Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,793 / Boatman

Posted by Eileen on November 14th, 2012


I found this hard going, mostly in the parsing department. If it had been a Saturday puzzle [which it could well have been] I might have got there in the end but I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer. As it is, I don’t think I’ve ever left so many gaps in the explanations, so there’s plenty of scope for audience participation today! [Perhaps it’s time for me to ‘step aside’, as they say these days. 😉 ]

This is an ingenious puzzle, based on numbers of one kind or another, with some unusual anagram indicators and quite a wide use of initial letters. There were a few ‘aha’ moments, as the penny dropped. I just wish it had dropped a few more times! [And I do have a quibble or two.] Many thanks, anyway, Boatman, for the workout.


7 Trapping a number cruncher, jailing one
it’s doubly annoying to fail on the first one, since this is a favourite word of mine: I can see A in PRISON [jailing one] but can’t fit the CA: [I’m not sure of the definition, either: I’ve only seen it in the plural]

8 Boatman’s swallowed a number of coins
MY [Boatman’s] round [swallowed] ONE [number]

9 Metal cruet’s unsavoury effects on flavour
TIN [metal] + anagram [unsavoury] of CRUET’S

10 A number (not quite 10) held in vulgar shelter
!X [9 – not quite 10] in STY [vulgar shelter]

12 It’s still not quite Saturday (in short, a weekday)
anagram [not quite] of SAT[urday] + TUE [abbreviation – in short – of Tuesday]

13 One sent off to sea: “Sir, my condition is poor”
anagram [off] of SEA SIR MY
a strange surface – and my least favourite clue, I think

16 Wattles and clay antedate concrete in architecture’s structural origins
initial letters [origins] of And Clay Antedate Concrete In Architecture’s Structural

19 Euro rebuilt around community twice starts to rise by chance again
anagram [rebuilt] of EURO round CC [‘community twice starts’]
in my book, there’s no such word as this but I was quite prepared to find it in Chambers’ big red one – but it isn’t there, either [nor in Collins] Edit: this doesn’t work: I’m missing an R [see NeilW’s comments 6 and 26 – and the word is in Chambers [see comments 8 and 12]

22 A number may be vulgar about right wing
wing [faction] round [R [right]

25 Old German took seat from Spooner, where we’d say Kiss Me Quick
Hun [old German] + SAT [took seat] – Spoonerised [do they still have ‘Kiss-me-quick’ hats in Blackpool?]

27 Seven odd numbers, not including 7
anagram [odd] of SEVEN

28 Russell Brand’s estranged wife, perhaps †
EX is an estranged wife and † is a symbol but I don’t know where the S comes from or what Russell Brand has to do with it, apart from the whole clue presumably being the definition

29 A number of birds often found on restaurant walls?
double definition, referring to flock wallpaper: from the V and A’s website: “Once a luxury product used by the wealthy in the grandest apartments, it has declined into cliché, most familiar (at least in Britain) as nothing more than a commonplace decoration in Indian restaurants where it is intended to evoke an atmosphere of Colonial grandeur.”

30 Irrational number is a means to go deeper
anagram [irrational] of NUMBER IS A


1 Irrational number in former times crudely labelled Catholic
PI [irrational number] in PAST [former times] for the usually disparaging term for a Roman Catholic – and a nice link to the previous clue

2 A number of disaffected Roman Catholics don’t use “shalom” in letters
anagram [disaffected] of R[oma]N CAT[h]O[l]IC[s] minus the letters of SHALOM

3 Think of a number
double definition

4 Anticipate what anticipates 5D say?
I think this is a homophone of 4C, which might come before 5D?

5 Numbers of parrots
double definition?

6 Perhaps a permit to speak?
I can’t do this one

11 7 in 8 hold the next number?
hidden in seveN IN Eight

14,17 Mysteries revealed in Five Go Off In A Caravan novel
anagram [novel] of A CARA[v]AN minus [go off] v [five] – a lovely clue, my favourite, I think
[it’s permissible to split the solution, since each half is a word in its own right, although I’ve only come across ANA [fairly frequently] in crosswords] Edit: as NeilW points out @3, A is not included in the anagram, so it’s not so good as I thought it was – pity, that]

15 Even my dear solver’s somewhat vulgar
even letters of mY dEaR – somewhat vulgar version of ‘your’, as in ‘On yer bike!’

16 Boy solves “22 minus 2nd of 3rd”
the answer to 22 is FRACTION, which gives us ‘half’ and then we have to take off the second letter of ‘third’, to give the conventional definition of ‘boy’ for an abbreviated male name, which some people find annoying

18 A number backing political alliance
A + reversal [backing] of SIX [number]

20 Tenderly taking care of a number at asylum, initially a larger number
CO [care of] + N [number] + A [initial letter of Asylum] + MORE [a larger number] for the musical direction

21 An innocent nun? Strangely that’s (on the surface) masking a bad example
I E [id est – that’s] round [on the surface] an anagram [strangely] of NUN round [masking] an anagram / reversal [bad] of EG [example]

23 Rise up, my dear, rise up and take the lead
there’s a reversal [rise up] of LOVE [my dear] here inside RT but I can’t explain it any further

24 They question motives behind arrests following vice report
I can’t see this one either! There are homophones [report] of sin [vice] and nicks [arrests] but there’s only one ‘n’

25 Seed, sperm etc: initially there’s no difference
initial letters of Sperm Etc + SAME [there’s no difference]

26 Number 1: multiply
A [one] + MOUNT [multiply]
It really pains me to underline ‘number’ as the definition of ‘amount': I know I’m fighting a losing battle re number / amount, fewer / less but I shall soldier on in the meantime

66 Responses to “Guardian 25,793 / Boatman”

  1. riccardo says:

    Hi Eileen

    CA = Chartered Accountant, a number cruncher

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. The S comes from the end of Russell Brand’s: the def is just Russell Brand!

    “Perhaps a” is the def of LETTER.

  3. NeilW says:

    ARCANA is only an anagram of caravan without the V. That’s why I didn’t like this clue, I’m afraid.

    REVOLT is reversal of LOVER (my dear) plus T(ake) or T(he): take your choice!

  4. masterson says:

    Hello, Impossible without, in my case, 4 cheats. 23 down wasn’t one of them – it’s the reverse of LOVER (my dear) “and take The lead”

  5. Boatman says:

    Courage, Eileen! You’re very, very close on the missing parsings, as others will surely point out. I won’t spoil the fun, though … And I’m not going to argue about SIN NICKS – that sort of thing either makes you laugh or it doesn’t. I’m with the laughers (if that’s a word).

    To save the time of anyone who’s moved to dig into their Chambers in search of REOCCUR, I can tell you that it’s definitely in my (electronic version of the) 11th edition. Would it have stopped me, if it hadn’t been there? I’ll think about that.

    I agree that ANA is a daft little word. I don’t like 3-letter lights, in general – it’s much more fun to combine them into six letters or more (if only I could have contrived one of twelve letters to use up all of them) and I think it improves the grid, which otherwise could be criticised for being slightly disconnected.

  6. NeilW says:

    Other objections I had were:

    CYNICS: I think your parsing is right but as you say…

    REOCCUR is in my iPhone Chambers but you have to use “starts to rise” to provide the final R, with the def just being “by chance again.” Why the plural “starts” though?

    I think the editor couldn’t figure this out either and gave up. He would have tried harder if it had been a prize, which I agree it should have been.

  7. NeilW says:

    Finally, I think in EMISSARY the anagram indicator is “condition is poor” and the def includes “off.”

  8. Liz Geear says:

    Brave Eileen! This was one which took me well over my self-imposed hour and incomplete at that.
    Thanks for the parsing help everyone.
    ‘reoccur’ is definitely in the latest paper edition of BRB (p. 1327) in the appendage to the main list of re-words).

  9. Eileen says:

    Well, the responses didn’t come quite so thick and fast as I expected, so I feel rather better, especially after your kind words, Boatman. My big red book is the 11th edition, too, so that’s rather odd. I wonder if ‘trapping’ is in your electronic version – again, not in my hard copy. I’m glad I was right about CYNICS – I’d rather lost confidence by then! – and I’ve no objection to it. I suppose ‘motives’ is part of the definition, then.

    Thanks to everyone for filling in the gaps [and being so gentle] and thanks in advance if there are any more to come. Having spent three years at University in Bristol, I should have seen that it was LOVER and not LOVE = my dear in 23dn! [So, yet another initial letter clue, then.]

    [I would never have seen the parsing of 28ac in a month of Sundays: Russell Brand a sex xymbol?]

  10. aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog on a tough puzzle.

    In my cryptic reading of the clue (‘s) estranged wife (ex) means that Katy Perry is the intended sex-symbol, not Russell Brand.

  11. NeilW says:

    mmm… Ms Perry is the acknowledged (in the papers at least) SEX SYMBOL but I think, at least before he, apparently, cleaned up his act, so was Mr B. I don’t see what he’s doing in the clue, though, unless providing the definition.

    Perhaps Boatman will come back and explain what he had in mind..

  12. Pandean says:

    I agree, well done Eileen for a good blog of a difficult puzzle.

    The two I couldn’t parse were CYNICS (which I now think works OK) and LETTER (which I’m still not wild about).

    I’m not convinced by ‘trapping’ in the singular either, Eileen – it’s not in my Chambers or Collins with that meaning except in the plural.

    REOCCUR is in Chambers 11th edition as one of the listed but undefined words beginning re- at the bottom of p1327. It’s also in my Collins.

  13. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Liz @8 – my comment crossed with yours. I was looking in the wrong place – my apologies to Boatman. [It doesn’t mean I have to like it. 😉 ]

  14. aztobesed says:

    NeilW @ 11

    That’s what I meant by ‘cryptic reading’ – the ‘S comes from Brand’s, so he’s in there to tell you that it’s his ex-wife that is the intended sex-symbol. But RB himself could be reasonably poured into the mould – it doesn’t make a heap of difference. It all comes down to whether the apostrophe indicates the possessive or whether it replaces ‘is’.

  15. Pandean says:

    Apologies Liz@8, I didn’t see that you had already given the info on REOCCUR appearing in Chambers.

  16. NeilW says:

    aztobesed @14, I see what you mean. In my version, the apostrophe means neither but is just misleading punctuation. The parsing then is RB (def) S EX (estranged wife) SYMBOL (perhaps +)

    I’ve looked around for a version of that symbol denoting the female sex but can only find it with the circle over the top… if it existed, then the clue could have been a simple double definition I suppose.

    Anyway, I’m sure Boatman will be back to explain why I’m entirely wrong!

  17. NeilW says:

    Eileen, by the way, I realise I only gave you half my go at parsing LETTER: the def is “Perhaps a” composed of LET (permit) TER (to speak) which is nicely positioned next to the other “vulgar” spoken word YER.

  18. Boatman says:

    Neil and Azto – I’m quite happy for you both to be correct … If a clue can be solved in two different ways, creating a disturbing collision of images, then so much the better, I say!

  19. Eileen says:

    Pandean @15

    And I wasn’t ignoring your comment – my post crossed with yours!

    NeilW @16

    The symbol in the clue is †, not +

  20. Eileen says:

    And I’ve crossed again! Thanks for that, Neil @17, and for all your other contributions: I knew I could rely on you. 😉

  21. NeilW says:

    Eileen, I realised about the dagger symbol but had no idea how to produce it on here. (Are you bloggers allowed to do more complex things typographically than we mere mortals? 😉

  22. muffin says:

    I gave up on this one – first time for weeks.

    I have another quibble that no-one seems to have mentioned. 18dn A number backing political alliance – isn’t “backing” more appropriate for reversing the order in an across clue? “Lifting”, “rising” or just “up” works better in a down clue.

  23. sppaul says:

    I enjoyed this – although I had to use a few cheats. Did anyone else get stuck with Minae for 8ac?

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi again Neil @21

    You must be joking – my lack of computer skills is legendary! I just pressed Alt and typed 0134 from the numbers on the right hand side of the keyboard. See here:

  25. sppaul says:

    PS Minae lead to Mimics (lots of numbers) for 5 down and sixty still fits!

    PPS many thanks to all bloggers and to Boatman for his visits.

  26. NeilW says:

    I see no one has taken me up (@6) on the extra R in REOCCUR…

  27. rowland says:

    Difficult puzzle as others say, felt quite ‘bitty’, and I found some mist akes, as you usually get in The Guardian. There is a tense error at 8 across for example which has not been mentioned. Still enough here though to make the solve worthwhile. I quite like Boatman, though with more care, or polish, his stuff would be better.

    Many thanks to all,

  28. liz says:

    Thanks for the heroic effort with the blog, Eileen. I found this really tough and ended up having to cheat in a couple of places. My favourite clue, out of a tough bunch, was 16ac for the superb surface!

    There were quite a few places where I simply couldn’t see the wordplay at all…

  29. Gervase says:

    Brava, Eileen

    I found this very difficult, especially the NW quadrant, and had to put it aside and pick it up again three times this morning before it finally yielded.

    CAPARISON, in particular, held me up a long time: tricky clue (at least I thought so) for an unusual word – in a light (like so many in this grid) without a crossing initial letter. It is a strange grid, with 4 three-letter words and only two letters linking the top and bottom halves. That is an observation, BTW, rather than a complaint, but it does serve to make the crossword harder.

    I have to say I did like ARCANA (Enid Blyton reference: what’s not to like?); 4d and 23d were also favourites.

  30. Andrew says:

    Thanks and well done Eileen – this was definitely one of the hardest weekday puzzles for a while, and at least as hard as last Saturday’s Enigmatist.

    My thought about 28ac was that Russell might be the 40s/50s actress and sex symbol Jane Russell, with the cryptic reading being S + EX + SYMBOL, but I can’t see why S = Brand (unless cowboys branded their cattle with an S shape, which I don’t think is the case) so I have severe doubts now.

    As no one else seems to have mentioned it, I agree with your parsing of 4d = FORESEE sounds like 4C, which might (in some strange sequence) come before 5D. Nice clue, I thought.

  31. Gervase says:

    Rowly @27: I don’t agree that there is a tense error in 8a. ‘X swallowed Y’ works for me as a clue, although ‘Boatman’s swallowing a number of coins’ would be more orthodox.

  32. Boatman says:

    Neil – If no-one else will put your mind at ease … the second R in REOCCUR is from “starts to rise”. The definition is “chance again”, using “chance” in a slightly old-fashioned way as a verb. A little bit sneaky, perhaps.

  33. rowland says:

    ‘Russell Brand’ is an unsignposted DBE as well.

  34. rowland says:

    Hi Gervase

    If you lay it out, it is ‘MY swallowed ONE of MONEY’. That’s not very good really, when ‘to swallow’ would have made it all ‘be yond reproach’ with just a small change. That’s what I mean about this sort of stuff generally!! That ‘of’ is okay I think.


  35. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen for a stout effort – I had to quit on this one.

    Extra R in 19a? Is “twice starts” doing double duty, as indicating two Cs and also start of “rise”?
    I couldn’t see the reason for “by chance” either. “to arise again” would be sufficient?

    The surface of it is not the strong point of the clue, either.

  36. Dave Ellison says:

    Boatman got there as I was writing #35

  37. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Boatman. My question was about the plural “starts”, which seems more like RI than just R to me… Still, you’re the boss!

  38. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was a beautiful beast to be overcome with great effort.
    I am surprised at the quibbles about 28ac. In a puzzle where there were several clues I struggled (failed) to parse that one was perfectly clear (a la Neil @2).
    It was the NE (not NW) which held me up and I still find 5&6 d not entirely clear.
    For 5d, although ‘copies’ was an early possibility it seemed so vague that I seriously considered ‘lories’ (NZ parrots).
    I sussed the ‘perhaps a’ as ‘letter’ but not the ‘to speak’ as = ‘ter’.
    Favourites were 22ac, 25ac, 30ac, 16d.
    Eileen, I hope the above postings will persuade you that retirement is not imminent. (interesting discussion in today’s G. about what exactly “step aside” means).

  39. RCWhiting says:

    BTW, although strange to many of you (us?) Russel Brand, especially at the start of his career, was definitely a sex symbol for young (and maybe not so young) women. I think his fame came much more from this attribute than his talent (?) as a stand-up comedian.

  40. rowland says:

    I should think you are right about THAT RCW! A deeplu unfunny man.

  41. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, I found this hard, but I finished it, and if the class dummy finishes it it can’t be that hard!

    No additional comments on the puzzle, it’s been said. But I’d just like to object to reoccur as a word. Could one of you with a posh dictionary check whether it antedates recur or not, please. Recur is a much crisper word. If reoccur postdates recur, you would have to question the IQ of the inventor.

  42. yvains says:

    Thanks to Boatman for a toughie (fav 25D), and to Eileen for an excellent blog under tricky conditions :)

  43. tones says:

    Neil at 37. I agree that starts is a bit misleading. I was trying to decide if “begins” would do, then came to the conclusion that “starting” would perhaps be best.

    I gave up with half a dozen to go. I thought the 24D parsing was too misleading. Vulgar in 10A doesn’t seem quite right to me either.
    Very tough puzzle. Having looked again at the whole, it is quite ingenious.

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

  44. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Boatman

    I found this very hard and worried if it was just the old grey cells letting me down on a bit of a bad-brain day. Thanks Eileen – you are a great solver and although it can’t be much of a comfort to you, your troubles with it were a great comfort to me. Thanks too to others for similar reassurance.

    I completed it after three goes today and got all or most of the parsing except for the ‘ca’ in caparison which I lamely accepted as ‘a number(C)’ crunched by reversal.

    I read 19a a bit desperately as an anagram of Euro around CC (community twice) + ‘starts’ as a verb (surface subject is Euro)). If this is right the ‘to’ is redundant and rise does double duty as the source of ‘r’ and part of the definition ‘to rise by chance again’.

    ‘Trapping’ in the singular is in OED and has several references from the 14th century onward.

    After this and last Saturday’s I may try the quickie tomorrow though even they can catch you out.

  45. tupu says:

    further re trapping

    Boatman seems exactly right acc to the following OED entry with the singular (or plural form) form for a horse etc and the plural rather more metaphorical.

    a. A cloth or covering spread over the harness or saddle of a horse or other beast of burden, often gaily ornamented; a caparison.

    1398 J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomew de Glanville De Proprietatibus Rerum (Bodl.) xviii. xli, The colte is nou?t..ihi?t wiþ trappinge and gay harneys.

    1553 R. Eden tr. S. Münster Treat. Newe India sig. Bvj, The riche trapping of the kinges horse.

    1764 T. Harmer Observ.xxv. vi. 283 On a stately steed, with a rich saddle and fine trappings.

    1817 T. Moore Lalla Rookh (1824) 3 The embroidered trappings of the elephants.

    b.transf. Chiefly pl. ‘Ornaments; dress; embellishments; external, superficial, and trifling decoration’ (Johnson). Also fig.

    1596 T. Nashe Haue with you to Saffron-Walden sig. P2v, Hee is neuer wont to keepe anie man longer than the sute lasteth he brings with him, and then turne him to grasse and get one in newe trappings.

    1604 Shakespeare Hamleti. ii. 86 These but the trappings and the suites of woe.

    a1616 Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) v. i. 8 Duke. Belong you to the Lady Oliuia, friends? Clo. I sir, we are some of her trappings.

    1685 Dryden Threnodia Augustalis xi. 16 He needs no Trappings of fictitious Fame.

    1791 J. Boswell Life Johnson anno 1758 I. 181 A motto, the usual trapping of periodical papers.

    1791 W. Cowper tr. Homer Iliad in Iliad & Odyssey I. iv. 167 The stately trapping of some prince.

    1859 A. Helps Friends in Council 2nd Ser. II. vii. 136 To strip a man of all his trappings of birth, rank, and education.

  46. tupu says:

    Derek Lazenby @41

    Recur in this sense appears first in 1636 (it has other related meanings from a century before that). Reoccur seems to start in 1734.

  47. Paul B says:

    Thank God for people like Tupu.

    However, I’m another who doesn’t understand REOCCUR.

    Euro rebuilt around community twice starts to rise by chance again (7)

    I assume it to be EURO* around C+C = community twice, then the start of Rise. But I can’t find C for community in Collins or Chambers, ‘starts’ indicates more than one letter (maybe R and I), then there’s ‘by’ looking a bit forlorn – link word? – and the def I don’t really get.

    Do I have it?

  48. tupu says:

    Hi PaulB
    :) I hope she/he hears you and my own reciprocated hallelujah for yourself.

    I assumed that C = community as in EC (European Community)though there have been arguments, I think, about such ‘extraction’. I took the definition to be ‘rise by chance again’ but then the ‘to’ is a bit forlorn unless starts is a noun whereas I took it as a singular verb.

    Help please. Perhaps you another setter can enlighten me re ‘double duty’? I suppose that when it is part of an &lit it is OK, but more generally I get the impression it is a suspect device if not simply a mistake.

  49. Eileen says:

    Hi Paul B and tupu

    Boatman explained his intention re the R and the definition in REOCCUR @32

  50. Morpheus says:

    lots to admire but jolly tough. Somewhat wasted on the time we had to devote to it this evening though. A bit like setting off with the intention of climbing Ben Nevis only to discover Mt Everest there instead…

  51. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen

    I somehow missed that. That gets rid of the double duty but leaves the status of ‘starts’ unclear as NeilW notes. Plural noun or singular verb?

  52. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I’m only the messenger: there’s absolutely nothing in that clue that I like!

  53. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thanks tupu.

  54. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Well it was great fun while it lasted. Which was rather longer than usual although I did complete it!

    Quite easy I thought 😉

    I parsed Russell Brand as the “sex symbol” (not a personal opinion) but was confused how the “‘s” fell off Brand into the answer?

    I am more confused by NeilW’s comment @6 which appears to confirm my suspicions about the editor. I always thought his job was to thoroughly check each puzzle before publication. This I thought should include parsing etc. (Also making sure that the answers fit in the grid!)

    Perhaps this is no longer the case?????? (The Microsoft answer to debugging. Leave it to the user!)

    Thanks to Eileen and Boatman!

    Why can’t we have puzzles like this on a Monday?

    (Only joking!)

  55. john mcc says:

    As usual doing this the morning after – gave up with six to do. Too knotty for me. Still don’t like “letter”.

  56. Robs says:

    Very interesting. As a fairly new crossword solver, I found the difficulty level of this one to be about average — meaning I had to stop after an hour or so with about ten clues still left to do. However I also found it a more satisfying experience than usual. It felt as if the clues had just a few more moving parts than normal, and more care had gone into them. Thanks for the challenge Boatman — your clueing style is clearly up my street.

  57. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Pardon my ignorance but I don’t see how CAPARISON works exactly. The clue is “Trapping a number cruncher, jailing one”.

    So the definition is Trapping which leads to the answer CAPARISON

    CA = Chartered Accountant, a number cruncher

    This leaves ‘jailing one’ = PARISON which I can see is A within PRISON but cannot see how the wording ‘jailing one’ leads to it.
    If the clue had read “Trapping a number cruncher, one in jail” then fair enough.

    Or am I missing something ?. Thanks.

  58. Eileen says:

    Hi Davy

    I think it works if you think of ‘jailing one’ = ‘with one in prison’.

  59. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen for you explanation. However, I don’t think it’s fair if an equivalent expression has to be substituted
    to make the clue work.

    Sil: As I always value your opinion, what are your thoughts on the clue in question !.

    How about a slightly different clue to CAPARISON as follows :-

    Trapping a number cruncher by capital switch.

  60. Thomas99 says:

    16a – I think it’s significant that this uses exactly the same device as Alchemi’s “Abba finish” in the Independent last week and nobody has objected to it. The two objectors at that time did not offer any explanation for their point of view, although I think they were probably both vaguely remembering an old setter’s (Ximenes?) rule of thumb. I think it’s a good example of how arbitrary – unfair – criticism can be on this site (and on others). See Davy @59 today too – his newly invented rule (“I don’t think it’s fair if an equivalent expression has to be substituted to make the clue work”) could not possibly have general application. If two expressions have the same meaning then obviously you can’t insist that one is ok and the other isn’t. And if a rule is applied inconsistently then it isn’t a rule.

  61. rowland says:

    Just ungranmatical Davy, that’s all. Compilers and solverse read their ‘surfaces’ and get swizzled into tjinking they are making sense. ‘Jailing one’ isn’t working for me! On the Times Championship puzzle from years back, they had for PIMENTO the device ‘miners?’ to cover MEN in PIT, which I thouht to be a good way round that sort of stuff that did work.


  62. rhotician says:

    Tough. Some bits hard to swallow. Not to my taste.

  63. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Wow, what a lot of c-commotion.
    I didn’t have much time yesterday to do this puzzle properly.
    Only made a sort of start, then gave up (too?) quickly.
    Very hard on the face of it.
    Therefore I wouldn’t have commented until Davy @57 asked for it.

    Boatman is a setter whose puzzles I usually appreciate very much. He has a style of his own, with all the trademarks being there today (which is: yesterday).
    Boatman’s not a Ximenean and does sometimes things that are pushing the boundaries.
    As such nothing wrong with that, but I think in this particular crossword he was a bit too sloppy.

    Yes, Davy, I agree with you about “jailing one” for “A in PRISON”.
    And I am reluctant to stretch it like Eileen @58.

    As I said, I didn’t solve the puzzle properly.
    I went to Eileen’s blog and tried to understand how the clues worked, knowing the answer.
    I am afraid that on several occasions I was not on Boatman’s side.

    There are people (often connected to The Times) that do not like container indicators in the past tense (like “swallowed” in 8ac). Rowland is one of them, I’m another one (even though I am certainly not a Times man – I find most of their crosswords too clinical).

    Paul B @47 made clear why 19ac (REOCCUR) is a clue that should not have gone past the editor – he sums up exactly the things that worried me too.
    “Starts to rise” for R, it’s just plain wrong.

    Unfortunately, there’s more.

    In 13ac I don’t like “condition is poor”, but it can be seen (and there justified) as “sea. Sir my (,its) condition is poor”.

    On second thoughts, I agree with Thomas99 about 16ac. Indeed, in Boatman’s clue should ideally been included an ‘apostrophe ‘s’ somewhere to make it different from ‘Abba finish’ or’Labour leader’. That said, “Abba finish etc” was a nonsensical phrase to me, and a very weak clue in an otherwise nice crossword by the talented Alchemi.

    In 14,17 it is really a pity that the A in front of Caravan stands in the way. Ultimately, it can probably be justified, but it’s just not perfect.
    In a similar way, I found that little word “a” in 20d also iffy: “a number” becomes N and then we introduce an A[sylum] – (the first) “a” is just standing in the way for me.

    In 11d, I am not sure whether the cryptic grammar demands “hold” or “holds”.

    And what about 2ac (STATUE)?
    Is it SAT (Saturday, in short) with “not quite” as a dubious anagram indicator, followed by TUE (a weekday)?
    Or is it not quite “sat”, therefore ST, + A TUE?
    Boatman’s “in short” might in fact apply to Saturday and Tuesday too, but does it really? Messy clue, in my opinion.

    Finally, I have a major complaint about 21d (INGENUE).
    EG is not “example”, it is “for example” which is very different.

    I am in general an admirer of Boatman’s puzzles, but I think in this one he was unusually careless.

    On the positive side, my favourite clue was 30d (SUBMARINE), closely followed by 23d (REVOLT).

    A puzzle full of clever ideas, but not always executed well enough.
    We all have lesser days, haven’t we?

    Thank you, Eileen, I felt for you.

  64. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Boatman and Eileen

    Agree that this was a hardie – that took a few sessions to get out – very satisfying when it was done though. Liked the theme with the use of number and vulgar throughout and the variety of devices to wrangle the answers from.

    Was the NE corner that was last to succumb with LETTER last in.

    With 28a I had it as a dd with Katy Perry and the obelisk (as per Freemason usage) as the SEX SYMBOL and the cryptic part coming fton S(end of Brand’s) EX (estranged wife) and SYMBOL (obelisk – dagger symbol) – which made it a very complex clue.

  65. Davy says:

    Thanks Sil for making the time to give your assessment of this puzzle. It made very interesting reading.

  66. Huw Powell says:

    Eileen, thanks for the struggle, and in truth, it always makes me feel better when you bloggers are partially stumped! Otherwise you seem like Crossword Gods, posting complete solutions and explanations of puzzles that took me hours (over days) to not quite finish and doing it in an hour less the morning of publication.

    Boatman, thanks for stopping by, and I agree 100% with the idea of “fixing” these disconnected grids by using multiple-light clues.

    I also admired, strongly, through the course of this puzzle, the number of different ways you used “number” in clues – and avoided using the cliche “ether” anywhere! Of course NARCOTIC made up for that in a delightful way. And the harder clues didn’t seem to be because you were forcing the theme too far, they were just harder.

    I don’t know if it was covered (it was) but Community (twice) = CC, no need for the “starts” to work double duty. (19a) I have no problem with using the “C” from EC. It took me a while to bang this clue around into a reasonably “acceptable” parsing of the cryptic part. Some of these clues remind me a bit of Araucaria – I’ll get the answer, and everything in the cryptic is related to it, but not in the conventional dimensions of our universe or language. That is, I never quite reach a rigid, clean, way to describe the exact mechanics in a purely Ximenian sense. But to me clues like these are far better than most DDs and some CDs where there is not way to come close to “proving” to oneself that the answer is correct.

    RobS @ 56, I agree about the “moving parts”. The variety of cluing here was, in my humble opinion, very good.

    Favorites I ticked were 16a, 30a, and 15d. I liked 28a a lot, once I twigged the coy reference to RB as the definition – my only familiarity with him is from watching QI, and he certainly seems to think he is one :)

    Finally, thanks to Eileen and all the commenters for helping me with all the pencil left in this grid by the time I was (almost) finished!

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