Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,190 / Boatman

Posted by mhl on December 10th, 2010


I had somewhat mixed feelings about this puzzle – the surface readings are very nice and there are plenty of inventive and entertaining constructions. However, there are some rather tricky subtractive elements, in particular to get to the anagram fodder in some cases, which makes this a trickier solve. In particular, 2 down made me appreciate Azed’s very strict rules about how compound anagrams should be constructed :) I suspect an error in 18 down, and I’m missing something about 25 across – suggestions and corrections much appreciated, as ever! Resolved now – thanks!

1. LEVIATHAN (THE NAVAL)* around I = “Boatman”
6. SUPS S[end]-UPS = “parodies” without “end”, i.e. “endless”
8. BRETHREN BRETH = “inspiration: say” (sounds like “breath”) + [bar]REN “barren” without “bar” = “block”
9. GALOSH AL (Aluminium) = “metal” in GOSH = “wow!”
10. THEMED The definition is “Boatman’s work is usually”; and THE MED = “the Mediterranean”
11. ONE-PIECE ONCE = “formerly” around E = “oriental” + PIE = “tart?”
12. AMENDS At noon, A.M. ENDS; the definition is “What I should make, for my sins”
15. POTSHERD (DROPS THE)*; a POTSHERD is a piece of broken pottery
16. SKID PANS (DISK)* = “disk-breaking” followed by SNAP = “sudden” reversed. This is a (slightly odd) homophonic semi-&lit, I think – “you might say” suggests reading it as “Where disk braking leads to sudden reversal?” (Apparently a skid pan is an area of tarmac on which you test the point at which cars start skidding.)
19. DETEST ED = “Guardian boss” reversed + TEST = “trial”
21. PSALM ONE [shi]P = “ship’s stern” + SALMON = “fish” + [oc]E[an]; the definition is “First entry in old book of songs”
22. SUNDRY SUN DRY = “use natural heat to remove water”; “Divers” is the definition – an archaic spelling of “diverse”…
24. DANGLE D = “dead” + ANGLE = “fish”
25. MALLORCA MALL must be “Boatman’s report” somehow? Thanks to JS for pointing out that the MALL in MALLORCA is pronounced “my”, so MALL = “Boatman’s report” … then ORCA = “whale”
26. SKIS S[ex] KI[tten]S = “Sex kittens” without (extent)*
27. SURRENDER SUNDER = “Split up” around ERR = “mistake” reversed
1. LARCH (CHAR)* after L[obster] = “lobster starter”
2. VITAMIN (VAIN IMPOSTER – (PROSE)*)*; the definition is just “A” – perhaps the trailing “perhaps” is meant to attach to that as well as being the second anagrind…
3. ACRID ACID = “Sour?” around R = “right”
4. HENCOOP (PONCHO)* around [pl]E[at]; “layers” are hens in that they lay eggs
5. NEGLECTED N = “New leader” + ELECTED = “chosen” around G = “Gordon’s first”
6. SELFISH SELL FISH = “market cod” without L (“could be left wanting?”) Update: I think that Sil’s interpretation is better: SELL = “market” + FISH = “cod: could be” without L = “left wanting”
13. MAKO-SHARK (AMOK)* + SH = “silence” + ARK = “boat”
14. SEA POWERS “exude water” + “yours and mine” sounds like “seep” + “ours”
17. DELUGES (SLUDGE)* around [mil]E = “Mile End”
18. STEAMER I think there might be a mistake here: I guess it’s meant to be AT = “attending” [at]T = “attending” (or “att ending”) in SEA = “the Mediterranean, perhaps” + MER = “French marine zone”, but that would only work if “T” was “attending” rather than “AT”Thanks to JS for suggesting how “T” might be “attending”
20. TENFOLD T = “Starting to” + ENFOLD = “embrace”; I’m not crazy about T = “Starting to”, but opinions vary widely about those conventions…
22. SOLVE SOLE = “fish” around V = “victory”; the definition is “What you need to do”, as the solver
23. RECUR (CRU[is]ER)*; i.e. “Cruiser is abandoned” with “sunk” as the anagrind

28 Responses to “Guardian 25,190 / Boatman”

  1. JS says:

    Thanks mhl & Boatman.

    I thought this was a terrific crossword – I do like Boatman’s puzzles.
    Re 18d I think if you read ‘attending’ as ‘att – ending’ that’s where the ‘T’ comes from.
    This device seems to be being used more and more and I know from comments on here that not everyone likes it.

  2. JS says:

    Also meant to say re 25ac that Majorca or Mallorca often seems to be pronounced as ‘My – orca.’

  3. mhl says:

    Thanks, JS – “att-ending” in-deed ;)

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. I agree with JS: full marks to Boatman for a great puzzle awash with liberties and red herrings. Many gotcha moments – like 25a’s My Orca and 14d’s seep-ours – but it often seemed like the setter with the baited hook and me swimming gaping. The quirky style in the end helped, eg slipping/wasted/wanting/abandoned as indicators to shelve shoals of letters in the clue. Only out of my depth twice, needing aids (TEAS) for 8a and 21a, both fine clues.

  5. Martin H says:

    I share your misgivings about this puzzle, mhl. Perhaps the difficulty of getting to the anagram fodder arises from Boatman’s choice of indicators: we had ‘unreasonable’,’runs’,’sunk’, and ‘roasted’ today, among other more acceptable ones. An anagram being a rearrangement, shouldn’t the indicator in some way suggest that? Of the selection above, only ‘roasted’ makes a vague reference to a process of rearrangement – in cooking, which itself would be fair enough as an indicator – but of all the methods of cooking, roasting is about the most inert.

    When I saw this was Boatman I thought, How many times are we going to get his name in the clues? I do find this arrogant, particularly when his solving style comes up as a solution as well (and in a very weak clue). What was the theme anyway – fish, the Mediterranean, winter footwear, or, with 6d, the setter himself?

    ‘Breth’ and ‘breath’ homophones?

    On the positive side there were, as you say, some inventive clues and well-crafted surfaces: 5,11 and 22a were very pleasing.

  6. Martin H says:

    ….typo above – para 2 …’setting style’.

  7. jim says:

    re 11 across. It’s simply on (= worn)+ E + piece (=tart).

    I enjoyed this, partly because I recognised some of the devices, but I thought the theme a bit strained at times, and I didn’t like T = attending, mainly because att isn’t a word.

  8. mhl says:

    jim: I don’t think that works so well. The definition would then be “Costume formerly”, but people do wear various garments that might be a “one-piece”. Also, I don’t think “on” for “worn” works.

  9. NeilW says:

    I thought this a great crossword – I don’t see anything wrong with challenging us from time to time with novelties… I do agree with jim, though, that att isn’t a word so this may have been a bridge too far. Still, it made me laugh when I saw it and isn’t that the point of the game?

  10. Mitch says:

    A lovely, lovely puzzle. It was sufficiently taxing yet solvable without aids but, above all, it was such fun! Lots of giggles and ‘aha’ momemts. Thanks to Boatman and mhl for the blog.

  11. ilan says:

    Excellent puzzle — seems like Boatman is Paul’s alter ego or protoge?

  12. jim says:

    mhl: yes I can see that ‘formerly’ is redundant, but I just couldn’t believe that a pie could be a tart. A poor clue I think.

  13. John Appleton says:

    MALLORCA feels like something of a strained homophone.

  14. malc says:

    Thanks mhl:
    Should Boatman be awarded an &lit for 3d?
    Both “pungent” and “sour” are given as synonyms for “acrid” in my thesaurus.

  15. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks mhl. I am surprised to see so many misgivings expressed above. I am with Molonglo@4, I thought this was marvelous. Challenging, innovative, amusing – like a great novel I didn’t want it to end. Favourite clue was probably 25ac, for me at least it is a very close homophone but I had to say the word aloud to realise it. And 16ac is one of the best &lits of all time. I laughed aloud at the imagery.

    I only vaguely remember enjoying Boatman’s previous entries but now eagerly await the next sighting.

  16. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Boatman

    I enjoyed this quite a lot – some very good clues.

    The only one I failed to parse fully after solving the anagram was 2d. I missed the ‘A’ logic.

    27a left me a little dissatisfied at first but Chambers gives ‘mistake’ as both a transitive and intransitive verb so OK I suppose.

    I had to check the shark.

    Last to go in was 6a – seemed obvious enough but took me some time to get the ‘aha’ of seeing why. Two tricky uses of end in one puzzle!

    Other very nice clues were 21a, 25a, 7d, 14d.

    Martin H is right that the ‘th’ in ‘brethren’ is normally voiced and that in ‘breath’ (unlike in ‘breathe’) unvoiced. Yet an unvoiced pronunciation doesn’t feel totally unfamiliar. Perhaps it is a minor variant of the opposite kind to the increasing use of ‘rooves’ for ‘roofs’? Or perhaps I’m just misremembering!

  17. sheffieldhatter says:

    Agree with Monolongo@4 and Tokyo Colin@15. Quirky, challenging, innovative and solvable.

    I disagree with john@13: “my orca” sounds pretty much like “Mallorca” to me – certainly more than “breth” sounds like “breath”.

    My only doubt is att-ending. As “att” is not a word, can it be said to have an ending? Perhaps as the collection of letters A-T-T, but then the last T is just, that: the last of the collection, rather than the ending.

  18. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks mhl and Boatman. I enjoyed the puzzle. Got 6A but couldn’t explain. SKID PANS at 16A was new to me. Tried to make SKID MARK work but that didn’t fit with STEAMER at 18D. I liked the homophone in 25A.


  19. Paul Drury says:

    Very enjoyable, imaginative and novel clues, and I liked the maritime theme too. I agree with the comments about pushing the envelope with anagram indicators, but he gets away with it (in this case) as they are in keeping with the generally whimsical style of the clues.

    Att-ending made me laugh out loud when I finally figured it out, so it can’t be all that bad a clue.

  20. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks mhl.

    The weekend must be beckoning because I find myself with the ‘Enthusiasts’ rather than the ‘Grumps’ for once (the imminence of Christmas shopping will restore Grumpiness shortly). Quirky, enjoyable and, in places, satisfyingly clever.

  21. sidey says:

    A good puzzle. I am intrigued by the number of comments claiming it was innovative though. I can’t see a single device that hasn’t been used before.

  22. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl
    I am usually a Boatman fan, but remain unhappy with 2dn VITAMIN and 18dn STEAMER

  23. Carrots says:

    A late post due to being dragged round frock shops, compensated by a lovely lunch. A clever, extremely fair and wily puzzle. Boatman just gets better and better. I still don`t understand VITAMIN, but what matter if the rest is so good?

  24. Mr Beaver says:

    I think perhaps the dissatisfaction that some felt with this was the sheer number of ‘cheeky’ devices – particularly the subtractions, as mhl says. One or two less conventional constructions certainly add to the fun, but at times I thought Boatman was trying a bit too hard.
    On balance though, I enjoyed it, and we finished it in reasonable time, which is always a bonus.
    And the theme? It was fishy – in both senses ;)

  25. Jan says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    In a bit of a sweat about the T in STEAMER but I loved the cunning of 16; it read as a clear and logical sentence.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Very late to the party due another kind of party last night.
    I said it on earlier occasions, Boatman’s style is completely on my wavelength.
    Though I will not say, like some others, innovative – inventive or adventurous are better qualifications.

    As always, a few clues with Boatman himself in the leading role – unlike Martin H, I do not find this ‘arrogant’, it’s part of his style.

    3 Mediterraneans in 3 different ways (as the solution in 6ac, as part of the definition in 25ac, as a definition par example in 18d).
    All kinds of vessels, 2 whales, 2 winter footwear, 2 cods.
    Very typical of Boatman’s style.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of what happens in 18d (att-ending), but it is like that nowadays.
    [I was a kind of relieved to hear Paul say (in his recent Guardian-lecture) that he wasn’t keen on ‘not’ for ‘no t’ (following the infamous SIRIUS mistake, after which some posters here suggested that we should break up ‘no/t’) – most top setters are IMO clever enough anyway, they don’t need devices like this]

    I felt a bit unhappy with 2d’s VITAMIN.
    The definition is surely not just ‘A’, but probably ‘A, perhaps’.
    I think this is what Boatman meant, because the contruction doesn’t need ‘perhaps’ as an anagrind: (VAIN IMPOSTER)* could lead to VITAMINPROSE, after which ‘prose’ is wasted.

    In 6d (SELFISH) my parsing was slightly different from yours, mhl [with thanks for the blog].
    For me, it is SELL (to market) FISH (cod: could be) missing an L (left wanting).
    Not that it makes much difference.

    Thanks, Boatman, for another one of your masterpieces.
    And good to see that so many people really enjoyed this crossword.

  27. mhl says:

    Hi Sil – I’d be interested to hear more about the Guardian advent that Paul was speaking at, and asked about in the General Crossword Discussion thread – perhaps you’d like to tell us more about it there?

    I was trying to make exactly the same point about VITAMIN in the post, but perhaps not very clearly.

    You’re quite right about cod marketing – I’ll correct that :)

    I’m slightly surprised that the majority of commenters clearly regard this crossword so highly – for me it was just missing some of the elegance in construction that you see with my favourite setters (Brendan, Paul, Shed, Phi, Dac, etc.) – it’s difficult to articulate the exact difference, though.

  28. Roger says:

    … later than planned due to a hitherto duff PC :(
    Thanks mhl. A lot of fun in this puzzle, although as Mr Beaver says, perhaps overdosing rather on the cleverness. I began looking for tricks where there were none ! Wrt 10a, ‘in’ may be indicating the hidden answer (in THE MEDiterranean) but it’s a small point and the outcome is the same anyway. Thanks Boatman, good trip.

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