Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,743 (Sat 4 Jul)/Boatman – State gallery

Posted by rightback on July 11th, 2009


Solving time: 17:30

The preamble said that this was a ‘Fourth of July’ offering, the manifestation of which was the appearance of the word ‘state’ in many of the clues, sometimes referring to an American state and sometimes not.

Some of the clues in this puzzle were extremely good, especially 8dn (POISON PEN LETTER); I was going along nicely until getting stuck in the top right where PLATE, APPLIANCE and most of all CELSIUS and WAPITI caused me trouble, along with IMMANENT at 4dn which I was surprised to find was correct. On the other hand I was confident of 11ac (ALABAMA) and 12ac (CELSIUS) but still don’t understand them and would appreciate assistance.

Also, thanks very much to Eileen for having filled in for me last Saturday.

Music of the Day: Something American to fit the theme: Mach 5 by the Presidents of the United States of America.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 RELIEF MAP; RELIEF (= ‘rescue’) + M,A,P (initial letters) – the cunningly disguised definition is ‘Plan to demonstrate mountain’. Possibly this clue is a nod to the ongoing Tour de France?
10 PLATO; PLANT (= ‘bush’) + O[xygen] with [gree]N removed – another well-hidden definition.
11 ALABAMA – ‘degrees’ is presumably BA and MA, but I don’t understand the rest. The clue is ‘State briefly you’ll reply to everyone by degrees’.
12 CELSIUS – is this just a cryptic definition, intending to mislead the solver into thinking of degrees of latitude and longitude? I thought there might be a homophone involved but if there is I can’t see (or hear) it.
13 OUST (hidden)
16 HE + A + ROUT – the letter A as an abbreviation for ‘American’ is in Chambers but seems very difficult for a blocked crossword, even on a Saturday.
19 SECOND POST; (C + DESPOTS + ON)* – I liked the definition here (‘Midday service abolished’).
22 B + OIL
27 ISRAELITE; (REALITIES)* – according to Chambers an Isrealite in the Biblical sense is a descendant of Jacob, hence ‘Old Jacobean’.
1 ORGANOPHOSPHATE; (GO + ON + OATH + PERHAPS)* – excellent anagram.
2 ALL AT SEA (2 defs) – I don’t think the first part of this clue quite works; boatmen could be ‘all’ at sea, but could you describe a singluar boatman like that?
3 DE + GAS – ‘state’ here indicating a state of matter.
4 IMMANENT; “IMMINENT” – this was a very doubtful guess for me; ‘immanent’, from the Latin manere (meaning ‘to stay’) means ‘dwelling within’ or ‘inherent’, hence ‘all around’.
5 SPACER; rev. of RECAPS
6 APPL(IAN + C)E – another definition cleverly concealed in a larger phrase, here ‘Perhaps iron [man]’.
7 WAPITI; WA (= ‘Washington’) + PIT (= ‘trap’) + I (= ‘Boatman’, the setter) – I could only think of ‘gin’ to fit ‘-I-‘ and so struggled with this one.
15 HOBNAILED; Spoonerism of “nob hailed” – the definition here (‘booted’) seems dubious. As a verb, ‘hobnail’ can mean ‘to trample with hobnailed shoes’, but that’s still not quite right.
17 MASSACRE; MASS[achusetts] + ACRE
18 ISOBARIC; (AS BIRO + I + C[an’t])*
20 CHRIST; (HR + IS) in CT (= ‘Connecticut’)
21 PRECIS; [th]E[me] in (CRIPS)*
23 UTTER (2 defs)

17 Responses to “Guardian 24,743 (Sat 4 Jul)/Boatman – State gallery”

  1. Radler says:

    12 is a homophone – Degrees C – sounds like sea (ocean)

  2. The trafites says:

    I thought 12 is a homophone of ‘South Seas’ – say it quickly…

  3. Elspeth says:

    We found this one very difficult but we did spot that there were 13 clues which refer to ‘state’, presumably for the original 13 states in the Union.

  4. Bryan says:

    I struggled with this but I got them all eventually.

    However, I still don’t fully understand POISON PEN LETTER even though I appreciate that it is an anagram. Is there more to it than this?

    I’ve now done all of today’s Prize Puzzle except two but, so far as I can see, there’s no mention of Marlene Dietrich or any of her movies.

    Or am I missing something?


  5. Biggles A says:

    11a. I think ALA is an abbreviation for ‘all letters answered’.

  6. rightback says:

    8dn: POISON PEN LETTER is an ‘&lit’ or ‘double whammy’, depending upon your preferred terminology. This means that the whole clue is both the definition and the wordplay.

    Wordplay reading: (EPISTLE TORN OPEN)* in a state [i.e. anagrammed]

    Definition reading: A letter ripped open by someone in distress.

    I’m afraid your mention of Marlene Dietrich has gone over my head, but I may have missed some relevant posts!

    Thanks to Radler for explaining Celsius (outrageous!) and Biggles A for decoding ‘ALA’ – obviously I need to spend more time perusing the personal ads.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, for explaining POISON PEN LETTER.

    My reference to there being no Marlene Dietrich in today’s Puzzle refers to Araucaria having used her in two of his recent puzzles.

    I had fully expected that she was dsstined to making guest appearances for the foreseeable future.

    But I am still struggling with two of the clues so there’s time yet.


  8. Fletch says:

    You’re not actually meant to be discussing today’s prize puzzle here Bryan.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, Rightback. My favourite clue was 19ac and I liked 6dn, tho it held me up for a long time. Utterly failed to get UTTER and I couldn’t see past ‘gin’ for ‘trap’ in 7dn, so didn’t get that one either.

    Thanks for explaining PLATO, where I just couldn’t see the wordplay.

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi rightback

    Great blog! I’m just so glad I wasn’t filling in for you on this one, which I found really hard going and several things I wasn’t happy with, eg ‘imminent’ sounds like ‘immanent’ [unless you’re Tony Blair] and I’d question the definition of the latter. Like you, I was totally at a loss with CELSIUS and ALABAMA, so thanks, Radler and Biggles for the explanation.

    Re Marlene Dietrich: the long clue in Saturday’s puzzle was from a song from ‘Destry rides again’ and then, amazingly, Destry rode again with Araucaria on Tuesday!

  11. liz says:

    Eileen — I didn’t like IMMINENT/IMMANENT either!

  12. NeilW says:

    Thanks for, as usual, an excellent blog.

    Celsius seemed obvious but I couldn’t get the word play. With the explanation, it still seems a bit unfair. Obviously, to have used “sea” instead of “ocean” would have been too easy but, perhaps, something like “open water” would have been better – whatever the dictionaries may say, an ocean is distinct from a sea; that’s why the South China Sea is the largest stretch of water that’s not an Ocean!

    Pursuing the off-topic mention just a little further, no doubt today’s enthusiasm for film sequels would have brought forth “Destry rides again and again” but she didn’t so I guess Araucaria”s done for now!

  13. sidey says:

    Interesting to see some fans of “The Master” stymied by ‘degrees oceanic’. It is, of course, one of his standard clues-to-a-clue.

    Oh, and IMMINENT/IMMANENT is unforgivable from a cleric.

  14. Eileen says:

    Sidey, has all the talk about Araucaria confused you? This was a Boatman puzzle. Or is he a cleric, too?

  15. Chunter says:


    Boatman isn’t a cleric; he has a website at

  16. sidey says:

    Eileen, yes.

  17. Boatman says:

    Rightback, really nice that you spotted the TdF reference! Yes, I was there on the Col d’Aspin on Sunday, watching at around -109km (and permanently immortalised on Eurosport, should you be seriously interested in setter-spotting).

    Glad everyone had some fun with this one, and sorry about IMM(I/A)NENT: I couldn’t resist it. Childish, I know.

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