Rookie Corner 463 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 463

A Puzzle by Tyjer

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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.

I did not have the opportunity to review Tyjer’s last crossword but I did solve it.  This one was, I think, a distinct improvement both in terms of the grid and in respect of the accuracy of the cluing.  There were one or two clues that went a little astray with their ambition, but overall this was enjoyable to solve.  The commentometer reads as 5/28 or 17.8%.


8a  Approved of one for one exchange in beauty treatment (8)
OFFICIAL: The OF from the clue followed by a six-letter word for a beauty treatment to the face with an A (one) changed to (I) one.

9a  Halt in vacant unoccupied zone (6)
FREEZE: A four-letter word meaning vacant followed by the outer letters (unoccupied) of zone.

11a  Suspects story concealed in Dali biography (5)
ALIBI: The answer is hidden (concealed) in the last two words of the clue.  The clue needs “Suspect’s” to read correctly.

12a  Vehicle you loaned reportedly uncooperative (9)
TRUCULENT: A homophone (reportedly) of TRUCK (vehicle) YOU LENT (loaned).

13a  Add vital element to narcotic general consumed (9)
OXYGENATE: A three-letter shortened form of oxycodone (narcotic) followed by the abbreviation for general and a three-letter word meaning consumed.

14a  Commotion around key step (5)
STAIR: A four-letter word for a commotion around a musical key.

15a  Skill returned after old boy repeated phrase (6)
MANTRA: A three-letter word meaning skill reversed (returned) and a three-letter word for a person an boy grows into (old boy).

17a   Shares gossip: is he caught between hearts of Ada and Susie? (6)
DISHES: The IS and the HE from the clue between the central letters (hearts) of Ada and Susie.

21a  Things that stick together? (5)
TINES: Cryptic definition.  I am not entirely convinced by this.  A good cryptic definition should lead to an “of course that is what it is” not an “well the solution has to be this, but why?”

23a  Shelter reached by climbing backward, bare cheek exposed in very short pants (4,5)
TREE HOUSE: The inner letters (bare) of cheek reversed (backwards) inside a an eight-letter word for pants with the final two letters removed (very short).  I don’t think it is fair to the solver either to have the additional word “exposed” in a complicated clue where there are lots of wordplay elements or (b) to use very short to indicate removing two letters from the end of the word.

25a  Sly entomologist originally, with piano, composed part of South Pacific (9)
POLYNESIA: An anagram (composed) of SLY E (entomologist originally) PIANO.

26a  Flower found in plenty around central slums (5)
LOTUS: A four-letter word meaning plenty around the middle letter (central) of slums.  I think that grammatically, centre of slums would be better

27a  Could be eruptions from last of live volcanic fissures (6)
EVENTS: The last letter of live followed by a five-letter word for volcanic fissures.  I think that the definition is a little too stretched.

28a  Cooks in oil containing, for example, bit of tabasco: burns the most! (8)
FIERIEST: A five-letter word meaning cook in oil includes (containing) the abbreviation for “that is” and is followed by the first letter (bit) of tabasco.  The clue is flawed as “for example” is “eg” an the abbreviation for that is forms part of the solution.


1d  Not any old carthorse: atop Pentagon with all but one line broken! (7)
NONAGON: A phrase 2,3 indicating that a horse is not any old carthorse followed by a two-letter word meaning atop.  I think that the definition is far too abstruse.  Breaking a line of a pentagon does not create a figure with more sides.

2d  Burning in this does no harm to one’s image (6)
EFFIGY: I think this is meant to be a double definition, the first being the word that replaces “this” in the “burning in this” and the second “one’s image” with the two linked by the fact that doing the first does no harm to the second.

3d  Unexpected turn of events in flaccid entertainment (8)
ACCIDENT: The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

4d  Start trial: I’m a trained fighter (7,6)
MARTIAL ARTIST: An anagram (trained) of START TRIAL IM A.

5d  Odd reversal as fed up Gerda talks back (6)
ARGUES: The odd letters read backwards (odd reversal) of the third to sixth words of the clue.  Odd on its own does not mean take the odd letters of the words.  Also, the clue implies you take the odd letter and reverse them but in order to get the solution, you take the odd letters if reading the whole clue backwards.

6d  “Traitor!” read Gene Wilder (8)
RENEGADE: An anagram (wilder) of READ GENE.

7d  Phone book, skipping first two entries, shows clerical residence (7)
RECTORY: A nine-letter word for a phone book with the first two letter removed (skipping first two entries).

10d  Agitated leader ran up in total excitement (4,9)
PURE ADRENALIN: An anagram (agitated) of LEADER RAN UP IN.

16d  Cancelled yearly large edition, losing top author (8)
ANNULLED: A seven-letter word meaning yearly and the abbreviations for large and edition from which you remove the first letter (top) of author.  On its own, top, does not mean use the first letter.  You would need top of…

18d  Researchers coming from bottomless pit surrounded by traces of conflict (8)
SCHOLARS: Remove the last letter (bottomless) from a four-letter word for a pit and surround it with the marks that remain from a conflict if you are injured.

19d  Bits of metal folded in sheets are essential supplies (7)
STAPLES: Double definition of paper fasteners and basic food stuffs.  The link word here does not quite word as work as you have definition A are definition B that does not read grammatically.

20d  Feeling confused as teens (7)
SENSATE: An anagram (confused) of AS TEENS.

22d  Reason louse found in state (6)
SANITY: A three-letter word for a louse in a three-letter word meaning state.

24d  ITunes remixed releases (6)
UNTIES: An anagram (remixed) of ITUNES.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner 463

  1. Thanks Tyjer – for me, a distinct improvement on your first Rookie starting with the ‘conventional’ grid but I do have a couple of parsings for which I will await the wisdom of Prolixic.

    Smiles for 12a, 17a, 26a, 16d, and 19d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. The left hand side of this crossword took longer to sort out than the right. I particularly liked 12a, 17a and 19d

    Thank you to Tyjer and, in advance, to Prolixic

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Tyjer. This was a significant improvement on your debut offering. It was more solver friendly and I enjoyed it. Your have also moved in the right direction with your surface readings although there are still some which don’t really pass muster.

    I needed to use reveal to get the answer for 21a and, even so, I still don’t understand the clue at all. I think the definitions for 1d and 10d are a bit dodgy.

    Two other specific issues:
    – In 11a the definition needs an apostrophe. It’s acceptable to ignore punctuation for the wordplay but not for a definition. (However, in this instance if you had included it, it would have rendered the surface nonsensical as you no doubt realised).
    – in 28d, IE means “that is” not “for example”.

    My top picks were 9a, 12a, 25a, 7d & 19d.

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

    1. I also struggled with 21a, LOI, but it’s a very clever CD – what do these things do, and how are they arranged/constrained to do it?

      1. I agree with Fez on this one. A nicely done CD and one that resonated having spent a couple of hours on my allotment yesterday!

      2. Are we taliking about garden forks or, more likely, rakes? I’ll have to cogitate on this one …

      1. Sorry, Jose, I don’t understand the relevance of your comment. How would that avoid the need to put an apostrophe in “suspect’s story …”? :unsure:

        P.S. In any event, “the” would be surface padding.

  4. Thanks to Tyjer. For me the NW corner was the trickiest and it took me some time to work out the definition of 1d, which is clever but I don’t think ‘broken’ really works for the lines.
    Top clues for me were 9a, 15a and 19d.

  5. Welcome back, Tyjer, with a puzzle that demonstrated a definite move in the right direction and was much more enjoyable to solve. Still a few rough edges that need smoothing out and surface reads that need more thought but not much that can’t be sorted with time and practise.
    9a & 19d made me smile and my favourite was 12a.

    Thank you and I look forward to seeing more from you.

  6. Hello again, Tyjer

    I thoroughly agree that this puzzle is a welcome and distinct improvement on your debut one, so credit where credit’s due. There was a nice mix of different clue types and constructions and most of the surface readings (but not all!) passed muster. There were a few things that jarred for me, some already mentioned, but having both “bare” and “exposed” in 23a seemed tautologous and I’m not totally convinced about “very short” in the same clue as an instruction to remove an extra letter. Most editors would not accept “top author” (16d) to indicate “a”, “foremost of authors” for instance would get round that. Unlike last time, I had quite a few ticks on my print-out, my joint-favourites were probably 9a and 7d.

    Many thanks, Tyjer, and congratulations on the improvement shown.

    1. Silvanus, I took “exposed in” in 23a to mean “seen in”. Like you, I’m not entirely convinced about “very short”, and await the judgement of Prolixic!

      1. Hi Dave,

        That may well have been the setter’s intention, but I can’t say I like a “one part of wordplay exposed in another part of wordplay” construction!

        I think if “bare” were omitted (as it could certainly be), then “exposed” on its own could serve as the outside letter deletion indicator and merely the “in” used to place it within “very short pants”.

        1. Maybe the “exposed” was just thrown in to add a bit of saucy humour, since the clue mentions bare cheek and very short pants? Under the designation “comedic padding”. :-)

  7. Thanks Tyjer, lots to enjoy with favourites including 9a, 12a, 21a (once I ‘got’ it!), 3d & 7d, and some clever and imaginative ideas. A few minor quibbles as already pointed out eg by Rabbit Dave and Silvanus. One perhaps very nit-picky point: in 19d I found the linking “are” a little jarring – although the definitions are plural, in the cryptic reading it’s a single word. Using a colon instead of a link word, for example, would avoid this issue Thanks again!

  8. I really enjoyed this puzzle, thank you Tyjer – much more polished and ‘tighter’ than the previous grid. There are a couple of parsings I’m lacking for now, but plenty of good clues I felt, with Hon Mentions to 12a, 23a, 6d, 7d, 10d, 19d. Roll on thext Tyjer challenge!

    Thanks in advance too to Prolixic.

  9. An enjoyable and generally easy puzzle, although I couldn’t get 21ac and still don’t understand it. As regards 28ac, it’s surprising how many people use i.e. when they mean e,g, – and vice versa. Apart from that I’ll leave detailed comment to Prolixic.

  10. I don’t often have time to do the Rookie puzzle, but this one by Tyjer was right up my street. I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I was heading for an all my own work finish. But stumbled at 1d and 21a, the latter still mystifies me. IMHO this was better than a lot of the cryptics, certainly better than those that leave me with mostly empty squares. Thanks Tyjer.

  11. Just a postscript on 21a. I suppose if you were raking in the garden the tines would cause the twigs/sticks to come “together” into a pile. That’s all I can come up with. Maybe OK for a Toughie puzzle?

  12. Catching up on the puzzles we missed when away and we did enjoy this one – thank you Tyjer.
    We found the left hand side harder to complete, the NW corner in particular. We struggled with 21a and put ‘tongs’ in and we couldn’t understand ‘pentagon’ in 1d although we could parse the clue from the first 5 words. We look forward to your next puzzle, Tyjer.

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