Rookie Corner – 229 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 229

A Puzzle by Effra

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a thid puzzle from Effra. 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.

Apart from the appalling homophone in 5d and an over reliance on hidden words (if you have more than one, I would recommend that one of them is  reversed hidden word) this was a good crossword.  The commentometer reads at 3 out of 30 or 10%.


8 Barnaby regularly makes ass noise (4)
BRAY – The odd letters (regularly) in first word of the clue.

9 Disappeared somehow to evade rap (10)
EVAPORATED – An anagram (somehow) of TO EVADE REP.

10 Reptilian exotic newts exported from Switzerland in error (6)
LIZARD — An anagram (in error) of SWITZERLAND after removing the letters (exported) in NEWTS  with the exotic being a secondary anagram indicator to show that the letters in NEWTS appear in a different order in the main word to be rearranged.

11 First Year lies tactically, dissembling (8)
EARLIEST – The answer is hidden in (dissembling) YEAR LIES TACTICALLY

12 Arresting subjects (8)
CITIZENS – A word that could go before ARREST to indicate an arrest made by someone who is not a policeman.

14 Cancelled street fight (6)
STRUCK – The abbreviation for street followed by a word for a fight.

16 Jokers can be headless fools (4)
WITS – Remove the initial letter (headless) from a word for fools.

17 Expressions of pride (5)
ROARS – How a group of animals in a pride might express themselves.

18 Spent, powerless and dispatched (4)
SENT – Remove the abbreviation for power (power-less) from the first word of the clue.  Perhaps this clue would have been improved if the solver had to find a synonym for spent first.

19 Boxer reportedly trusts defences (6)
ALIBIS – The name of a well known heavyweight boxer followed by a homophone (reportedly) of BUYS (trusts).

21 Light around German city is lowered (8)
LESSENED -The abbreviation for light emitting diode (light) around the name of a German city.

23 Good currency, gold and bonds – splendid! (8)
GLORIOUS – The abbreviations for Good and Pounds (currency) followed by the heraldic word for gold and a word for debts (bonds).  I think that it might have been better to refer to Sterling or Pounds to indicate the second letter of the solution.  

26 Feigning some tact in German (6)
ACTING – The answer is hidden in (some) TACT IN GERMAN.

27 Incredibly, direst teen is enthusiastic (10)
INTERESTED – An anagram (incredibly) of DIREST TEEN.

28 Crimes popular aboard ship (4)
SINS – A two letter word meaning popular inside (aboard) the abbreviation for steamship.


1 Insincere liar if I act deceptively (10)
ARTIFICIAL – An anagram (deceptively) of LIAR IF I ACT.

2 Quiet girl offered up passes for monuments (8)
PYRAMIDS – The abbreviation for quiet followed by a reversal (offered up) of a girl’s name and a word meaning papers or passes.

3 Futile to search animal food store for this – little point! (6)
NEEDLE – Cryptic definition of something you would search for in a haystack.

4 Secure sex appeal with further education (4)
SAFE – The abbreviations for sex appeal and further education.

5 Couple of joints picked up for trippers (8)
TOURISTS – A homophone (picked up) of TWO WRISTS (couple of joints).  Possibly the worst homophone I have encountered in a Rookie crossword.

6 Increasingly workshy window maker misses start (6)
LAZIER – Remove the first letter (misses start) from a word for a window maker (or at least the person who inserts the glass into window frames).

7 Arranges badger accommodation (4)
SETS – Double definition.

13 Shell-suited pace-setter? (5)
SNAIL – A slow moving animal that has a shell.  Although you can have at a ***** pace, i don’t think that pace setter is a fair reference as it suggests quite the opposite.

15 Denouncing Democrat implicated in cheating (10)
CONDEMNING – The abbreviation for Democrat inside (implicated in) a nine letter word meaning cheating.

17 Re-established swathe of rainforest or Eden (8)
RESTORED – The answer is hidden in (swathe of) RAINFOREST OR EDEN.  Three hidden word clues is on  the high side.

18 Second urine sample is most fragrant (8)
SWEETEST – The abbreviation for second followed by a three letter word meaning urine and a four letter word meaning sample.

20 Book on ancient city I edited is covered up (6)
BURIED – The abbreviation for book, the name of an ancient biblical city, the I from the clue and the abbreviation for edited.

22 Takes position and pays the price (6)
STANDS – Double definition (the second often used when paying for a round of drinks).

24 Left Mark for hook up (4)
LINK – The abbreviation for left followed by a word meaning to tattoo or mark something.

25 Place skittle oddly (4)
SITE – The odd letters in the second word of the clue.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner – 229

  1. Plenty to enjoy and a real laugh out loud at 18d. 12a was our last one in and still not sure if there is a subtlety there that we haven’t seen yet.
    Thanks Effra.

  2. This was fun – 3d and 9a especially, but 5d has to be among the most groan-worthy examples of its type that I have ever seen!

    1. Actually, on thinking about it, I quite like the imperfect (for my accent) homophone. The answer was the first word I thought of, but I rejected it as not fitting the wordplay. When I returned to it I had that “penny drop” moment that makes these things so enjoyable! I wonder whether there is some regional accent in which the first syllable is so pronounced (Edinburgh?) that could be referenced In the clue?

  3. Very enjoyable. I made really heavy weather of 10a and 3d my last two in.

    I am not completely ‘sold’ on the 5d homophone because of the couple ‘part.’ I would say that the first part of the answer is pronounced like the hills on Dartmoor (and elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall).

    I particularly liked 12a and 17a.

    Thanks Effra and well done.

    1. Senf (& Atrica). I don’t pronounce the answer in quite the right way for the pun either, but looking in Chambers (7th ed), the pron. for the headword is identical and there’s no indication that it changes in the derivative. Anyway, I don’t necessarily expect a perfect match as long as it’s close enough to guide me to the answer.

  4. A gentle and enjoyable puzzle – thanks Effra.
    Top clues for me were 17a and the laugh-out-loud 18d.

  5. Enjoyable thank you Effra. I had to leave two clues to cogitate while we went out to buy Mr CS a new suit for our niece’s wedding but as soon as I looked at the puzzle when I got back, all became clear

    I had to check that you could spell the badger’s home with only one T. I’m not sure the homophone in 5d works. My particular favourite was 17a

  6. This was good fun, Effra, with 18d my favourite.

    Only a very few comments from me:
    11a – the surface is a bit strained
    14a – doesn’t the answer need to be followed by “off”, “out” or “from” to be synonymous with “cancelled”?
    23a – I may well be wrong on this but don’t you need to indicate that L is an example of a currency rather than an abbreviation for currency?
    5d – the homophone doesn’t work at all for me

    Well done Effra and thank you. Please keep them coming.

      1. Agreed it is in Chambers (which of course is the acid test for Telegraph crosswords), but I always like to be able to construct a sentence which demonstrates the equivalence and I haven’t managed to do that in this case. Have you (or anyone else) any ideas?

        1. Hmm… not off the top off my head. I was thinking: “Cancel that remark from the record”, but I think you’d say “in the record”, if you used it at all.

          Interested to learn that Chambers is the ultimate authority for the Tele (but probably not the 7th ed.!)

          1. Your comment above holds good for the Revised 13th Edition which is still good until the 14th is published some time next year.

            1. Thanks for the update, Senf. A number of prople have advised me the Chambers app for android is the way to go. If I remember what I’ve been told correctly, you get updates as part of the purchase price. I would still never throw out my old BRB.

    1. Thanks. Is it that the 11a surface doesn’t make sense or makes sense but doesn’t sound natural?

      Curious to hear further advice about 23a. I had thought from Prolixic’s guide that you need to use an example indicator if you are using a specific instance in the clue to refer to a general term in the answer. Ie a definition by example where the word in the clue is an example of the word in the answer. For example I used “Sherlock” in a previous puzzle to stand in for “PI” in the answer and should have used a “perhaps”. Didn’t think it was needed where you have a general term in the clue standing for a specific instance. Cheers for the feedback!

      1. Effra
        11a – it certainly doesn’t sound natural but I’m not totally convinced it makes sense – although I can see what you were aiming at.
        23a – my query is simply that the specific instance in this case is an abbreviation and I was wondering if that is OK (i.e.: a sort of indirect abbreviation). We’ll see what Prolixic makes of it tomorrow.

  7. Welcome back, Effra.

    Extremely enjoyable with a nice balance of different clue types and fairly solver-friendly wordplay.

    As well as the obvious tick for 18d, I also really liked 10a (great spot that Switzerland is composed of different reptiles!), 17a, 19a, 2d and 15d.

    The 5d homophone doesn’t quite work for me either, and I have similar thoughts to the 2Ks about 12a. Overall though, a very creditable and well-assembled puzzle. More please!

    Many thanks, Effra.

    P.S. Has anyone else encountered an issue when clicking on the puzzle icon above to access the crossword? I keep getting “This page can’t be displayed”. It’s only thanks to someone kindly sending me a pdf of the puzzle that I could see the grid.

    1. I occasionally get the ‘can’t be displayed’ message for Rookies and NTSPPs/MPPs. I have found that ‘leaving’ the site completely, and sometimes closing the browser, and starting again usually fixes it.

    2. Hi Silvanus. As you know I have never been able to access the three types of special puzzle using my laptop due to a restrictions on the company server which blocks access to pages classified as “games”. I can however access these on my smart phone and either print them directly from there or e-mail them to myself for printing. My smart phone access seems to be working fine today so that may be an option for you.

    3. I’ve had problems recently and in the past, trying to get on to I get “Firefox can’t find the server”. BD has suggested using Google’s own DNS servers (he’ll explain further if asked), but I’ve found waiting and trying again later works ok.

    4. Thanks all for your suggestions.

      I was out this afternoon, so have opened up the Blog once again just now to see if anything’s changed, but the same issue still applies. I can’t recall this happening before and I managed to open Gazza’s NTSPP on Saturday as normal. I tried to access the puzzle earlier via my smartphone too, RD, but have got the same error message.

      Rather than change anything for now, I’m tempted to follow Whynot’s advice and give it more time, but I appreciate all your help.

      1. My only suggestion would be to clear the browser cache, as caching and stored DNS records etc can sometimes cause problems – or reset your browser altogether, if your device allows. Even rebooting the router sometimes clears an error if it is happening on multiple devices. Just a thought which may (or may not) help.

        1. HI LBR.

          I thought I’d give it a try once more a few minutes ago, and it finally worked (without me changing or doing anything), so, hopefully, normality has now been restored.

          If it happens again, your suggestions sound very sound ones, so many thanks.

  8. Good fun – thanks Effra. Some seemed suspiciously easy and others took quite some thought.

    You may find using the clue-type analysis chart in Prolixic’s helpful document useful to check how many of each type you are using – sometimes this can encourage swapping out a ‘hidden’ or an ‘anagram’ clue for another lesser used one.
    I also enjoyed the Switzerland spot!



  9. Very enjoyable. A good mix of straightforward clues (e.g. 8ac, 9ac) and those requiring some lateral thinking (such as 12ac, 17ac). Some inventive cluing, too, such as ‘exotic’ to indicate removal of non-consecutive letters in10ac and ‘swathe’ to indicate a hidden (17dn). Just a few little niggles: in 28ac the definition is not completely synonymous with the answer (although they do mostly coincide), I’m not sure about the ‘passes’ in 2dn, and like crypticsue I had to check in the BRB that the spelling with one T was allowable. But overall I liked this, particularly 18dn. I think you’ll be promoted to NTSPP before too long.

  10. Very enjoyable and not too taxing, with several 4-letter write-ins helping a lot. What a lovely moment it must have been when you came up with the anagram in 9a! I don’t think 12a quite works, though I see what you’re thinking. I had to reveal the first letter to get it (LOI). I do wonder how one might “feign some tact” in whatever language (26a). I liked “shell-suited” in 13d, but not so sure about “pace-setter”. Nice indicator in 17d, but the surface overall is a bit iffy. The belly laugh of 18d was much appreciated here too.

    Nice work, Effra. Thanks for the fun.

  11. Pretty good Effra – a couple of wrinkles for me, that’s all.

    I would agree with the point Encota makes, ie do make use of Prolixic’s chart to give you the full gamut of clue types to choose from. I would add that one or two surfaces gave the game away a little too readily, I thought.

    Thanks for the entertainment Effra

  12. Thanks for all the useful comments everyone. I think I was erring on the side of trying to make things more straightforward this time after feedback on previous attempts. Looking forward to Prolixic’s review.

    1. We thought you had the difficulty level at about the right spot. We went straight from this one to the back page puzzle which took a considerably shorter time than this one.
      Perhaps some definitions could be a bit more disguised. For example 8a could say ‘beastly noise’ instead of ‘ass noise’ but on second thoughts that would have deprived us of the snigger we got from the American use of ‘ass’.

  13. I quite enjoyed this, apart from 5D, which earned an “ugh.” 18D was the runaway favorite bur 3D was not that far behind. Thanks Effra and Prolixic.

  14. Lovely puzzle, Effra. Was going swimmingly until I got stuck in the NW corner and needed some spousely help. Last one in was the clever 12a, with favourites being 3d and 18d. I thought that the surface readings were very good.

  15. Thanks for all the comments everyone. Very helpful. Despite creating the worst ever homophone I feel at least the overall direction of feedback is positive compared to my previous efforts!

    Thanks for the review Prolixic. I will take everything on board and hopefully do better next time.

    Just one outstanding query: on 13d I’m not sure why it’s not a fair reference. The answer is used as a standard of pace: a “xxxxx’s pace” in a common phrase. So in one sense it sets a pace. Does a pace setter necessarily have to be fast?

  16. I don’t have the best memory for things like that, but would be willing to bet that we’ve seen worse homophones than 5d in this corner! Not that that one worked terribly well for me, but I think Whynot @3 gives good evidence for the defence.

    Since Effra asks about it, I think the snail is more of a pace definer than setter. Still, a smileworthy clue which could be easily reworked keeping the idea intact.

    I enjoyed this. Really liked the favourite of the majority, but also 10a and 17a.

    Thanks and well done to Effra, and thanks to Spooner’s Rolixic for the preview.

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