Rookie Corner 492 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 492

A Puzzle by Dharma

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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:

Dharma has hit his stride with this one.  There are only a few minor points so the commentometer reads as 2/29 or 6.9%.


1a  Music book pulled from rubbish (6)
GARAGE: A seven-letter word for rubbish without (pulled from) the abbreviation for book.  Perhaps an indication that it is a genre of music that is required would be better.

4a  Salesman returning without bug protection should get shower (6)
PEPPER: A three-letter word for a salesperson is reversed (returning) around (without) the abbreviation for personal protective equipment (bug protection).

8a  Turn down end-of-year business (7)
DECLINE: The three-letter abbreviation for the last month of the year followed by a four-letter word for business.

9a  Papers retracted points, accepting main complaint (7)
DISEASE: Reverse (retracted) a two-letter word for papers and follow with two points of the compass.  Inside (accepting) add a three-letter word for the main (as a body of water).

11a  Current price to get hold of male fashion becoming excessive (10)
IMMODERATE: The abbreviation for current and a four-letter word for price includes (to get hold of) the abbreviation for male and a four-letter word fashion.

12a  Springsteen’s pop? (4)
SODA: How the Americans (Springsteen’s) describe fizzy drink (pop).

13a  Old farts discovered going back for more (5)
EXTRA: A two-letter word meaning old followed the inner letters (discovered) of farts.

14a  Tradesman finally collared by call after fuss decorating (8)
ADORNING: The  final letter of tradesman inside (collared by) a four-letter word meaning call after a three-letter word for a fuss.

16a  How to make love, eg for Dame Edna? (5,3)
ALTER EGO: A reverse anagram where the solution read as a clue in its own right would give O (love) EG.

18a  Strongly push for migrant accommodation? (5)
BARGE: Double definition.

20a  Old American prosecutor recalled carrying terms to wrong case (4)
AGED: A reversal (recalled) of the abbreviation for District Attorney (American persecutor) includes (carrying) the last letters (terms to) of wrong and case.

21a  Spitting Image taking control, portraying group’s number one (10)
RINGLEADER: A six-letter word for a spitting image includes (taking) a four-letter word for control

23a  They rate highly in financial services? (7)
USURERS: Cryptic definition of persons who exact large amounts of interest when lending money.

24a  To sum up, North is awful (2,5)
IN SHORT: An anagram (awful) of NORTH IS.

25a  Tired, making ward’s head doctor miserable (6)
DREARY: A five-letter word meaning tired has the initial W (ward’s head) replaced with the abbreviation for doctor.

26a  Scottish cyclist ceding nothing to English has time to reach prime (6)
HEYDAY: The three-letter surname of a Scottish cyclist has the O (nothing) replaced (ceding … to) by an E (English) and followed by a three-letter word for a period of time.


1d  Flash Gordon’s first to get cooked meal (5)
GLEAM: The initial letter (first) of Gordon followed by an anagram (cooked) of MEAL.

2d  Disregard ULEZ, cut short in heavy defeat (4,3)
RULE OUT: The first three-letters of ULEZ (cut short) inside a four-letter word for a heavy defeat.

3d  Doctor agreeing to take student for a drink (6,3)
GINGER ALE: An anagram (doctor) of AGREEING includes (to take) the abbreviation for student.

5d  Finest diets … essentially low-calorie (5)
ELITE: The middle letter (essentially0 of diets followed by a four-letter word meaning low-calorie

6d  Keep going south to compensate for time in northern city (5,2)
PRESS ON: A seven-letter name of an northern city with the T (time) replaced (to compensate for) by an S (south).

7d  Cider seen fermenting is flat? (9)
RESIDENCE: An anagram (fermenting) of CIDER SEEN.  Wordplay is definition does not quite work in the the cryptic reading of the clue.

10d  Supreme lover failing to climax, nymphet gutted (9)
PARAMOUNT: An eight-letter word for a lover with the final letter removed (failing to climax) followed by the outer letters (gutted) of nymphet.

13d  United breaking European record with lively side that’s highly praised (9)
EULOGISED: The abbreviation for united inside the abbreviation for European and a three-letter word for a record all followed by an anagram (lively) of side.

15d  All things considered, no flipping money left! (2,7)
ON BALANCE: A reversal of the NO from clue followed by seven-letter word for the money left in yoru account.

17d  Support Cockney’s back-marker at Ascot? (7)
ENDORSE: How a Cockney might say end horse (back-marker at Ascot).

19d  Got to make beds naked (7)
REACHED: A four-letter word meaning make followed by the inner letters (naked) of beds.  Perhaps the first part of the wordplay having the same meaning in the present as the solution in the past is not ideal.

21d  Repeatedly runs around A&E admitting sufferer’s backside is more bloody! (5)
RARER: The abbreviation for run twice around the A&E from the clue includes the final letter (backside) of sufferer.

22d  Erratic at first, airplay evens out in good time (5)
EARLY: The first letter for erratic followed by the odd letters (evens out) in airplay.  A repetition of first to indicate the first letter (see 1d).

29 comments on “Rookie Corner 492

  1. A really enjoyable puzzle that mostly went together smoothly with lots of chuckles along the way. The only one we failed to parse was 12a although we did put in the correct answer.
    13a has to take our prize for best chuckle.
    Thanks Dharma.

  2. A nice accompaniment to breakfast – I did wonder whether there was a lot of ‘change a letter’ going on, but having looked again, I think that may have something to do with there being one after another at the end of the Across clues

    Thanks Dharma and, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. Really enjoyable with some good laughs – thanks to the prolific Dharma.
    I thought that the ‘returning’ in 4a would be better positioned after ‘protection’.
    I have loads of ticks on my printout including 13a, 6d, 10d and 15d with double ticks for 16a.

  4. For me, this is by far your best RC puzzle yet, Dharma. It was nicely challenging and great fun to solve.

    Unless I’m missing a subtlety, “got to” and “make” in 19a are simply different tenses of the same meaning.

    I had lots of ticks with 16a my favourite.

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

    P.S. There is an error in the clue for 21d in the PDF version where “&amp:” appears instead of “&”. The online version is fine.

  5. As Gazza commented, Dharma is certainly a prolific setter! Given his penchant for ‘contemporary’ clues, I did have to smile at the old chestnut in 17d but it’s always nice to see it so no complaints here. Not sure that the wording of 19d feels quite right and – like our 2Ks, I haven’t been able to satisfactorily parse 12a. Also wondered whether 1a needs something to denote that the answer is a definition by example? Think my favourite was probably 8a.

    Thanks to Dharma for another contribution to the Corner.

    1. Thank you both, I’d ‘twigged’ the fizzy drink aspect but had no idea how or why Springsteen was involved!

  6. Welcome back Dharma/Stephen.

    I agree with RD, your best puzzle to date and a real pleasure to solve. My only (slight) criticism is that I think you overdid the “swap one letter for another” constructions, there were at least three and I think you’d rarely find more than one, maybe occasionally two, in any published puzzle. I felt the “a” in 3d to be superfluous, but everything else was highly impressive stuff. My top two clues were 6d and 15d.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Dharma.

  7. Hi Dharma,

    I enjoyed this, thanks! I do like topical clues and especially naughty clues, so lots to like – even if 21d has put me off my dinner 🤣🤢 Unlike most solvers so far, I did struggle a bit especially with the south, most likely due to me being dense – I struggle with anything not on the back page of the DT. I couldn’t parse 4a, 9a, 25a but again I will await Prolixic’s review and smack forehead accordingly 😅 12a I presumed was a simple Americanism but I know that gets many goats here.

    Gold medal – 3d, an absolutely gorgeous clue
    Favourites – 15d (a close silver medal), 8a, 17d (both penny-droppers), 18a, 21a, 10d.

    I’m not normally a fan of fiddly clues when solving (setting is another matter 😁) but 13d was a good one. Less keen on 11a but purely personal preference. 23a was a bit obscure for my noggin. Thanks again Dharma!!

    1. Hi AgentB, 9a is one we can parse. First 2 letters refer to papers needed to prove who you are, last 2 letters are compass points and sandwiched in between is another word for ‘main’. We can’t help on 4a, or 25a as we can’t parse those either!

      1. Ah yes that does make sense, thank you! I was getting knickers in a twist thinking papers=the press and couldn’t see beyond that afterwards. I bunged it from sea with checkers 👍

      2. 25a Start with a 5-letter adjective meaning tired then replace its W (ward’s head) with an abbreviation for doctor.
        4a The bug protection is what medical staff were short of during the Covid epidemic.

        1. Thank you Gazza! That makes perfect sense.
          For 4a I was trying to remove letters from a longer synonym for salesman; also fixated on ‘net’ for bug protection. With 25a I had a 3-letter word for tired as in aged, into which I couldn’t work out how to fit ER holding the other letter. Silly me 🤣

    2. AB, 12a. Americanisms (including unindicated ones) don’t get many goats on here. Just a small handful of people (mainly one individual) ever mention them. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease, I suppose …

      1. It’s all good fun! If something about a crossword moderately irks somebody, I for one am more likely to put it in 😁😈

  8. Loved this puzzle, thank you Dharma, although like AgentB we did struggle a little and still have a couple we can’t parse. Favourites were 16a, 3d, 10d and 17d but lots to like. We look forward to your next one. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  9. Really enjoyable puzzle, Dharma, thanks. I agree your best to date with very neat constructions and amusing surfaces. I’ll nominate a podium of 13a, 25a and 3d.

  10. Just popping in to say thanks to all who have taken the time to do the puzzle and offer up their opinions, all much appreciated. Really pleased that most people found lots to like and there seems to be a wide variety of favourites.

  11. Good puzzle, Stephen – I agree with those above that it’s your best so far. You’ve paid a lot of attention to the surface reads of the clues, which are coherent and polished. Nothing received so much as a raised eyebrow, let alone an adverse comment. So much to enjoy, with picks of the day for me being 16a and the laugh-out-loud 10d.

    Thank you for the entertainment, and thanks in advance also to Prolixic

  12. Really enjoyed this puzzle; thanks to setter. Several favourites for me so a lovely challenge for a Monday :)

  13. Loved the old farts & the lover that disappointed. Top 3 for me however were the downs at 6,13&15. Really enjoyed the puzzle & all the clues with the possible exception of 12a.
    Thanks & keep ‘em coming Dharma

  14. Firstly many thanks to Prolixic as ever for the review, I’m pleased that I gave him a particularly easy time with this one 😉….(though I have to say I’m struggling to see why 7d doesn’t work?)
    Secondly a massive thanks to everyone who took the trouble to comment and leave such positive feedback, I’m particularly happy with the wide selection of favourites, always a positive sign in my opinion. I try to make my puzzles fresh, edgy and most importantly fun to do. I seem to have raised a few smiles with this so mission accomplished in that respect.
    Last but not least I have to thank my long-suffering test solver for his wisdom and guidance, any errors are entirely my fault.

      1. Re 7d, if I’ve understood the quibble correctly, strictly it’s the definition that “is” represented by the wordplay – but personally I agree that “is” is a link word that works equally well ether way (indeed, better than “in” which is generally accepted both ways, for example) as it basically shows equivalence (“equals”) rather than a particular direction (“implies”).
        And many thanks to Dharma for a cracking puzzle – sorry, only got round to this very late!

    1. From my understanding having read Prolixic’s superbly helpful “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” on here, a better rendition for the cryptic grammar reading would have been Cider seen fermenting becomes flat? (9), that way it reads cryptically as “Fodder anagramming becomes residence” rather than “Fodder anagramming is residence”

      It must be a really minor point as your clue made sense to most solvers! In your defence (enjoying cider as I do 😋), a person having cider would surely notice that it is either seen as flat or seen as sparkling – the drinker isn’t going to care much about how it became that way!

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