Rookie Corner 476 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 476

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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The wordplay was clear but I think that the difficulty level came from fact that there were fewer anagrams and double definitions than normal and a lot of clues had three or more elements of wordplay to be unraveled.  Coupled with some more obscure words (thought fairly clued), I can understand why many found this a tougher crossword.  The commentometer reads as 2/26 or 7.7%


6a  Delicious dish for a young person flashing cash (6)
YUMPIE: A three-letter word meaning delicious followed by a three-letter word for a baked dish.

7a  Section of Amazon at Exeter split into different areas (6)
ZONATE: The answer is hidden (section of) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

10a  Support for whistleblowers that is initially distinctly mixed (6)
VARIED: The three-letter abbreviation for the automated referee’s (whistleblowers) assistant followed by the abbreviation for that is and the initial letter of distinctly.

11a  Rival originally outlined police position on plot (8)
OPPOSITE: The initial letters (originally) of the third to sixth words of the clue followed by a four-letter for a plot.

12a  First indications of kitty eating tinned Atlantic salmon (4)
KETA: The initial letters (first indications) of the fourth to seventh words of the clue.

13a  Dad has lamb pâté spread after evicting a neighbour, being inappropriately suited (10)
MALADAPTED: An anagram (spread) of DAD LAMB PATE after removing the letter B (a neighbour).  I think that for the cryptic reading, you would need a’s neighbour.

14a  Side contest between locals (tweedy types) (5,6)
DERBY COUNTY: A five-letter word for a local contest and a six-letter word meaning tweedy types.

19a  Find soldiers outside of Sandhurst returning calls (10)
JUDGEMENTS: A five-letter word meaning find or adjudicate followed by a three-letter word for soldiers and the outer letters in Sandhurst reversed (returning).

22a  Special amateur boxer’s heart turns to holiday (4)
XMAS: The abbreviation for special, a two-letter abbreviation for amateur and the middle letter (heart) of boxer all reversed (turns).

23a  Charlie Round nearly shot in the arm by Henry as surprise (8)
ASTONISH: A three-letter word for a Charlie or idiot around (round) a five-letter word for a boost or shot in the arm with final letter removed (nearly) all followed by the abbreviation for Henry.

24a  Snacks: finally settled on reduced salt (50%) (6)
NACHOS: A five-letter word meaning settled on with the last letter removed (reduced) after (finally) the chemical formula for sodium chloride (salt) with 50% removed.

25a  Sense time is wasted during mutiny (6)
REASON: Remove (is wasted) the abbreviation for time from a seven letter word for mutiny.  I don’t think that the during works particularly well in the cryptic reading of the clue as it does not indicate removal from.

26a  Ancient goddess being hard on sailor (6)
ISHTAR: A two-letter word meaning being followed by the abbreviation for hard and a three-letter word for a sailor.


1d  Caught charter choppers getting African mammals (7)
HYRAXES: A homophone (caught) of HIRE (charter) and a four-letter word for choppers.

2d  Start off opening answer with paper puncturing the authority of the adjudicator (8)
UMPIRAGE: Take the initial letter (start off) from the first (opening) across answer and include a three-letter word for a low quality newspaper.

3d  Almost want detailed cupola to be Norman? (6)
WISDOM: A four-letter word meaning want with the final letter removed (almost) followed by a four-letter word for a cupola with the final letter removed (detailed).A f

4d  Politician’s papers getting covered in muck’s acceptable in centre of Paris (8)
POMPIDOU: The abbreviation for member of parliament (politician) and the abbreviation for identification paper inside (covered in) a three-letter word for excreta or muck.  I think that centre needs to be capitalised here.

5d  Enjoys drinks in court (4,2)
LAPS UP: A four-letter word meaning drinks followed by a two-letter word meaning in court.

8d  European gathers up prize (6)
ESTEEM: The abbreviation for European followed by a reversal (up) of a five-letter word meaning gathers.

9d  Unpredictable Channel coast without an indefinite number of fish (11)
COELACANTHS: An anagram (unpredictable) of CHANNEL COAST after removing the abbreviation for an indefinite number.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

15d  Italian children in Bosnia and Belgium on vacation misbehaving (8)
BAMBINOS: An anagram (misbehaving) of BOSNIA BM (Belgium on vacation).

16d  It shows the level of venom directed at team by United’s rivals maybe (8)
TOXICITY: A two-letter word meaning directed at followed by the Roman numerals for the number of players in a football team and the rival team to Manchester United, say.

17d  Queen’s like a rare source of energy (6)
QUASAR: A two-letter abbreviation for queen followed by a two-letter word meaning like, the A from the clue and the abbreviation for rare.

18d  Kind regards, Champions! (7)
FAVOURS: Double definition.

20d  American lass has fling worldwide (6)
GLOBAL: An American three-letter word for a girl includes (has) a three-letter word for fling.  I think that has as a containment indicator is particularly weak.

21d  Artisan estate’s bottling is most reasonable (6)
SANEST: The answer is hidden (bottling) in the first two-words of the clue.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner 476

  1. I don’t know if it’s just me, Dr D, but I struggled initially to get onto the right wavelength and I found this really tough, especially in comparison with your previous Rookie Corner puzzle. There were four new words for me one of which was 6d. This eluded me for quite a while as I have previously only known the expression “yuppie” in that context. I did wonder if your desire to produce a pangram had influenced the inclusion of these obscure words?

    That said, there was a lot to enjoy here. However, although your wordplay was generally accurate, some of your surfaces did jar a little. 2d, despite being cleverly constructed, was probably the most cumbersome.

    A few minor points:
    • In 7a, “at” doesn’t feel quite right to me in terms of the surface as “in” would be the natural preposition to use.
    • I’m probably being a bit pedantic (nothing unusual about that!) regarding 10a, but VARs don’t use whistles.
    • I can’t find any justification for the abbreviation AM in 22a.
    • I think that “at the start of” would have been better than “during” in 25a.
    • One for Prolixic. 9d is structured wordplay of definition, which I don’t think is acceptable.

    I had a lot of ticks with 24a, 5d, 15d & 16d my top picks.

    Many thanks Dr D. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. 10a VAR is used to support (the decisions of) the whistleblowers
      22d The only time I’ve seen AM for amateur is in a PRO-AM golf tournament

          1. That’s very strange, Fez. As far as I can see, it’s not showing in the online Chambers App, which I have always assumed is kept reasonably up-to-date but it is in my Revised 13th Edition hard copy (which I rarely look at these days).

            1. It’s definitely there in the app too, but tricky to find as you have to include the full stop: Am.

              1. Thanks, Fez. What bizarre programming!
                Originally AM, am or Am brought up AM, am, Am and a.m. but not “AM.”
                However, since I entered “AM.” in full, it now appears when I search for AM, am or Am!!

    2. Thanks for your feedback as ever RD
      You’re right on 9d – silly error
      Re 7a, yes, ‘in’ might have been more ‘normal’ but at, being defined as ‘indicating a place where something is situated’ seems perfectly OK to me – eg Amazon have sites at Leeds, Bristol, Exeter etc. Perhaps this is especially true of Amazon, whose sites are universally on the perimeters of their locations and not ‘in’ any of them
      25a Your suggestion works (probably better) but I’d argue that during, while often used as a containing indicator, means ‘in the course of’ and both the start and finish happen during the course of an event.
      I think others have answered your additional points.
      PS I knew this was tough as some obscure words had to be included (especially in the NW corner – last in when filling the grid), the pangram being not just the use of each letter, but the use of each letter at the start of the answers. I felt this might serve to offer some extra assistance (if spotted, of cour

      1. I hadn’t spotted the first letter twist on the pangram – that’s clever and explains the need for some obscure answers. I wonder if we need a special name for such a pangram?

  2. I put the print out on the kitchen table and I said to Mr CS ‘there’s something very wrong with this crossword as no-one has commented yet’. I’d finished my breakfast and my cup of tea had gone cold before I gave up with ten clues unsolved and went back to the computer to reveal a few letters as I have a busy morning ahead so couldn’t spend any more time working on this crossword. I’d say what is wrong is that it is extremely difficult, not helped by, as RD says, a number of unusual unknown words in the mix – I’m always keen to learn new words but there are several here that I don’t think I’ll ever need to use again..

    Thanks Dr Diva – can we have something a little friendlier next time please? Thanks in advance to Prolixic

    1. Thanks for giving it a go CS. Sorry you found it ‘very wrong’, which I feel is perhaps a little harsh LOL. I do accept it was tough, for the reason outlined to RD above. All I can say is that I frequently encounter words/GK in published crosswords that fall into the NHO category and no one blinks an eye. It is so hard to know exactly what people know, but I will, indeed, undertake to produce something ‘friendlier’ next time.

      1. If you read my first sentence again, I didn’t actually find it very wrong, just supposed that our usual early commenters must have found it as difficult as I did

        1. I see what you mean CS… and I hope my LOL indicated absolutely no offence taken anyway.

    2. As one of the (usually) ‘early’ commenters, I retired hurt with only twelve clues solved. Sorry Dr D, way too much for me.

      1. Sorry to hear that Senf. Given today’s feedback, I have reflected on each clue and, while not denying there are 3 or 4 more tricky constructions, I genuinely struggle to see where this great difficulty lies. To be clear, I am not saying it doesn’t exist – the comments of really good solvers speak volumes to the contrary – but I just find it really hard to see why this proved so inaccessible. It is something I need to grapple with, but am floundering a little TBH.

  3. Thanks Dr D, a real toughie but an enjoyable challenge. I’d agree with RD re “of” in 9d and “during” in 25a, also think 4d’s “centre” arguably needs capitalisation? 13a I’m assuming “a neighbour” points to the deleted letter, but shouldn’t that be “a’s” – and not sure “has” quite works – though I may well have parsed incorrectly. 20d’s “has” is perhaps a little weak as an indicator, and 21d’s “is” seems superfluous. Certainly some unusual words but most of these I thought were fairly clued (eg 6a, 12a), the exception being 2d which I still can’t quite fathom. But always enjoy a pangram, and it certainly helped with 17d, 18d & 19a. Some bizarre surfaces (eg 7a) but largely more “engagingly odd” than “incomprehensible”! Favourites 10a, 19a, 3d, 8d &16d. Thanks again!

      1. D’oh thanks RD – in my (very weak) defence I stared with 1d! (not sure why, I usually do try to go through in order Across then Down)

    1. Thanks Fez. Glad you enjoyed it by and large. In 4d, though the answer’s name indeed includes Centre (requiring capitalisation), I had in mind the more general use of centre – eg the Tate being a centre for contemporary art or the Louvre being a centre for art historians.

  4. Quite a tricky pangram which I enjoyed though I was held up by several words which I didn’t know – thanks to Dr Diva.
    Clues getting ticks from me were 14a, the novel 2d, 3d, 4d (though I agree with Fez that centre needs capitalisation) and 16d.

  5. Welcome back, Dr Diva.

    Add me to the list of those who felt this was very tough, in fact it felt more like an early Dr Diva puzzle from 2021, but with fewer errors. As a consequence, the enjoyment factor was in very short supply for me. I always think it’s a pity when, to achieve a pangram, a setter has to include several obscurities but, if that happens, then I think that the obscure words should have easier wordplay, I didn’t feel that occurred in most cases.

    Others have already pointed out some of my reservations, I’ll just say that I enjoyed your last RC submission infinitely more than this one. Favourite clue today – 15d.

    Many thanks.

    1. Fair enough Silvanus. I tried something a little different, which perhaps didn’t quite work. I had tried to clue the obscurities in a straightforward way, but maybe didn’t pitch it right. Anyway as I said to CS, I will try to revert to something simpler next time. For now I’ll take the ‘fewer errors’!

  6. As others say, tricky compared with your last. I spotted the ‘feature’ of the puzzle very early on, which helped a bit with the solve.
    I think every setter feels the need to create such a 26-answers puzzle – I know I did. You may find yourself not rushing to repeat the experience, though. At least that was what I found :-)
    And I agree with your f/b to others above.
    Well done for going for it, though! I look forward to see Prolixic’s comments.

    1. Haha. Yes, I won’t be repeating in a hurry Encota. My main issue is I remain to some extent baffled as to why this was seen as so very hard and ‘unfriendly’, so I can’t offer guarantees. 🤔

  7. Good afternoon Dr Diva
    Alas I can’t buck the trend on the difficulty level (I needed a fair bit of help to get over the line) but I appreciated the skill and wit of the wordplay, especially on trying to nail the parsings. I think I have them all but will read Prolixic’s review carefully.
    My ticks go to 10,12&19a plus 3,15&16d.
    Many thanks for the fun in the sun and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  8. Add me to the list of those who had to resort to using the ‘reveal’ button to solve some of the clues in this one and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable challenge. Having read the comments above, I can appreciate the cleverness of constructing a ‘prime pangram’ but I’m not convinced that it was worth the sacrifice on the pleasure front.
    My ticks went to 10a plus 3&16d and I’m hoping that your next submission will be far more ‘user-friendly’.
    Thanks for your efforts, Dr Diva, sorry it was somewhat lost on me!

    1. No problem Jane. Thanks for the feedback. When I’d finished compiling, I was pretty pleased with the result. Pride comes before a fall, eh? 😊

  9. Well I’ve fared even worse – six & half answers in & scratching my bonce already so popped in to see what the comments were. If Sue, Gazza, Stephen, RD, Jane & Senf found it hard I’ve not a cat in hell’s chance. May have another look later this evening but not optimistic
    Thanks anyway DD

  10. I really enjoyed most of this fine puzzle, but was stumped by and enjoyed a little less the last half-dozen answers, needing a couple of letter reveals. I’ve ended up with a few biffed answers for which I’m particularly looking forward to Prolixic’s review but felt most of the clues were fairly clued even if occasionally rather mind-bending! I’d have put it as an early-/mid-week Toughie or what used to be a Friday backpager.

    Surface reads were generally very smooth and coherent, some great deception and a good variety of clue types. 1d and 6a were new to me but fairly clued; if I’ve understood the parsing of 24a correctly it is one of my Hon Mentions, along with 14a, 3d, 15d & 16d, with COTD to 13a for the inventive removal instruction, despite the odd surface read!

    Encore, Dr Diva, encore! Many thanks, and also in advance to Prolixic

    1. Thanks very much Mustafa. Very glad you found mainly positives. Like you, I will await Prolixic’s review with interest.

      1. Well done, Dr D – a deservedly positive review, I thought. Happy to say my parsing of 24a was right – a very inventive clue – and now I understand the few clues I hadn’t originally parsed, I’m wondering why I hadn’t!

        I look forward to your next puzzle with great anticipation.

        1. Thanks very much Mustafa. I clearly got the difficulty level ratcheted up too high for (almost) everyone and I have to take that on board. On the other hand I am pleased to get my best commentometer score to date, and then only for relatively minor points, so it was not all bad by any means!!

  11. We started slowly and then began to struggle! We had some Google help but in the end we had to reveal some letters. Several new words for us and still some answers we can’t parse. Please make it more solver friendly and enjoyable next time, Dr Diva. Favourites were 15d, 16d and 20d. Thank you in advance to Prolixic.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly appreciated your comment about the difficult level being higher where there are three or more elements to be unravelled in a clue. I do hope Dr Diva takes note for future reference.

    1. The point has been noted Jane. Thanks for the review Prolixic. I am pleased to see that you found the wordplay fair, without dismissing the level of difficulty that solvers (top ones at that!) experienced.

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