Rookie Corner 488 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 488

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.

A review by Prolixic follows:

Welcome back to Hopping Rhino.  Another good crossword with only few minor points.  The commentometer reads as 1.5/32 or 4.7%.


1a  Mathematician initially pursued algebra, subsequently calculus and logic (6)
PASCAL: The initial letters of the final six words of the clue.

4a  Pampered fop’s done abysmally (8)
SPOONFED: An anagram (abysmally) of FOPS DONE.

10a  Playwright bored by an artist (7)
PAINTER: The surname of the playwright Harold includes (bored by) the indefinite article (an or a).  You do see the use of AN to indicate A in the solution.  I have to confess that it is a device I use reluctantly.

11a  Lends more (7)
SECONDS: Double definition, the first being the temporary reassignment of a worker.

12a  Sailing boat moored in Westward Ho! waters (4)
DHOW: The answer is hidden (moored) in the final three words of the clue.

13a  Rowers’ spat about kit (10)
SPORTSWEAR: An anagram (about) of ROWERS SPAT.

15a  Engineer comes from Western perspective (6)
WANGLE: The abbreviation for western followed by an five-letter word for a perspective.

16a  Tell and tell again? (7)
RECOUNT: Double definition, the second being a further calculation of the number of votes cast, for example.

20a  Doctor came down with cold, lacking medicine (7)
DRAUGHT: A two-letter abbreviation for doctor followed by a six-letter word meaning came down with removing (lacking) the abbreviation for caught.

21a  Mark‘s a sailor (6)
RATING: Double definition.

24a  Military police and pilots overwhelmed by IT problem (10)
IMPAIRMENT: The abbreviation for military police and a six-letter word for pilots all inside (overwhelmed by) the IT from the clue.

26a  Reversed change in course (4)
TIDE: Reverse a four-letter word meaning to change text.

28a  Where to find horse’s position (7)
INSTALL: Split (2,5) this would indicate the position of a horse in the stables.

29a  Whirling ride sucks, according to children (7)
NIPPERS: Reverse (whirling) a four-letter word for a ride and insert (sucks or draws in) a three-letter word meaning according to.

30a  Most brave to break up the raids (8)
HARDIEST: An anagram (to break up) of THE RAIDS.

31a  Meetings with lovers test holy men (6)
TRYSTS: A three-letter word meaning test or examine followed by the abbreviation for saints (holy men) in the plural.  I don’t think that this quite works.  The abbreviation for saints is SS.  Whilst you could use saint’s to get the singular abbreviation with the S following, I don’t think it works by simply including the plural holy men.


1d  Quiet, very quiet, about nip of illegal energy drink (8)
PIPEDOWN: The musical abbreviation for very quiet around the first letter (nip) of illegal followed by the abbreviation for energy and a four-letter word meaning drink.  I think that the solution should be indicated as (4,4)

2d  Perhaps Noah cleaned up rhino spew? (9)
SHIPOWNER: An anagram (cleaned up) of RHINO SPEW.

3d  Book performers (4)
ACTS: Double definition, the first being a book of the New Testament.

5d  Assistant’s attempts to make cakes (8)
PASTRIES: The abbreviation for personal assistant, preserving the ‘s followed by a five-letter word meaning attempts.

6d  Odd event one left (10)
OCCASIONAL: An eight-letter word for an event followed by a letter representing one and the abbreviation for left.

7d  Criminal in charge taking over new clubs (5)
FENCE: A three-letter word for a charge or cost includes (taking over) the abbreviations for new and clubs.

8d  Inject drugs in terrible passion (6)
DESIRE: The abbreviation for ecstasy in the plural (drugs) inside s four-letter word meaning terrible.  I think the plural in this one works because you might ask have you any Es/drugs.

9d  Grand old nag (5)
GRIPE: The abbreviation for grand followed by a four-letter word meaning grand.

14d  Light not on in secret society (10)
ILLUMINATI: A twelve-letter word meaning light removing the ON from the clue.

17d  In session, shocking amount of racket (9)
NOISINESS: An anagram (shocking) of IN SESSION.

18d  Wreck of HMS Sable results in chaos (8)
SHAMBLES: An anagram (wreck) of HMS SABLE.

19d  Goes forth, returns when leader lost (8)
EGRESSES: A nine-letter word meaning returns or reverts without the initial letter (when leader lost).

22d  Polish language heard in Helsinki, reportedly (6)
FINISH: A homophone (reportedly) of FINNISH (language heard in Helsinki).

23d  Foolish tsarina neglects houses (5)
INANE: The answer is hidden in (houses) the second and third word of the clue.

25d  Show-off provides this clue, maybe? (5)
POSER: Double definition.

27d  Hits back in fight (4)
SPAR: A reversal (back) of a four-letter word meaning hits.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner 488
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  1. Suspect there is a mistake in the enumeration for 1d which should be (4,4)
    Quite a lot of head-scratching involved but everything eventually sorted.
    Our last two in were 14d and 20a so we’ll nominate them for special mention.
    Thanks Hopping Rhino.

  2. Thanks Hopping Rhino for part of my Sunday evening entertainment. However, I have to say it did not seem to be one of your better ones.

    Sample of comments:
    I, and the BRB, agree with the 2Kiwis on the (4,4) enumeration of 1d.
    The 10a playwright has to be ‘bored’ by only one letter while the clue suggests two.
    The A in 21a is possibly not required.

    Smiles for 10a, 24a, 31a, and 5d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. The first crossword I’ve solved since I did Friday’s Elgar and I enjoyed it very much

    Thanks to HR and, in advance, to Prolixic

  4. Lots to like in this HR, my long list of ticks going to 13a,15a, 24a,26a, 28a, 3d, 5d, 18d, 27d. But I felt it was slightly marred by a little carelessness here and there – 4a (hyphenation required), 10a (2 letters indicated instead of one), 1d (enumeration) – along with a couple of definitions I didn’t think quite worked, namely in 7d old (the intended word is surely the stage before old) and 11a where the word for lends is more transfers, assigns, reallocates. These all would require minor fixes and just a tad more attention to detail, but in every other respect I really enjoyed this.

    1. Thanks Dr Diva, these are fair critiques. Re 7d Collins offers them as synonyms, but I see what you’re saying.

      For understanding: I’m not sure I yet follow the issue you (and Senf) had with 10a. I was using the two letters as a synonym for the single letter to go in, but does that not work?

        1. I agree with Senf but “a famous artist” would be a simple fix.
          Interesting on the hyphen in 4a. Both Collins and Chambers Online have it only with hyphen (as do all the other dictionaries as far as I can tell)’re right, Sent, the full Chambers swings both ways!

            1. Would ‘playwright somewhat bored by an artist’ work? If it would, that might make the clue harder though, not least because even if you see the wordplay, there is a choice of two letters that could go into a playwright.

              1. The issue is to find a synonym that begins with a consonant, so that the related indefinite article can be ‘a’ not ‘an’

            2. You’re right HR. I meant something along those lines to make the AN into A. Interesting take in 31a. Personally I read it as ST = 1 holy man and S as a second, giving holy men, which I quite liked.

  5. I’m with Senf in thinking this was not the finest offering we’ve had from this setter and in fact I had to use my ‘phone-a-friend’ to get me over the finishing line.
    I thought some of the less ambitious constructions worked best – 16a & 5d went to the top of my pile.

    Thanks, Hopping Rhino, and apologies for not being quite as enthusiastic about this one as others seem to have been.

  6. Nice to see you back again so soon, Hopping Rhino. I’m glad to see that you are keeping the puzzles coming regularly.

    Your last RC puzzle was very good indeed, I would say that this one was of an equally high standard, but with fewer niggles this time. I can’t recall seeing “whirling” used as a reversal indicator before, but it works well. The surfaces were generally smooth and concise and there was a nice mix of different clue types. Lots to like, I’ll opt for 14d as my favourite clue amidst a number of candidates.

    Many thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle. It’s very pleasing to see you progress with each submission.

  7. Very enjoyable HR. My infantile sense of humour smiled at the 2d fodder (you’d need a big mop I reckon) but my fav was last in 14d once the penny dropped. 29a the biggest parsing head scratch & another tick.
    Many thanks & look forward to your next one.

      1. Age of sail: Answers to 10, 12, 20, 21, 26, 29 across and 1, 2, 9, 27 down are all nautical/sailing. (Four of the clues – five, if we count Noah – had a nautical angle too).

        However, some of the words are undoubtedly obscure (as nautical terms), and I certainly wouldn’t know them if I hadn’t spent so much time reading Patrick O’Brian.

        1. Ah – thought it was going to be something more complex than nautical terminology, nevertheless you defeated me with 29a &9d – my only recollection of the latter has to do with babies!

  8. I rather enjoyed this! Favourites were 1a, 13a, 15a, 24a, 17d and 25d. 10a didn’t work for me either for the same reason described above.

    Wasn’t a huge fan of 1d but that’s because I couldn’t work it out for ages 🤣 rather than any inherent fault. I’d have set some stupid clue about Super Mario Brothers which nobody would’ve got 🤦

    Thanks Hopping Rhino! Hope your leg improves so next time you’ll just be Limping Rhino 😁

  9. As usual I’ve not read the other comments so some points may have been covered already, and in any case I’ll leave detailed comments to Prolixic.
    Anyway I found this an enjoyable puzzle, although perhaps a bit heavy on the anagrams. On the other hand there were some finely crafted clues where the answer took some teasing out, such as 1dn and 29ac. A few clues didn’t quite work; for example 10ac where ’an’ has to be split before boring the playwright, and I thought 28ac should have had a question mark at the end. 21ac was fine as it stood but I thought it could just as well have been simply ‘Mark sailor’.
    Thanks, Hopping Rhino, for the entertainment.

    1. Thanks Exit. Re 28ac, I did wonder about a question mark. My worry was that the ‘jokey’ part of the clue was the first part, and the second part was a straight definition. Would a ? at the end be read (misleadingly) as referring to the second part of the clue?

      Perhaps I was overthinking this, and a ? simply means some part of the clue is jokey?

  10. We enjoyed your puzzle, thank you Hopping Rhino. 1d defeated us as we were looking for one word – but several favourites, namely 24a, 31a, 2d and 22d. We were surprised to read that SS was the abbreviation for saints as we solved the clue using STS. We look forward to your next one. Thank you also to Prolixic.

  11. HR. I did this puzzle in bed last night, so a bit late to the discussion. I thought it was very good indeed. Had no problem with 7d at all – fail to see what the issue is supposed to be? 10a – OK by me. AN and A aren’t interchangeable in “I bought a/an new car”, but An is a definition by example of A because they are both the indefinite article. So, fine for a cryptic clue I would have thought.

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