Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25624 – Boatman

Posted by Uncle Yap on May 1st, 2012

Uncle Yap.

I cannot really say I enjoyed myself this morning . On my first pass, I only managed 15A in a puzzle mini-themed on something which can be animate or inanimate. Tough and not my cup of tea.

Place cursor over clue number to read the clue

7 JUNIORS Cha of JUN (June, month) I (one) WORST (naughtiest) minus W & T (Thanks, Dr G). Using naughtiest for WORST is indirect and quite unfair. Indirect def should be simple substitution like chance = opportunity. Boatman not at his best; neither is Uncle Yap :-(
8 EMBARGO *(BOARD GAME minus A D, penny under the old LSD sterling convention) Thanks Dr G with bar as def
9  See 5
10 FRANGIBLE Ins of RANG (called) in FIB (deceit) + LE (French definite article) for a word meaning “easily broken” new to me
12 SHOWS ha in chesS – HOW – Shocking
13 DILATORY *(TARDY OIL) with tardy doing double duty as def
15 DEER Rev of REED (rush)
16,17 BROADSIDE BROAD (a board game, I suppose) SIDE (players)
18 ATONALLY A TON (100) ALLY (club together)
20 SNIPE dd
22 DUCK dd for an animate game for hunters
24 MAH-JONG MAH (rev of HAM, gammon) + ins of N (new) in JOG (run) for one of the most enduring games invented in the harem of the Chinese Emperor.
25 CATCH UP dd To draw level is to catch up and I’m given to understand it is also a name of a game which I have never heard of.
1 LUDO LUD (sounds like lewd, carnal) + O (love) for a children’s board game
2 WILD BOAR WILD (outrageous) BOARd for another game for hunters. In the tropics, hashers have learned that where there are leeches, there are wild boars
3 DRAFTS Sounds like DRAUGHTS, a board game
4 SMUGGLED SMUG (complacent) G (first letter of game) LED (went ahead)
5,9 RABBIT FOOD RABBIT (game for some hunters) FOOD (board) Rabbit food is slang for muesli, dish of rolled oats, nuts, fruit, etc eaten esp as a breakfast cereal. Thanks NeilW
6 AGUE ARGUE (fight) minus R (run)
11 ANDROGYNE *(GREY AND NO) for a hermaphrodite (someone with characteristics of both sexes) “not black or white, but” seems to me to be obtrusively extraneous to introduce “grey”
12 SHEET *(THESE) I suppose this is yet another obscure board game which I have never heard of
14 RIDGE BRIDGE (board game) minus B for a long narrow area of high pressure
16 BULLRING BULL (one speculating) RING (cartel) venue for bull-fights; and to me, a feature of Birmingham city centre
17 SLIP-DOCK SLIP (underwear) DOCK (cut short)
19 NAVAJO NA (inappropriate in Scottish slang) V (victory) A JO (Scottish slang for favourite, pet, a beloved one)
20 SASHAY Ins of ASH (wood) in SAY (state)
21 GOAL GO (board game) A (middle letter of class) L (first letter of leisure)
23 CLUB dd something that can be used as a weapon to bludgeon someone with or a place to have a party

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

55 Responses to “Guardian 25624 – Boatman”

  1. gsingh says:

    across 1 : JUN I + (W)ors(T)naughtiest

  2. gsingh says:

    Across 8:anagram of BO(A)R(D)GAME a penny lost

  3. harvey hawley says:

    16/17 BROAD is an anagram (game) of BOARD

  4. harvey hawley says:

    12d SHEET is a board.

  5. harvey hawley says:

    25 CATCH = board as in catch/board a train, UP =game as in ‘He was up for it’.

    I’ll stop now.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Tricky, but well under an hour unaided. I imagine (re 5,9) some people feed muesli to rabbits. On 25a, I assumed that catch was a netload of fish, broad aboard (up). FRANGIBLE came to me quickly, but I passed on withour parsing. Boatman, to whom praise, always inserts himself – and at 17d naughtily.

  7. molonglo says:

    Whoops, brought aboard – so many tricks with board (and game) in this.

  8. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. Not a smile to be seen here either. A bit like a hard Rufus at times.

    Agree with gsingh above. The def in 8, of course, is “bar.”

    16,17: I thought “game” was the anagrind, thus board = BROAD.

    5,9: RABBIT FOOD is slang for muesli. The construction is “before board” FOOD [comes] “game” RABBIT.

    No idea about the SHEET.

  9. NeilW says:

    I agree with molonglo about CATCH UP.

  10. NeilW says:

    I hope Boatman is not referring in 12dn to this:

  11. NeilW says:

    Just come back to this to find that I have to apologies to harvey hawley whose comments got delayed in transit and only appear now for some reason. Thus the apparent irrelevance of my and molonglo’s comments!

  12. sidey says:

    A sheet of plywood or similar is also a board.

  13. Ian SW3 says:

    Yes, not much went in on the first pass, but once 12A and 15A leapt out, the penny dropped and the rest fell pretty easily. Slip-dock eluded me, but otherwise, I quite enjoyed it. Thanks, UY and Boatman.

  14. Eileen says:

    Well, I really enjoyed this!

    I thought the theme was ingenious and well-exploited, with no obscurities, so I was able to finish it before getting up, with no need to look anything up [except to check the very clearly clued SLIP DOCK, which made me smile]. I don’t think I’d come across FRANGIBLE but was lucky enough to know the Latin verb ‘frangere’, which gives us ‘fracture’ .

    I very much liked EMBARGO – a clever use of ‘board game': I thought at first that it was a pity that BAR appeared in both clue and answer but then remembered the pub game ‘shove ha’penny’, a ‘board game played in bar’, using pennies – lovely!

    I also liked the linking of the two threads of the theme in 2dn. and of two board games in 24ac – didn’t ‘backgammon’ raise a smile, NeilW? 😉 I was also amused at the idea of carnal love in a game of ludo!

    In 19dn, I took NA as being ‘not applicable’.

    Many thanks, Boatman, for brightening up yet another wet morning. And thanks for the blog, UY – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it!

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks to UY and to Boatman for a solving experience only he can deliver. He’s one setter I’d recognise every time, I think.

    It’s difficult, but I loved it. MINI-theme??? Boatman can be very “libertarian” but I can’t see anything dodgy here at all really; the strictest Ximeneans might object to “backgammon” (24a), but that’s nothing by the Guardian’s standards, and certainly raised a laugh. 25a (Catch-up) is a good example – immaculate cluing (a “charade”), but with the clever theme it was hard to see the wood for the trees. Like UY I wondered for a while if it was also some obscure game… He’s the master of misdirection. My last one in was 23d – it’s very slightly vague perhaps. I’d been “bashing” away at it/with it/in it for so long that I almost settled on “clue”!

  16. Thomas99 says:

    PS. Did anybody else waste time trying to fit in “Quoits” (“on board game”)? Hope it wasn’t just me.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I will just drop by to say that Uncle Yap and I were drinking from the same teapot this morning. I lost enthusiasm after a bit and gave up.

  18. sppaul says:

    Has anyone mentioned that grey is part of the anagram in 11 down?

  19. Chris says:

    I think, in 11d, that “Not black or white” is part of the def; “Man or woman? Not black or white”

  20. NeilW says:

    sppaul @18, Uncle Yap did!

    Eileen @14, yes you’re right. I must have got out of bed the wrong side this morning! As the day’s gone on, I’ve grown to like this puzzle more and more. :)

  21. Boatman says:

    Uncle, you are uncharacteristically grumpy! Sorry I couldn’t amuse you today.

    Eileen, Thomas and Harvey win the dubious honour of being on my wavelength on this occasion … it’s good to know I’m not on my own out there.

    Definition spotters may be amused to know that I originally had three double-double definitions in mind: CATCH UP, RABBIT FOOD and SLAB BRIDGE, which would have given you three different usages of BOARD paired with three different usages of GAME. I was very pleased with myself, but decided that SLAB BRIDGE was too obscure – the right decision, to judge by the less enthusiastic of the comments above.

    Oh, and QUOITS … I wish I’d thought of that.

  22. sppaul says:

    NeilW @ 20

    Sorry! I read the explanation from UY too quickly as a dd.

  23. sppaul says:

    PS I liked the themette but I am biased towards boatman as a fellow seafarer.

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Boatman

    There’s nothing ‘dubious’ about that honour: like Thomas, I like to think I usually am on your wavelength and I’m sure you’ll find more folk get on board as the day wears on. 😉

  25. Eileen says:


    Forgot to mention a slight slip in 14dn: it’s [b]RIDGE [game] ‘missing the start of board’ [B]

  26. Stella Heath says:

    I was another slow starter, but the puzzle grew on me as it panned out, and I was surprised to find so many negative comments when I came here.

    Thanks Boatman, and to Uncle Yap for his efforts despite uncharacteristic grumpiness :)

  27. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY – though I don’t agree with you about the puzzle and your parsing organs seem to be malfunctioning today – and Boatman for dropping by.

    I found this rather tough but enjoyable – this treatment of a ‘theme expression’ is something I like a lot. Solving was hampered for me by the unfriendly ‘even rows and columns’ grid, with all of those unchecked initial letters, which always gives me the vapours.

    I agree with all of the contributors parsing revisions; SHEET and CATCH UP were the only answers that I couldn’t fully understand myself.

    Favourites were 18a, 24a and 11d (I have no problem with ‘Man or woman? Not black or white…’ as the definition, which is cleverly combined with *(GREY AND NO)).

  28. Paul B says:

    Well, erm, definitely not Boatman with the wind in his sails. Not the worst, but a pretty bad (and apparently doctored) grid (with some 4:3 unch-favoured lights, and many shorter entries), a fairly obscure theme, and some quite tricky indication. And so Yap had a bit of a game with it? Press ‘cheat’, mate, that’s what I do!

  29. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog UY and sorry this didn’t put you in the mood. I’m another one who enjoyed it, though I found it tough-going at times. Backgammon as a way of clueing MAH made me smile. I also thought the use of the theme was very ingenious.

  30. William says:

    Thanks UY for the uncharacteristically vituperative blog and also to Boatman for dropping in.

    I’m firmly in the ‘loved it’ camp on this one: I thought it was inventive, clever and amusing.

    Loved LUDO & BROADSIDE. CATCH UP was my COD, Harvey Hawley’s parse @5, that is.

    I don’t think JUNIORS is fair, however. Asking a bit much to divine ‘worst’ from ‘naughtiest’. Never heard of the NA in NAVAJO but it was gettable nonetheless.

    ANDROGYNE was particularly smooth, I thought.

    More from the mariner, please.

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Boatman

    I ended up with slightly mixed feelings, but liked it more after further thought.

    I liked some clues quite a lot e.g. 21a, 24a (my COD), 4d, 17d! and enjoyed the misdirections. I was least taken by embargo – despite Eileen’s second thoughts, the double appearance of ‘bar’ in clue and answer jarred a little (plus go as possible board game).

    re 11, I read not black or white as neither one thing nor t’other and thought it was a clever clue.

    I agree that board can = sheet.

    I missed the ingenious parsing by harvey hawley of catch up but there does seem to be an (obscure) board game called Catch up, see

  32. Boatman says:

    Splendidly obscure, Tupu! When I had more time to spend on such things, I was quite fond of Tablut and Dablo, but the thought of theming a puzzle around unheard-of Nordic folk games is … well, it’s quite attractive, really.

  33. crypticsue says:

    Soory Boatman but I wasn’t on your wavelength either today. For a long time 15a was the only entry in the grid but I gradually staggered to the end and needed some help from the blog to explain how I got there.

  34. Robi says:

    I thought this was pretty tough but very enjoyable. Thanks, Boatman and for your comments here.

    Thanks UY, but too grumpy by far. Having got LUDO and MAH-JONG early on, I was seriously misled by all the board and other games.

    I can’t really see the objection to wORSt=naughtiest; in my Chambers X-word dic., naughty=bad is the first entry.

    I didn’t realise the connection of SASHAY to pomp – I always connect it with models on the cat walk! I didn’t mind ‘tardy’ doing double definition in 13; it seems clever to me to work the definition into an anagram.

  35. Jan says:

    I share my cuppa with K’s D and Uncle Yap and all others who didn’t find any joy here. I usually enjoy Boatman’s puzzles but this one left me cold.

    Well blogged UY, I feel for you. I gave up after half and hour during which I managed to solve about half the clues with no feelings of triumph, just an increasing sense of frustration.

  36. Thomas99 says:

    Robi (34) –
    I heartily agree re worst=naughtiest in 7a. It could hardly be more obvious. Everybody knows that bad can mean naughty (also vice versa in King Lear – “A naughty night to swim in!” – but that’s by the by).

    I also agree re tardy in 13a – I think the problem is avoided by the way he’s arranged/punctuated it. In fact I think you could also read it as an &lit. (“Tardy: needs oil to get moving?”, if taken meetaphorically, is arguably a slightly better description of a dilatory person than simply “tardy”.)

  37. Gervase says:

    Homophones are always good for a bit of a nitpick, and I thought I had one here. I always pronounce ‘lewd’ with palatalisation (lju:d) and LUDO without ‘loo-dough’). Chambers lists both pronunciations of LUDO, so my case collapses, not that I was intending to take it to the High Court anyway. Oddly, it only gives the unpalatalised pronunciation of ‘ludic’ (eccentric publication that it is – but at least it doesn’t claim it’s a pronoun….)

  38. Median says:

    A tough one, to be sure. For me, it was notable for the number of solutions I only felt able to pencil in lightly, including CATCH UP, NAVAJO, JUNIORS and SHEET. It’s reassuring to come here and find I wasn’t alone in struggling to parse these.

  39. David W says:

    Apologies if I’ve missed this in reading the comments above but 24a seems to give another use of “board”, as mah jong would be played on a table. That said I join those who felt disappointed. Even with the clever theme, dragging answers out of this puzzle was like pulling teeth.

  40. togo says:

    Sorry you suffered, but thanks UY!

    I found this very tough, but now I look at the clues, I just can’t quite see why. The cluing is immaculate (though I agree a bit about dilatory: which might have read ‘tardy: needs oil to get moving slowly’, but then it would not have been the quirky clue the ? pointed to).

    The play around board and game, with so many different mixes of meanings and uses in the cluing, is lovely. As is the misdirection involved: eg Dammit, aha Boatman, bridge is not a board game……oh…ah….I see!

    I think the bottom line is that Boatman – to whom thanks, for the crossword and the visit but not, emphatically, for your reborn interest in obscure nordic games! – gave us a superbly crafted and fiendish puzzle. And any puzzle with 17d and 25ac in it just has (for different reasons!) to be loved.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    As always with Boatman this gave me a decent run for my money (£1.20 for those who don’t contribute to his fee).
    With ‘proper’ cryptics, and The Guardian’s pretty well always are, the definition plus cryptic gives an incontrovertible solution which you can write in with confidence. For some odd reason, maybe me or maybe the setter,managed here to put me in the Median camp.This was especially true in the SE corner.
    Still quite enjoyable with a theme (if we must have one) which was used in an interesting way.

  42. tupu says:

    Hi UY and Median

    I read the NA in Navajo as Not Applicable rather than Scottish slang.

    Based in Arizona they have been an extraordinarily independent minded group. They consistently refused to be classified as American Indians saying they were just Navajo, and they only agreed to fight in WW2 as co-belligerents of the USA rather than as ‘subjects’. A number of them served as wireless operators and used a version of their own language which the Japanese assumed to be a code but naturally failed to break it.

  43. Dave Ellison says:

    I am also with the hard and not so enjoyable crew, today. It just didn’t happen for me, but I can’t see any reason why.

    Only one “Boatman” in the clues, which is unusual, and for once referred to a Boatman!

  44. Mr Nick says:

    As someone just returning to the world of cryptic crosswords after a mostly absent few decades, this was hard work for me, but 2 down and backgammon did both make me laugh out loud. My fave, however, was EMBARGO.
    Am only just realising that when there’s a theme, it’ll invariably have all the different ways that the key word(s) could be used (durr!) Well, I could get to like this…

  45. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @42

    Me too @14 😉

  46. Stella Heath says:

    Hi, Gervase@37; I once knew a boy from Warrington who not only played /lju:do/, but read /bjuks/ and played /pju:l/ :)

    (phonetic transcriptions only approximate :) )

  47. tupu says:

    HI Eileen

    Apologies. I tried to search through when Median had said he couldn’t parse it and UY had said ‘Scottish slang’, but I obviously missed the one and only place it was.

  48. RCWhiting says:

    Mr Nick @ 44 Welcome back.
    “Am only just realising that when there’s a theme, it’ll invariably have all the different ways that the key word(s) could be used (durr!) Well, I could get to like this…”

    Sadly this is not so.Too often a theme is just a list of objects belonging to some googlable category, probably devised largely for the compiler’s personal pleasure.
    When we get a theme which is used imaginatively (like today) we celebrate. Well,some of us do.

  49. Mr & Mrs Jones says:

    We enjoyed this, with some struggle. 22a’s dd was easy for us in Nottingham – ayup me duck!

  50. Wolfie says:

    I enjoyed it too, though it took me a while.

    RCWhiting @48 – I agree with your views about themes in crosswords. Today’s Boatman demonstrated a creative and complex use of board games as a theme – much preferable to puzzles in which the theme constitutes a straightforward list that the solver either knows, or can easily look up (such as titles of songs by Elton John! Eurgh…)

    This is the second time recently that I have agreed with you RCW. Are we becoming twin souls?

    Thank you UY for your blog, which helped me with the parsing of NAVAJO.

  51. RCWhiting says:

    How sweet, Wolfie.
    Sadly, as some posters like to point out, I don’t have a soul.

  52. Mitz says:

    Thanks Uncle for the blog; thanks very much Boatman for the puzzle and for bothering to drop by. I have no problem with themed puzzles generally (though I quite understand why some people don’t like them) but this one, I felt, had so much variety and misdirection that it kept one guessing right to the end. Very tough, and so very satisfying to finish.

  53. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, well, there are some ‘camps’ here today, at least two.
    At first, it looked like this would be a slog as it was quite hard to get into the puzzle. But as it opened up itself, well, it opened up itself.

    I do understand when some say “it’s more clever than fun”.
    But we thought it was clever and fun.

    A typical Boatman as far as the theme is concerned.
    Different boards, different game – all treated differently.
    2d (WILD BOAR) was misdirectingly easy – yes, misdirectingly, which is in fact the clever thing.

    Good crossword.
    Initially, we thought we would never gonna make it.
    But eventually we did.

    On his website, Boatman still thinks that he’s the B in my ABC of Crosswords, but there are Brendan, Brummie and Bradman too.
    However, when continuously producing so many thoughtful puzzles, I will not complain.

    Thank you, Uncle Yap, for the blog.

  54. Richard says:

    I thought this was a well-constructed and amusing puzzle. (And only one self-reference!)

  55. Sophie says:

    Hi my loved one! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and include almost all vital infos. I’d like to look more posts like this .

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