Rookie Corner 482 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 482

A Puzzle by Dr Diva

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 Dr Diva.  Whilst the clues were simpler than your previous crossword, in places the cryptic grammar was looser meaning that the commentometer is slightly higher at 3/30 or 10%.


7a  Additional extract from “Nero: Murderous Revolutionary” (4)
MORE: The answer is hidden (extract from) and reversed (revolutionary) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

8a  Time spent in suitably entertaining Mum or Dad, it seems (10)
APPARENTLY: A five-letter word meaning suitably excludes (spent) the abbreviation for time and includes a six-letter word meaning a mum or dad.

10a  Lays out latest information objectives (6)
SPENDS: The abbreviation for starting price (latest information) followed by a four-letter word meaning objectives.

11a  In the US most smart elite fighters sleep endlessly (8)
SASSIEST: The abbreviation for the Special Air Service (elite fighters) followed by a six-letter word for an afternoon sleep with the final letter removed (endlessly).

12a  Celeb‘s actually present?!! (2,6)
IN PERSON: The solution might fancifully describe a celebrity that is the latest rage.

14a  Substitute picked up East End girl’s tests (6)
ERSATZ: A homophone of ER (East End girl) SATS (tests).

16a  At the outset students have zero responsibility (4)
ONUS: The letter representing zero before (at the outset) followed by the abbreviation for the National Union of Students.  The cryptic grammar does not quite work both with the positional indicator and the have would need to be having to work correctly.  Perhaps students initially having zero responsibility.

17a  Seaman overwhelmed by smack addiction (5)
HABIT: The abbreviation for Able Seaman inside (overwhelmed by) a three-letter word meaning to smack.

18a  Bring Frenchman’s  chopper back to test (4)
EXAM: A reversal (bring … back) of the abbreviation for monsieur (Frenchman) and a three-letter word for an axe.  Whilst I think that the wordplay of bring A + B back works, the cryptic reading of “bring A has B back dos not.  “Frenchman’s chopper brought back for test” as suggested by Silvanus would work.

19a  Insist on something that’s bound to be successful in audition (6)
ASSERT: A homophone (in audition) of a cert (something that’s bound to be successful).

21a  Resolve impasse with constant distraction (8)
ESCAPISM: An anagram (resolve) of IMPASSE C (constant).

23a  Prevent others having shower (8)
RESTRAIN: A four-letter word meaning others followed by a four-letter word for a shower.

26a  Brutal campaign ultimately wiped out plant (6)
VIOLET: A seven-letter word for brutal with the final letter (ultimately) of campaign removed (wiped out).

27a  Basically, current ambassador let lady remove notice (10)
INHERENTLY: The abbreviation for electrical current followed by the abbreviation for an ambassador, a four-letter word meaning to let or lease property and the lady from the clue without (remove) the abbreviation for advertisement (notice).  The cryptic grammar here jars slightly as it resolves to A + B + C remove D where it should be removing D.  Perhaps “Basically, current ambassador split with lady without notice”.

28a  Where Dawn can be seen in gorge topless (4)
EAST: A five-letter word meaning to gorge or eat abundantly without the first letter (topless).


1d  Half-hearted remarks about leaders in Peugot ordering Nissan parts (10)
COMPONENTS: An eight-letter word for remarks with the central MM reduced to a single M (half-hearted) around the initial letters (leaders in) of the sixth to eighth words of the clue.  The car manufacturer is Peugeot.

2d  Randomly renamed son’s snakes (8)
MEANDERS: An anagram (randomly) of RENAMED S (son).

3d  Start off modifying Seats in Detroit for lots of people (6)
MASSES: The initial letter (start off) of modifying followed by an American word (in Detroit) for bottoms or seats.

4d  Look for potential (8)
PROSPECT: Double definition.

5d  Essentially band’s vices debased pieces of Heavy Metal (6)
ANVILS: The central letters (essentially) of band followed by a five-letter word for vices or ills without the initial E (de-based).

6d  Unfortunately almost every piece of salad gets used up (4)
ALAS: A reversal (used up) for the salad from the clue without the final letter (almost every piece).

9d  Discharge some users upon returning (3)
PUS: The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (returning) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

13d  Impressive turning barge around, changing direction from West to North (5)
NOBLE: A reversal (turning … around) of a five-letter word meaning barge with the W in the word (West) changed to an N (north).

15d  Lying over identity-altering poetry? (10)
TRANSVERSE: Split 5,5 this may indicate poetry written by a person who identifies with a gender that is not their gender assigned at birth.

17d  Dilemma of someone who doesn’t like taking over the weeding primarily (3,5)
HOT WATER: A five-letter for someone who does not like people or things includes (taking) the initial letters (primarily) of eight to tenth word of the clue.

18d  Look after European politician’s young, energetic dog initially in work (8)
EMPLOYED: A two-letter word meaning look after the abbreviation for a European member of followed by the initial letters of the fifth to seventh words of the clue.  Successive clues with initial letter wordplay in a row could have been avoided.

20d  Admire focus of UNESCO bringing Assembly back (6)
ESTEEM: The middle letter (focus) of UNESCO followed by a reversal (back) of a four-letter word for an assembly.

22d  Transports no new flocks of birds (6)
COVEYS: A seven-letter word for transports without the abbreviation for new.

24d  Nose put out of joint for ages (4)
EONS: An anagram (put out of joint) of NOSE.

25d  Bollock colonel over the phone (3)
NUT: A homophone (over the phone) of colonel.   All of the dictionaries give bollocks as a plural noun so this would preclude its use in the singular.

43 comments on “Rookie Corner 482

  1. Thanks Dr Diva – I did need a couple of ‘bits’ of e-help to get across the finishing line but very different compared to your last Rookie 6 weeks ago when I ‘retired hurt.’ I am sure that CS will be pleased to see at least one comment from an ‘overseas correspondent’ when she has her breakfast.

    Smiles for 17a, 29a, 30a, and 4d.

    Thanks Dr Diva, more like this please, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. Actually comments from more than one overseas solver.
    We had to work quite hard to get there, but everything did eventually fall into place with lots of fun along the way.
    Top quality cluing and much appreciated.
    Thanks Dr Diva.

  3. This was very good indeed, Dr. D. It was great fun and much more accessible than your previous offering, although I did have quite a battle in the SE corner which seemed to me to be markedly tougher than the other three quarters.

    I was delighted to see your two US indicators and I only have specific comments about one clue, 25d, my last one in. A kernel is not a nut, it is only part of a nut; and, although “nuts” is slang for “bollocks” I believe it is an expression which is only ever used as in the plural form, never singular.

    My top picks were 8a, 14a, 17a & 13d.

    Well done and thank you, Dr. D. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. I expect Dr Diva checked the crossword dictionaries – Chambers has kernel as a synonym of nut and vice-versa; Mrs Bradford has kernel as a synonym of nut but not the other way round

      1. CS, I tend only to look at the BRB and Collins for definitions, otherwise there are too many works of reference to look at.

        For kernel, the BRB says:
        – a seed within a hard shell
        – the edible part of a nut
        – a gland (rare)
        – a nucleus
        – the important central part of anything

        Collins says:
        – the kernel of a nut is the part that is inside the shell

    2. Thanks RD. I can’t argue with your quibble on a technical level. I’d only say that every supermarket has bags of mixed nuts for sale, which of course may or may not contain shells. So on that level I’d say it is very fair. As for the singular v plural, again I’d agree that 95+% of the time it is used in the plural. But is it not grammatically correct (and perhaps more importantly actually used, albeit rarely) in its singular form – ie “X lost a bollock to cancer”?
      But whatever you think, I am delighted that that was the extent of your grumbles!

      1. Although “nuts” = “bollocks” and “bollock” itself is OK as a singular noun, I don’t think “nut” would ever be used in the singular form in that context.

        But yes, that is only a very minor quibble indeed, Dr D.

          1. You are a fount of knowledge, Gazza! I’ve not seen the programme nor even heard of it, but it looks very painful.

      2. Agreed, DD. I buy bags of mixed nuts (no shells), I don’t buy bags of “mixed kernels”. I have no problem with the singular v plural here, either. And if there is a slight quibble, I’d say the use would fall well within the limits of “setters’ licence” anyway.

  4. A nice and friendly Rookie Corner puzzle finished long before my bowl of cereal and cup of tea. My favourite was 14a because it made me smile

    Thanks to Dr Diva – more like this please – and in advance to Prolixic

  5. Very enjoyable and pitched just right for Rookie Corner – thanks to Dr Diva.
    There’s a typo in 1d – one of the car makers is misspelled.
    I had a lot of ticks including 8a, 12a, 14a, 3d and 13d.

    1. Thanks Gazza! Hopefully I can achieve similar on my next outing too.

  6. Approached this one with a certain amount of trepidation after your last puzzle, Dr Diva, but in the event it turned out to be far more solver-friendly and as a result a great deal more enjoyable. Plenty of ticks on my sheet amongst which I’d make mention of 17a &4d. Nice to see you getting some humour into your clues as well.
    Hope we can look forward to more in this vein and many thanks for this one.

  7. Welcome back Dr Diva.

    I thought that there were some excellent clues here, my podium consists of 8a, 17a and 13d. Against that, I thought there was an over-reliance on the useful apostrophe “s” device to link elements of wordplay or link the wordplay to the definition. It was seen in 12a, 18a, 2d, 5d and 18d. I don’t really like the constructions used in either 16a or 18a; the former would need “having” for the cryptic grammar anyway and the latter has the reversal instruction split in two. “Frenchman’s chopper brought back for test” would get round this.

    Overall, it was a very enjoyable puzzle to solve, I just wish (as I’m sure the setter does) that the niggles could be eliminated entirely.

    Many thanks, Dr Diva.

    1. Thanks for your (largely positive) Silvanus. A fair cop in 16a – I should have spotted that but easily fixed. (“Students set out with zero responsibility” perhaps?). Maybe 5 clues in 30 using ‘s is overreliance, although I have never seen that flagged up before. When reading through the clues, it doesn’t seem to leap out in the way, say, a succession of anagrams or repeated words would, but one to add to the list of checks, I guess. On the other hand, I don’t really see the split in 18a as an issue (unless, of course, you were my editor in which case how very clever of you to spot it 😁). It seems to me the instruction is clear enough as is and I feel sure I have seen such split devices many times before (eg “what gets ABC going” to indicate A). But I certainly agree it would be far better if niggles never arose!!

  8. “Nuts”, “Bollocks”, “My left nut”. Now, at #7 above, we’ve got a “Frenchman’s chopper”! Please, please – it is well before the 9.00 pm watershed, you know! :-)

  9. Very enjoyable puzzle. Like Gazza we noticed the typo in 1d and we thought the word should be penultimately (not ultimately) in 26a to remove the letter n? Or have we parsed it incorrectly?
    Favourites were 14a and 27a. Many thanks Dr Diva, more please. Thanks also to Prolixic.

  10. A very pleasing puzzle, DD. You’ve refrained from trying to be ultra-inscrutable, like some Rookies do. With a few niggles ironed out, I’d say this puzzle would be good enough for a Monday back-pager (but what do I know?). I have ticked a fair few that I really liked and I’ll pick 27a for a special mention.

  11. Well done DD some nice stuff here with tight clueing, good wordplay and subtle misdirection.
    I’ve ticked 8 (time spent, very good)14,17&28a plus 1,13&17d…though it was unfortunate you had “primarily” plus “initially” to clue three letters in successive clues, I’d have avoided that)
    Thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  12. Well done, Dr D – very good indeed and pitched nicely at my modest solving ability. Only 5d defeated me. Lots of excellent clues but I’ll nominate a podium of 8a, 17a and 3d.

  13. Thanks to Dr D. for the puzzle, however, I fail to see the significance of “?!!” at the end of the 12a clue.

    Am I missing something?!!

  14. Really enjoyed your puzzle last evening, DD, thank you.

    A steady and reasonably swift solve, delayed only by a few in NW & NE, all aided by your fluent clue construction, balance of clue types, wit and humour.

    I had no issue with nut/kernel in 25a, which was a write-in, my query being whether it’s strictly fair to have to find first the homophone and then the required synonym. Though I guessed that as we’re frequently required to do that in reverse there probably isn’t a problem!

    Ticks all over the place from me, with highlights being 7, 11, 14, 17 & 28a, 5 & 22d.

    Thank you again, and in advance also to Prolixic.

  15. Thank you for your review Prolixic. I am disappointed you found the clueing “loose” although I fully accept the points you make about 16a and 18a. However in 27a I am struggling to see why A+B+C-D (with remove as an imperative) is jarring. I want to understand the point you make, but it goes over my head I’m afraid. Can you/anyone help? Also in 25d, I struggle. I have often asked to be directed to the rule book, only to be told time and again that none exists. So I want to defend my thinking – namely a male has 2 bollocks (aka nuts), has to have one removed, thus being left with one bollock/nut. The logic seems undeniable. I accept entirely that dictionaries may not list it (yet) in the singular, even though the singular usage is commonplace, it seems to me, and, as Gazza points out, even appeared in the title of a TV series! So my question is whether commonplace, everyday language can ever be used without having a presence in one or more major dictionaries? Or is this simply a question of editorial style? Personally it was my favourite clue, so I am very sorry to see a bad mark against it! 😪

    1. 27a: for deleting ad in lady, I think “remove notice” is clear enough, but the imperative in the middle of the clue jars the syntax – i.e. this plus this plus this now do this, as it were. An imperative might work in a separate clause, or at the beginning of a clue – it all depends. Anyway, I’m no expert, but I can see Prolixic’s point with regard to the surface reading.
      25d: OED has an entry for ‘bollock’ that says ‘Usually in plural. A testicle’, so I think you’re okay there. (Better to avoid clues like that on a Telegraph-affiliated site, though (and at The Times), although Indy and Guardian would probably accept it.)
      Lots of good clues in the puzzle, by the way.

    2. DD, I have to agree with you. 27a: I can see the points raised by the others, but I’m not sure that cryptic clues were ever meant to subjected to such nuanced and unnecessary scrutiny. I can’t see anything wrong with the construction A + B + C – D, however the removal is indicated. 25d: Of course commonplace, everyday language that hasn’t yet reached a major dictionary can be used in cryptic clues – and it does crop up in DT puzzles. But, however I try, I can’t find a way to defend Peugot!

      1. Absolutely, and I am not attempting to defend Peugot in any way either Jose. Silly error! Of course, with 27a/25d, if an editor (I wish!) said change these clues, I would do so without question (perhaps just a little grumble to myself). But this is a learning forum and I am trying hard to learn, though without understanding that is proving difficult. As I said already, the other comments made sense – no problem at all. And I can only agree with Silvanus that it would be better if there were no opportunity for niggles in the first place!

        1. Yes, of course, my last sentence was just tongue-in-cheek – I assumed it was merely a typo. I only know how to spell that car make because I’ve geot one :-) . I certainly don’t agree with rampant anarchy in cryptic clue writing/appraising, but being an ultra-purist is nearly as bad. I wish people would heed what the late BD once said (something like): Cryptic clues are mere word puzzles, not pieces of precise literature.

  16. Thanks for the explanation re 27a Twmbarlwm. But I think Prolixic’s point is more that the cryptic grammar is jarring than the surface reading, which seems unproblematic. I kind of get your suggestion about the use of an imperative mid-sentence v. at the beginning, but at the same time cryptic language is pared down to the bone. Precisely so in a charade where the +/and/with between each element are implied rather than stated. So in the case of (take) A (with) B (and) C (now) remove D all of the bracketed words are implied. In some circumstances I agree removing may offer a better alternative to remove for the surface reading but I am really trying hard (and failing) to see why the former works well while the latter doesn’t in cryptic grammar, other than that an imperative will always be more abrupt by definition. I am not trying to be difficult – I’m sure it is just my limited imagination but there you are.

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