Rookie Corner 514 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 514

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:

AgentB continues to improve with only a couple of minor quibbles on the clues.  The commentometer reads as 1.5/27 or 5.56%.


1a  Terribly rank misquote? (8,4)
QUESTION MARK: An anagram (terribly) of RANK MISQUOTE.

10a  Plastic toucan I found on eBay (7)
AUCTION: An anagram (plastic) of TOUCAN I.  Maybe sell on eBay would be better as it avoids a verbal phrase to define a noun, which do not always find favour.

11a  Hostile German spies captured the French Left (7)
GLACIAL: The abbreviation for German and the abbreviation for the American spy agency include (captured) the French feminine singular form of the with a concluding abbreviation for left.

12a  Father’s awake – run fast! (3,2)
REV UP: A three-letter abbreviation for a priest (Father) followed by a two-letter word meaning awake.

13a  Nutritional advice: at rest, zinc taken regularly (8)
DIETETIC: The even letters (taken regularly) of the second to fifth words of the clue.

15a  Frankly discuss Thanksgiving fare? (4,6)
TALK TURKEY: Cryptic definition.

16a  Comfy footwear for little snapper (4)
CROC: Double definition.

18a  Primarily Anglican public school Easter recess (4)
APSE: The initial letters (primarily) of the second to fifth words of the clue.

20a  Wally‘s revenue cut breaks new business (10)
NINCOMPOOP: A six-letter word for revenue with the last letter removed (cut) inside (breaks) the abbreviation for new and a four-letter word for excrement (business).  A small point on cryptic grammar.  The cryptic reading resolves as definition has revenue cut breaks new business.  Maybe breaking would make the cryptic reading smoother.

22a  Suspect is shy, having proper tantrum… (5,3)
HISSY FIT: An anagram (suspect) of IS SHY followed by a three-letter word meaning proper.

24a  …holding it back, admits gnawing fear (5)
ANGST: The answer is hidden and reversed (holding it back) inside the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

26a  Artwork taken from folders? (7)
ORIGAMI: Cryptic definition of art of paper folding.

27a  Main route between Changchun and Nelspruit (7)
CHUNNEL: The answer is hidden (between) in the fourth and sixth words of the clue.

28a  see 14d (12)


2d  Ill-mannered stuck-up minister interrupting college student (7)
UNCIVIL: A three-letter abbreviation for vicar reversed (stuck-up) inside (interrupting) a three-letter abbreviation for a college and concluding with the abbreviation for learner.

3d  Little bits of cut-up fish perhaps (8)
SNIPPETS: A four-letter word meaning cut-up followed by a four letter word describing domestic animals (fish perhaps).  I don’t think that cut-up works as the hyphen changes the meaning of cut up.

4d  Some Laplanders wanting fine hotels (4)
INNS: A five-letter word describing some Laplanders without (wanting) the abbreviation for fine.

5d  Disregard case of nymphomaniac found in lingerie (10)
NEGLIGENCE: The outer letters (case) of nymphomaniacs inside (found in) an eight-letter word for some lingerie.

6d  Stop on a voyage (5)
AVAST: Cryptic definition of the word used to indicate stop at sea (on a voyage).

7d  One produces pearls, by the sound of it (7)
KNITTER: A person who produces garments that might include a type of stitch that is a homophone (by the sound of it) of pearl.

8d  Pretty Polly, pretty Polly, pretty Polly? (6-7)
PARROT-FASHION: A phrase 6-7 describing a bird of a pretty nature that, when repeated, indicates learning by rote.

BLOCK CAPITALS: A five-letter word meaning arrest or stop followed by an eight-letter word describing the status of Stanley in relation to the Falkland Islands and Douglas in relation to the Isle of Man.

14d  & 28a. Frightfully cranial leftie eliciting ChatGPT? (10)

17d  AgentB’s sensible? Hardly (8)
IMMATURE: A two-letter contraction meaning the setter (AgentB) is followed by a six-letter word meaning sensible.

19d  Japanese food from belt, essentially unlimited (7)
SASHIMI: A four-letter word for a type of belt followed by the middle three letters (essentially) of the final word of the clue.  Maybe it is better to restrict essentially to the middle letter or two letters, not an arbitrary number of inner letters.

21d  Natural voice initially in key (7)
ORGANIC: A five-letter word for voice followed by the first letter (initially) of in and a musical key.

23d  Cause of a kitchen uprising? (5)
YEAST: Cryptic definition of a culinary raising agent.

25d  Article about top-class fruit (4)
ACAI: The indefinite article followed by a single letter abbreviation meaning about and a two-letter word meaning top class.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner 514
Leave your own comment 

  1. An excellent puzzle. It held our full attention from the brilliant opening with 1a to our last to get sorted which was the 14/28 combo. Several like 21a where we had to look long and hard to winkle out the wordplay but all appears within the rules to us.
    Thanks and well done AgentB.

  2. Thanks AgentB – an enjoyable conclusion to an evening’s cruciverbalism. But, I did need some reveals in the NW to get across the finishing line partly because I failed to see the obvious in 1a.

    I am not sure that I agree with the abbreviated form of the ‘stuck-up minister’ in 2d – but it’s in the BRB so what do I know. I wonder if our own Reverend Gentleman approves of it.

    Smiles for 1a, 16a, 26a, 6d, 7d, and 23d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Excellent, AgentB, this was your best puzzle yet in my opinion and I really enjoyed the solve. There are a lot of interesting ideas on show and your clueing is concise with nice smooth surfaces.

    I have only two minor comments:
    15a – it looks to me as if “discuss” is doing double duty both as part of the definition and part of the wordplay.
    8d – “pretty” can probably be used as a synonym for “fashionable”, but not “fashion”. Even so, I rather liked this clue.

    There are also a couple of clues that await the judgement of our resident sage:
    27a – I know it is allowable in some circumstances to split lurker fodder by inserting a conjunction, but I can’t decide whether or not it is OK in this specific clue.
    19d – “Essentially” can be used to specify the central one or two letters, but I am not sure if it is OK for three letters.

    There are a lot of ticks on my page: 1a, 11a, 13a, 3d, 5d, 7d, 8d, 14d/28a & 25d.

    Many thanks, AB. Please keep them coming! Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks RD! With 8d I was hoping to paint a picture of a trio of stylish birds parading down a catwalk, a “xxx-xxx show” if you will 😅 15a is a plain old cryptic definition, the ‘Thanksgiving’ indictor being especially for you 😁

  4. Great crossword – I particularly liked 1a 26a 8d and 9d

    Thanks to Agent B – more like this please – and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Very enjoyable with witty clues galore – many thanks to AgentB.
    I ticked 11a, 22a, 5d and 7d but my favourite has to be the excellent 1a.

  6. Good stuff throughout with just a couple of “it must be’s” awaiting tomorrow’s review.
    Got 20a from the checkers then had a real laugh when I saw what “new business” referred to.
    I love it when newer setters don’t struggle for “fiendish”.
    Can’t wait for your next.

  7. I was encouraged to solve this by the comments of the learned solvers above and I’m very glad that I did. I really enjoyed it.
    Ticks for 1a, 22a, 26a, 7d, 23d with 1a winning my clue of the day.
    I share RD’s views on a couple of clues and I thought 10a probably merited a question mark, but these are very minor quibbles.
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic and more of the same, please, AgentB!

  8. Your primary intention definitely seems to be to amuse, Agent B, and in that you’re certainly successful – 17d for instance!
    I’d add 26a to the list of favourites that have been mentioned but I may deduct a point for the 20a business.

    Thank you for the entertainment.

  9. Very breezy, very you. I love the way you (gently) toy with convention. 8d reminded me of Dada’s brilliant “film mee”. Excellent. Even without the tell-tale 17d, I’d have known it was you from 20a alone! That hyphen in 3d troubled me ever so slightly but this was yet another romp. Hats off to you, chief.

  10. Wonderful puzzle AB, and I rather doubt Prolixic will have much to note in the advice column. Hugely enjoyable, very amusing and witty – broad smiles at 1a and 9d, and at 20a when the p dropped on the poop. I thought 24a a most clever lurker, wrote in 14d/28a but did not bother to check if the fodder fitted, and had no objection to 15a, which I saw as being as much an &Lit as word play & definition; 27a is becoming a familiar tool and while I’m uncertain whether ‘between’ is quite the right word for the instruction, the clue worked so well nevertheless. The clang as 7d dropped woke the neighbours from their afternoon siesta!

    I should have been very happy to have seen this on the backpage. Thank you for a great puzzle and thanks also in advance to Prolixic

  11. Welcome back, AgentB.

    A very entertaining puzzle indeed, full of inventive humour and not attempting to be too difficult. I tend to share RD’s reservations about certain of the constructions, I also thought it a pity that the same reversal indicator (“up”) was used in successive Down clues. My favourite clue was 26a.

    Many thanks, AgentB.

  12. Great crossword, AgentB, although we did struggle at times but got there in the end. Favourites were 1a, 9d, 20a, 7d and the hidden lurker in 24a. More like this, please. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  13. Agree with RD that it was your best to date & by some margin. ✅s for 1,15&20a + 9d & the14d/28a combo but for a favourite I found it impossible to resist the nympho in the nightie.
    Solved with a smile so keep ‘em coming & thanks.

  14. Great fun AgentB. The outstanding favourite was 1a when the penny dropped. Your brevity in the cluing does you credit. I did need a reveal to finish with 21d and 20a being the last to fall and getting the biggest chuckle for business! Ticks also for 11a 16a 22a 2d 5d 21d and 23d. Hopefully you found this week’s NTSPP less taxing than those of the previous weeks!

  15. Congratulations to AgentB on an approachable and enjoyable crossword. As he has previously said, we have had to endure some pretty impenetrable weekend puzzles lately. This gem has gone some way to redress the balance.

    5D my stand out favourite.

    Many thanx.

  16. Thanks everyone – 2Kiwis, Senf, Rabbit Dave, CrypticSue, Gazza, Tater, Shabbo, Jane, ALP, Mustafa G, Silvanus, Hilton, Huntsman, Jeemz and Serendipity. Thanks for solving and taking time to share your thoughts, it’s really appreciated. I don’t deserve all those kind words but it truly made my day that you all enjoyed the puzzle 😊 Thanks as always to Prolixic for his thyme spent being our sage ❤️

    I uploaded an unpolished ‘on the fly’ puzzle to MyCrossword if anyone fancies a stab, just testing some new ideas. It’s easy to print out.

    Take care all 👋

  17. My apologies for this late comment.
    This puzzle was an absolute delight! It was entertaining from start to finish. The joie de vivre was infectious and invoked many a chuckle.
    My list of top clues includes 1a, the 14d/28a combo, 2d, 3d, 7d, 16a, 24a (agree that it is a brilliant lurker) and 26a.
    I don’t think I found this as easy as some may have done, but I really enjoyed teasing out the few more tricky clues.
    Very many appreciative thanks, AgentB.
    Much appreciation to Prolixic for the excellent review.

  18. A breezy puzzle with a lot to enjoy, but a handful of clues that could have done with some refining, I reckon. For me the pretty polly clue is more of an idea for a better clue, and it doesn’t lead to an adjective solution. Others loved it, so fair enough, job done. I preferred the Stanley and Douglas clue out of the cryptic dingbatty definitions. 14dn – 28ac was my least favourite as the cranial leftie surface is nonsense. How can a person be ‘cranial’? I’ll balance those two out with the super lingerie and folder clues at 26ac and 5dn, but the puzzle was certainly good for the most part. Unlike the reviewer I thought the middle three letters device at 19dn was worth it for the really neat surface of a rotation sushi restaurant.

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