON: A three-letter word meaning very followed by the first letter (beginner) of keen and the initial letters of the last two words of the clue.

15a  Emperor‘s amongst finer orators (4)
NERO: The answer is hidden (amongst) in the last two words of the clue.

17a  Gives lire away for Grand Dukes on the Rialto (5)
DOGES: A five-letter word meaning gives with the central L (lira) replaced by a G (grand).

18a  Rejection of sex leads to very loud row (4)
TIFF: A two-letter euphemism for sex is reversed and followed by (leads to) the musical notation for very loud.

19a  Idiot journalist waffled on (6)
PRATED: A four-letter word for an idiot followed by a two-letter abbreviation for an editor (journalist).

20a  Pioneer from Poland gets minerals to railhead (8)
EXPLORER: The two-letter abbreviation for from followed by the IVR code for Poland, a three-letter word for minerals and the first letter (head) of rail (rail-head).  Not all editors will accept an unindicated split in word such as railhead.

23a  Aggressive beast‘s bad chin or aching back (10)
RHINOCEROS: An anagram (bad) of CHIN OR followed by a reversal (back) of a four-letter word meaning aching.

26a  Uncontrolled anger without a point (4)
RAGE: An anagram (uncontrolled) of ANGER after removing (without) the abbreviation for North (point).

27a  Trace money to Georgia (5)
TINGE: A three-letter slang word for money followed by the IVR code for Georgia.

28a  Forgiving post-war PM (7)
CLEMENT: Double definition.  To address the comment on the blog, I think most PMs are known by their first and surnames so I do not think it unfair to refer to their first name.


1d  Drinks and a fight in the neighbourhood (5,5)
ROUND ABOUT: A five-letter word for drinks that someone may get in a pub followed by the A from the clue and four-letter word for a fight.

2d  Indian city limits parking for Oracle headquarters? (6)
DELPHI: A five-letter name for a city in India around (limits) the abbreviation for parking.

3d  Pronouncement by pope: “I expect ascension” (4)
BULL: Double definition, the second being a term for a stockbroker who is looking for gains in stocks and shares.

4d  Hints at prisoner’s records (8)
CONNOTES: A three-letter word for a prisoner followed by a five-letter word for records.

5d  Ruler buried in gilt sarcophagus (4)
TSAR: The answer is hidden (buried) in the final two words of the clue.

6d  Tense motorists collar politician in US city (5)
TAMPA: The abbreviation for tense followed by the two-letter abbreviation for a motorists’ organization around (collar) the abbreviation for member of parliament.  The cryptic grammar does not quite work here as you have A collar B.  Perhaps collaring would have been better.

8d  Aristo, as it were, makes a break (4,3)
TIME OFF: A four-letter word for an aristocrat is split 1-3 and the first letter treated as an abbreviation to be expanded.  I don’t think that there is quite enough here in the cluing to assist the solver in reaching the solution.

12d  Scoundrel‘s Irish accent, not British (5)
ROGUE: A six-letter word for an Irish accent without the abbreviation for British.

14d  Subcontracts design of course to us (10)
OUTSOURCES: An anagram (design) of COURSE TO US.

16d  Hearing the oars breaking (7)
EARSHOT: An anagram (breaking) of THE OARS.

17d  Removed passage in contract (8)
DEDUCTED: A four-letter word for a passage or pipe inside (in) a four-letter word for a formal contract.

21d  Notice blogger (6)
POSTER: Double definition.

22d  Boat‘s cargo frequently offloaded (5)
EIGHT: A seven-letter word for cargo without the two-letter abbreviation for frequently.

24d  0.1 (4)
NONE: Take the “.” In the clue and change it to a point of the compass and follow with the spelling of 1.  Whilst trying to be clever, I am not sure that this clue works.  It contains a clue to a clue by requiring the solver to get from “.” to point and then point to cardinal point.  Also, editors will not generally allow a clue where there is no formal separation between the definition and the wordplay.

25d  Run a circuit energetically, leaving followers behind (4)
RACE: The initial letters (leaving followers behind) of the first four words of the clue.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner 473
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  1. Got most of a grid-fill without too much head scratching but still need to give 3d and 24d some more thought.
    Enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Hopping Rhino.

  2. Well done HR – very enjoyable.

    Like the 2Kiwis, 3d and 24d need some more thought (or Prolixic’s review).

    Smiles for 20a, 27a, 1d, 2d, and 17d.

    Thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Very good HR, though 3d perplexed me too. I think 24d and 25d are excellent and there is much to like elsewhere. A very satisfying solve.

  3. A very enjoyable solve – 24d is brilliant, one of several clues that require a bit of extra thinking

    Many thanks Hopping Rhino and, in advance, to Prolixic

  4. Very well done, HR. I thought this was your best yet and you have dialled down the difficulty level to nicely challenging.

    I can’t fully parse my answers to 3d and 8d, and I think 28a is slightly unfair as the answer is the PM’s first name not his surname.

    One question for Prolixic: is “withdraws” OK as a reversal indicator in 9a?

    I had a lot of ticks: 11a, 13a, 18a, 19a, 26a, 17d, 22d, 25d, and I particularly liked 24d, although it may not appeal to some solvers.

    Many thanks, HR. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

        1. Got them now! A short break and a bit more head-scratching did the trick. Both very clever.

    1. Thanks very much RD.

      As it happens, the two points you raise were ones I thought about too. (That’s not to say I made the right judgement, of course).

      For 28a, I included ‘post war’ in the clue in part to go with ‘merciful’, but also to narrow the field of PMs, as it were, with the intent of compensating for using a first name. But perhaps the convention is last names only.

      For 9a / ‘withdraws’ was chosen for the surface, as you might guess. I then checked the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, where it does not appear. I consoled myself with the fact that it has appeared at least once as a reversal indicator in the Independent (

  5. Well, Hopping Rhino, we commenters are nothing if not consistent. 3d and 24d are the two I am still mulling over. I think I have a parse for the second but the first – ooh! Hang on … Live revelation, mid comment: are you thinking investor? If so, very neat!

    This was good fun to complete and, whilst Prolixic will have some suggestions for sure, imho it’s tweaks you might need rather than rewrites. And there were some splendid clues scattered throughout – as well as a cheeky namecheck which made me smile. My highlights include 7a, 10a (though no need for a full stop in the middle), 15a, 18a, 23a (of course), 2d, 3d (if I have parsed it correctly), 5d, 22d and 24d (again, if I have parsed aright). 25d is an intriguing idea which I have not encountered before.

    Thanks for the puzzle.

  6. A really good puzzle with a mixture of straightforward and ‘how does that work?’ clues. Many thanks to Hopping 24a.
    My ticks included 6a, 8d, 22d, 24d and 25d.

  7. Most enjoyable. Thank you Hopping Rhino. Like others I am still pondering 3d and 24d and may have to wait for the review.

    1. 24d is a classic case of saying what you see and then applying a standard cryptic interpretation to that, Steve.

      1. Exactly so, Dr D. Though the clue was undoubtedly a bit of an experiment, and I’m not surprised it has been a perplexer for some

  8. A much more reasonable level of difficulty than in your previous offerings, HR, although by no means a walk in the park – I’m still working on the parsing of 3,8&24d.
    Best laughs came from 11&18a plus 6d.

    Many thanks, Hopping Rhino, I think the commentometer may be on your side today.

    1. Thanks Jane. I was very conscious of feedback from you and others on the difficulty of my last submission, so I’m glad this puzzle has moved in the right direction.

  9. A really enjoyable BH Monday morning solve in the garden.
    Some superb clues including 10a, 23a, 26a, 17d, 24d and 25d, but 24d wins it by a mile. Brilliant!
    I am still trying to parse 8d.
    Very well done HR. Are you thick skinned and charge a lot?
    Quick question. I understand the “cycling” technique in 6a, but how did it acquire its name?

    1. Thick skinned and charge a lot? Have you been speaking to my clients? (In fact Hopping Rhino is a nod to the protagonist in a children’s book I wrote long ago).

      Re cycling, ‘How to solve a cryptic crossword’ says “A cycling clue is one where the solver is asked to take a word and then ‘cycle’ its letters around” – so cycle as a repeating series of events (say) rather than bike

  10. Welcome back, Hopping Rhino.

    I’m very pleased to see that you kept to your promise and dialled down the overall difficulty level this time, I hope you’ll agree that the very positive feedback you have received shows it was definitely the right decision.

    I enjoyed solving this a lot, I thought that 23a was nicely self-referential and a good construction, so it just edges out 1a to top my podium.

    Congratulations and many thanks!

    1. Thanks Silvanus – there is no question that the virtues of this puzzle derive substantially from valuable feedback received on the last and prior puzzles, so I am grateful to all for the coaching provided.

  11. I really enjoyed your puzzle, thank you HR. I thought it very polished, with good surfaces and constructions throughout. Thank you to Prolixic for explaining why two of my answers were what they were!

  12. Thanks to Prolixic for explaining the parsing of 8d. I thought it had to be something along those lines, but agree that I don’t think there is sufficient guidance for the solver in the clue.
    A minor gripe in an otherwise excellent puzzle.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for explaining the reasoning behind the three answers I’d failed to fully parse. Must admit that I’m not kicking myself over any of them which is something of a relief!

  14. Very enjoyable, thank you, Hopping Rhino. I also struggled with 3d and 24d and guessed the first part of 8d. Solving on my own today so really appreciated the puzzle.

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