Rookie Corner 475 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 475

A Puzzle by Dharma

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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.

Since last summer the wait time for publication of Rookie Corner puzzles has been at least a few months, which might be discouraging for new setters trying to hone their setting skills in response to the feedback provided here. The queue is now significantly shorter, and so we encourage new or existing rookie compilers who wish to take advantage of this opportunity for faster publication to send their puzzles to

A very enjoyable crossword from Dharma this week.  With the exception of a very few infelicities, this was an excellent crossword.   The commentometer reads as 2/29 or 6.8%


1a  World‘s favourite clothing network (6)
PLANET: A three-letter word meaning favourite around (clothing) a three-letter abbreviation for a type of computer network.

4a  Tricky picking up right channel (6)
TROUGH: A five-letter word meaning tricky includes (picking up) the abbreviation for right.

8a  Leaves island after Conservatives replace Guyana’s leader (7)
TOBACCO: A six-letter name of an Caribbean island has the G (Guyana’s leader) replace by the abbreviation for Conservative twice (as Conservatives implies the two of them).

9a  You bet our ref’s corrupt! (3,4)
FOR SURE: An anagram (corrupt) of OUR REFS.

11a  Canal perhaps Swedes pass through? (10)
ALIMENTARY: Cryptic definition of the digestive canal through which swedes and other food items pass.

12a  Soundly regrettin’ bankruptcy (4)
RUIN: Remove the final G from a five letter word meaning regretting.  I think the soundly could be omitted here as it implies an homophone that is not required for the solution.

13a  Second-rate fibber America promoted to become Prime Minister (5)
BLAIR: The letter representing something that is second-rate followed by a four-letter word meaning a fibber with the A (America) moved forward (promoted).

14a  Stimulation throughout online performance? (8)
FOREPLAY: A three-letter word meaning throughout followed by the letter representing on-line and a four-letter for a dramatic performance.

16a  Container for animated 18 perhaps? (8)
JERRYCAN: A type of container that may belong to Tom’s animated adversary.

18a  Shy retiring type, some oddly seen around university (5)
MOUSE: An anagram (oddly) of SOME around the abbreviation for university.

20a  Hide and seek … initially with family (4)
SKIN: The first letter (initially) of seek followed by a three-letter word for family.

21a  Cover of chair getting update, perhaps something red or yellow plastic (6,4)
CREDIT CARD: The outer letters (cover) of chair followed by a four-letter word meaning update and a four-letter word for something yellow or red that may be used be football referee following an infraction of the rules.

23a  Car sickness in France … it’s negotiable (7)
MINIMAL: A four-letter word for a small car followed by the French word for sickness.  The mistake in the definition has been admitted to by the setter.  It should be negligible, not negotiable.  Also, the French for sickness is maladie.  The three-letter word means evil or bad in most contexts.

24a  Assorted lines by Aldi with 50% off (7)
DIVERSE: A five-letter word for lines of poetry after (by) one-half (50%) of the word Aldi.

25a  Understand joke read out by Princess (6)
DIGEST: The two-letter name of a former princess followed by a homophone (read out) of jest (joke).

26a  Unlimited fees, beginning of corruption in big city office (6)
AGENCY:  A five-letter word for the payment for service (fees) with the outer letters removed (unlimited) followed by the first letter (beginning) of corruption inside the abbreviation for New York (big city).


1d  Sneak a little publicity with Member of Parliament (5)
PROWL: A two-letter abbreviation for public relations (a little publicity) followed by the bird collectively described as a parliament.

2d  Three articles about record label showing lack of heavy metal in system? (7)
ANAEMIA: Three indefinite articles, the first being used before a word beginning with a vowel includes a three-letter name of a record label.

3d  Crazy about Californian bread and rice after cycling (9)
ECCENTRIC: The single letter representing about, a four-letter word for the USA’s coinage (Californian bread) and the rice from the clue with the resulting letters cycled around.

5d  Short jumper? … I say it’s large (5)
ROOMY: The diminutive form of kangaroo (short jumper) followed by a two-letter word meaning I say.

6d  Remove belt from aunt’s middle before reversing roles (7)
UNSTRAP: The middle letters of aunt followed by (before) a reversal of a five letter word for roles in a play.

7d  Reportedly Tottenham striker holding up career … it’s a big blow (9)
HURRICANE: A homophone (reportedly) of HURRY (career) KANE (Tottenham striker).

10d  Art perhaps frugal Ken refurbished (9)
GARFUNKEL: An anagram (refurbished) of FRUGAL KEN.

13d  Trump‘s holiday ramble (5,4)
BREAK WIND: A five-letter word for a holiday followed by a four letter word meaning ramble or snake around.

15d  Dharma’s about to be caught in bad weather that’s persisting (9)
REMAINING: A reversal of a two-letter word for the setter (Dharma) inside (to be caught in) a seven-letter word describing a type of bad weather.  I wonder whether bad weather equates more closely with the four-letter noun rather than the seven-letter verbal form.

17d  Moving swiftly on (7)
RUNNING: Double definition, the second in the sense of operating.

19d  Dirty old man’s brother starts to annoy neighbours (7)
UNCLEAN: A five-letter word descriptive of your father’s (old man) brother followed by the initial letters (starts to) of the final two words of the clue.

21d  On the rise, Devon’s Salcombe exudes style (5)
CLASS: The answer is reversed (on the rise) and hidden (excudes) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

22d  Well done! … caddie’s first to go below par (5)
RUSTY:  A six-letter word meaning well done or well cooked without the initial letter C (caddie’s first).

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 475

  1. Thanks Dharma – more challenging than your last Rookie and there are some parsings I will have to wait for Prolixic to explain fully.

    Smiles for 16a, 20a, and 1d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. A top quality puzzle that was great fun to solve with lots of penny-drop moments. The SE corner was the last to yield and took it well into ‘Toughie time’ for us.
    Thanks Dharma.

  3. Hello, setter here.
    I’ve just noticed that there’s a typo in 23a and the clue should read…..

    23a: Car sickness in France … It’s negligible


  4. Good fun – thanks. Your surface readings are very good and you have used some excellent misdirection in several definitions (e.g. 10, 11, 21a). I have seen some of them before but that didn’t detract. I can see what you’ve done with 22d but the intermediate word’s definition didn’t *quite* work for me. Or was I just slow to solve it!? Not sure.
    Did 12a need ‘Soundly’? One to discuss when Prolixic publishes tomorrow.
    And 3d’s application of cycling goes beyond what others normally do – but it works well, I think. You could add “tandem-style” at the end, perhaps – that’d be fun!?
    Apologies for the slightly obtuse commenting but I don’t want to spoil for others.
    Overall a *very* good puzzle. I wasn’t sure if the grid was your own invention(?): at first glance there appeared to be a few more blocked cells than normal – though the eye can often be fooled when the corners are blocked out like this.
    Loved it! More please!!

    1. Hi Encota
      Many thanks for your insightful comment and I’m very pleased that you “loved” it.
      Looking at 12d again I tend to agree that the clue probably doesn’t really need “soundly” the apostrophe alone does the job.
      The grid is one I took off the MyCrossword site.


  5. A lovely puzzle with clever misdirections and many laughs – thanks to Dharma.
    The clues that stood out for me were 8a, 16a, 1d, 7d and 19d with my favourite (for the guffaw it produced) being 13d.

    1. Many thanks Gazza, pleased you enjoyed it and it raised a laugh or two, which was one of my main aims.

  6. Welcome back, Dharma.

    This was another excellent puzzle, congratulations on achieving and maintaining such a high standard.

    Just one quibble for me, and perhaps Jean-Luc or someone whose knowledge of French is better than mine can confirm, but I have always thought that “mal” means “bad”, and that “maladie” is the word for sickness. Of course, there are phrases like “mal de mer”, but I’m not convinced that, on its own, it is correct here.

    I’ve ticked numerous clues but I thought 1a, 8a, 9a, 11a, 24a and 3d were the pick of the bunch.

    Well done indeed, Dharma, that was very enjoyable to solve.

    1. Many thanks Silvanus, very pleased that you enjoyed it.
      I prevaricated over 23a after sharing your reservations and had changed it but at the last minute after further research decided to “chance my arm” and go with it (maybe employing a tad of artistic licence!)

  7. Hi Dharma
    A delightful smoke and mirrors challenge where very little is what is seems at first glance, the PDM’s come thick and fast and wit and creativity abounds. I really enjoyed this! Glad you cleared up 23a as the definition had me stumped though the WP was clear (I think the sickness is fine BTW). There were too many LOL moments to pick favourites but 13d certainly would be up there. Really well done!

  8. Welcome back, Dharma, and with an accomplished offering. Couple of clues that weren’t to my taste but now that you’ve pointed out the error in the wording of 23a I didn’t find anything that looked inaccurate.

    Can’t see beyond 16a for my favourite (still laughing over that one) and my other ticks went to 1,4&20a plus 19d.

    1. Many thanks Jane, pleased you enjoyed (most of) it and it produced the odd laugh.

  9. Thoroughly enjoyed your puzzle Dharma, thank you. Favourites were 20a, 21a, 1d, 2d and 16a. Still trying to parse a couple so we shall look forward to Prolixic’s review tomorrow for 1a and 11a although I’m sure we have the correct answers. More please.

    1. Hi Hilton, very pleased that you enjoyed the puzzle.
      I’m not going to do Prolixic’s job but in 1a you’re looking for a containment indicator and in 11a I’ll just say that “Swedes” is falsely capitalised. Hope that helps.

      1. Ahah, it was the computer network that passed me by ( but hubby should have clicked!) ‘D’ho!’ from him!
        Without the capital S for swedes we completely understand. Many thanks, Dharma.

  10. Top stuff Stephen. Reckon this one even better than your one on the other site last Wed. Stuck on 8a & eyes tired after a busy day so revealed the first letter which immediately gave the game away but otherwise ok. Did need to confirm the 1a acronym & 23a now explained by your clarification. Loved the 13a surface & one of many ticks – 8,9,14,16&24a plus 2,7&13d other particular likes.
    Thanks Dharma – keep ‘em coming

  11. I always have a go at the Rookie puzzles, with varying degrees of success so started on this with little optimism, confirmed by a slow start. However, I began to appreciate the humour
    on show and, encouraged by 11a, 13a, 16a , 25a and 3d, 6d, 13d and 21d, I managed to complete almost all of it – a win for me!
    Thank you, Stephen for a puzzle full of fun and energy, interest and enjoyment that kept me going. I look forward to the next one.

  12. Thanks Prolixic for your excellent review and usual wise words.
    I’m annoyed with myself at my typo (how did that happen!!) and I knew I was taking a bit of a chance with part of the wordplay in the same clue but overall I’m very happy with the puzzle and the reaction to it.

  13. Late to the show, but thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I put the answer to 1d in and assumed there must be a politician named Rowl I’d never heard of. The penny landed with a right clang!
    Good clever stuff, I look forward to more.

  14. Hi Dharma

    Also late to the show but I did promise in another place to look at this. And it was a lot of fun with, as others have noted, some super surfaces. Favourites for me include 4a, 9a, 13a, 16a, 24a, 2d, 7d and 13d. I haven’t the French to know whether or not mal’ would be acceptable but it certainly helped me to solve the clue in question, wrong or not. Frustrating about the typo – I have been there and share your pain.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi PM…Many thanks for keeping your “promise” and giving it a go, much appreciated. Pleased you you found it a lot of fun, and yes I was smarting all yesterday over the typo!

      1. I share your pain! I had the same problem with hank panky a few weeks back. So easy to miss errors when checking one’s own work. I don’t think it spoiled the fun for anyone as this was a really entertaining puzzle. I certainly enjoyed it. Congratulations on the positive reviews.

        1. Thanks Jeemz, you can’t mark your own homework! Pleased it didn’t spoil the enjoyment though.

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I finally understand the significance of the chair covers being red or yellow!

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