Rookie Corner 477 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 477

A Puzzle by Jeemz

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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.

Since last summer the wait time for publication of Rookie Corner puzzles has been at least a few months, which might be discouraging for new setters trying to hone their setting skills in response to the feedback provided here. The queue is now significantly shorter, and so we encourage new or existing rookie compilers who wish to take advantage of this opportunity for faster publication to send their puzzles to

Jeemz continues to impress and has made steady progress since his first crossword where the commentometer was an eye-watering 31.5%.  Today, with only a couple of minor comments, the scores on the doors are 1.5/28 or 5.4%.  Whilst I know that the queue in the Rookie Corner is light, after a run of crosswords with only a few minor points, I think it is time to move Jeemz upstairs.


1a  Cringed when Commanding Officer gambled, losing a grand (7)
COWERED: The abbreviation for Commanding Officer followed by a seven-letter word meaning gambled with the A from the clue and the abbreviation for grand.

5a  High-schooler’s tagging Unionist member a lot (7)
UMPTEEN: A four-letter word for a person over the age of 12 and under 20 after (tagging) the abbreviation for Unionist and the abbreviation for member of parliament.

9a  Crazily dive with us – and in the dark! (9)
UNADVISED: An anagram (crazily) of DIVE US AND.

10a  Sibling’s issue exposed in Brownie ceremony (5)
NIECE: The answer is hidden (exposed) in the final two words of the clue.

11a  Old company receives tax kickback for book format (6)
OCTAVO: The abbreviations for old and company include (receives) a reversal (kickback) of a tax on goods and services.

12a  Presentation on stronghold of French discounted (7)
RECITAL: The two-letter abbreviation for on followed by a seven-letter word for a stronghold without (discounted) the French word meaning of.

14a  Special constable joining an investigation… (4)
SCAN: The abbreviation for special constable followed by the AN from the clue.

15a  … reports on those who are late (10)
OBITUARIES: Cryptic definition.

17a  Provoke cut back on dubious race bet (10)
EXACERBATE: A three-letter word meaning cut is reversed (back) and followed by an anagram (dubious) of RACE BET.

18a  Shelf for the birds unfinished… (4)
SILL: A five-letter word meaning for the birds or daft had the final letter removed (unfinished).

20a  …now involved in kerfuffle to get tool (7)
BRADAWL: The abbreviation for Anno Domini (now) inside (involved in) a five-letter word for a kerfuffle or fight.

21a  Countless ordinands regularly follow Holy Moly (6)
MYRIAD: The even letters (regularly) of ordinands after (follow) a two-letter word meaning holy moly.  I don’t think that the clue would work as holy meaning remove the middle letters from moly.  You would need holey and there is no homophone indicator in the clue.  The follow leads to definition A follow B, which would be better as A following B.

23a  Key loophole detected (5)
ISLET: A homophone (detected) of eyelet (loophole).

24a  Often fancies sporadically cutting off residency rights (9)
TENANCIES: The first two words of the clue without (cutting) the letters in off.  As the letter have to be removed from two separate words, I think that the sporadically is required here.  If they were in the same word (whether together or split), I would be less concerned about the absence of an indicator that the letters are not removed as a block.

25a  Stitched up special uniforms taking time with scarlet fringing (7)
SUTURED: The abbreviation for special and the abbreviation for uniform repeated include the abbreviation for time followed by a three-letter word for scarlet.

26a  Rejects supporters (7)
SECONDS: Double definition (the rejects being those goods that are sold at a lower price as they have a defect.


1d  Vintage Times puzzle (4)
CRUX: A three-letter word for vintage wine followed by the letter meaning times.

2d  Audibly witness a parrot under the influence producing something unmemorable (15)
WHATCHAMACALLIT: A homophone (audibly) of WATCH (witness) A MACAW (parrot) LIT (under the influence).

3d  Spill the beans on meat (6)
REVEAL: A two-letter word meaning on followed by a four-letter word for a type of meat.  Avoid repeating wordplay indicators.

4d  Confounded record album booted out (15)
DISCOMBOBULATED: A four-letter word for a musical record followed by an anagram (out) of ALBUM BOOTED.

5d  Distortions covered up by financial reports (15)
UNDERSTATEMENTS: A five-letter word meaning covered up followed by a ten-letter word for financial reports.

6d  Reviews set about top-notch American nostrums (8)
PANACEAS: A four-letter word meaning reviews around (set about) a three-letter word meaning top-notch and the abbreviation for American.  I think that the clue needs some indication that the solution required critical reviews.  Critical reviews about… would be much better.

7d  Effect of getting charged with ecstasy? (15)
ELECTRIFICATION: Double definition.

8d  Down-and-out, having accepted take away, left for no reason (10)
NEEDLESSLY: A five-letter word meaning down-and-out or impoverished includes (having accepted) a four letter word meaning take away or deduct and the abbreviation for left.  The clue would have worked better with takeaway but, as this would involved an unindicated lift and separate, perhaps you could have had Down-and-out consuming portions of takeaway literally left for no reason.

13d  Unorthodox mass belies conventions (10)
ASSEMBLIES: An anagram (unorthodox) of MASS BELIES.

16d  Leading light Democrat’s age means some constituents are fed up (8)
MEGASTAR: The answer is hidden (some constituents) and reversed (are fed up) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

19d  Mocking press gains heart from criticisms (6)
IRONIC: A four-letter word meaning press followed by the central two letters (heart) of criticism.

22d  Invites a King’s son to catch start of shoot (4)
ASKS: The A from the clue and the abbreviations for king and son include (to catch) the initial letter (start) of shoot.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner 477

  1. A clever puzzle with well put together clues. The four long clues gave us the most enjoyment with the favourite being 2d.
    Thanks Jeemz.

  2. Thanks Jeemz – very enjoyable but a bit of a headscratcher especially in the North East.

    Smiles for 15a, 20a, 21a, 2d, 4d, and 19d.

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

  3. This was yet another very accomplished puzzle, Jeemz. I really enjoyed the solve, which I found quite challenging in places.

    My only question is, do you need “sporadically” in 24a as the letters to be removed appear in the same order in the clue?

    My page was littered with ticks with 2d being my favourite, and a special mention for 4d, which is such a splendid word.

    Many thanks, Jeemz, and thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Many thanks for the feedback RD – pleased you enjoyed it. I did ponder over the inclusion of sporadically in 24a.

      Whether indicators are needed when a definition is an example, or to qualify the word play, as in this instance, seems to divide opinion somewhat. I’d certainly be grateful for any clear guidance on the subject if anyone can help!

      1. A clue for one of my few published puzzles was rejected (then suitably amended) specifically for not including a “sporadically” type of indicator. For what it’s worth, I think the editor was correct to insist on this – it gives a more satisfyingly precise clue. (The editor was Elgar, though, if that has any bearing on things!)

      2. I can’t offer you clear guidance, Jeemz. Only a personal view as I suspect this is a topic that splits the camp. For me, I think as for RD, if the string of letters to be removed appears in the same order as in the fodder, no further indicator is needed. I’d take the same view with a subtractive anagram. If they don’t appear in the right order in the latter situation, I prefer to see the letters of the subtracted word anagrammed themselves but I know there are solvers who argue, since you are anagramming, you can produce a result that allows the subtracted letters to form any string you want so they can stand alone. 24a was one of my favourite clues.

  4. Great fun and pitched at just the right level of difficulty – many thanks to Jeemz.
    I have a 21a of ticks including 10a, 18a, 23a, 26a and 16d.
    More like this please.

    1. Thanks Gazza. Now having re-read 21a, and putting my own reviewers cap on, I rather think 21a might read better cryptically, with “following” rather than “follow”

  5. Really enjoyable Jeemz. I got plenty of smiles out of this solve and liked the variety and imagination in the constructions. Plenty I could tick – some highlights would include 1a, 10a, 11a, 24a, 26a, 2d, 4d, 5d, and 13d. I fear you may get pulled up for a repetition of ‘on’ = RE but it didn’t spoil the solve and I’ve seen far worse. Either of them could easily switch to ‘about’. Many thanks for putting this up and to Prolixic in due course

    1. Thanks PostMark for your comments – they are much appreciated. Yet again my rigorous checks for repetition seems to have failed me! Thanks for pointing it out.

      1. Hey, you’re talking to the setter who clued CHEKOV instead of CHEKHOV! And you have no idea how many times I chekhed that one 😉

  6. Good fun from our setter making for a very enjoyable solve.
    My biggest ticks went to 25&26a along with 2,4,7&13d but several others were worthy of mention.

    Thank you and well done, Jeemz.

  7. Welcome back, Jeemz.

    I really enjoyed solving this, congratulations on another fine puzzle with a very bold choice of grid. I found the left-hand side much more solver-friendly than the right. You do need to watch issues like “take away” in 8d, for instance. As a meal (for the surface), it is one word, but in order to mean “less” it has to be two words, so the clue doesn’t work for me. You’re absolutely right about “follow” in 21a, the cryptic grammar calls for “following” instead. Well spotted.

    My favourite clue was 24a, although I’m another who believes that there is no absolute need for an indicator if the letters to be removed are in the same order as in the clue, split or not split.

    Many thanks for a very enjoyable solve, Jeemz.

    1. Thanks Silvanus, glad you enjoyed it. I did understand that the alternative spellings of takeaway and take away provided different meanings. However I thought (or hoped!) that using the accurate one for the definition would be ok and just added a deception in the reading of the word play.

  8. Super puzzle, thank you Jeems. There are a few parsings I shall need to read, and “high-schooler” had me foxed for a long time – I guess if you’re in Scotland or the US then that term might be more familiar. But I thought this a polished and very accomplished puzzle, a testing and rewarding solve.

    Thank you, and in advance also to Prolixic

  9. Really enjoyed it Jeemz. As Gazza says a 21a of ticks. The penny yet to drop with 2d despite 8 checkers & a couple of parsings yet to ponder but they’ll have to wait as off to a gig. 4d my fav as it was my first in, is what I frequently am doing crosswords & it’s such a great word.
    Well done, many thanks & look forward to the next one

    1. Thanks Huntsman. I first came across the word discombobulated when reading Mary Mcarthy’s novel The Group when I was a student. I fell in love with the word instantly!

  10. Thanks Jeemz, great fun – I must’ve been right on wavelength as I very enjoyably rattled through most of this. I agree 21a is better with “following” though a rather curmudgeonly quibble (given the fun surface) – should “Holy” have a homophone indicator? (Or maybe I’ve parsed it wrongly?) And repetition of RE and “special” (even though part of a compound indication in one case) jarred just a little. Faves include 10a, 11a, 15a, 2d (bizarrely fun surface!), 5d & 22d. Nicely done, thanks again!

    1. I took holy moly (not sure why it’s capitalised in the clue?) to be a synonym for MY in the answer, meaning “gosh” or “crikey”. The phrase is listed as American, so might need an indicator for that – not sure where a homphone comes into it? Have I missed something (again)?

    2. Maybe you mean a homophone indicator for holy = holey – triggering the emptying of MolY to give MY in the answer?

      1. Yes that was my mistake – d’oh! Or should I say – crikey! / gosh! / cor blimey!

    3. Thanks Fez. Curmudgeonly ranks pretty highly as a favourite word of mine too! Holy Moly is meant as a synonym of MY – nothing more. However, I thought it might also provide a deceptive though invalid pointer to the solution!

  11. Many thanks as ever to all those who have taken the time to comment on this crossword. Please forgive my “sporadic” responses as I am currently at sea in the Mediterranean and internet connections are themselves sporadic!
    I confess to be being very surprised to have made an appearance in Rookie Corner so soon after my last one 3 weeks ago…where are you other Rookies?

    My practise up to now has been to submit a new crossword soon after the appearance of my last one to claim a place in the clue for publication. Then at leisure I would take the time to review the puzzle for repetition or other errors, and offer a revised edition before publication date. Sadly I had no time to do this with this one so I apologise for the repetition errors and any rough edges, and hope it didn’t detract from the fun of solving it.

  12. Really enjoyed the puzzle. Many thanks, Jeemz, and congratulations on your promotion. Quite a challenge in a couple of places for us and we had the wrong answer for 21a. We guessed at ‘sill’ but couldn’t understand how the birds fitted in. Many favourites though.

  13. Apologies for the lateness of this, but I have only just reached a place where I can respond.
    Many thanks to you Prolixic for this review, and all the other reviews you painstakingly undertake for Rookies. An even bigger thanks now of course for giving my efforts the seal of approval!
    Just as big a thanks goes to all of you who generously give up your time to support this Rookie Corner part of Big Dave’s website. I know I have benefited enormously from the encouragement, guidance and advice provided by you all. Please keep up the good work. We Rookies really do appreciate it.
    My test solvers are also due a big vote of thanks from me for patiently ploughing through my compiling efforts, You know who you are!

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and congratulations to Jeemz on getting booted upstairs!

    1. Thanks Jane. You are certainly one of the best supporters of this brilliant Big Dave initiative. Thanks on behalf of all the Rookies who have tried their luck here!

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