Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,586/Boatman

Posted by Andrew on January 2nd, 2009


Boatman’s third outing in the Guardian, and, completely by coincidence, my third chance to blog him. Another enjoyable puzzle, with some excellent clues – I particularly liked 25ac, 1dn and 19dn. Best wishes for 2009 to all bloggers, readers and setters.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

1,11. TENNIS PLAYER (SENT IN)* + PLAYER (=actor)
4. IN LAMB (LIMB AN)*. Using “agricultural worker” to describe a ewe is a bit “strained”, I think.
9. TORT TROT<. A tort is a “civil wrong”, of which trespass is an example.
10. SALIVA TEST (AT VESTALS’ I)* The “I” is “Boatman”
13. OYSTER BED Y BREST* in OED – pearls come from oysters
15. MIND Homophone of “mined”, and to MIND something is to “object” to it.
21. RED PANDA Hidden in “coveRED PAN DAmaged”. It took me ages to spot this, even after I’d guessed the answer, maybe because of the line break between the last two words. The Red Panda is an Asian animal that looks more like a fox than a panda, hence its alternative name of Firefox, as in the Web browser.
22. UNWARY UN WAR Y (for “yes”)
24. NAVAL CADET (VACATE LAND)* – Boatman’s second appearance in the clues.
25. OBOE Homophone of “owe beau” – very nice (though an oboist isn’t necessarily a soloist).
26. DESIST Hidden in “EumeniDES IS Typical” – another confusing line break.

1. TROLLEY Kind of a dd. Gateaux would be found on a sweet trolley, and a fruitcake is someone who is “off his trolley”. A fun clue.
2. NATTY T T in NAY. As in a “natty dresser”.
3. INSURER (IS RERUN)*, with a nice cryptic definition
5. NOVICE NOV(ember) + ICE (=frost)
6. ASTEROIDS A(ctor) “on” STEROIDS. Asteroids are part of the Solar System, but I suppose they’re “among the stars” if you look through a telescope.
8. OLIVIER AWARDS I (middle letter of PIP) in OLIVER (musical) + A + DRAW< + S(ight)
14. THESPIANS THE SP IAN’S. SP (starting price) is fairly common for “odds”. “McKellen’s” seems to be doing double duty here, as “colleagues” on its own doesn’t really define THESPIANS, except in the context of these two linked clues.
16. DIE HARD (DISPATCH RIDER – SCRIPT)* – very clever.
18. EQUATOR EQUA(l) (“unfinished match”) + TOR – Kop and Tor are both names for hills.
19. CARTOON (NO ACTOR)* &lit – excellent!
23,16ac. WRONGDOER WRONG (mistaken) + DOER (actor). The use of “below”, which would be fine in a normal Down clue, doesn’t work here because DOER is actually above WRONG in the grid.

24 Responses to “Guardian 24,586/Boatman”

  1. TwoPies says:

    Thanks, I liked the acting theme. I completed this one in a very quick time for me. I could see 2d was natty but didn’t quite understand why. I thought it was the tops of negative admission two and tree and couldn’t see where the y came from!

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    It’s like buses: no sooner do you say that you haven’t seen something before or for a long time than they crop up all over the place. It was only two days ago that I said I didn’t remember seeing a clue like 16dn [there were three that day] and now here’s another excellent example.

    I had the same doubts as you about 4ac [but I loved it!] and 23, 16 but liked 24 and 25ac very much. I stared at OBOE for a while before the penny dropped.

    Incidentally, you may once have found gateaux on a trolley but in these Health and Safety days I don’t think you’d find the sweet trolley!

  3. Ian Stark says:

    My first time with Boatman and I look forward to further offerings. I misread Boatman for Brendan at first (still suffering from New Year’s Eve overindulgence, I regret) so I was all set to complain about 10 and 24 being poorly clued!

    19 was fantastic and I love the simplicity of 15. 1a,11 also raised a smile, as did 16d. Very clever.

    This is my ideal ‘train puzzle’ – a nice half hour challenge, but not so obscure as to require a shelf-load of reference books to find the names of dead cricketers and characters from 19th century novels. There. I’m an unschooled heathen!

  4. Brian Harris says:

    Very nice, and not too tricky. Loved 24ac – was convinced the self-reference was “me” or “i” and only after filling in the answer did I get the reference to “young boatman”. Excellent.

  5. Geoff says:

    Well blogged, Andrew.

    I liked the duplicity of this puzzle, with ‘acting’ being a theme in both clues and solutions, and the clever use of the setter’s pseudonym in two clues but with completely different significance. A good range of types of clue here, including, as Eileen points out, one of the rare – for the Guardian at least – ‘subtraction anagram’ clues and a couple of the best ‘hidden’ clues for a long time. My favourite is 1dn – wonderful clue.

    I’m (fairly!) happy to forgive Boatman the inaccuracy of some of his definitions (4ac, 6dn) for such an enjoyable crossword.

    Happy New Year to all.

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew, and happy new year to you.

    This was fun puzzle to work on, but I have quite a lot of quibbles with the clueing, in particular 4a, 17a, 25a, 7d, 14d, 18d and 23d. It’s probably not worth going through those, though – with a setter one hasn’t attempted many puzzles of it’s difficult to know how Ximenean to expect the clues to be…

    On the up side, I really liked the misdirection in 24a and 16d is quite inspired! (Also, it’s often forgotten that “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie, so appropriately seasonal.) The ellipsis-joined clues were very nice as well, apart from the apparent double-duty… Oh, and the RED PANDA clue was great too. :)

  7. Rich says:

    Another taxing but not overly difficult crossword as boatman always is (well the 3 other times I have seen him, im still new to all this)

    And if Boatman were to comment I would love to know why he clued ewe as “agricultural worker”. Do they plough fields in some counties? :)

  8. Eileen says:

    Well, I suppose an in-lamb ewe would be involved in some labour…

  9. Eileen says:

    In fact, would ‘agricultural labourer’ have been OK?

  10. Eileen says:

    [Getting a bit carried away here.] As Rich says, agriculture is to do with ploughing etc. so just ‘farm labourer’?

  11. mhl says:

    Rich / Eileen: That’s much better, in my opinion – I wonder if “labourer” was what was originally intended…

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh well, only made about 80% of this one. I never really felt I was on Boatman’s wavelength, so getting that far despite that must be good I guess. No real complaints having seen all the explanations, I could have got them if I’d hit the wavelength.

    Umm, sorry about this, but I couldn’t get to sleep last night, just couldn’t get the broken leg comfy, so I ended up thinking about trivia. In particular that thing about “school members” from yesterday. It raised some questions, if anyone can answer, please, nicely please.

    I remember, many decades ago when I was a schoolboy, being taught that aquatic mammals hang out in schools and fish in shoals, so……

    1) when did pods come in for whales? I don’t recall that from my schooldays.

    2) anybody got a quote from a natural historian which actually uses school with respect to some species of fish (which species?) instead of the more common shoal? In between the uncomfortable shuffling, and ignoramus that I am, I couldn’t come up with one last night – or is this another of those common errors which is accepted because it is common?

    Thanks in advance to whoever.

  13. Geoff Moss says:

    Re your first question, both COED and Collins give ‘pod’ as – C19: of unknown origin.

  14. Tom Hutton says:

    I agree with Mhl about the quality of some of the clues but the rewards of this crossword outweighed the drawbacks.

    It was one of those crosswords for me which seem to emerge from the gloom; very obscure at first but becoming pleasantly chirpy as you develop an affinity with the setters.

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh,and I forgot to say I really appreciated 12ac. On a blank grid, and a word I didn’t know, the clue was accurate enough for me to be happy I had the answer. Oh that one could always be tha happy.

  16. Ian says:

    I found this particularly challenging.

    Only managed to complete 75/80 percent with SE corner a problem.
    Need more from this setter soon!

  17. stiofain_x says:

    From what we have seen of Boatman so far he is up there with the top dogs.
    I especially liked the “thespians” clue and like Boatmans self-referential clues that are so much more subtle than the usual me and my.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ian we should have collaborated, I was missing the nw corner, LOL

  19. David says:

    Derek, according to Wiki:
    “A shoal is a loosely organised group where each fish swims and forages independently but is attracted to other members of the group and adjusts its behaviour, such as swimming speed, so that it remains close to the other members of the group. Schools of fish are much more tightly organised, synchronising their swimming so that all fish move at the same speed and in the same direction.”
    and they do cite the source.

    Hope the leg’s more comfortable today.

  20. stiofain_x says:

    No Araucaria xmas prize xword blog?

  21. Gaufrid says:


    Please be patient. One will be along in the next day or two, either by the scheduled blogger or a substitute. The same applies for last Saturday’s puzzle.

  22. stiofain_x says:

    OK great Gaufrid thanks for the prompt answer.

  23. Tom Johnson says:

    Boatman has long been a compiler for Araucaria’s “1 Across” magazine, now in its 25th year. As editor of the magazine I have championed Boatman’s work for nearly ten years and I am delighted that he is now on the Guardian team, and elsewhere.

  24. fgbp says:

    I had huge difficulties with many of the clues on this puzzle. I agree TROLLEY is lovely, and I don’t want to seem churlish, but I thought the inaccuracies in the clueing added unfairly to the difficulty overall. A good example being the clue to “IN LAMB” by which I felt I was unfairly defeated. – “Unconvincing” as an anagrind in 1ac didn’t get me off on the right foot.
    IMHO a few nice clues in a puzzle is no excuse for peppering the rest of it with dodgy ones.
    Anyway, it’s well after the event now and no one cares :-)

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