Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,871 – Boatman

Posted by manehi on February 14th, 2013


A Valentine’s crossword with a few well-worked mini-themes and lots of clever cluing – I particularly liked 13ac, 20ac/16dn, 25ac and 5dn/22dn. Groaned aloud at 19dn.

7 SAMOVAR =”Urn” [wiki] I think this is S[aint] + “the first” of V[alentine] inside AMOR=Latin name for love/Cupid=”love in Latin verse” along with A=”one”
8 IN AID OF =”Backing” (naif)* around I DO, the “marriage vow”
9 NEIL =”Boy” [sw]E[et]=”sweetheart” inside NIL=”love”
10 SIGNALISE =”Mark, notably” (a single is)*
12 BEVIN =”Old Labour leader” BE IN=”stay at home”, capturing [lo]V[er]=”lover’s heart”
13 NOT AGAIN =”Regret repeat” “a loss’ is NOT A GAIN
15 BRRR =”Lacking warmth?” B[lame] + the three R’s of R[eading], [w]R[iting] and [a]R[ithmetic]
17 HEAR =”Discover” HEAR[t]=”endless source of love”
18 TERZETTI =”Latin[?] trios” (trite)* around [Al]zet[to]
20,16d STATE OF THE ART “Modern” TATE=”British setting for Rodin’s lovers [wiki]” inside SOFT=”gentle + HEART=”symbol of love”
21 SANHEDRIN =”Old Jewish court” (and shrine)*
24 RAPTURE =”love” A “Change of heart” applied to RAT PURE=”rotter, untouched”, switching the T for the central P.
25 KISSING =”like Rodin’s lovers” K[ilo]=”A thousand” + IS=1’s=”singles” + SING=”make mouth music”
1 KATE =”girl” (Take)*
2 BOWL OVER =”OVERWHELM” LOVER=”sweetheart”, after BOW=”polite introduction”
3 PASS ON =”Die” PASS[i]ON=”love”, without I=”Boatman”
4 INFANTRY =”They take arms” IN=”trendy” + FAN=”lover” + TRY=”taste”
5,22 LIVING ROOM =”Where to relax” sounds like “live-in groom” i.e. “cohabitee/husband”
11 GONDOLIER =”Boatman” (Rodin Lego)*
12,6 BARGEPOLE =”Stick to Boatman” rev[ELOPE + GRAB]
14 INANE =”Crazy” Hidden inside “aga[IN AN E]ndearment”
17 HEADREST =”put this behind you and go off safely” H[oney] + (dearest)*
19 ZENITH =”pinnacle” Q: What’s the pinnacle of Eathtern thought? A: ZEN ITH [“is”, with a lisp]
20 SENT IN =”Instructed to attack” (tennis)*
21,16a SCATOLOGY =”Interest in obscene” SLOG=”difficult work” around CATO=”Latin writer” + [trilog]Y
23 OINK =”Sound of animal” an “empty pen” has O [zero] INK

51 Responses to “Guardian 25,871 – Boatman”

  1. michelle says:

    This was an enjoyable puzzle which I managed to complete with some help from dictionary, thesaurus, and the online “check” button.

    No new words for me today except TERZETTI which was easily solvable through the word-play, and of course BEVIN but he was also easily gettable (with help) as I had the letters B*VIN at that point.

    There were so many clues that I liked, especially 8, 15, 20/16, 18, 13, 12/6, 2 and now that I have read Manehi’s blog I would have to add ZENITH (I had assumed that “eaththern” was a typo in the online version of the clues).

    Thanks Manehi for your blog as I needed your help to understand parsing of 23, 24, 3, 7, 5/22.

    Thanks to Boatman for a great puzzle. However, I didn’t like the use of the grid for 12/6 and 21/16 as I found it harder to visualise the answers when they were split up in that way.

    PS Thanks to all of you for the wonderful and humorous words of support yesterday. I’ll stick around and annoy you!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks manehi, notably in my case for the parsing of last in RAPTURE which I stared at for ages and gave up on. Second last was 21, 16 which was one of numerous tantalising and good clues. I agree ‘Latin’ is a bit suss in 18a – needed though for its trilogy (21,16), like Rodin’s and Boatman’s.

  3. molonglo says:

    I mean 20,16 was penult and tantalising.

  4. Shirley says:

    What a delightful puzzle – only one quibble Ernest Bevin 12A was never a leader of the Labour Party but we still managed to get the answer. Perhaps something like Old Labour stalwart would have been more appropriate.
    Happy Valentines day everybody

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    Much more fun than the last few days, obviously. Annoyingly, michelle found this relatively easy! ;)

    RAPTURE didn’t quite work for me since the heart is off-centre but that’s probably being excessively picky.

    Saw INANE immediately and then stared at it for ages. INsANE for crazy, perhaps but INANE didn’t seem right.

  6. michelle says:

    My dictionary describes BEVIN as: “Bevin, Ernest (1881–1951), British statesman and trade unionist.”
    So, I interpreted the clue to be trade unionist = labour leader, rather than Bevin being leader of the Labour Party.

    NeilW @5
    Haha, yes, it is annoying! But I can’t take it so far as to say that it was very easy and that I finished in 10 minutes. I’m slow but sure. Hopefully my pace will pick up sooner rather than later.

  7. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Boatman and Manehi: most enjoyable.

  8. Rog says:

    I agree with NeilW about both RAPTURE and INANE. A combination of the unhelpful grid at that point, the loose use of ‘heart’ and what I thought was a fairly strained definition made RAPTURE very difficult to get, for me at least. And crazy = inane seems a bit loose to me as well.

  9. Apple Granny says:

    A great puzzle. Thanks Boatman and Manehi. Loads of really good clues which made us chuckle. Too many to list. We didn’t write RAPTURE in,because we couldn’t parse it. But it was the only thing we could think of. We had to look up TERZETTI, as the only possible anagram. Took ages to understand 20,16. Otherwise not too hard.

  10. John Appleton says:

    I have to say I groaned as soon as I realised that even the crossword wasn’t free from jumping on the bandwagon of this absurd “holiday”. But that’s just me. Didn’t particularly enjoy this, the grid isn’t great and it seems like we’ve got a few obscure words for the sake of the theme.

    I did wonder if BEVIN was a mistake, having only heard of Bevan, but Wiki set me right.

  11. Robi says:

    Thanks Boatman and manehi.

    Given the theme, I was surprised that 18 was not ‘confetti.’ 12d ‘burro’ and 19 ‘finite’ would have allowed it. TERZETTI was new to me, as was SANHEDRIN. I was also surprised that OLOGY was a bona fide word, rather than just a suffix.

    I guess ‘change of heart’ in 24 was a bit libertarian, but I thought it was OK really. My favourite was BARGEPOLE where I fell for the Boatman=me for a long time.

  12. Gervase says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    I confess that I consider St Val’s to be a cynical excuse for commercial exploitation, but unlike John A @10 I enjoyed this crossword a lot. Boatman is fond of this varied use of a theme in a crossword, which I much prefer to the ‘list of names’ type of thematic.

    I failed to get 24a (though I didn’t try very hard), but having seen the explanation and the comments I’m not surprised about this. On the other hand, SANHEDRIN and TERZETTI (with the give-away of a crossing Z) were write-ins for me. Unusual words are often easy – if you happen to know them, of course. I wasn’t too exercised about ‘Crazy’ = INANE, and TERZETTI, which are Italian, can be considered to be ‘Latin’ in the broader Mediterranean sense (as in ‘Latin lover’ – which rather fits the theme of the puzzle).

    OLOGY reminded me of those celebrated BT ads with Maureen Lipman: ‘You’ve got an ology!’ was the punchline of one of them.

    Favourites were 13a, 3d, 12,6, 23d.

  13. NeilW says:

    Seems to have gone awfully quiet, which is surprising for such a good puzzle with it’s share of discussion points. Anyway I too got OLOGY, like Gervase, immediately courtesy of Maureen Lipman (lnk for those who really don’t remember it.) Still had too check that it had passed into the vernacular though. An OED fiend will no doubt tell me that the two are not connected!

  14. NeilW says:

    Sorry about the extraneous O which slipped past as I struggled to master the arcane art of links!

  15. Rowland says:

    I think there might be something wrong with the system today. Just typed one in, put in captcha, and it lost the post, and asked me to cpmplete captcha.

    Horrible grid, couldn’t see why as there would be no problems using an easier one for this theme, plus couple of weird clues e.g. BEVIN using ‘could’ just for surface. I don’t like that kind of redundancy!


  16. Gervase says:

    Rowly @15: You’re right about the grid being unhelpful, though I can’t say I noticed at the time, as I managed to work through the puzzle fairly rapidly, and with a light heart :). The Grauniad has a library of permissible grids (unlike the Indy, which allows its setters to produce their own, within certain constraints) but I don’t recall seeing this one used before. Presumably Boatman had come up with a number of thematically related clues before he started to fit the words together – and found the grid that worked best.

  17. Boatman says:

    Hah! Yes, these even-crossing grids are always a bit frustrating if you’re hoping for early help with first letters, but at least it’s reasonably well connected, unlike some Guardian grids which split into two halves if you don’t have two key solutions – and the linked solutions help, once you’ve got them … I could go on … Anyway, it’s the only one in the library that would let me get all my theme words in.

    Advert alert — Anyone who’d like to hear me go on about grids and suchlike at greater length may be interested in my excellent value Crossword Masterclasses – more here if so:

    Thanks to all for the compliments and the groans …

  18. michelle says:

    I don’t know about other posters’ comments but I wasn’t complaining about the grid as such but the grid as you used it: for 12/6 and 21/16 I found it harder to visualise the answers when they were split up in that way.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle very much.

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    Bit of a struggle for the class dummy, but got there.

    I thought the leadership that Bevin had was either General Secretary of the TGWU, or maybe as Minister of Labour. Either is specific enough to qualify as a labour leader, rather than Leader of the Labour Party.

  20. Jeceris says:

    Robi @ 11 et al. In what way is OLOGY a separate word here? The answer is simply a nine letter word which the setter has (annoyingly IMO) split into two.

  21. beermagnet says:

    Jeceris @ 20: You are correct that the Answer is a 9-letter word that happens to split across 20/16, but there is an undoubted, and maybe unspoken, Crossword convention that the separate parts of a word split in such a way should be words in their own right.
    I too doubted OLOGY until it really had to be.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Agree entirely with Gervase para 1 @12.
    After so many disappointments this week it was a relief to turn to the last page of my paper, scan several clues and solve absolutely nothing.
    Pace Michelle, I found this quite tricky and failed on ‘rapture’.
    Of course Bevin was a labour leader, in several capacities (naked into the ….) and often erroneously confused with Bevan (a truly noble Labour Leader).
    Jeceris @20, I thought there was an unwritten rule that each separate entry shall be a recognised word even though for cluing purposes it might be treated as part of a longer word. ML came straight to my mind too.
    Last in, apart from failure, was ‘in aid of’.
    A jolly good workout.

  23. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Boatman and manehi.

    Happy Valentine’s day to those who appreciate the fun! (and the flowers and a lovely meal!)

    Michelle, eccellente and first to post, too!

    I thought this was fun and just right for the day. Overcoming the grid is as much a part of the proceedings as solving the clues for me; great when a nice line of first letters develops but more of a challenge when that doesn’t happen.

    Glad you enjoyed today’s offering, RCW.

    Giovanna x

  24. RCWhiting says:

    That’s all very well Giovanna (and thanks) but I stand by, waiting for tupu, Davy et al to criticise me for claiming that I found today’s puzzle difficult.

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    Whilst there were some interesting clues, particularly ZENITH, I didn’t like the OVER in both the clue and answer to 2d; nor, similarly the REST in 17d.

    I failed initially on BARGEPOLE, thinking it was BRIDELOPE, which does exist, and fits the two word criterion. However, when I saw BRRR in manehi’s blog, the answer was clear.

    Thanks, manehi.

  26. muffin says:

    I enjoyed this, though I failed on RAPTURE, so well done Michelle. All the other points I would have made have been covered already.

  27. Duke says:

    The answer to 19d should be THENITH

  28. RCWhiting says:

    muffin, you and I (and others) failed on ‘rapture’,I wonder why.
    It is a common enough word and with -a-t-r- already in it is amazing that we didn’t get it.
    My theory (tentative) is that I was not very certain what the definition was and if it were ‘(by)love’ this does not easily translate to ‘rapture’.
    Any thoughts?

  29. MikeC says:

    Thanks manehi and Boatman. An enjoyable challenge. Glad I wasn’t alone in failing to write in RAPTURE. SAMOVAR’s parsing was also beyond me, though I was sure it had to be right.

  30. muffin says:

    RCW @ 28
    I see what you mean – the “by” seems superfluous, doesn’t it? And I agree that “rapture” doesn’t conjure up quite the same picture as “love”. On the other hand, I might just have been having a bad day – I found several of the others slow to come as well.

  31. MikeC says:

    Sorry, RCW@28, we crossed. It’s a good question about RAPTURE. My thought is that the word play is quite elaborate – take two short word synonyms, switch the middle(?) letters and join the results to make a new word. “Change of heart” usually means adjust one or two letters in the precise centre of a longer word; this usage was new to me but does not seem intrinsically unfair.

    A further thought is that the crossing letters allowed a large number of possible answers, so I found it difficult to focus on one (which “had” to be right!) and work out a way of parsing it.

  32. Paul B says:

    SCAT and OLOGY are both ‘words in their own right’, so I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would worry about that. At least, not in a Guardian puzzle (they allow that sort of thing, you know).

  33. Giovanna says:

    RCW@24 You are welcome. It would be a much duller site without you!!

    Giovanna x

  34. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Boatman and manehi

    Boatman is usually one of my nemesis setters, so I knew that the run had broken for the week!

    Found it reasonable going until I hit SAMOVAR (the parsing of which didn’t sit quite right for me), 20/16, 21/16 and the last in RAPTURE (in which I kept trying to make DASTARD fit in). Was pleased to finally see the different take on ‘change of heart’ to mean ‘swap a bit left of centre’ to finish off.

    Thought that 20,16 was clearly cod.

  35. MDatta says:

    Am with Jeceris un untidy scat…ology, unless It’s the Maureen LIpman’s defence, ” well, it’s an ology! “

  36. SeanDimly says:

    As someone whose real first name is Mark, I was enraged by 10. (Guess how many cards I got – sob!)
    Also needed help with the clues involving passion and rapture. (Not sure I can go on now …)
    But otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the crossword. 12d/6 and 23 made me smile.
    Thank you Boatman and Manehi.

  37. claire says:


    I see what you mean, but I think it’s OK. To get THENITH the clue would have to read (What’th the pinnacle etc.’

    Loved this, though failed (as did many) on rapture. Favourite was Live-in-groom, I think

  38. Mitz says:

    Thanks Boatman and manehi.

    Having been too busy to visit all week I was delighted to see the Sailor today. And he didn’t disappoint. Pretty much everything has been mentioned, so I’ll just say that despite Duke’s (mistaken) comment, for me ZENITH is a clear contender for clue of the month.

  39. nametab says:

    Late question for anyone, please. What is the reversal indicator in the parsing of 12 6?

  40. Mitz says:

    Nametab: the reverse indicator is simply “up” – perfectly OK in a down clue.

  41. tupu says:

    Thanks manehi and Boatman

    Apart from a few minutes this morning, I only got to this late in the evening after a long day.

    I found it pretty hard and for the most part fun.

    Like some others I failed on ‘rapture’. A main problem for me was that there were so many possibilities when looking at the available lettters, though none of them made much sense. Seeing the answer and the parsing, like Gervais I’m not really surprised I didn’t get it and I feel relieved to be in his and RCW’s company. I suppose I might have got it if I’d seen ‘love’ as the definition and realised that ‘rotter, untouched by’ meant ‘pure next to rat’, but even then rapture and love are not as close as one might like. Still it is gettable, I must confess, and others managed. Did anyone work it out from the instructions?

  42. tupu says:

    I should add, when I say there were so many possibilities, that I did fail to see rapture as one of them.

  43. Mitz says:

    Tupu: RAPTURE was my last in, but I did get it in the way Boatman intended. As you say, it was made harder by the large number of possibilities for ?a?t?r?, and like brucew_aus I spent quite a while trying to justify “dastard” before seeing the light.

  44. Mitz says:

    Michele: I meant to mention before – when a word is split up as in 12d, 6 and I’m struggling to visualise the whole word I find it useful to jot down the spaces and crossing letters on a scrap bit of paper. For BARGEPOLE I had –R-E—E for a while – much easier to see that “elope” could be part of the answer like that.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    As to RAPTURE (which we didn’t get either), it is unfortunately a not so very good clue in an otherwise fine crossword.
    Neil W @5 was the first to make clear why.

    This was not the most fiendish of Boatmans.
    We loved the imagery of 11d, Rodin playing around with Lego.
    19d is as guardianesque as it can get. Not sure whether I like this. It will not be my CoM, I fear, but I see the fun of it.

    After Klingsor’s stunning NEIL (“I’ll be right back”), we had another nice clue for that word today (9ac).

    The main feature of a Boatman crossword is ‘repetition’.
    Today I counted: 3x Latin, 2x sweetheart, 2x single(s), 4x lover, 5x love, 3x Rodin and of course Boatman himself (2x).
    Normally, Boatman avoids devices being used more than once, but here we had “lover’s heart” (12ac) and “sweetheart” (9ac). No problem with it, but a bit un-Boatman.

    While we liked the surface of 17d, we thought HEADREST and ‘dearest’ looked a bit too similar.
    On the other hand, ‘tennis game’ for SENT IN was simple but very effective.
    Still a bit puzzled by AMOR for “love in Latin verse” – perhaps, it’s just there for the surface.

    STATE OF THE ART (20ac, 16ac) was a write-in (yes RCW, sometimes I have them too :)) because it was a Cryptican deja vu for me – whatever that means to you all.

    Finally, two questions for Paul B:
    – what is the reason for posting comments only containing “test”? (not just here, but in another place too)
    – “SCAT and OLOGY are both ‘words in their own right’, so I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would worry about that. At least, not in a Guardian puzzle (they allow that sort of thing, you know)”. I don’t care about that either, but do you implicitely say that eg the Independent and/or The Times have/has a different policy?

    Thanks manehi.

  46. michelle says:

    thanks for the good advice, I will do that in the future.

  47. Attilus the Nun says:

    Thanks to setter and to blogger. I also had problems with 24a: became fixated on B-S-A-D, but couldn’t quite parse it and gave up.

  48. Huw Powell says:

    I loved 9 and 20/16. Disliked 17 (barely anagrammatic) and 21/16 – “interest in obscene” is a poor def in my opinion, clumsily stuffed to make the “surface” work. Didn’t get RAPTURE, not impressed with the explanation. Glad to see Michelle is still on board.

    Thanks for the puzzle – and for dropping by – Boatman, and for the blog, Manehi!

  49. Paul B says:

    Hello Sil.

    I just get obsessed with a word occasionally, and this week’s was TEST. Also, I was having trouble posting for a while, and getting a message on seemed to be a bit of a chance thing. So things worked out rather well, if somewhat coincidentally.

    Re the word-split-into-two-other-words-and-entered-separately thing, obviously you can do it in The Groaniad, I’ve done it myself in The Indy (so that’s a yes as far as I’m aware), and you certainly wouldn’t be allowed to do it in The Thunderer. FT I should think so, but can’t remember if I’ve done it there, DT and the rest no idea.



  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, Paul, get it.
    HTH and TTFN look very much like some posers in the last round of Only Connect after the connecting wall was too much for me anyway …

  51. Betsy says:

    Enjoyable Crossword. Enough to make me want to go to one of his masterclasses. However, Brrr is not a word.

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