Rookie Corner 507 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 507

A Puzzle by AgentB

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. We 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:

A very happy new year to all our Rookies, solvers and commenters.  AgentB gets us off to a gentle start to 2024.  The commentometer reads as 2.5/32 or 7.8%.


9a  Attacker ails Satan somehow (9)
ASSAILANT: An anagram (somehow) of AILS SATAN

10a  Student held by bottom is indifferent! (5)
BLASE: The abbreviation for student inside (held by) a four-letter word meaning bottom.

11a  Old empire initially, Putin’s country? (7)
PRUSSIA: The first letter (initially) of Putin followed by the name of the country of which he is president.

13a  Blue from an outspoken college (7)
MAUDLIN: A homophone (outspoken) of Magdalene (as the Cambridge College is pronounced).

14a  Maria then Ian secretly kidnapped Greeks (9)
ATHENIANS: The answer is hidden (kidnapped) in the first four words of the clue.

15a  Charges for sessions (5)
TERMS: Double definition.

16a  Grew trendy fruit (7)
ROSEHIP: A four-letter word meaning grew followed by a three-letter word meaning trendy.

19a  Move after old sailor having natural depression (4,3)
SALT PAN: A three-letter word for a camera movement after a four-letter word describing an old sailor.

22a  Small corner unknown for illicit liaisons (5)
NOOKY: A four-letter word for a small corner followed by a letter used in algebra to indicate an unknown quantity.  I agree that the solution need not be illicit.

24a  Thin layer may result in tearing (5,4)
ONION SKIN: Cryptic definition of a part of a vegetable that may make you cry (tearing) when cut.

26a  Bloom found in Florida? (7)
ORLANDO: Double definition of the actor’s first name and a city in Florida.

27a  Quiet in subdued farm building (7)
COWSHED: A two-letter word meaning quiet inside a five-letter word meaning subdued.

30a  Wise old number-cruncher? (5)
ERNIE: Double definition of the first name of the comedian Wise and the name of the computer that picks premium bond winners.

31a  Separate a French joint (9)
UNRELATED: The French masculine singular indefinite article followed by a seven-letter word meaning joint.


1d  Ideal instrument for plucky musician? (4)
HARP: Cryptic definition of a musical instrument that is plucked.

2d  Son of Isaac Hayes’ aunt held prisoner (4)
ESAU: The answer his hidden (held prisoner) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

3d  Hang around topless joints for mime artist (3-5)
LIP-SYNCH: A five-letter word meaning lynch around the name of the joints at the top of the leg without the initial letter (topless).

4d  Something fruity in spa? Pay attention! (6)
PAPAYA: The answer is hidden in the final three words of the clue.

5d  Lists it seems I misplaced (8)
ITEMISES: An anagram (misplaced) of IT SEEMS I.

6d  Take sailor on the Channel (6)
ABDUCT: A two-letter abbreviation for a sailor followed by a four-letter word for a channel.

7d  Told man to let go of postbox in LA (4,4)
MAIL DROP: A homophone (told) of male (man) followed by a four-letter word meaning let go of.

8d  Projection capturing strangely nosy poet (8)
TENNYSON: A five-letter word for a projection in a wood joint includes (capturing) an anagram (nosy) of POET.  The wordplay fails to remove the O from poet before the anagram is made.

12d  Old-fashioned rocket motor (5)
RETRO: Double definition.

16d  Atoned for dreams on perversion (8)
RANSOMED: An anagram (perversion) of DREAMS ON.

17d  Scottish cow sat on heather looking grumpy! (8)
SCOWLING: The abbreviation for Scottish followed by the COW from the clue and a four-letter word for heather.  Although S is used for Scottish in the abbreviation SNP, it is not recognized as an independent abbreviation in its own right in the main dictionaries and should not be used.

18d  Delay appointment for rascal… (8)
PROROGUE: A three-letter word meaning for followed by a five-letter word for a scoundrel.

20d  …solitary type‘s no fellow criminal (4,4)
LONE WOLF: An anagram (criminal) of NO FELLOW.

21d  Whisper privately (5)
ASIDE: Cryptic definition.

23d  Dry one intoxicated over there (6)
YONDER: An anagram (intoxicated) of DRY ONE.

25d  Madrid Cardinal holding driving licence? (2,4)
ID CARD: The answer is hidden (holding) in the first two words of the clue.  As mentioned before, four hidden word clues is unusual and should be avoided.  Also, as held/holding are from tbe same word, this is a repetition of a hidden word indicator.

28d  Has-been? (4)
HATH: Cryptic definition of the old English form of has.

29d  Useless drug for cool guy (4)
DUDE: A three-letter word meaning useless followed by the abbreviation for ecstasy (drug).

27 comments on “Rookie Corner 507
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  1. An enjoyable solve that we thoroughly enjoyed solving.
    Can’t decide between 22a and 26a as favourite.
    Suspect there is a fault with 8d where the fodder gives us an extra letter that we can’t account for.
    Thanks AgentB.

    1. Thanks 2Kiwis!

      8d, argh 😫 Mea culpa, two words are missing from the clue. Apologies everyone who wasted time on it. Entirely my fault, I check them often enough to render excuses useless.

      Happy New Year everyone. DT sub ran out and have been without puzzles but will try to get back on it 🍻

  2. Like the 2Kiwis an enjoyable solve but a little ‘lurker heavy.’

    8d was a bung-in now I know why.

    S for Scottish, in 17d, is one of those oddities, at least going by the BRB, Collins might be different. On its own S is not an abbreviation for Scottish but with other letters, such as SNP, it is. Prolixic in his wisdom may give it one of those ‘Some editors will allow.’

    Smiles for 16a, 22a, 30a, 3d, and 28d.

    Thanks AgentB and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. What a great start to the Rookie Corner New Year, AgentB! With brevity rivalling RayT, accurate clueing and mostly smooth surfaces, this proved to be a most enjoyable solve. You have even managed to include a Nina which raised a smile, although I can’t see what role the last two letters in row 11 are playing.

    Apart from the problem with the anagram fodder for 8d (easily solved by making the nosy poet strangely “loveless”) and S in 17d not being a recognised abbreviation for Scottish (Southern would have been OK, or even Second), I have only three very minor comments:
    – 22a is not necessarily illicit and I think “liaison” should be singular.
    – According to the BRB, the enumeration for 24a is (5-4).
    – The two definitions in 21d are “same-sidey”.

    My top picks were 13a, 26a, 2d, 3d, 18d and especially 28d.

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

    Happy New Year to everyone.

    1. Ah thanks RD! Glad you spotted the nina, I fancied trying one and built the grid around it 😁 Not easy!

      I shall go through these older puzzles with a fine tooth-comb. Had an issue with unsupported abbrevs before and no longer use anything outside BRB except for c=many. No idea where S=Scottish came from but it’s not deliberate and a bit frustrated I’ve missed two things this time! Grabbed my BRB to prove Senf wrong (ribbon practically lives in p1368) but no, he’s spot on 😅

      1. Chambers might be discriminating against those North of the border as English and Welsh can be represented by single letters!

  4. A really enjoyable crossword to start my 2024 crossword solving – a shame about 8d but …

    Happy New Year and many thanks to AgentB and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Hi all, the correct clue for 8d should have been:

    Projection captured without old strangely nosy poet (8)

    But I think Rabbit Dave’s fix is far better so let’s go with that 🐰😅 Apologies again and I’m glad it doesn’t seem to have gotten much in the way of solving/enjoyment so far. Happy 2024 everyone 🎉

      1. Hehehe 😁 To be honest I was expecting gushing praise from your good self for simply remembering to indicate 7d 🤣🤣

  6. A very enjoyable puzzle (with an amusing Nina which I only noticed after reading the comments above) – thanks AgentB.
    Lots to like – I’ll just mention 24a, 30a, 20d, 28d and 29d.

  7. A commendably gentle NY treat. Thank you. I can but admire the brevity and applaud your Nina, which can’t have been easy. I especially liked 13A and 26A. Very jolly solve, ta.

  8. Thanks for bringing us a new RC puzzle for a new year, AgentB.
    Most of my issues have already been raised by others so I won’t regale you with them again. Favourite clues here were 11,13 &26a plus 28& 29d.

  9. Welcome back, AgentB.

    Whilst I found this enjoyable to solve, I was disappointed to see that you’ve included four hidden solutions/lurkers, despite Prolixic specifically saying last time that three was on the high side. You have also used “hold” three times as a containment verb (10a, 2d and 25d). Perhaps it’s just me, but I get the impression that in your haste to produce puzzle after puzzle you may be not checking the final submissions as carefully you should? I also felt “definition by example” indicators needed to accompany Bloom and Wise.

    My favourite clue was 20d.

    Thank you, AgentB.

    1. Oh Silv, I do so feel like a schoolboy sent to Headmaster when I read your feedback 😂

      To make things clear re the lurkers, I accept the general prevailing opinion on the blog is that two lurkers and one reverse lurker is the acceptable level. However, crosswordland is a place where different styles can and should co-exist. I love clueing lurkers as much as I love spotting them in puzzles. My current aim is to go for three in a puzzle; following past feedback one of them will indeed be a reverse if possible. But I don’t mind stretching to four. Having reviewed my finished puzzles compiled since then, I’ve decided to submit as-is to see how each clue fares in the big bad world.

      In fact, Prolixic specifically said that one may on occasion find a higher number of lurkers in national backpagers, so I took the point to be somewhat moot. Just think, if RayT came on here with his trademark ‘sweetheart’ in a RC puzzle, it’d be picked up as a booboo. But we all love RayT and it’s become his cherished style.

      Rather than “produce puzzles in haste” which is a bit harsh of you to be honest, I have been compiling for nothing other than enjoyment and was fortunate enough to have a few weeks of inspiration over Summer.

      Perhaps it’s just me, but I get the impression you take the whole business more seriously than I do :wink: But that’s fine, many rooms in the house and all 👍

  10. Very enjoyable indeed Agent B. Found it much trickier than today’s back-pager & learnt about the ransom theory of atonement post solve. Didn’t spot the Nina in the solve (very clever) nor the top line of it immediately when prompted to look by RD’s comment. Shame about 8d but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment for me & very much liked your succinct clueing. Like RD my first thought at 22a was there’s nowt wrong with a bit of licit nooky. Plenty of ticks but I’ll plump for a podium of 3d + 13&30a.
    Many thanks & more like this welcome any time.

    1. Thanks Huntsman. The nina was a bit of silliness but I’m surprised it wasn’t spotted by more. I never find them! It was very tough to create a fair puzzle around it but a great challenge for discipline in setting.

      I hope you’ve atoned for all that licit nooky – what an unnecessary image! 🤣🤣

  11. Thanks Prolixic for the review – I hope you’ve recovered from the high days and Holy days!

    Thanks all for taking the time to comment and give feedback. See you next time, hopefully with fewer Scottish cows and strangely nosy poets 😅🍻

  12. Many thanks for your usual comprehensive review, Prolixic, which must be of great value to aspiring setters seeking to improve.

    Isn’t 21d a (rather “same-sidey”) double definition, one noun and one adverb, rather than a cryptic definition?

  13. Good to see you back with a very enjoyable Rookie puzzle, AgentB.
    It was most entertaining despite a few flaws. On the positive side, there were some excellent clues. 26a is top of my podium, followed by 24a, 13a, 30a, 28d and 29d.
    Much appreciation to Prolixic for the review. And many thanks to you AgentB. I hope you will follow Prolixic’s guidance and come back with a really good polished puzzle next time.

    1. Thanks Catnap! Glad you liked it and some good choices there. Mortified that I let two whopping errors through – little time to crossword recently means the opportunity of fresh eyes… Next one hopefully will be a puzzle so polished it may even be a puzzle in Polish 😁

  14. Just back from holiday over Christmas and New Year and started catching up with this very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks AgentB. Happy New Year to you and we look forward to many more crosswords from you.

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