Rookie Corner 447 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 447

A Puzzle by Coot

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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.

Coot continues to provide top-quality crosswords.  There are only a couple of comments where things did not quite work so the commentometer reads as 1/28 or 3.6%.  After the sterling performance in the last couple of crosswords, I think that it is time for Coot to move to the hallowed halls of the NTSPP.


1a  A bit of maths? Pretend it could send you to sleep! (9,6)
IMAGINARY NUMBER: A nine-letter word meaning pretend followed by six-letter word for something that could send you to sleep.

9a  It’s no good concealing act of intimacy (4)
SNOG: The answer is hidden (concealing) in the first three words of the clue.

10a  Organised drawer right away reveals owner of bill (5)
WADER: An anagram (orgnaised) of DRAWER without one of the letters R (right away).

11a  Is thread regularly cast off? (4)
SHED: The even letters (regularly) in the first two words of the clue.

12a  Somewhat whimsical lecturer’s boring (6)
FAIRLY: A five-letter word meaning whimsical includes (boring) the abbreviation for lecturer.

13a  Vigorous hundred added by the tail wagging (8)
ATHLETIC: The Roman numeral for 100 after (added by) an anagram (wagging) of THE TAIL.

14a  Exhausted from Kindle all in French! (5-3)
BURNT-OUT: A four-letter word meaning kindle or light and a four-letter French word meaning all.

15a  Musical genre‘s rubbish, lacking bass (6)
GARAGE: A seven-letter word meaning rubbish without (lacking) the abbreviation for bass.

16a  Spot politician ejected for very loud claptrap (6)
PIFFLE: A six-letter word for a spot on the skin with the abbreviation for a politician replaced (ejected for) by the abbreviation for very loud.

18a  Approximate location of base in Boston? (8)
BALLPARK: Where you might find a base in a baseball arena in America.

20a  Block South American boy’s first opportunity to try coleslaw? (5,3)
SALAD BAR: The abbreviations for South and American followed by a three-letter word for a boy before (first) a three-letter word for a block or barrier.  I don’t think that the definition here hits the mark.

22a  Parents clutching caps from ‘Naughty Adult Headgear‘ (6)
PANAMA: Two two-letters for father and mother (parents) include (clutching) the initial letters (caps from) of naught adult.

23a  Modern home for content Kiwi after relocation (4)
WIKI: An anagram (after relocation) of KIWI.  Notwithstanding some of the comments, I think that this definition works.

24a  Sequence of adverts to market opening (5)
STOMA: The answer is hidden (sequence of) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

25a  Star’s making comeback. You can see it in Stratford (4)
AVON: A reversal (making comeback) of a four-letter word for an exploded star.

26a  Ropey external conditions behind sponsor cutting off source of finance (5,3,7)
UNDER THE WEATHER: A phrase (3,7) for external climatic conditions after (behind) a six-letter word for a financial sponsor without the initial letter (source) of finance.


2d  Turning tiny sin into trauma involving 11 twists (15)

3d  Censor fearless naked astronaut (7)
GAGARIN: A three-letter word meaning censor followed by a seven-letter word meaning daring without the outer letters (naked).

4d  Enjoy wrestling with a sow? Absolutely not! (2,3,4)
NO WAY JOSE: An anagram (wrestling) of ENJOY A SOW.

5d  Make alterations to colourful collection (7)
REDRAFT: A three-letter word for a colour followed by a four-letter word for a large collection.

6d  Player that could create value trading knight with opponent (5)
NORTH: A five letter word for value with the abbreviation for knight replaced by an opposing player to the solution in a game of bridge.

7d  Fail to gather Coot’s lying about barber (7)
MISHEAR: A reversal (lying about) of a two-letter word meaning the setter is (Coot’s) followed by a five-letter word meaning to barber.  I don’t have a problem with lying (compared with laying) as its use is supported by Chambers as indicating relative position.  As about means reversed/turned in this context, I don’t see a particular need to confine it to across clues.

8d  Surprisingly, in government stuffy woman’s one that can blossom (7,8)
EVENING PRIMROSE: A four-letter word meaning surprisingly followed by the IN from the clue, the abbreviation for government, a four-letter word meaning stuffy and a four-letter woman’s name.  A comment on the use of G for government, as government is not a American term, I don’t see that using it to clue G is a problem without indicating it is an Americanism.

15d  Put on coat or leap around to maintain temperature (4-5)
GOLD-PLATE: The colour represented in heraldry by Or followed by an anagram (around) of LEAP including (to maintain) the abbreviation for temperature.

17d  Shaky Queen covers silver in lodge (7)
FRAGILE: A single-letter abbreviation for queen above (covers) the chemical symbol for silver all inside a four-letter word meaning to lodge.

18d  Deliver verse loudly in recital, depicting lines with hidden meaning? (3,4)
BAR CODE: A homophone (in recital) of BARK ODE (deliver verse loudly).  All the dictionaries I have consulted give the solution as (7) not (3,4).

19d  One valuing precision nabs artisan’s ultimate ornament (7)
PENDANT: A six-letter word for someone who values precision includes (nabs) the final letter (ultimate) of artisan.

21d  Periodically obsess over case for extremist attack (5)
BESET: The even letters (periodically) of obsess over the outer letters (case for) of extremist.

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 447

  1. A quality puzzle with a good level of head-scratching required. Lots of ticks on our pagers so won’t even try to pick a favourite.
    Thanks Coot.

  2. Thanks Coot. As the 2Kiwis said a good level of head scratching required, some resolved with e-help some with flashes of inspiration.

    Smiles for 14a, 16a, 18a, and 19d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Nice one, Coot. Some fairly tricksy wordplay made this quite challenging for me in places, but all fair and above board as far as I can tell. Favourites were 16a, 24a, 4d, 15d

  4. Welcome back to RC, Coot, with another accomplished puzzle. Some of the answers took quite a bit of teasing out but I enjoyed the challenge.

    I’m not fully convinced by either of the definitions in 20a & 23a, and I don’t think “lying about” quite works to indicate the reversal in 7d.

    You managed to include two of my bugbears (which many say are irrational!) in one clue :sad: . In 8d, not only is there a vague woman but the abbreviation for “government” is American – according to the BRB, it only occurs in the expression “G-man”.

    I had a lot of ticks with 1a, 13a 16a, 26a & 5d the pick of the bunch. As a cricket fanatic, I really liked the surface for 13a.

    Well done and many thanks, Coot. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

      1. For me, the difference is that Sparks’ clue was an across one, doesn’t work so well for a down clue

        1. Good point, LbR.

          I know that the Telegraph Puzzles Editor likes to avoid “about” as a reversal indicator in Down clues, but I’m sure you’ll see it quite often in Independent or Guardian puzzles.

    1. I’d be more happy with “laying about” (as in placing/situating/positioning in reverse order), but not too sure about “lying about”.

      *Not to be confused with the “laying about” practised by a layabout.

    2. Many thanks RD. On 7d, I assumed your quibble was with “lying” rather than with “about” although the subsequent thread might suggest otherwise. Re “lying”, I would argue that “to lie” has a BRB meaning of “to be situated” so needn’t necessarily indicate horizontality. And I’m not sure why “about” shouldn’t apply equally to down clues as well as across. I will be interested to see Prolixic’s views on this.

      As to 8d, I do apologise for prodding at both of your bugbears in one clue! Having compiled this a couple of months ago, I was reflecting on what a long time that is in politics, since the woman that I may have been referring to in this clue is now anything but blossoming!

  5. Well done, Coot. Always a pleasure to encounter you here. Some nice touches throughout with favourites including 14a, 20a, 3d, 4d and 15d. Special award for the self-deprecatory nod in 19d – what a lovely definition – I can imagine Mrs Coot recognising that one!

    Thanks Coot. I’d imagine this should be fairly straightforward for Prolixic

    1. Many thanks PM. I’m glad you spotted the reference in 19d – there was also a touch of irony in 7d!

  6. A top-rate puzzle with a welcome lack of obscurities and pitched at just the right level – many thanks to Coot.
    Amongst the clues I ticked were 16a, 18a, 15d and 18d.

  7. Very competent, Coot, though for some reason I didn’t warm to it as enthusiastically as others here. Perhaps it’s because 1a passes me by and made the solve much harder. To the definitions for 20a and 23d queried by RD, I’d add 6d. Yes a player, but that’s about as helpful as defining an object as a thing. I think it needs more.
    13a was my absolute favourite with 16a running it close.

    1. 1a is a nice bit of whimsy. The cryptic definition requires a different pronunciation of the second word. I’m not sure the CD is 100% accurate but it made me smile when the penny dropped, which is all that really matters for me.

      As for 6d, “player” in crosswords more often than not refers to one of two specific games, which helped whittle down the possibilities.

  8. Well done Coot, some very clever wordplay which took me a while to sort out and lots of good ideas.
    Like other’s I’d question 20a but thought 23a fine, maybe with the addition of a question mark?
    15&16a plus 18d make up my podium with 26a plus 4&19d running them close.
    Many thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  9. Hi All, just popping in to thank everyone who has given this one a go / commented so far. I will try to respond on specific points but I am rather strapped for time today so apologies if I am unable to respond to all.

  10. Welcome back, Coot.

    Your last Rookie Corner submission was one of the best, if not THE best RC puzzle of 2022, but I think this one has possibly even surpassed that. Bravo. My printed page has too many ticks really to single out a favourite clue but, if pushed, I’d probably opt for 18d.

    It’s been great to watch your progression and I think you are destined for a very bright future as a setter if you maintain this excellent standard. Well done indeed and many thanks.

    1. Many thanks, Silvanus – that’s very kind of you. I really appreciate your support and encouragement.

  11. Really enjoyed this puzzle, thank you, Coot. Favourites were 16a, 13a, 22a, 3d and 18d.
    The answer for 20a didn’t seem to fit the definition for us and we did need Google to check a couple of answers. Many thanks and in advance to Prolixic

  12. An excellent puzzle with some super clues. I’m on puzzle catch up today so with a number of others to tackle I didn’t give it the patience it deserved & resorted to a couple of letter reveals to complete. The ones that stood out for me were 14,16,8&26a plus 3,18&19d. Clear favourite the great surface at 16a – at the risk of getting my knuckles rapped my immediate thought was Ian Blackford.
    Thanks Coot

  13. Thanks for the excellent puzzle Coot, some very tight and satisfying clueing on show here. Top of my list were 14a, 16a, 4d and 15d although I could expand that extensively with everything that I enjoyed!

  14. Really enjoyed this most accomplished puzzle, thank you Coot. Only the most minor of queries came to mind and I’m happy to await Prolixic’s review, who I imagine will not have much to say!

    Some lovely constructions and ideas, mostly very smooth surface reads, and much amusement throughout. COTD for me was 15d when the parsing dawned on me – very clever indeed. Various others got Hon Mentions, including 18d, 3d, 16a and 1a.

    I look forward to your next puzzle! Thank you, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  15. It has been heartwarming to see the positive response to this puzzle by a very talented setter of whom I’m very fond. Thanks as ever to Prolixic for the feedback and, in this case, the deserved promotion. And, of course, many congratulations to Coot!

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – and of course for the promotion, with which I am naturally delighted. Thanks again to everyone who solved this puzzle and for the feedback.

  17. Super puzzle and a well-deserved promotion – well done Coot, looking forward to your debut NTSPP. (PS personally I loved the fun salad bar definition and was surprised it attracted any comments!)

  18. A super puzzle, not too difficult but with some nice twists in the clues. What more can I say except to endorse Prolixic’s comment about moving on to the realms of NTSPP?

  19. Congratulations on your promotion to the NTSPP Coot. Very well done!
    Super crossword! My last few in took almost as long as the rest. I failed on two, and looking at the answers I really should have arrived at them… Much appreciation to Prolixic for enlightening me.
    Many lovely clues to enjoy, my fave being 4d, which made me laugh, and 15d.
    Many thanks to Coot, and to Prolixic for an excellent review.

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