Rookie Corner 522 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 522

A Puzzle by Rahmat Ali

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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. We 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:

On 14 April 2014, the first Rookie crossword was published by Big Dave with Axolotl having the honour of debuting the series.  By my reckoning, this crossword by Rahmat Ali therefore marks the tenth anniversary of a remarkable institution and the quality of the crossword is a testament to the place that the series has in fostering and improving the skills of new setters.  Over the years, it has been a joy to see many of our Rookies go on to become established in their own right as setters for the national press, including the Daily Telegraph in both the Toughie and back page crosswords.  In no small part this is down to the vision of Big Dave in setting up the series and the dedicated solvers who week by week provide feedback on the blog to those brave enough to put forward their crosswords for publication and who learn and hone their skills through the process.  Behind the scenes Mr Kitty has taken up the mantle of preparing the crosswords for publication each Monday for our delight, so thanks are due to him for keeping the series going.

On to today’s crossword.  As Rahmet made his debut with crossword 500, we might need give him the pseudonym Anniversary.  His crosswords continue to improve and apart from some minor points, the quality and variety was maintained throughout the clues and the crossword is a pangram with all letters of the alphabet appearing in the solutions.  The commentometer reads as 2/30 or 6.7%.


1a  Fortune raced unexpectedly in a bicycle event? (4,2,6)
TOUR DE FRANCE: An anagram (unexpectedly) of FORTUNE RACED.

9a  Gang leader, welcomed by airline, moves overseas (9)
EMIGRATES: The first letter (leader) of gang inside (welcomed by) an eight-letter name of an airline.

10a  Brilliant silver and blue combination (5)
AGLOW: The chemical symbol for silver followed by at three-letter word meaning blue or depressed.

11a  Hindi’s corrupt language? (6)
SINDHI: An anagram (corrupt) of HINDIS.  Anagrams should really require more than the movement of two letters in the letters to be rearranged.

12a  Coloured cosmetic to glue on edge (8)
LIPSTICK: A five-letter word meaning to glue after (on) a three-letter word meaning an edge.

13a  Authorised public official from New York sheltering old sailor (6)
NOTARY: The two-letter abbreviation for New York includes (sheltering) the abbreviation for old and a three-letter word for a sailor.

15a  Not until seeing Picasso on a sketch, to some extent (2,4,2)
AS SOON AS: The answer is hidden (to some extent) in the fourth to seventh words of the clue.

18a  Salesman with guided endless information to take vow again (8)
REPLEDGE: A three-letter word for a salesman followed by a three-letter word meaning guided and a three-letter word meaning information with the final letter removed (endless).

19a  Anglo-Irish writer to pilfer, it’s said (6)
STEELE: A homophone (it’s said) of STEAL (pilfer).

21a  More bilious when setter imbibes rum? Just the opposite (8)
QUEASIER: A two-letter word meaning when and a single letter representing the setter inside (imbibes) a five-letter word meaning rum or strange.  The just the opposite reverses the wordplay instruction in the clue.

23a  Very high travelling group? (3,3)
JET SET: Cryptic definition.

26a  Outdo spreadsheet programme? (5)
EXCEL: Double definition.

27a  Hebrew king held back in one location (9)
ISRAELITE: The four-letter name of a Shakespearean king is reversed (held back) inside the letter meaning one and a four-letter word meaning location.

28a  Criminal at large? Count gets praise (12)
CONGRATULATE: An anagram (criminal) of AT LARGE COUNT.


1d  Traitor’s initial cause for betrayal (7)
TREASON: The first letter (initial) of traitor followed by a six-letter word meaning cause.

2d  Merger of a coupling device connecting pipes (5)
UNION: Double definition.  Perhaps the two meanings are too close together to be a satisfactory double definition clue.

3d  Black stallion’s a lesser-known contestant? (4,5)
DARK HORSE: A four-letter word meaning black followed by a five-letter word for a stallion.

4d  If best man regularly brought cheese (4)
FETA: The even letters (regularly) in the first three words of the clue.  The use of the past tense in the link word does not really work.  The wordplay brings the definition.

5d  Coordinate one’s appeal going after a degree (8)
ABSCISSA: How one’s might be written in shortened form and the abbreviation for sex appeal all going after the A from the clue and the abbreviation for Bachelor of Science (degree).  As one for I was used in 27a there is a slight repetition of wordplay here.

6d  Primarily, can Zelensky accuse Russian Slavic emperors? (5)
CZARS: The initial letters (primarily) of the second to sixth words of the clue.

7d  Everything that is about Nelson Mandela’s party spells a coalition (8)
ALLIANCE: A three-letter word meaning everything and the abbreviation for that is around (about) the abbreviation for African National Congress (Nelson Mandela’s party).

8d  Opens the eyes and becomes active again (6)
AWAKES: Double definition.

14d  Ram enclosure and empty cage generating a trivial amount (8)
TUPPENCE: A three-letter word for a male sheep (ram) followed by a three-letter word for an enclosure and the outer letters (empty) of cage.

16d  Where today’s special may grant freedom to pick and choose? (2,3,4)
ON THE MENU: Cryptic definition.

17d  Saying yes to a timeless salutation (8)
AGREEING: The A from the clue followed by an eight-letter word for a salutation without the letter T (timeless).

18d  Rear Admiral has question on the Spanish actress Welch (6)
RAQUEL: The abbreviation for Rear Admiral followed by a two-letter abbreviation for question and the Spanish word for the.

20d  Stringent portion of text remembered (7)
EXTREME: The answer is hidden (portion of) in the final two words of the clue.

22d  Cheery outburst seen initially at Oval ground (5)
SALVO: The initial letter of seen followed by an anagram (ground) of OVAL.

24d  Hindu god of destruction in Jewish seven-day mourning? (5)
SHIVA: Double definition.

25d  News agency of revolutionary Iran? (4)
IRNA: An anagram (revolutionary) of IRAN.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner 522
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  1. Thank you Rahmat Ali. We enjoyed solving another of your puzzles and discovered a pangram too. Had to do some research on 25d as it was new to us.

  2. Thanks Rahmat Ali an enjoyable end to my Sunday evening of cruciverbalism. I did need e-help on the corrupt language which I thought was somewhat ‘specialised.’

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Well done, Rahmat Ali, for this very enjoyable pangram, which I thought was your best RC submission so far.

    I knew neither 11a nor 25d, but both answers were readily derivable from the wordplay and confirmed by Google.

    For me, the double definitions for both 2d and 8d were rather “same-sidey” but the main thing for you to concentrate on in future is polishing some of your surface readings.

    Many thanks, Rahmat Ali, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thank you so much, Rabbit Dave, for finding my pangrammatic puzzle to be enjoyable as also regarding it to be my best RC submission so far. I note to concentrate on polishing some of the surface readings while framing clues.

  4. This was fun and nicely gentle. As has been said, 11a and 25d (and, for me at least, 5d) were a tad esoteric but very fairly clued. 21a was the stand-out for me. I enjoyed 27a too, especially as I know all too well just how tricky that is to clue! This all read pretty well. Well done. Thanks RA and, in advance, Prolixic.

  5. It’s always a pleasure to see another Rahmat Ali submission, thank you to the setter.

    As RD says, I also thought this to be Rahmat Ali’s best puzzle to date but I do agree with his observations about 2d and 8d. The past tense of the verb in 4d jarred for me, but I found very little else to question. Perhaps some of the GK was a little obscure, but it was all fairly clued and not difficult to get.

    Congratulations on a very good puzzle.

    1. Thank you so much, silvanus, for congratulating me on a very good puzzle and finding it to be my best puzzle to date.

  6. I always struggle with Rahmat’s style of English and have to keep reminding myself that it’s a foreign language to him – I’m sure I wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance of speaking in his native tongue, let alone compiling a puzzle!
    The language, news agency and coordinate required investigation for me and there were several definitions that I didn’t think rang quite true eg 16d, but overall this was a sterling effort.

    Well done, Mr Ali.

    1. Thank you so much, jane, for regarding this puzzle of mine overall as a sterling effort and for other kind comments.

  7. A delightful lunchtime solve, thank you Rahmat. I echo Jane’ comments and admire your increasing mastery of setting cryptic puzzles in a second/third/other language! Happily I dragged the language from the back of my mind, vaguely remembered the news agency, and because of the precise instructions in your clue, was able to work out the coordinate.

    I enjoyed the puzzle immensely, thought many of the surfaces flowed smoothly, and while 4d grated slightly I have no adverse remarks to make or constructive criticism to express. Highlights for me were the lurker in 15a, the wit/topicality of 6d, & 17d for the construction.#

    A good next puzzle and I do look forward to your next one. Thank you, and in advance also to Prolixic.

    1. Thank you so much, Mustafa G, for enjoying this puzzle immensely. I look forward to sending another puzzle to the RC soon.

  8. What a pleasure! A great solve, we really enjoyed your puzzle and pangram to boot. Thank you very much Rahmat Ali. We didn’t know 5d, 24d and 25d but a little Google search made all clear. We look forward to your next one.

    1. Thank you so much, Hilton, for enjoying this pangramatic puzzle and finding it to be a great solve. I look forward to sending another puzzle to the RC soon.

  9. Nice puzzle. Fairly clued and as a result is solvable even where the answers aren’t familiar.
    If there’s something to work on, perhaps the surface readings could employ a little more misdirection.

    1. Thank you so much, Conference Match, for finding this puzzle nice, fairly clued and solvable. I note to improve upon my surface readings.

  10. The coordinate & news agency were unfamiliar but it was an otherwise straightforward & enjoyable solve. I do agree with the point made that some of the surfaces would benefit from a wee bit of misdirection but I’m sure you’ll work on that.
    Many thanks Rahmat Ali

    1. Thank you so much, Huntsman, for finding this puzzle straightforward and enjoyable solve. I note to improve upon my surface readings.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I’m sure Rahmat will be delighted by his new pseudonym! What a wonderful legacy BD has left for aspiring setters and grateful thanks are due to both yourself and Mr K for ensuring its continuation.

  12. My special thanks to Prolixic for his magnificent review. I am so lucky and happy to be connected to the tenth anniversary of the first Rookie crossword that Big Dave published on 14 April 2014. I made my debut in crossword 500 on 13 November 2023 that was celebrated as the 500th anniversary of RC. Something more to add from my end. My birth anniversary and marriage anniversary both fall on 28 January that coincides with the anniversary of Big Dave’s Crossword Blog. So, it’s also an honour to be bestowed upon with the pseudonym ‘Anniversary’ by none other than Prolixic, the maestro.

    Rookie Corner, as rightly remarked by Prolixic, is truly a remarkable institution and the quality of the crossword is a testament to the place that the series has in fostering and improving the skills of new setters. I consider myself an excellent learner in any arena of my choice and my teachers are always satisfied with my progress. I have learnt a huge lot from the reviews of Prolixic and the comments of the solvers following the publication of my puzzles, though just four in number till date and I am immensely indebted and grateful to all of them. I also learnt that many of the Rookies go on to become established setters for the national press, including the Daily Telegraph. This news comes to me as an inspiration and I would definitely like to work hard enough to see myself make progress each time with my compilation for Rookie Corner in order to reach that goal one day. This time, again, it was a great learning. I learnt for the first time that anagrams should really require more than the movement of two letters in the letters to be rearranged. Truly, the anagram of HINDI’S turning to SINDHI as in 11a has the movement of only two letters. I repeated I for one in more than one clue, viz. in 27a and 5d that Prolixic rightly detected. I now understand why ‘brings’ and not ‘brought’ is suitable for the definition of 4d. My sincere thanks to Prolixic in pointing out the faults and discrepancies. My sincere thanks also to Mr Kitty for preparing the crosswords for publication each Monday and keeping the series going.

  13. I had saved this crossword for Friday evening and what a treat it turned out to be! Never heard of 5d before and had to use the crossword solver for that one but all the rest fell nicely into place. We are big fans of the bike race (not long to go now), so that can be my clue of the day. Many thanks indeed Rahmat Ali, a very fine crossword.

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