Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,260 / Boatman

Posted by Eileen on March 3rd, 2011


Boatman is another setter who doesn’t appear often enough for me [it’s almost three months since his last appearance]. We would normally expect a challenge and this puzzle is no exception.

Boatman often exploits the different applications of a particular word and today’s is ‘head’. There is some very ingenious and witty cluing here and a number of penny-dropping moments [plus one instance, unfortunately, where the penny failed to drop for me – but I’m sure help will be readily available]. Thank you, Boatman, for a very enjoyable work-out.


1   SETS OFF: and I’m afraid I fell at the very first hurdle: the definition is, presumably, ‘heads out [of]’ and SET = place but the rest escapes me.
9   REMIT: [afte]R[noon] + reversal of TIME [ stretch – as in prison sentence]
10  OPPRESSOR: PRESS [media] in anagram of POOR. I could be picky and say that the press is only one medium.
11 NINTH CHORD: N [note] + IN + TH[most of ‘the’] + CHOR [choir minus I – ‘Boatman drops out’] + D [‘loud ending’]
12  ALTO: hidden in [orchestr]AL TO[rch]
14  DETRIMENTAL: anagram of TIRED + MENTAL [in the head]
15  ENTRAINMENT: hidden in [accid]ENT RAIN MENT[ioned]
21  RULE: double definition: head [verb] = rule and line = ‘a rule or canon’ [Chambers] Edit [thanks, tupu]: also, to rule = to mark out in lines, so it’s a triple definition.
22  ORDER ABOUT: ABOUT is an anagram of U-BOAT and ‘order’ is a common anagram indicator. I love this kind of clue – and what a great surface!
25  RED SPIDER: REDS [roses] + anagram of PRIDE
26  FINAL: F [‘of, its last’,  cf ‘John Smith, his mark’ – I think!]  + IN + A [first] + L [first of last]
27  PAYABLE: anagram of LEAP BY A
26  HANGERS: H [head start] + ANGER [wind up] + S [winner’s tail]


1,2 SPRING TO MIND: two more definitions of ‘head’
3   OCTAHEDRAL: anagram of HEAD in anagram of CAR TO + L[left]
4   FROTH: F [very poor grade] + ROTH [‘expression of wrath’]: the head on a pint of beer
5   BIPARTITE: triple ‘homophone': BI [‘buy’ – get] PAR [‘pa’ – dad] + TITE [‘tight’ – drunk] – nice surface!
6   IDES: anagram if DIE + [juliu]S: lovely &lit.
7   ABSOLUTE: anagram of TO USABLE
8   NARROWLY: NAR [reversal of RAN] + R [‘rail head’] + [f]OWL + Y[yes]: narrow = precise is in Chambers.
13  VENTRAL FIN: anagram of FLAN and INVERT: another great surface: the ventral fin ‘assists the fish in going up or down through the water, turning sharply, and stopping quickly’.
15  TUNBRIDGE: TUN [reversal of NUT – head] + BRIDGE [river crossing] [Yesterday’s blogger won’t like this clue!]
16  TEAR DROP: Spooner would say, ‘Drear top’.
17  STOLIDLY: STOL [reversal of LOTS – much] + IDLY [making no effort]
20  STILTS: S [Sophie’s head] + TILTS [heels]
23  EARTH: anagram of HEART
24  SPAB: Society for the Protection of Ancient Buidings:  SP [starting price – I need a better to explain why that implies ‘worsening odds’] + AB [Boatman]

83 Responses to “Guardian 25,260 / Boatman”

  1. malc95 says:

    Thanks Boatman for a fine puzzle and to Eileen for your explanations.

    Some great clues, but I think 15d is wrong, it’s either Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells (would yesterday’s blogger be disgusted?).
    24 Are acronyms treated as one word in crossword land?
    Can’t help on 1a I’m afraid, but 24d I think ante-post odds are generally more generous.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Regarding 1ac, Wikipedia informs me that ‘Eraserhead’ is a cult science fiction film from the late ’70s so it is:

    SET (place) OF (with) in SF (Eraserhead’s type).

    In 24dn, ‘worsening’ is part of the definition so it’s just odds=SP.

  3. Martin H says:

    Morning Eileen – I think SPAB protects our heritage from worsening, and SP is just ‘odds'; rather clumsily worded, and so, to me, typical of much of this puzzle. 3d is more or less incoherent, there are some iffy definitions, and throughout I felt I was hacking away at undergrowth to no real purpose. There were some nice clues though: 13 the best I think. Sorry, can’t help with 1a.

  4. JS says:

    Thanks Eileen and, of course, Boatman.
    Very difficult but ultimately enjoyable crossword.
    For 24d – if you think of “It protects our heritage from worsening” as a definition/description of S.P.A.B then SP = just “odds” as we’ve seen many times before in crosswords.

  5. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid. I was right not to delay the blog waiting for light to dawn re 1ac, because I don’t think it ever would have!

    And thanks all for the clarification of 24dn.

    Hi malc96

    You’re quite right about Tunbridge of course – I should have spotted that.

  6. Boatman says:

    Thank you Eileen … always glad to see enjoyment following from honest toil!

    Your parsing of SETS OFF is definitely on the right lines. You just need to know that “of” is part of the wordplay, not the definition. Is that enough of a hint to push the penny off its ledge? I saw someone on the train this morning looking very stuck, so my respect is due to anyone who gets the whole thing.

    Oh, and “worsening” in 24Dn is part of the definition, in the sense that SPAB prevents a worsening in our heritage, if that makes any more sense than the alternative …

  7. Boatman says:

    Ah – well done Gaufrid; you got both points as I was typing.

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi Boatman

    I feel very honoured that you should drop by to help. :-)

    I’m cross with myself for not seeing 24dn. I’m quite familiar with SP = odds.

    It must have been fascinating for you to watch someone doing your puzzle! Many thanks again for it.

  9. Martin H says:

    Gaufrid, I see we crossed re 24.

    Eraserhead is borderline SF, just as ‘player'(27) is a borderline anagram indicator, and ‘five-part harmonised’ a (very) borderline definition of ‘ninth chord’ (which, if it is meant adjectivally, as here, should properly be hyphenated). And what’s ‘is in our heart’ doing in 5?

  10. duncan says:

    thanks for the blog- I was heading for a complete gridlock today. no coffee yet, is my excuse.
    mr boatman, sir, I particularly liked 13d.
    “eraserhead” always struck me as more dark psychological horror than SF, but there you go.


  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman

    I found this quite hard though generally enjoyable.

    re 21a I read this as line (v) = rule (v) as when pages are ‘ruled’ = ‘lined’ or unruled/ unlined.

    I decided 24d began with SP and that it must be an acronym. I’m afraid I turned to Chambers for the answer but was glad to understand the parsing correctly. I am not quite sure, though, re ‘supports it’. ‘They protect’ and ‘supports them’ (odds) might be preferable.

    I particularly liked 22a, 4d, 5d, and 13d.

    I had to guess 11a but was pleased to parse it correctly.

    Many thanks Boatman for coming along and helping especially with 1a. Like Eileen, having guessed it, I would not have managed the analysis without help.

  12. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen for a good blog, and Boatman too. Quite challenging, took an hour or so with some scraggly ends. Looked up SPAB at the end, right first time, never heard of it. Guessed 11a, that was another novelty. Got 1a then looked up Eraserhead to make sense of it. Didn’t like ‘lay’ in 9a. Did like 5a with its misleading surface of the first three words.

  13. walruss says:

    ‘In Kent’ doesn’t define TUNBRIDGE anyway, which really annoys me! But good to see Boatman again, who is an ‘almost there’ compiler to my way of thinking.

  14. Boatman says:

    Actually, Walruss is quite right that “In Kent” isn’t a proper definition, in the sense that it’s an adverbial clause rather than a noun, but “in X” = “place in X” is a convention that seems to be tolerated in Araucaria and other non-Ximeneans, so I’ve gone with it on a couple of occasions. It gives a little more flexibility in finding a fluent surface reading, and saves a word or two in the clue, but it can be avoided. I’d be interested to hear whether other solvers find it equally irritating.

    I’m now waiting for someone to point out that it should have been ROYAL Tunbridge Wells …

  15. Eileen says:

    “‘In Kent’ doesn’t define TUNBRIDGE anyway …”

    That’s exactly what I meant by my comment in the blog: see Andrew’s comment yesterday:

    “REX in WHAM. Hooray for “somewhere in Wales” as the definition, instead of just “in Wales”.”

    It’s one of his particular bugbears [we all have them!].

  16. Shirley says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman for his comments. Am I the only one to think this was so much more difficult than last Saturday’s Prize offering?

  17. Eileen says:

    No, you’re not Shirley. I speak on good authority: I’ve blogged both! 😉

  18. Eileen says:

    Apologies for the missing comma: of course you’re Shirley!

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman.

    It took me a while to get into this, finding only ‘alto’ in the across clues on the first run through, but once I had a few downs, the rest revealed itself.

    I also wondered about ‘Tunbridge’ without ‘Wells’, having grown up in North London, but I’m useless at Geography, so I just assumed there must be a village in Kent. I’ve no objection to the construction, though.

    I’d never heard of SPAB, and I’m glad 18ac was a ha, couse I doubt I’d have seen it otherwise :)

    BTW, the final ‘d’ is missing in your parsing of 11ac.:’before louD ending’

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman.

    It took me a while to get into this, finding only ‘alto’ in the across clues on the first run through, but once I had a few downs, the rest revealed itself.

    I also wondered about ‘Tunbridge’ without ‘Wells’, having grown up in North London, but I’m useless at Geography, so I just assumed there must be a village in Kent. I’ve no objection to the construction, though.

    I’d never heard of SPAB, and I’m glad 18ac was a ha, cause I doubt I’d have seen it otherwise :)

    BTW, the final ‘d’ is missing in your parsing of 11ac.:’before louD ending’

  21. Geoff says:

    I found this one very tricky indeed – far harder than any of the last umpteen prize crosswords – but I did get there in the end.

    Some really clever clues, and one or two that didn’t really work for me, eg 1a is too obscure in comparison with rest of the puzzle, and 17d doesn’t signify (to me, anyway) that the the solution is an adverb. But ones like 9a,4d,5d,6d,13d made it worthwhile.

    Rather a prolix puzzle – the average clue length is >7.5 words. (11a has 15 words, and was still difficult!)

    Interestingly, I had TONBRIDGE for 15d (after thinking for a while that it might end in -FORD) and wondered how NOT = ‘head’, until I realised that it was probably TUNBRIDGE…

  22. Robi says:

    Nice of Boatman to drop by. Bit too clever for me. I managed it eventually with lots of aids and the Check button. Had to cheat SPAB as I couldn’t see what that was.

    Thanks Eileen for explaining some of this :) – I had no idea how to parse FROTH – is ‘expression of’ a conventional homophone indicator, or have I missed something?

    I, of course, put TONBRIDGE rather than TUNBRIDGE; missing a nut (or a screw?) here.

  23. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Stella – an error in transposing, fixed now. As Geoff says, there was a lot in that clue!

    Robi, I’m not sure that I’ve seen ‘expression of’ used in that way before but I didn’t think twice about accepting it as a homophone indicator – in fact I thought it was an excellent clue.

  24. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    :) Sorry to chunter on re 21a, but the idea of ‘rule’ (v) = ‘mark with straight lines’ and ‘line’ (v) = ‘mark out with lines’ does seem a perfectly valid alternative reading.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I’m not arguing with that – in fact, it was my first reading.

    When I looked up ‘line’ in Chambers, I found the definition I gave and, because of pressure of time, left it at that. [I should have gone on to look up ‘rule’ and find ‘a straight line printed or drawn on paper’.] I’m quite happy to redefine it as a triple definition.

  26. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Gaufrid for unravelling 1a. For some reason I read 11a as CHOR (chorus without us, the ‘royal we’, Boatman) +D (from loud ending).

    No problem with SPAB though, as I’ve been a member for many years … and if Boatman is also, the clue turns nicely into an &lit.

    Read 21a more as a cryptic definition … the line taken by a head would presumably be the rule.

    Thanks Boatman, good trip. (All those heads and not a ness in sight !)

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    I usually quite enjoy Boatman, but found this very hard. Only had 4 answers after my first and second run throughs. A couple of hours rest completed the top right corner, but nothing therafter.

    What is NINTH CHORD?

    I have never understood the objections to “in X” = “place in X”; it’s fine by me.

  28. Thomas99 says:

    21a – My last one in. I thought it was “Head line” – if you head a royal line, then by definition you “rule” – but I wondered about some other readings too and was tempted by “role” too(as in “headline role”) but thankfully discarded it. The lined/ruled paper version seems to work perfectly well too.

    Boatman – are you still there? – congratulations on the brilliant puzzle. I’m still not sure where you stand on the Tunbridge/Tonbridge question though. I defended the clue over on the Guardian site (alternative spellings, why not drop part of the name anyway etc.) – but did you consider adding some sort of “drop the ‘Wells'” element? (“…river crossing usually found by source in Kent” or something?) Too easy, or clumsy, perhaps…

  29. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and thanks to Boatman for a real challenge! I solved this pretty slowly and laboriously, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I was also expecting ‘ness’ to crop up somewhere.

    I liked 22ac very much. I knew of SPAB, but failed to see the wordplay. Didn’t see the wordplay at 1ac either.

    I don’t mind the ‘in Kent’ type of definition, but I was less happy with Tunbridge on its own without the Wells.

  30. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Very tricky and very good puzzle from Boatman.I managed to complete after much head scratching.Had to look up SPAB, but it was pretty obvious from the wordplay.I also couldn’t parse 1 across(thanks Gaufrid).
    There was a lot of very clever wordplay and some brilliant,often well hidden, definitions – 13 down being especially good.Also loved the outrageous homophone at 5 down
    I don’t mind Tunbridge being clued ‘in Kent’ because that is where it is!
    Crossword definitions don’t have to be precise,a lot of definitions are allusive.
    That type of clue has been used so often that regular solvers shouldn’t have any difficulty knowing what is implied.
    Re. comments 16,17 and 18 – Airplane?

  31. Boatman says:

    Well spotted, Roger – if a few punters are moved to take a look at what SPAB does for the first time, I’ll be quietly satisfied. And we’ll return to nesses soon enough …

    Dave (and anyone else who was puzzled but won’t admit to it) – a ninth chord is the conventional musical triad (tonic, third and fifth) plus seventh and ninth, for example C, E, G, Bb and D, much used in jazz, R&B etc, hence “five notes”.

  32. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for coming back again to explain NINTH CHORD, Boatman. Having maintained a discreet silence on the blog, I was hoping someone would do it. I’ve been busy googling since Dave’s query, as I did earlier, and all the references were very long-winded.

    And thanks, Scarpia for the link. I was reminded of that line [much quoted at the time of Leslie Nielsen’s recent death] immediately after I posted comment 18! :-)

  33. Martin H says:

    Note for fellow pedants: the ninth chord in its fairly rare full version would have the five notes in it which Boatman lists; but that isn’t essential. The defining note is, naturally, the ninth, and a chord of three notes, say root or third plus seventh and ninth, or other combinations, can still give a ninth chord. ‘Five-part harmonised’ is also misleading as it seems to refer to five-part harmony, suggesting that a composer writing in three-part harmony, for example, can’t use ninth chords.

  34. Martin H says:

    Sorry to be long-winded, Eileen.

  35. crikey says:

    I echo Martin H’s comments above… But I’m also surprised that nobody has picked out VENTRAL FIN – brilliantly constructed clue, which I thought worthy of special mention.

  36. togo says:

    Quite a challenge today Boatman! Thanks Eileen, for the blog and for the wonderfully silly Shirley correspondence – better than Airplane I reckon! Martin @33: I think ‘misleading’ is excellent misdirection rather than foul play: The full chord is precisely a ‘five part (note)’ harmonised thing, but there is no relation to n-part harmonies, though I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to splodge around looking in that direction.

  37. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman.

    Found this one quite difficult, especially the top left corner. Completed it but some of it was guess work.

    I took 24d down to mean SP, Starting Price (odds) supported by AB, Able Bodied seaman which is a boatman.

  38. Angstony says:

    Thanks to Boatman for a mostly excellent puzzle, and to Eileen for the blog.

    My only real gripe was with 4d: I don’t have any problem with ‘expression of’ as a homophone indicator – I actually thought that was rather good – but I do expect homophones to actually sound like the part of the solution they are meant to represent; and I’m sorry, but I can’t recall ever hearing ‘wrath’ pronounced that way. I’m sure some strong English regional accents make ‘froth’ sound a bit like ‘frath,’ but that just sounds ridiculous to my Yorkshire ears. 😉

  39. Tom Hutton says:

    Tunbridge is just wrong. Whether the setter made a mistake or just didn’t care, it is hard to say.

    This was aptly named a crossword and I used many while struggling. Stilts are not high. People on stilts may be high. Stilts may be tall or short. I agree with Geoff that showing no interest does not indicate an adverb. 26ac was ugly as well as unduly complicated for a simple answer. Why is there a question mark at the end of 22ac and so on. I still don’t know from the blog why AB should be Boatman. Very grumpy today. I’m getting old and haven’t got a lot of time to waste. SPAB???

  40. RCWhiting says:

    Does anyone else find the apparent accents of setters sometimes create problems for the solver?
    It happens quite often, the example here being 5d.
    I do not recognize ‘par’as a homophone for ‘pa’.
    Otherwise very enjoyable but quite tough.

  41. Thomas99 says:

    Re 11a – I agree that being “misleading” is not foul play; it’s an excellent but demanding clue. That’s how I feel about the “Tunbridge” clue too, though perhaps I didn’t express this very well above.

  42. Martin H says:

    Hi togo – can’t agree about 11a. Looking at the wording of the clue: ‘Five-part harmonised note….etc’. A chord not being a note, ‘note’ must be part of the wordplay,(as Eileen analysed it).So the definition must be ‘five-part harmonised’, meaning ‘harmonised in five parts’. And that won’t do for ‘ninth chord’.

  43. Thomas99 says:

    Angstony @38 –
    Where I live (London) “wrath” sounds exactly like “roth”. See RCWhiting above @40 – I think we just have to live with these regional variations.
    Tom Hutton @39 –
    Of course stilts are high, even higher than my highest heels, by which I do not mean the heels I keep on the top shelf.
    Showing no interest can describe an action or process (adverbially) or a state or thing (adjectivally). “He did it slowly, showing no interest” is an example of the adverbial usage.
    AB is the standard abbreviation for Able Seaman.
    I agree that Boatman uses rather a lot of question marks, but not that it matters very much.

  44. Eileen says:

    Re homophones

    Angstony, Chambers gives three possible pronunciations of ‘wrath’, with the vowel sound as in ‘got’ [which is how I pronounce ‘froth’], ‘lawn’ or [Scottish] ‘palm’.

    RCWhiting, as a more recent commenter here, you’ll have been spared my earlier comments re fought / fort etc and my subsequent promises never to do so again, apart from designating them as ‘homophones’ [sic] as in the blog.

  45. togo says:

    Hi Martin. I think Eileen and you are right about the n from note being in the wordplay – though that doesn’t stop ‘five-part harmonised’ being a pretty good adjectival definition of a full ninth chord.

    Oh, and Tom Hutton re: AB – see gm4hqf at 37 …

  46. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen @25
    Thanks. I’ve just popped in again and seen your reply.
    Hi Roger @26
    I also read chor(us) in 11a

  47. Scarpia says:

    Re 4 down(copied from online pronunciation guide)

    The standard current British pronunciation is [roth], but some older well educated people say [rawth]. The US pronunciation is [rath], to rhyme with Kath.

    Also with regard to ‘homophones’,setters don’t indicate that the clued words are exact homophones, merely that the answer sounds similar to the clued word.

  48. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    I have a West Country accent and we are well-known for our generous pronunciation of the terminal r. But not when it is absent!

  49. Thomas99 says:

    You do realise we Londoners don’t pronounce those terminal rs at all, don’t you? So par really does sound exactly like pa when we say it.

  50. Angstony says:

    Thomas 99@ 43 & Eileen @44:

    Thanks for the info. We must use the Scottish pronunciation around here, as I’d only ever heard it pronounced the same as ‘path,’ and trust me, I was raised Catholic, so it was a word I heard a lot as an unruly child.

    Although I didn’t check Chambers before posting – I find many dictionary pronunciation guides to be inadequate – I did check the Wiktionary entry and found the US audio pronunciation was more or less the same as my own.

  51. rrc says:

    I prefer crosswords where its possible to understand the clue quite easily. Unfortunately for me to many of these didnt fit that bill

  52. Carrots says:

    PHEW! That Boatman doesn`t take many prisoners, does he? I still had five guesses to go at lunchtime when I surrendered to what I imagined was a head wound, but in reality was only a severe dent to the ego. On the way home the local MEDIVAC Air Ambulance flew low overhead and I thought at first that it had come to rescue me from the torment, but it was only strafing the revolting peasantry or something.

    The best thing about this puzzle for me is the controversy it generates. I can`t remember the last time that I so much enjoyed the deliberations of the pit-nickers: a real treat! I`ve no idea what they`re on about half the time (“a conventional musical triad”) might well be a bunch of glee-singing Chinese gangsters as far as I`m concerned and any grammatical technicalities leave me dead in the water.

    So, very many thanks Boatman…and huge hugs to Eileen for rising to the challenge!

  53. Eileen says:

    Bless you, Carrots, for the laughs! :-)

  54. RCWhiting says:

    If you ever go near the BBC Radio4 MBs you will realise that claiming that something pertains in London carries absolutely no weight with the rest of the nation. Sorry.

  55. tupu says:

    Thanks from me too, Carrots! :) I have been delegated by the Worshipful Order of Nitpickers and the Ambridge School of Lost Capitals and Pedantics to relay the following to you. As Umberto Eco makes clear in The Name of the Rose, ‘conventional’ (more correctly ‘conventual’) refers to a division of the Franciscan order of friars who lived in convents. So your definition is not quite complete though it is very much on the right lines. The term in question in fact refers to a little-known group of Chinese Franciscan singing nuns with close ties to the mafia. (Please do not blame the carrier of this message who is simply obeying holy orders}.

  56. malc95 says:

    Eileen, if you are still around –

    I don’t know if you noticed my query @1. Is it o.k. for an acronym to be treated as one word? Or does it depend upon how it’s pronounced – cf NATO with YMCA for example? Please forgive my ignorance, I’m a relative newcomer.

  57. Pat says:

    Hi, could someone possibly explain as simply as possible how 1ac works? Boatman’s suggestion that the “of” is part of the wordplay, rather than the definition, doesn’t help, as it appears to contradict Gaufrid’s explanation, where the wordplay starts with “place” which Boatman then endorsed. And what is “of entry” doing at the end of the clue? Does it mean “OF” enters Eraserhead’s type, i.e. S(OF)F ?

    A virtual pint to anyone who can put me out of my misery, thanks

  58. malc95 says:

    Pat –
    That’s the way I read it, with the second “of” making an entry into SF.

  59. malc95 says:

    i.e. it’s the first “of” that’s part of the definition – “Heads out of”

  60. Eileen says:

    Hi malc95

    I’m afraid that part of your comment did get overlooked. I was too concerned with Tunbridge.

    I think we have seen acronyms clued as ‘words’ before [but I can’t at the moment think of any examples, in order to look them up in the archive] on the grounds that cluing them as 1,1,1,1, for instance, would be something of a giveaway. It’s more unusual with the unpronounceable ones, though, especially a less familiar one, like today’s.

    Thanks for answering Pat’s query while I’ve been typing. That’s what I would have said – and claimed a virtual glass of Pinot! :-)

  61. malc95 says:

    Thanks very much Eileen, that makes sense.
    Grigio or Noir?

  62. Boatman says:

    Excellent comments today, all containing a part of the truth (except the one denying Shirley’s identity, of course). Any time you want a bit of controversy, I’ll be happy to oblige …

    You may like to know that Hugh posted a blog on the Guardian website a month or two ago on the subject of acronym numbering. This has exercised him considerably, apparently, and he came to the same conclusion as Malc and Eileen, that pronounceability was the key – I think he used the example of NATO, which we’d all find natural to number as (4), but something like GCHQ would have to be (1,1,1,1). Personally, I think that more-or-less rules out the possibility of using such abbreviations, because the numbering so clearly indicates the type of construction – rather like the old “anag” that used to appear in semi-cryptic puzzles – but then, acronyms shouldn’t pop up too often anyway … I just couldn’t resist SPAB, especially as it contains a species of boatperson.

  63. slipstream says:

    It should be ROYAL Tunbridge Wells.

    Okay, never mind, just messing with you. I live in Alaska and those vague geographic clues (“in Wales” etc.) are not much help. I could name some places in Alaska of which you have never heard. My favorite is Tatitlik.

    But Roayl Tunbridge Wells does have a nice ring to it.

  64. Richard says:

    I bought today’s Guardian at 4.30pm so that I could do the crossword on my way home after a stressful day…
    …what a foolish thing to have done. I got four clues and got more stressed.

  65. Jack Aubrey says:

    Avoiding all specific controversies, I’d just like to say how lucky I was this week. I had to parade in Edinburgh for interviews (for stuff: no entry here) from Monday to Wednesday so a puzzle each day that just about lasted the 20 min bus ride into town was brilliantly provided. And today, when I could revert to tbe usual early morning swim and subsequent tussle over coffee, I got something to get the aging Aubrey teeth into. Thank you, fate.

  66. Eileen says:

    Hi Boatman

    I know I’m running the risk of appearing fulsome /sycophantic now that I’ve already thanked you once in the blog for the great puzzle and twice in the comments for your contributions but I don’t think we’ve ever had quite so much comeback from a setter, so thanks once again.

    I’ve often thought that it must be quite a lonely life being a setter [I’ve set quizzes but I’d so much rather be a competitor!] so it’s great to see you drop in here to join in the discussion.

    We had a great get-together in Derby a few weeks ago:

    There will be more: hope to see you!

  67. Thomas99 says:

    I don’t know how I could have made it much clearer that what I was saying only applied in London. We pronounce things differently. That was my point.

  68. malc95 says:

    Thomas (if you’re still around),

    Thanks for recommending Klingsor in the Indy today. First time I’ve done one of his puzzles. Superb, and tough – I’ve only just finished it.

  69. Sil van den Hoek says:

    When I left work late afternoon, I saw that there were already 61 comments posted for this puzzle [I didn’t look at them because we still had to do the puzzle].
    So there must be something going on today.

    As one might know Boatman is the B of my ABC of favourite setters, though for others the B may also stand for B%#@*&! hard.

    It wás hard, and challenging as ever.
    We managed to get everything except much of the SW with only the use of our Brains, which BTW was was nicely featured in its singular form in 5ac. Someone asked what “in our heart” was doing here, but even though this country is not in my heart (yet) [at least not thát way], it enhanced the surface considerably.

    The remaining bits were surprisingly quickly found with the help of Modern Technology. I had never heard of SPAB (24d), but one can’t blame me – good clue it was, though.
    I didn’t like RULE (21ac) very much, saw it just like someone else above [there are too many posts to go back all the time :)] as a mixture of a cryptic and multiple definition.
    We thought that 25ac hád to be RED SPIDER, but we didn’t want to accept that ‘reds’=’roses’. I can see ‘red’=’rose’ (confirmed by the Chambers Thesaurus), but also in their plural forms?
    Also not fully convinced by the noun ‘player’ as an anagrind (in 27ac). I did this once myself in a football related clue and got a lot of negative comments. In the end, I think, rightly so.

    The T-O/U-NBRIDGE clue has had more than enough attention so far.
    And personally, I don’t mind seeing “in Kent”, but only because I know what’s going to happen next. And indeed, as Boatman says, Our Heroes get away with it too. Even so, I’m with Andrew and would avoid it myself if possible.

    I’m with malc95 and Pat re 1ac, but I’m not sure whether Boatman is with them too.

    So, that was Part One.
    Now Part Two.
    Why is Boatman in my Top 5 of favourite setters?
    Mainly because he has an very distinctive, individual style.
    I said this on many occasions in the past (and I won’t repeat it too much), using the same word in different devices and definitions is one of his trademarks, like the deliberate use of his pseudonym [an idea that I liked so much that I ‘nicked’ it – but I know that some find it self-indulgent].

    And so many great clues.
    I think the simple BRITAIN was one, but also 14ac (DETRIMENTAL), the long hidden ENTRAINMENT (18ac) with one more ‘railhead’, the very fine ORDER ABOUT (22ac), the elegant anagram of 7d (ABSOLUTE), the cleverly constructed 3d (OCTAHEDRAL) – can you imagine that at one point we filled in “decahedral” ….? :)
    And the silly 26ac (FINAL) which was actually our FIRST entry.

    Many thanks, Boatman, also for being so non-afraid of solvers.

    Plus a big TA for Eileen – lucky you with a puzzle like this.
    [and now for a Klingsor, the A of my ABC]

  70. stiofain says:

    Im just going to say WOW.

  71. Sil van den Hoek says:

    stiofain: that’s a much shorter way to give a similar opinion. :)
    But I want to improve my English, you know …

  72. liz says:

    Can I just say that what I like about Eileen’s blogs is that she always gets a discussion going. All the better today when Boatman joined in. V satisfying feedback all round, nit-picking included, from a v challenging puzzle. How much fun can you have?

  73. Eileen says:

    Hi liz -just on my way to bed …

    Thank you so much for a great end to [I thought] a great day. It was lots of fun and I was highly chuffed that Boatman took such a great part.

    Sleep well :-)

  74. Brian Harris says:

    Enjoyably tough. I thought ENTRAINMENT and VENTRAL FIN were particularly good. This had us scratching our head for a good 45 minutes. I like the occasional harder puzzle. But a Boatman standard of difficulty every day would definitely be too much!

  75. crosser says:

    Everybody has probably gone on to the next puzzle by now, but I just wanted to add something to what Scarpia said @47 re the pronunciation of “wrath” as RAWTH by “older well-educated people”. I would say “older well-educated people from an upper class background”. I imagine Lady Bracknell would have pronounced it that way. When I was a student, one of our lecturers was the famous Monica Jones, and she used to talk about “Love’s Labours Lawst”. :-)

  76. mark says:

    No-one seems to have answered Martin H’s (I think it was him)point about 5A. What is “in our heart” doing there?

    Awful puzzle

  77. Eileen says:

    I’m sorry, Mark, and Martin H – I don’t know: that’s why I ignored it!

    I hoped Boatman might clarify it, when he dropped back.

  78. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Perhaps my post was too long to read, but I did say something about 5ac: “Someone asked what “in our heart” was doing here, but even though this country is not in my heart (yet) [at least not thát way], it enhanced the surface considerably”.

    Yes, I think it’s only there for the surface.
    As one might know, I am a nitpicker when it comes to superfluous words, but in this case my intuition doesn’t agree with me.
    Boatman reflects some kind of poetic feeling here.
    Vaughan Williams, Delius and Elgar spring to mind.

    From a cryptic point of view, ‘in our heart’ is completely superfluous, I agree.
    But at least for me, it does feel right here.
    Said the non-Brit ….. :)

  79. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen, late getting round to this one. I needed your help to understand some of them, so thanks. I had guessed the missing answers, but in my book that doesn’t count as actually finishing.

  80. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and to Boatman for not just the puzzle but for graciously joining in the comments so often.

    I banged my way through most of this (still have the bruises), finally completing the NW corner today after breezing (sadly) through yesterday’s alphabetical.

    Some random comments… I missed the S/OF/F bit in 1A, and while films like Eraserhead aren’t “really” SF, the “category”, especially when applied to movies, can get very broad to the average punter. Nitpicking NINTH CHORD seems silly to me – the first thing I thought when I saw the first three words of the clue was “1-3-5-7-9″ and it just took me three more hours to go “oh!” and follow that by parsing the wordplay. I loved 26a FINAL for the opacity and hypnotic nature of the clue.

    And SPAB? Since I forgot SP from the last time I saw it, and as a long-time ex-pat, would never have guessed it (I did read all about the National Trust on WP though, in vague hopes). However, before the crosses ruled it out, I was hoping for BAMN – the “odds” in “Boatman”, and apparently a bit of a radical group defending affirmative action rights (if I recall correctly). Now poor Boatman will have to wait ages before using that one, so we all have time to forget it.

    I had ENTRAINMENT penciled in due it being the only word possible with the checks in place, and it still took another half hour to notice it was simply hidden in the clue words!

    So, all in all, a lot of fun, and as mentioned above, it is nice to encounter setters with “unique” cluing styles, since it squeezes the old grey matter into new shapes.

  81. maarvarq says:

    I thought 5dn was a feeble homophone, and what was with 24 dn? Is any initial letter abbreviation (it isn’t an acronym unless the result is, you know, a word) acceptable as a pretend word now, or do you call this organisation “spab”?

  82. rfb says:

    I am in the minority here, but I really didn’t like this very much. Someone made a remark about hacking through a thicket – I agree. There *were* some good clues, but for my taste too many dubious ones. And the final straw was SPAB. Sorry, it isn’t a word (at least in any dictionary I’ve consulted). So what is it doing in a crossWORD? Is any organisation with a pronounceable initialism and a membership (in 2007) of 8700 or more to be allowed?

    Please please PLEASE let’s not include this kind of clue ever ever AGAIN!

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