Rookie Corner 451 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 451

A Puzzle by Hubble

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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.

Another good crossword from Hubble.

The commentometer reads as 1.5/28 (5.3%).  After a consistent run of low scores, I think we have another promotion the NTSPP slot.


8a  Yokel grabbed by offensive son in bushes (8)
THICKETS: A four-letter word for a yokel inside (grabbed by) a three-letter name of an offensive in the Vietnam war followed by the abbreviation for son.

9a  Passing English decline (6)
ELAPSE: The abbreviation for English followed by a five-letter word for decline.

10a  Name-dropping uncle’s daft idea (4)
CLUE: An anagram (daft) of UNCLE after removing the letter N (name-dropping).

11a  Don’t be fooled by these rough changes (3,7)
SEE THROUGH: An anagram (changes) of THESE ROUGH.  As the final five letters remain unchanged, this is not really a satisfactory anagram.

12a  Scoundrel deporting mother from city in Europe (6)
ROTTER: Remove (deporting) a three-letter word for a mother from the end of a nine-letter name of a Dutch city.

14a  In Coney Island, bottom-pinching admirer repelled by one swimmer (4,4)
TUNA FISH: A four-letter American word for a bottom includes (pinching) a reversal (repelled) of a three-letter word for an admirer and the letter representing one.  Some editors will not allow lift and separate clues where you have to change bottom-pinching to bottom pinching.

15a  One learns from boss leading hospital department (7)
STUDENT: A four-letter word for a boss before (leading) a three-letter abbreviation for a hospital department.

17a  Crackpot wanting international to track a large list of events (7)
ALMANAC: A six-letter word for crackpot without (wanting) the abbreviation for international goes after (to track) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for large.

20a  Takes care of issue new arrival poses (4-4)
BABY-SITS: A four-letter word for a new arrival followed by a four-letter word for poses.

22a  Matelot went yachting partly to obtain score (6)
TWENTY: The answer is hidden (partly) in the first three words of the clue.

23a  Oxford graduate with ruler working at last? (10)
SHOEMAKING: A four-letter word of which Oxford is an definition by example followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a graduate and a four-letter word for a ruler.  I think that an indication that Oxford is a definition by example is required.

24a  Car from Michigan setter disposed of for a dollar (4)
BUCK: A five-letter word for an American car make without a single letter representing the setter.

25a  “Material is Great” Little Richard sung (6)
FABRIC: A three-letter word meaning great followed by a homophone (sung) of the diminutive form of Richard.

26a  Sandown resident is one I malign (8)
ISLANDER: The I from the clue followed by a seven-letter word meaning malign.


1d  Pay for case dismissed (5,3)
SHELL OUT: A five-letter word for a case followed by a three-letter word meaning dismissed.  The structure definition for wordplay is not one that you should use.

2d  Spots larcenies regularly (4)
ACNE: The even letters (regularly) in the second word for the clue.

3d  Thicker partners in game overwhelmed by rising grass (6)
DENSER: Partners in a game of bridge inside (overwhelmed by) a reversal (rising) of a four-letter word for grass.

4d  Advancements of insects swarming over small church (7)
ASCENTS: A four-letter word for insects around (swarming over) the abbreviations for small and church.

5d  Sozzled, Thelma’s drinking no spirit (8)
METHANOL: An anagram (sozzled) of THELMA includes (drinking) the NO from the clue.

6d  Turned up around distance learning provider’s stone facade (10)
CAMOUFLAGE: A four-letter word meaning turned up around the two-letter abbreviation for Open University (distance learning provider) and a four letter word for a paving stone.

7d  A long time supporting American customs (6)
USAGES: A four-letter word meaning a long time under (supporting) the abbreviation for United States (America).

13d  European clergyman visiting Turkey on vacation brings playthings (5,5)
TEDDY BEARS: The abbreviations for European and Doctor of Divinity (clergyman) inside the outer-letter (on vacation) of Tukey followed by a five-letter word meaning brings.

16d  Lives in suspicion – that’s annoying (8)
NUISANCE: A two-letter word meaning lives inside a six-letter word for suspicion.

18d  Objects when claret is spilled (8)
ARTICLES: An anagram (spilled) of CLARET IS.

19d  Like poorly in-patient at first on run home for pain reliever (7)
ASPIRIN: A two-letter word meaning like followed by initial letters (at first) of poorly and in-patient, the abbreviation for run and a two-letter word meaning home.

21d  Hammer wood above retreat (6)
ASHRAM: A three-letter word meaning hammer with a three-letter type of wood above it.

22d  Time to replace bishop in word game switch (6)
TOGGLE: A six-letter word game has the B (bishop) changed to a T (time).

24d  Get rid of husband finally in difficult situation (4)
BIND: A three-letter word meaning get rid of followed by the final letter of husband.

22 comments on “Rookie Corner 451

  1. Hubble has again shown good skills in putting together this good fun puzzle.
    Several clues took a little time to unpick with 4d the very last one for us to get sorted which was not far behind 14a.
    Lots of ticks on our pages.
    Thanks Hubble. Well done.

  2. Having probably made really heavy weather of the back pager this was like a breath of fresh air. Very well crafted with lots of good clues 15a, 23a, 3d, and 13d in particular.

    Just one minor Oops – an ‘extra’ letter on ‘clergyman’ in 13d.

    Thanks Hubble and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Hubble. Unfortunately, I missed your previous submission when I was away on holiday but this one is certainly a big improvement over your earlier offerings, and I really enjoyed the solve. Your clueing is brief and accurate, and you have some interesting ideas on show.

    My comments are very minor. You missed a typo in 13d. For 6d, it looks as if you had put together the various Lego bits to arrive at the answer without much consideration to the resulting surface, which is sort of OK although a bit clunky in my opinion.

    Interestingly, you have included three Americanisms. “Tush” in 14a was a new word to me but its provenance was quite cunningly indicated, which is fine. Also, “buck” in 24a is well known over here as slang for a dollar and, in any event, the American flavour of the surface points the solver in the right direction. Finally, in 8a. although the word needed appears in both Chambers and Collins as the Vietnamese lunar new year festival, there is no mention in either of the American military campaign. This usage does however crop up occasionally in UK crosswords, so this is only a very slight quibble.

    I had a lot of ticks, and my top picks were 20a, 23a, 26a & 16d.

    Well done and thank you, Hubble. More like this would be most welcome.

    1. The military campaign was so named because of when it took place. You’re right that this is often seen in crosswords but to me it’s a bit like using ‘revolution’ in a clue to define OCTOBER.

      1. Hi Widdersbel,

        I see your point. I think it’s similar to “flower” being acceptable for a plant or river, but “man” is not acceptable for “Bert” say.

  4. Nice one, Hubble, I found this enjoyably challenging. 23a was my favourite for the nicely misleading definition. Other highlights were 1d, 18d and 24d.

    Have to confess I spent far too long wondering if an ’amster was some kind of slang word for a scoundrel!

  5. Great fun and really enjoyable, pitched at just the right level – many thanks to Hubble.
    I have too many ticks to list them all. I’ll just mention 8a, 14a, 20a and 23a.
    More like this, please.

  6. Great fun, very enjoyable but some challenges for us also – 8a, 4d and 14a. Favourites were 23a, 25a, 26a and 6d. More , please, Hubble. Thank you in advance to Prolixic.

  7. Gazza got in first with exactly what I was going to say. For me just what a Rookie Corner puzzle should be, concise and tight wordplay, bit of humour and hitting the difficulty sweet spot.
    Loads of ticks but I’ll just mention the superb 23a, a clue any professional setter would be proud of.
    Well done and thanks Hubble for a “fab” puzzle. Thanks also in advance to Prolixic.

  8. I think you show every sign of becoming a consistently good setter, Hubble, well done indeed. There will always be small niggles picked up by commenters but we do the same thing with the back-pagers on a regular basis!
    Biggest ticks here went to 8,14,20&23a plus 16d.

    Many thanks for the puzzle, I’m looking forward to seeing your next one.

  9. Welcome back, Hubble.

    With each puzzle you seem to be producing a better product which, ideally, is how it should be! This was excellent, I ticked several clues with 8a and 20a the best ones for me. A couple of quibbles; 1d jarred for me as it’s “definition for wordplay” and I think “Oxford” in 23a needs a qualifier like “perhaps” or “maybe” to show it is a definition by example. Otherwise, I felt you would have been better off in 11a having just an anagram of “these” followed by a synonym for “rough”, as anagram fodder where half the letters don’t change position in the solution isn’t to be recommended. A lift-and-separate device like “bottom-pinching” in 14a would not find favour with a number of editors, but I’m sure you know that! I agree with RD that the surface of 6d is very “crosswordy”, i.e. unnatural, and it is probably your weakest clue.

    Overall, tremendous stuff and a real pleasure to solve. Rookie Corner has been blessed by a fine crop of puzzles recently – long may it continue! Many thanks, Hubble.

    1. In 1d, “for” is part of the definition, I think. Good point on 11a … could it potentially be an implied anagram “Don’t be fooled by these in a crossword? (3,7)” A super puzzle overall, though … many thanks Hubble, and in advance to Prolixic.

      1. Hi Fez,

        I would disagree about 1d – “shell out” is synonymous with “pay” not “pay for”, in my opinion.

        1. Hi Silvanus,

          Many thanks for your insight. My intention in 1d was that “pay for” is the definition – this is supported by the Cambridge English Dictionary “to pay money for something”, although I do agree that “pay for” is more synonymous with “shell out for”. I must confess I didn’t twig that the anagram fodder in 11a and the solution had five consecutive letters (probably because they don’t rhyme).

  10. Can only agree with all the plaudits. A fine puzzle indeed. Numerous ticks for me but if pressed I’d plump for a podium of 8&20a with 16d. Only my failure to parse 16a (thanks RD) took the shine off a thoroughly enjoyable solve

  11. Thanks to all at Big Dave for publishing the puzzle, and to those of you kind enough to leave your comments, which are always greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank my two test setters, without whose invaluable input, this puzzle would definitely have more rough edges.

  12. Didn’t finish this; not because of difficulty – I ran out of time. I might go back to it later because what I did manage was excellent stuff. See you in the NTSPP slot next time!

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I’m sure that Hubble will be delighted with his promotion. I think Caradoc would probably also appreciate your in-depth analysis if time allows.
    I do hope that your wife has managed to obtain some relief for her painful joints – otherwise the spectre of you having to cook Christmas lunch looms large!

  14. Thanks very much for the review, Prolixic, and for the promotion to NTSPP. May I echo Jane’s hope that Mrs. Prolixic is feeling better.

  15. Probably too late for you to see this, Hubble, but I have had other commitments over the last couple of days. However, I’ve belatedly completed the solve which I very much enjoyed. In particular, some of your surfaces created delightful images. Congrats on a worthy promotion. PM

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