Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,703 by Boatman

Posted by PeterO on August 1st, 2012


Boatman can come up with some tough puzzles; I found this one easier than some of his, but by no means a pushover.

The theme is faith-related, appearing more often in the clues than the answers.

7. Chemicals like ratsbane are poisonous, so I tried swallowing ten (9)
TRIOXIDES An envelope (‘swallowing’) of X (Roman numeral, ‘ten’) in TRIOIDES, an anagram (‘poisonous’) of ‘so I tried’. Ratsbane is a rat poison, in particular arsenic trioxide.
8. Boatman’s barb: does faith leader come before source of gospel? (5)
FLUKE A charade of F (‘Faith leader’) + LUKE (‘source of gospel’).
9. Champ for church service given mark of approval by a small number in report (9)
MASTICATE A homophone (‘in report’) of MASS (‘church service’) + TICK (‘mark of approval’) + EIGHT (‘a small number’). Eight is a small number, if you compare it with a googolplex, for example. I did wonder about an alternate parsing ‘a’ + TE[n], but that leaves the ‘in report’ separated from the objects of its attention.
10. Heartless sinner is no angel? (5)
SAINT A charade of ‘S[inner]’ without (‘less’) INNER (‘heart’) + AINT (‘is no'; would ‘is not an angel’ be better?).
12. Before Man exists … before that? An article of faith (6)
THEISM A charade of THE (‘an article’) + IS (‘exists’) + M (‘man’).
13. Live test match beginning after embarrassment of real unknown getting a duck first (4,4)
ORAL EXAM A charade of O (‘a duck’) + RALE, an anagram (’embarrassment’) of ‘real’ + X (‘unknown’) + ‘a’ + M (‘Match beginning’).
14. End of episcopate? Ask about royal job (7)
EQUERRY A charade of E (‘end of episcopatE‘) + an envelope (‘about’) of R (‘royal’) in QUERY (‘ask’).
17. Skip eating steak at last” — model (7)
SKITTER An envelope (‘eating’) of K (‘steaK at last’) in SITTER (‘model’).
20. Contrived to admire Kofi, perhaps (8)
MEDIATOR An anagram (‘contrived’) of ‘to admire’. The reference is to Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
22. Finally, faith in light brown ale is part of this (6)
SHANDY An envelope (‘in’) of H (‘faitH finally’) in SANDY (‘light brown’).
24. Brand of squash (5)
STAMP Double definition.
25. Schematic representation of articles of faith (9)
CATECHISM An anagram (‘representation’) of ‘schematic’.
26. Fool has faith leader hold recruits’ capital (5)
MORON An envelope (‘hold’) of R (‘Recruits capital’) in MOON (Sun Myung Moon ‘faith leader’).
27. Liberation for limbo-dancing Spooner (7,2)
LETTING GO A Spoonerism of GETTING LOW (‘limbo dancing’).
1. Spin doctor covers every attempt to influence the faithful (6)
PREACH A charade of PR (‘spin doctor’, loosely) + EACH (‘every’).
2. Change of direction: Boatman’s lost faith (8)
DOCTRINE An anagram (‘change of’) of ‘d[i]rection’, with the I removed (‘Boatman’s lost’).
3. Monastic order rejecting impertinent show of levity (6)
SITCOM An anagram (‘order’) of ‘mo[na]stic’ without (‘rejecting’) N/A (not applicable, ‘impertinent’).
4. Part from followers of faith over belief, not ignored (7)
SECTION A charade of SECT (‘followers of faith’) + [not]ION (‘belief, not ignored’).
5. Chop stick? (6)
CLEAVE Double definition. I have split the clue into two words to show the structure.
6. Salve for concern about family (8)
SKINCARE An envelope (‘about’) of KIN (‘family’) in SCARE (‘concern’).
11. See 15
See 15
15,11. Doubt source of gospel? (8,4)
QUESTION MARK A charade of QUESTION (‘doubt’) + MARK (‘source of gospel’). Look closely for the underlined definition.
16. Act of faith, if led by a woman, gets put down (4)
RITE [w]RITE (‘put down’), ‘if led by W[oman]’. The surface is all too topical.
18. It’s eaten or drunk at church in God’s first doctrine (8)
TEACHING A charade of TEA (‘its eaten or drunk’) + CH (‘church’) + ‘in’ + G (‘Gods first’).
19. What God may have done for Man, at the heart of faith (7)
CREATED An envelope (‘the heart’) of ‘at’ in CREED (‘faith’).
21. One article of faith about what Jesus implied? (1,2,3)
I AM GOD A charade of I (‘one’) + AMGOD, a reversal (‘about’) of DOGMA (‘article of faith’).
22. Ex hypothesi est angelus;: the rest you’ll get later in the day (6)
SIESTA A hidden answer (ex, out of) in ‘hypotheSI EST Angelus‘.
23. Onset of doubt ends salvation in God — not what was intended (6)
DESIGN The first letters (‘onset’) of ‘Doubt Ends Salvation In God – Not’.

43 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,703 by Boatman”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. I got my start in the SW quadrant and filled the others in anticlockwise. The last, the NE, was pretty tough and I still don’t much like 10a’s heartless sinner=S and 17a’s tortuousness with skitter=skip (skim, maybe). Still, better hard than soft, so thanks Boatman.

  2. molonglo says:

    I meant clockwise

  3. molonglo says:

    Sorry, and NW

  4. molonglo says:

    Oh dear, forget the quadrants

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for an excellent blog.

    Like molonglo [I think :)] the last ones in were in the top left. I’ve described Boatman’s puzzles in the past as “chewy” and this was no exception. Excellent!

    SITCOM took me the longest to parse, finally seeing the relevance of “impertinent”.

  6. Bernyb says:

    I have always thought that chewy steaks need to be well done – the same should apply for crosswords.

    Far too devious for my taste.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO and Boatman. A satisfying solve in the end.

    Regarding your suggestion at 10a, I think not – and angel is not a saint, it’s a heavenly being, whereas the latter are human.

  8. Rick says:

    Lovely challenging puzzle from Boatman and another excellent blog from PeterO – many thanks to both!

    I liked many clues but 15,11 (where the “?” is the definition) was a particular favourite.

    I parsed 1 down slightly differently. “RP” is an abbreviation for “Registered Practitioner” – if you “spin” (reverse) it you get “PR” (followed by “EACH” as you have it).

    I’m not convinced that it’s a better parsing than yours but I thought I’d mention it.

  9. Thomas99 says:

    Another really satisfying and special Boatman crossword. Thanks for the blog.

    I think he takes a few liberties but generally I find they can be justified and they’re certainly worth it. Re 10a, for instance, I’d say saint can mean the same as angel when neither refers to supernatural/dead people = “Thank you so much, you’re a saint/you’re an angel”. “Ain’t” is also a bit of a stretch for is no – “is not” would be more normal. My first thought was that in Scottish English “is no'” is the same as “is not”, but less ambitiously, “There ain’t bread in the larder” means “There is no bread in the larder”.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    I usually find Boatman’s puzzles tricky, and this one more so than most. I got nothing at all on the first read through, then 22d popped out and I made some inroads into the bottom half.

    Some excellently disguised anagrams: 20ac, 25ac and 2dn. 10ac (despite the liberty) and 15,11 were favourites.

    ‘Chemicals like ratsbane’ is an exceedingly vague definition for TRIOXIDES, but the solution was clearly an anagram (though as a chemist, I’m ashamed to say it took me a long time to get it). 23dn was one of my last entries; I saw ‘Onset of doubt’ as D, but the clue should strictly have read ‘Onsets…’.

    No matter, a very clever puzzle. But a very difficult grid, crying out for a Nina, as yesterday’s.

  11. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO

    I also think Boatman takes a few too many liberties. Found the top left corner quite difficult Didn’t get SITCOM and still not convinced about the clue. Not too happy about the clue for SAINT either.

    I have seen easier Boatman puzzles.

  12. Wanderer says:

    Magnificent crossword for which many thanks Boatman, and also to Peter for the blog.

    Just one thought: in 18d, TEACHING, the definition is ‘doctrine’ which seems spot on. But in 2d, DOCTRINE, the definition is ‘faith’, which seems highly questionable. I haven’t checked a dictionary, so I may well be wrong, but it seems to me that doctrine and teaching are synonymous but faith is not. A minor point perhaps, but does anyone else have a view?

    Thanks for a great solve.

  13. Boatman says:

    Interesting parsing of “spin doctor” from Rick – always fascinating to see an otherworld of alternative meanings emerging after the event …

    You may be amused to know that I spent a long time trying to persuade Hugh to accept “faithless” as an anagram indicator, but he was having none of it. Consider yourselves spared a slightly trickier clue as a result, but what do you think: would it have been fair, in your opinion?

  14. John Appleton says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who struggled with the NW corner. Quite liked the usage of “impertinent” as “not pertinent”, though.

  15. Rick says:

    Many thanks for dropping in Boatman – I’m glad you were entertained by my strange parsing of 1 down!

    Many thanks again for another great puzzle. Speaking personally, I think that “faithless” as an anagram indicator would have been absolutely fine (and would, of course, fit in well with the theme); I would have sided with you against Hugh!

  16. rowland says:

    ‘Unfaithful’ instead? Not true as in accurate maybe, but a solver like me probably wouldn’t have known what to do with ‘faithless’. Not my cup of tea generally this one, too tricksy, or loose, for me, and Goddist as well! I am no Goddist, I have to admit.

    Thanks all,

  17. NeilW says:

    rowland, from one atheist to another, I don’t see that any “specialist” knowledge was required in this puzzle but I agree with you that “unfaithful” would have been the obvious solution.

  18. sue taylor says:

    @ Boatman
    Super crossword today.
    Re `faithless`: hmmm – you disguised your anagrams pretty brilliantly, I missed them all, bar 20. I think I`m with Hugh, although its context`s an important consideration. It`d be interesting to see the Original Si..sorry- Clue!

  19. aztobesed says:

    Well… I think I’d be happier with faithless as opposed to unfaithful. Chambers gives inconstant, fickle, adulterous, untrustworthy and deceptive for faithless. Covers one or two bases, I’d say. Not sure I’d have got it but that’s hardly the point.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Lovely term, Rowland, I am not a goddist either but that did in no way reduce my enjoyment of this beauty.
    No easy entries, a very solid middle section and enough puzzlers to keep me thinking hard for quite a while.
    I almost always enjoy Boatman but unlike PeterO I thought this was delightfully at the harder end of his contributions.
    Wonderful misdirection(!) at 2d; also at 10 ac where inner=heart is brilliant. I loved 18d.
    My only failure was to not parse 3d (NA =impertinence).
    Well set Boatman.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Oh! Forgot to wonder why anyone would want some extraneous nonsense like a NINA to sully this great piece of artistry.

  22. PeterO says:

    I am having difficulty making time to comment here, after discovering a new spectator sport in whitewater kayaking.

    Rick @8

    RP – an interesting idea, even though it took some digging to find Registered Practitioner among the likes of Regis Philbin and Roaring Penguin (I dare any setter to try getting away with that one). And of course we have it ex cathedra that this was not the intention.

    Wanderer @12

    The first definition for DOCTRINE in Chambers is “a body of religious … teaching”, which seems to me OK for a faith (the “a” is significant).

    Boatman @13

    Thanks for dropping in. My first reaction was to dismiss ‘faithless’ out of hand as an anagrind, and I still lean that way, despite the quote from Chambers from aztobesed @19. I have seen more improbable anagrinds, and much depends on context – how well hidden is the anagram. In any case, the puzzle was quite satisfatory a workout without it. Thank you.

  23. kenj says:

    Too many answers involved using the first or last letter of a word in the clue – 8,13,14,17,18,22,23,26.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry if I am being unduly thick but which clue does the ‘faithless’/’unfaithful’ anagrind discussion refer to?

  25. Boatman says:

    Kenj – Useful analysis, and I don’t wholly disagree with your conclusion. It’s quite common for one construction to seem to have an agenda of its own to take over a puzzle (this week it was initial letters; at other times it’s been anagrams or charades) but I generally accept this as long as the results are charming or relevant or both … If I’d used something like “Flemish leader” in 8, for example, that would have been deeply dull, but “faith leader” made me chuckle, knowing that I had in mind to include a real faith leader (or a self-styled one, depending on how you take the surface reading) in 26.

    RCW – In my first draft, one of the clues had “faithless” in place of the less contentious anagram indicator that made it into the published version. You can try to guess which, if you like …

  26. aztobesed says:

    20 or 2. I’d plump for 2.

  27. rhotician says:

    Thomas99 @9 and PeterO: Yes, “is no” for “ain’t” is a bit of a stretch and “is not an angel” would be better.

    But surely the real point is that no-one would ever say “He ain’t an angel”, they would say “He ain’t no angel”, or “he ain’t no saint”.

    This usage is widespread in popular song. Witness the Chas ‘n’ Dave classic:

    I ain’t gonna be made to look a fool no more.
    You done it once too often, whaddya take me for.
    Cos, darlin’, there ain’t no pleasin’ you.

    Even better, Presley’s One Night with You:

    Always lived, very quiet life,
    I ain’t never did no wrong.

    Try parsing that.

  28. rhotician says:

    PS. Great blog, thanks PeterO. As for the puzzle I think NeilW’s “chewy” fits the bill, as is evidenced by all the subsequent comments.

  29. Boatman says:

    Azto – You were right first time. I wouldn’t have used two different “faith” gags in one clue … or would I …?

  30. aztobesed says:

    Doh. Setters and their double bluffs. I was reasoning that the double ‘faith’ would have tied us up in knots.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks both.

  32. Satan says:

    Goddist muck, and I got bored with its having been woven by whichever method into just about every clue, as God is my witness. That’s ‘thematic’ I know, but even so. Eating a man’s flesh and drinking his blood, well, really (except where the plane’s come down in the tundra or something). No wonder he’s found us all guilty, albeit without trial.


  33. nametab says:

    As a goddist, I enjoyed it (but would have done anyway). Thanks for blog and Boatman input.
    I think 12a would parse if were omitted.

  34. nametab says:

    @33: a glitch: The last sentence should have read: I think 12a would parse if ‘before that?’ were omitted (which somehow it was @33).

    Satan @32: It’s a crossword blog, not a soapbox.

  35. Martin P says:

    I abhor everything to do with religion, especially the Blair-milked euphemism “faith” for it.

    However, once I got stuck in I found the devices so fascinating as to make me forget the raw material.

    I still can’t make the clue for 26a read as prose though!

    Otherwise brilliant :)

  36. Thomas99 says:

    Martin P –
    Re 26a – Are you resisting “has” in the sense of “makes [someone do something]”? “Fool has faith leader hold…” in the surface means “Fool makes faith leader hold…” It’s perfectly good English, if a bit rarer than it was. Compare “He had me sit down…” I just googled that phrase and a lot of bits of what looks like recently written cheap fiction came up. One of them, randomly chosen (from “Castle of Spirits”): “He had me sit down in his office and asked me if I believed in ghosts. I told him that I did…” Sounds rubbish but I think it shows the usage is still around. And it’s a good meaningful surface – about a perhaps not entirely virtuous faith leader who’s being trusted with a lot of cash.

  37. Paul B says:

    I’m not entirely clear on the ins and outs of the subjunctive mood, but that’s what this feels like to me. Whatever, the grammar is perfect on the surface, and for the cryptic reading too: nice to see the possessive used for the first letter indication in this one.

    As to 99’s meaning, it’s this influential fool, you see, who persuades some cult leader or other to hold onto his (and not her) recent dupes’ cash. Personally, I’ve never known a Goddist of any sort need any persuasion in grabbing someone’s cash. Or jewels. As it were.

  38. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Boatman for something different and PeterO for a great blog.

    I came to this late this evening but found it fascinating. Agree with RCW – you don’t need a Nina – just faith to carry on!!

    Sleep well one and all!

    Giovanna x

  39. Martin P says:

    Thanks Thomas99: that was precisely my blind spot.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    It has been quite a while since we’ve seen a Boatman. The last one appeared on May 1st of this year and I really wondered whether someone put him in the waiting room in favour of new setters like Qaos, Picaroon and Philistine.
    So, a warm welcome back to Boatman who, according to his website ( , worth taking a look), still seems to think that he’s the B of my ABC of Setters …. :)

    Clever stuff all around, typical for this setter.
    Of course, the Man Himself’s there (I mean Boatman, not …) in 8ac and 2d, but there are also these recurring characteriscs like using ‘article of faith’ or – as Boatman explained @25 – ‘faith leader’ in different clues in different ways.

    In 10ac (the infamous SAINT), for me, the combined cleverness and elegance was far more important than the no/not discussion (which it certainly was not for my PinC!).
    Also very good: the Spoonerism at 27ac (even though ‘Spooner’ himself seems to be a bit naked in the surface of the clue) and the fantastic hidden solution of 22d (SIESTA) in which the use of “ex” gave that extra dimension while “the rest” within the surface was different from its meaning as the definition. Clever, clever.

    But there is room for some criticism too.
    Like Gervase, I am not convinced that “Onset of” (in 23d) is suitable to indicate multiple starting letters (unlike ‘initially’, for example) but this niggle is saved by the natural surface.
    I also do not like the Nimrodian (well, that’s how I feel it) constructional twists in 17ac and 19d very much.
    The clue of 17ac (SKITTER) suggests that “skip” goes around K, but no, it’s the “model” that goes around K. I know, setters do it, but I still cannot get used to this interpretation of the order of things. And certainly not here, where the quotation marks and the dash are in the way. I know, punctuation doesn’t matter, but I would feel reluctant to write a clue like this.
    The same applies to 19d in which “at the heart of faith” leads to “AT inside CREED”. For me, there’s something missing between “at” and “the” (like “at” is “at””the heart of faith”). Of course, it can be justified, but it feels very inelegant to me.

    @23 kenj complains about the use of single letters.
    I wondered where M = Man came from – it’s not in the dictionaries I have.
    Does Boatman use it because IoM = Isle of Man?
    If so, then that’s rather dubious.
    In 14ac (EQUERRY) there’s another example: R = Royal.
    It is not in my dictionaries as a stand-alone abbreviation, but only in combination with something else. Although, I must admit, I have less problems with R than with M.
    But generally speaking, I am not sure whether this is allowed in crosswords.
    But I am happy to learn that what I say is wrong.

    Even though one might think that I am negative about this puzzle now, that’s not the case.
    It was a really satisfying solve.
    Boatman has an unique style and it was good to see him at the front again.

    So, many thanks to setter and to PeterO for the excellent blog.

  41. johnmcc says:

    First Graun x-word I’ve not completed in months. Too many guessers for my taste. Don’t like M for man at all. But some great clues in there – love 3dn once it was explained!

  42. Boatman says:

    Sil – Your quote on my website may prove immortal, though there’s an outrageous comment in the Grauniad’s site, which may have to join it!

    For those who don’t know it, I have a particular respect for Sil, as he was the first 225 solver to get the point of what I’m trying to achieve, so it’s always a pleasure to read his comments.

    Thanks to all as ever for stimulating comments.

  43. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Boatman and PeterO

    What a fantastic puzzle – started it when it came out and only found it half done today. This was certainly tough – for me anyhow!

    Loved the clever clue devices, the interwoven faith theme and a couple of really brain twisters – in both the solve and the parse. Had gaps in three quadrants towards the end – SAINT in the NE until the brilliant INNER = Heart dropped, DOCTRINE, SITCOM and SECTION in the NW – they were hard work and last of all STAMP and I AM GOD in the SW.

    Very satisfied to get it finished at last.

    ? is a gem !!

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