Rookie Corner 483 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 483

A Puzzle by Hopping Rhino

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Thanks to Hopping Rhino for the crossword.  There was a lot to admire and most of the comments are minor ones.  The commentometer reads as 3.5/29 or 12.1%


6a  Coast of island’s within flood area (7)
RIVIERA: The abbreviation for island inside (within) a five letter word a flood followed by the abbreviation for area.  The construction of definition of wordplay is fine.  The cryptic reading might be smoother without the ‘s to island.

7a  Writer touched by gift (4,3)
FELT TIP: A four-letter word meaning touched followed by a three letter word for a financial gift or gratuity.

9a  Bloke in charge is crazy (5)
MANIC: A three-letter word for a block followed by the abbreviation for in charge.

10a  Change direction on time (5,4)
ABOUT TURN: A five-letter word meaning on (or on the subject of) followed by a four-letter word meaning time (as in your time will come to play on the computer).

11a  Strange and stupid? (7)
UNCANNY: Split 2-5, this means not wise or, therefore, stupid.

13a  Money made from tailless breed (6)
SPECIE: Remove the last letter (tailless) from a seven-letter word for a breed.

15a  Empire-building militia prices bombs (13)

19a  Scales from gecko’s belly and legs (6)
CLIMBS: The middle letter (belly) of gecko followed by a five-letter word describing legs.

20a  Punished those responsible for counterfeit Geneva diamonds (7)
AVENGED: An anagram (counterfeit) of GENEVA D (diamonds).  Noting the comments on the blog, it might be better to have used a definition that avoided the for.

23a  Reports of M&A gripping City retracted (9)
MEMORANDA: The M & A from the clue (with the & spelled out) includes (gripping) a reversal (retracted) of a four-letter city in Italy.

24a  Joey Nicks, my cockney lover (5)
ROMEO: A three-letter word for an Australian joey includes (nicks) how a Cockney person may say my (as a possessive pronoun).  In response to the comment in the blog, you can falsely capitalize a word such as nicks, but you cannot falsely put a proper noun into lowercase.

26a  Last scrap of muslin, a fine fabric (7)
NANKEEN: The final letter (last scrap) of muslin followed by AN (the A from the clue) and a four-letter word meaning fine.

27a  Old man buried Gotti’s latest stiff (7)
EXIGENT: A two-letter word meaning old and a four-letter word for a man includes (buried) the final letter (latest) of Gotti.  I think buries (in the present tense) is better than buried.


1d  Rising star becomes banker (4)
AVON: A reversal (rising) of a type of star.

2d  Maybe a conspirator showed a signal (6)
BEACON: The answer is hidden (showed) in the first three words of the clue.  Try to avoid the past tense as the word remains hidden.  Perhaps showing would be a better word.

3d  Very drunk soldier’s emotional, surrendering leader of Rhodes to Troy (9)
PARALYTIC: A four-letter word for a soldier followed by a five-letter word for a type of poetry expressing emotion with the R (leader of Rhodes) replaced by (surrendering…to) the abbreviation for troy.

4d  Pap lusty, cavorting Australian (8)
PLATYPUS: An anagram (cavorting) of PAP LUSTY.

5d  Stopping cheat taking in a group that’s lost its head (10)
STAUNCHING: A five-letter word meaning to cheat around (taking in) the A from the clue and a five-letter word for a group without its initial letter (that’s lost its head).

6d  Raise sheep dog (4,2)
RAMP UP: A three-letter word for a male sheep followed by a three-letter word for a young dog.

7d  Infantrymen‘s pay (4)
FOOT: Double definition.

8d  Better boatman (6)
PUNTER: Double definition of a gambler and a person who propels a flat bottom boat with a pole.

12d  Gossip crushes German with dedication (10)
COMMITMENT: A seven-letter word for gossip around (crushes) a three-letter German word meaning with.  I don’t feel that crushes quite works as a containment indicator.  Whilst to crush means to squeeze violently and squeeze can mean to embrace, I think this is one of those occasions where if A = B and B = C, this does not mean that A = C.  Also, gossip (a lot of chatter) is not really synonymous with the word required in the solution, which is more an individual remark.

14d  Parent overwhelmed by change in old school (4,5)
ALMA MATER: A four-letter word for a mother (parent) inside (overwhelmed by) a five-letter word meaning to change or amend.

16d  Set off to space base, cloaking ship (8)
EMBARKED: A two-letter word for a printer’s space and a three letter word for a base around (cloaking) a three-letter word for a biblical ship.  I don’t think that the construction of definition to wordplay works.

17d  Copper has the last word about judgement (6)
ACUMEN: The chemical symbol for copper with a four-letter word used at the end of a prayer around it.

18d  Expert at Dior is affected (6)
ADROIT: An anagram (affected) of DIOR IS.

21d  Bug bug (6)
EARWIG: Double definition of an insect and a word meaning to eavesdrop.

22d  Familiar with home working (2,2)
IN ON: A two-letter word meaning home followed by a two-letter word meaning working.

25d  Encounter many equally enthusiastic trainees initially (4)
MEET: The initial letters of the second to fifth words of the clue.

28 comments on “Rookie Corner 483
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  1. Thanks Hopping Rhino for another enjoyable puzzle. Probably a little trickier than your last one and I needed some e-help to get across the finishing line.

    Smiles for 11a, 27a, 6d, and 21d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  2. Good fun! A mainly gentle puzzle with some good clues. I had to double-check the meaning of my vaguely-recollected word at 13a but that was a PICNIC* issue. The poetic choice of word in 6a’s wordplay wasn’t obvious to me either.
    Some clever clues here plus some old favourites. Of the former I particularly liked 6d and 8d.
    Thanks Hopping Rhino (and in advance to Prolixic)
    *Problem In Chair Not In Crossword

  3. Thanks HR, a good fun challenge. Some less-than-obvious (some might say “stretchy”?) synonyms upped the difficulty. A couple of link words didn’t feel quite right (20a, 16d), and very pedantically having both “of” and “[ha]’s” in 6a, the comma in 24a, and 2d’s past tense all lead to slightly awkward cryptic grammar I think. But those are very minor points in an enjoyable solve – my faves were 11a, 19a, 6d, 8d & 17d. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Fez, I’m glad it was fun. I see that 2D could have been ‘showing’ rather than ‘showed’.

      Re the comma, my understanding was that (generally) one mentally deletes punctuation when solving a clue, so that there’s flexibility to use grammar to make the surface smoother. But perhaps that’s not right?

      1. I’m sure others will disagree, but for me distracting / deceptive punctuation (or capitalisation, italics, etc) should only be used to the extent that the cryptic instruction / description remains grammatically correct. It makes the difference between being “cleverly misled” and “unfairly tricked” imho. Apologies re 20a where RD has enlightened me on “for” belonging to the definition Thanks again!

    2. Fez, I have only just seen your comment after posting mine. I agree with you about the link words in 6a & 16d, but isn’t “for” part of the definition in 20a?

      1. Ah, I guess so … “they xxxx / [punsihed those repsonsible for] the downfall of their leader”, fair enough :-)

      2. I think you can have “those responsible” or “those responsible for xxx”, but not “those responsible for” by itself, without an object. As it stands, it reads as “definition for wordplay” to me, so it doesn’t work.

        1. I pondered this. I didn’t think ‘punished those responsible’ worked as a synonym, since you can’t substitute it for the answer. To pick up Fez’s example, ‘punished those responsible the downfall of their leader’ clearly doesn’t work. And while ‘punished those responsible for’ lacks an object, so to does the answer.

  4. Enjoyable puzzle with a good variety of clues – thanks to Hopping Rhino.
    My last answer was 2d which led to much self-kicking.
    My ticks went to 11a, 23a, 5d, 8d and 17d.

  5. This was very enjoyable, HR. You have definitely got the hang of this setting lark. Your clueing is commendably brief and your wordplay is accurate. I don’t know if it was intentional but I felt there was a wide variation in degree of difficulty spread across the grid. This helped as I was able quickly to get about half the answers written in and then go back to tackle the more challenging clues with a generous selection of checkers in place.

    I have only a very few minor comments. “Gossip” for me is too much of a stretch in 12d, and I’m not sure about the link words you have used in 6a (“of”) and 16d (“to”).

    I had plenty of ticks with 11a, 5d & 8d making up my podium selection.

    Very well done, HR, and please keep them coming. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  6. After starting the morning with neither the boiler or the computer being very cooperative, it was nice, once showered, breakfasted and puzzle printed off, to find that this was an enjoyable, mostly friendly crossword with, as others have already said, a good variety of clue types

    Many thanks HR and, in advance, to Prolixic

  7. Welcome back, Hopping Rhino.

    Your best puzzle yet, in my opinion, I particularly liked the double definitions and found lots to commend. A few niggles, as already mentioned the present tense would be much better for the verb in 2d and “using” for “for” in 20a and “from” instead of “to” in 16d would have eliminated any awkwardness over the actual link words you employed. “Of” in 6a seems perfectly fine to me. My favourite clue is 14d.

    Many thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle which had a quality feel to it.

    1. Re 6a the “of” itself is fine, but then the clue resolves to “definition of x is within y z” which feels slightly awkward? Omitting the “[i]’s” would help the whole clue read grammatically, I think – or maybe “Coastal island’s within flood area” (with the answer slightly stretchily as an adjective, a xxx holiday/ location?) … but it’s the combination of “of” and “[i]’s” that jars just a little. But admittedly a *very* minor point of pedantry!

    2. I forgot to say that would it be possible for one of the administrators to keep the Rookie Corner index of puzzles updated? The last one shown is No 479, so four puzzles ago now. Thank you.

  8. I must admit that I would have worded it “coast of island within flood area”, personally. Sorry, that should have been in answer to Fez above.

  9. Very enjoyable. Thanks HR.
    Not sure I fully understand 24a and 26a so I will wait for Prolixic’s verdict tomorrow.
    23a, 2d and 14d got my ticks.
    More of the same, please.

  10. I felt this a quite challenging puzzle at first, and it took a while to tune-in. A few synonyms “from further down the list” and a clue biffed without being fully parsed (26a); not sure about the capitalisation in 24a – there appears to be a minor DJ of that name but I can never remember the convention about using capitalisation to mislead, all I know is that it is a one-way permission!

    Lots of very fine clues, good surfaces, fluent construction: I particularly liked 23a and 21d.

    Thank you HR, I do look forward to your next puzzle! Thanks also in advance to Prolixic.

  11. A very enjoyable solve, Hopping Rhino, and I applaud your concise clueing. Two or three that didn’t quite work for me so I’ll be interested to get Prolix’s take on them (8&10a plus 7d) but overall this was great fun.
    Loved the wording of your clue for 7a and I also had big ticks alongside 11a plus 8&14d.

    Well done – hope you have plenty more in the pipeline for us!

  12. Very enjoyable puzzle; thanks to Hopping Rhino. I need a couple clarifying tomorrow but have enormous regard for anyone who can put a puzzle together. The fact that I found it entertaining & enjoyable as well makes it even better. Well done

  13. Well done, HR. I completed it and the cluing got me there so job done! I think the earlier posts have dealt with any of my raised eyebrows so I’ll highlight 9a,19a, 23a, 6d, 8d and 14d as favourites. I’d agree this was more succinctly worded and cleanly clued which made it your most enjoyable so far.


  14. A busy day here for me, so I hope you will forgive a general ‘thank you’ for all the kind comments. I’m delighted that it has given pleasure, and as ever the detailed critiques are greatly appreciated.

  15. Thank you, Hopping Rhino. We struggled with a couple at the end – didn’t know the money word in 13a and although we found the words for 26 and 27across we couldn’t quite parse them so we need to check in with Prolixic tomorrow. Favourites were 7a, 19a and 6d. More, please.

  16. Most of this went in with little difficulty; just one or two clues I wasn’t too sure about their construction or parsing the answers but I’ll leave dissection to Prolixic. But I liked 19ac and particularly 7dn – very neat. Thanks, Hopping Rhino.

  17. For anybody unimpressed by my ‘Parent overwhelmed by change in old school’, Jason in the FT today offers ‘Reform must include parent’s term for university (4,5)’

  18. Thanks very much Prolixic, suggestions duly noted, and added to my list of things to watch for in my ongoing battle with the Commentometer

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