Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,508/Boatman

Posted by Andrew on October 1st, 2008


Boatman is a name I’m not familiar with – maybe a new addition to the Guardian stable? As a result I had no idea what to expect from this puzzle, but it turned out to be fairly straightforward: nothing outstanding but a few nice clues, and a couple of niggles too.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

9. FRUIT BUN Spoonerisms again! This one is of “brute fun”. The enumeration is given as (8) but should surely be (5,3)
10. AXEMAN E in MAX + AN – the “mad axeman” being an example of one who displays berserk behaviour
13. PUNT PUN + T(ip). Groan indeed. See 6dn for another appearance by Boatman.
14. TALKBACK (BLACK MARKET less ME R). Nicely misleading definition.
17. JERRYCAN The idea here is “Tom can’t but Jerry can” – easy to solve but I don’t think the structure of the clue quite, er, holds water.
18. RIND IN in RD
20. UNCHARITABLE I in UNCHARTABLE. “Hold” is doing duty as part of the definition of UNCHARTABLE, and to indicate the inclusion.
23. GHURKA A simple hidden answer
24. BACKBONE To finance is to BACK and B1 expanded is B ONE
25. SHARP EYE (PREY AS HE)* Cleverly concealing the division between the two parts of the clue.
26. SPRITE (mothe)R in SPITE

2. AFRO Hidden &lit, sort of – an Afro being a “frothy” hairstyle.
3. LEICESTER Homophone of “less to” – just about, if said as part of the phrase “less to say”
5. CONCERTINA TABLE ONCE in INTRACTABLE*. Not sure I’ve heard this expression before, though it was easy to get with a few crossing letters. Rather a weakness that the letters of “table” occur in order in the fodder, I think.
6. MEAT ROLL ME A TROLL. Boatman is “me” in this one, as opposed to 13ac where it refers to an actual boatman.
7. STEER dd – a hint is a “steer”. Bull markets – remember them…?
8. LEAP SECOND APSE in LEÇON + (be)D. Leap seconds are added at midnight on New Year’s Eve from time to time to compensate for slight variations in the Earth’s orbit.
16. SCARFACE SCARF ACE – Scarface is a gangster film first made in 1932 and remade in 1983 with Al Pacino in the title role.
19. ABACUS (punj)AB A CUS(tard)
21. HIKER Hidden – as in 23ac the slightly contorted wording makes this very easy to spot. The surface is vaguely relevant, as Gandhi did everything simply, and Jack Kerouac described spontaneous trips in On The Road.
22. GNAT (win)G + ANT*. Boatman seems to like using the ends of words for odd letters.

21 Responses to “Guardian 24,508/Boatman”

  1. Eileen says:

    This turned out to be better than I thought at first. I groaned when I saw another ‘Spoonerism’ and, as a native, at 3dn and, like you, Andrew, I didn’t much like the surface for 12ac but, on reflection, I think it does work, taking ‘gets’ into consideration: Tom can’t get it but his partner can. [It reminded me of the brilliant clue some time ago: ‘where the Romans couldn’t win and the Scots can’t.[6]’]

    I liked 11ac and 14 ac: clever use of ‘rejoin’.

  2. JamieC says:

    I liked 20ac a lot – good misleading punctuation.

    Not sure about 16d though. ‘Joint’ is SCARF and ‘card’ is ACE, so what is ‘operation’ doing there? I thought SCARFACE pretty quickly, but that last word stopped me putting it in for ages.

  3. Andrew says:

    JamieC – good point about “operation”, I meant to mention that in the blog. I can’t see any justification for it except for the surface reading. Unless possibly it refers to the “operation” of joining SCARF and ACE…

  4. Testy says:

    I don’t think that “hold” is necessarily doing double duty in 20A. If you read “Having features that no map can” as UNCHARTABLE then “hold” is just acting as the container indicator.

    However, I can’t see any justification for “operation” either. I also thought that the definition for 11A was a bit loose.

    Some really good clues too though.

  5. John says:

    Maybe I’m in a minority, but in 20 ac, grammatically, whether it’s doing double duty or not, “hold” should be “holds”.
    Thus “Having features that no map can (unchartable) holds I (=) mean”.
    I realise that “holds” would make the clue ungrammatical, but that to me makes the cluing weak. In trying to mislead us that “hold” refers to “map”, Boatman has made the clue clumsy.
    I too had a problem with 16 dn, in which, to my mind, it’s “joint” that’s redundant, (I don’t see how joint can be scarf. Surely scarf is cover.) And operation is redundant.
    Finally what is the significance of “nips” in 26 ac?

  6. JamieC says:

    John – a scarf is a kind of joint (check Wikipedia – I tried to post a link but it wouldn’t let me). I’m sure that’s what Boatman intended, with ‘is cover for’ meaning ‘goes over’, although I think it would more naturally mean ‘goes around’.

    I agree with you re 20ac.

    But hey, it’s his (or maybe her?) first one, so perhaps we should cut him/her some slack!

  7. Fletch says:

    This reminded me of the work of another setter that turns up occasionally under different names.

  8. Geoff says:

    16dn was my last entry because, like other bloggers, I thought there seemed to be too many words in the clue for the solution to be SCARFACE. “ACE” can be a verb – in tennis, for example – so it could be an ‘operation’ in that sense, but I don’t think it is ever used to mean ‘taking a trick with an ace’ – which could be described as a ‘card operation’.

    Interesting crossword, with some nice words and some good clues – but MEAT ROLL seems a bit contrived (it is not in Chambers) and the clueing is very variable in difficulty. Looks like the work of a relatively inexperienced compiler. Apologies, Boatman, if this is not so, but in any case, more please!

  9. muck says:

    I have to agree with JamieC – good to have a new setter. I also agree with various niggles already mentioned, eg 20ac & 26ac, but there were enough good clues, eg 14ac & 17ac, to make this an enjoyable puzzle.

  10. crikey says:

    Did anyone else think that 2d could be ‘head’ (as in the ‘head’ on a pint of beer, hence frothy etc…)?

    It was the first answer I put down, so naturally I was thrown for a couple of the others… I still don’t really see the hidden indicator for ‘afro’. Can anyone enlighten me?

    I found this puzzle fairly inconsistent, but like Jamie C says, maybe Boatman should be given the benefit of the doubt.

  11. Simply Simon says:

    Never mind an Al Pacino film; unless you are fond of histrionic performance, Al Capone was known as Scarface.

    Afro is ‘on top’, ie at the head of, A FROthy display.

  12. crikey says:

    Of course! Thanks, Simon. Feel a bit stupid now…

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, I am not sure I enjoyed this, but, given that it is a first, one shouldn’t be too critical. I thought there were an awful lot of ends and firsts and redundant words. 19d is one on which no one else seems to have commented: the “at last” could go, and “under” doesn’t seem to have a purpose other than to enable completion of a sentence.

    I appreciated 14 and 17 ac though.

    Good luck with the next one, Boatman.

  14. Paul B says:

    I can’t justify a plural usage for 20ac because the ‘string of letters’ rule wouldn’t apply to a synonym (or synonymous phrase), and I don’t think that a multi-word phrase qualifies in its own right precisely because it’s a synonym: so ‘hold’ indeed seems wrong for the cryptic grammar. I’m with John.

  15. John says:

    Thank you JamieC for enlightening me about scarf/joint. It was a new one on me.
    If it was a first for Boatman it’s pretty good, apart from the few examples of padding out with redundant words. On this score, were there any opinions on “nips” in 26 ac?

  16. Shirley says:

    11A Can I say that we found this impossible as we don’t think it is one word. It is not in Chambers as such, and not even hyphenated.
    We also found today’s crossword very variable; some ridiculously easy hidden clues (21D) and some very tricky ones (14A).
    Could I suggest that Boatman tries to identify his audience a bit more closely?
    But we did enjoy the ones we got!!

  17. muck says:

    Shirley: of course 11ac isn’t a word, but you can find it…

    … and I loved 14ac

  18. muck says:

    11ac ECOTERRORISM: Wiki says “Eco-terrorism, also called ecoterrorism or green terrorism, is terrorism committed in support of ecological, environmental, or animal rights causes. The word is a neologism and its application is contested.”

  19. davidoff says:

    20ac – Does viewing the sentence as an imperative [ “unchartable – hold I!” ] clean up the grammar? Setters love ordering words..

  20. don says:

    I think you’re all being too polite about this one!

  21. Barnaby says:

    Uneven, I agree, with some clues whose surface reading is so contrived as to be ridiculous (e.g. 8d, 19d). I too was unhappy with “table” appearing overtly in the anag. text for 5d, though I’m not sure whether the self-same T also starting “table” in 20ac is a clever touch or a sloppy one…

    Also, is “partner” really the right word to describe Jerry’s relationship to Tom? Most of the time they were antagonists, if anything, though I suppose you could stretch the definition of “partner” to “co-star”.

    Some nice topicality with 23ac and the excellent 4d, though.

    Unfortunately I never finished as I had an erroneous solution STOCK for 7d which threw me off the scent for the all-important 11ac! (Stock market, livestock.)

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