Clues by Boatman and Grid by Jolt
Theme: The Watergate scandal, with subthemes of water and gates
The winner of the June puzzle is Heather Haigh of Oxfordshire.
Review of the June 2022 3D crossword
As a graduate of one of Boatman’s courses, and booked to attend his Advanced course in the autumn, I must watch what I say here. Furthermore, Jolt will be the first to read this review, with power to expunge, redact or just simply reject.
How convenient that I don’t have anything bad to write.
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t flailed the odd impotent hand about when the parsing of CRASH and EXITS finally dawned on me.
At this point I must say that I am the last person you want on your quiz team for the picture round. I like Frank Paul’s fig/URINE clue, but who is it? The roguishly half-out shirt collar made me wonder if it was our amazing Founder and President (after a haircut) – though I would say he deserves a bigger pedestal. I don’t think it’s Haldemann, Ehrlichmann or Dean either. [I am indebted to Jolt for the information that it was Araucaria. Sadly, I never met him, but had I done so, I would probably have behaved as I did when lucky enough to meet Sir Garfield Sobers: tongue-tied, and not washing my right hand for a week.]
The [A] clues were my way into the solving of the puzzle, with OTTER my first solution found, followed by a few more which had to be WATER-related. In passing, I enjoyed ICECAPS with its misdirecting use of ‘hard’; and the Spoonerism at Day 18 with its neat cross-reference; however the pair of 34/3 with the two words deliciously formed out of HURRICANES should have been highly productive at that stage. But I have to admit that Boatman did me good and proper with his use of two meanings each of ‘barge’, ‘in’ and ‘short’ in the CRASH clue: putting those together is worth a setting gold medal.
Well, if you know Boatman’s work in the Guardian, you realise that one of his strengths is in finding a large number of different ways in which a key word may be used. He does not go in for ‘ghost’ themes, where all seems innocent until you have the answers all in front of you: he does something much more difficult, which is to throw the theme at you head-on, and then use that theme, once only for each use, in a very large number of ways. Collision with barge in short [B] is a wonderful clue, which I only understood properly when taking a last desperate look before writing here what would have been an admission of ignorance. We expect the ‘significant’ words to carry the meaning – failing that, what is an abbreviation for a word for ‘barge’? And so he defeats us. Of course, the whole clue has to have its phrases regrouped and rescanned: barge in / short – i.e. lacking – [B].
Boatman is also a notorious ‘lift and separate’ merchant, as is shown in the clue for PROOF: of pro/motion might never have done for the Duke – or perhaps the Grand Inquisitor – but I think we know here that we must expect the unexpected. My own view is that crosswords are word games, and that, as long as a proper definition has been given, new and original ways to play on words are welcome – indeed necessary, or we go stale. ‘Can it be solved?’ is the most relevant question – and this one could.
This particular solver only managed to get [B], the second thematic word, with the considerable help of Day 11, which gave us its initial letter. Fortunately, SEGUE was an early solve with an easy clue, so that the G could be assumed from the start. I then proceeded to say ‘… 1972… WATER… G… of course!’ Having watched the excellent series on BBC i-Player not long ago, I felt even more stupid than usual.
What a nice coincidence the setter was able to exploit in FLOOD; OPENING was a very neat anagram; EXITS was another subtle one, with the S in exist ‘set back’. Again, too subtle for me until I sat down to write this. One small quibble: on Day 9, might ‘rent’ not have been ‘rents’? I give the excellent Mr Knowles the benefit, thinking that several fissures might make one rent – but an s would have cost nothing.
The grid was beautifully neat, and as close to snakeless as is possible without calling in St Patrick himself. Beautifully helpful also to Boatman: without filling the grid with Nixons and Washington Posts, as may have been the temptation, Jolt has managed to facilitate Boatman’s task. Discreet and effective: no cover-up required. I also found it did not require too much imagination, with the blue barred cells, to see in that grid a sort of ‘water-gate’ such as one might find in the better class of boathouse.
Graham Fox’s photograph was of course superbly calculated: it gave nothing away until one had worked out the theme, at which point it became an obvious clue! Two things I would love to know are (i) how he achieved the depth of focus in that picture: from the elder-like plants clinging to the lock side in the foreground to the details of the narrowboat far away and far below, all is sharp; (ii) how he managed to take the picture without dropping his camera in the lock. He must have been leaning over. Did his hat fall in? Perhaps we shall never know.
AGC June 2022
We are instructed to subtract FIG from FIGURINE (this one of cryptic crossword setter Araucaria, as it happens), giving:
(FIG)URINE = URINE
Clues and explanations
Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.
|Day||Solution||Direction, Clue, Count||Explanation|
|1||AGILE||10to Sprightly in maturity (about 49) (5)||AGE containing IL|
|2||ARIEL*||15to [A] spirit, one that holds its position with a switch in directions (5)||A LIER with L and R interchanged|
|3||CRASH*||9d Collision with barge in short [B] (5)||GATECRASH – GATE|
|4||CRESS*||9to One expelled from embrace leaves often, following [A] (5)||CARESS – A|
|5||DEEP*||17ac-4 On reflection, produced 34 when with the wide [A] (4)||PEED reversed|
|6||DESIST||17aw,22up-2 Refrain of the French: “It’s gone wrong” (6)||DES + ITS*|
|7||EXITS*||11d [B]s for leaving are s-set back (5)||EXIST (are) with S moved back|
|8||FERRIES*||14ba Boatman refers to “be blended”: means to cross [A] (7)||(I + REFERS)*|
|9||FISHERS||1ac They gather 28s rent, say (7)||Homophone = FISSURES|
|10||FLOOD*||1d Too much [A] left in diet can precede [B] (5)||L inside FOOD|
|11||GOFER*||7d Leaders of [B] or families employing Romanian menial (5)||Gate Or Families Employing Romanian|
|12||HOUSE*||23to Lodge sometimes with [B] in a castle or hotel by river (5)||H + OUSE|
|13||ICECAPS*||16ba [A], hard to find at the ends of the earth (7)||Cryptic definition|
|14||IN FUN||16to Where one should go to find a faun, but not seriously (2,3)||Reverse clue: A in FUN = FAUN|
|15||KYRIE||13aw Lord of the Heavens, with no beginning: King, that is (5)||sKY + R + IE|
|16||LEAKER*||5to,3d Less cheery, bowled out, 5 throat in the case of [A][B] (6)||BLEAKER – B|
|17||OASIS*||6d Eroded foreshore is source of [A] (5)||cOASt + IS|
|18||OILSKIN*||12ac [A] 26 spirals toward the middle, according to Spooner (7)||Spoonerism = COILS IN|
|19||OPENING*||6ac Go in, moving around enclosure, perhaps [B] way (7)||(GO IN)* containing PEN|
|20||OPERA||24up Dramatic presentation of complex read, oddly redacted (5)||cOmPlEx ReAd|
|21||OTTER*||24to [A] creature, not so cool for cockney (5)||hOTTER|
|22||OUSTS||12aw Boots out head of state twice: out! out! (5)||(S(tate) x 2 + OUT)*|
|23||PICKAXE||8ac Choose to sack one that digs (7)||PICK + AXE|
|24||POSTS*||8d They’re found supporting [B]s in dispatches (5)||Double definition|
|25||PRAY||18ac Solicit quiet [A] creature (4)||P + RAY|
|26||PROOF||8to Test print of promotion! (5)||(OF PRO)*|
|27||SANDY*||4d Singular and unknown quality of land found by [A] (5)||S + AND + Y|
|28||SCHOOLS*||22ac [A] creatures may be seen in these trains (7)||Double definition|
|29||SEGUE||4aw Uninterrupted sequence in House Guest (5)||houSE GUEst|
|30||SHUTTER*||19ac The rust destroyed [B] (7)||(THE RUST)*|
|31||SOLVE||2d Loves to be led astray by what you’ll do to this clue (5)||LOVES*|
|32||SPRAY*||25to Fine [A] for first of serious 25 (5)||S(erious) + PRAY|
|33||TORII*||21up [B] way to Shinto temple, the second on rocky outcrop (5)||II after TOR|
|34||URINE*||20up The result of passing [A] violent hurricanes without 3 (5)||(HURRICANES – CRASH)*|
|Optional||WATERGATE||Location of the incident: [A][B] (9)|
A nice reminder of when the -gate form entered the language. [TH]
Some VERY cryptic clues. Not convinced I have them all correct. Great fun. [RE]
Good theme – I remember staying up past midnight to watch Nixon’s resignation speech. Fairly sure about WATER early on as we solved the picture clue first. Once GATE arrived, we were well on our way. Particularly liked KYRIE and the Spoonerism for OILSKIN. No completely new words this month, which is unusual – though we’ve only seen TORII once before, in another crossword. The last clue in for us was Day 7 which we haven’t parsed but EXITS seems the only word that will fit the letter pattern. Thank you, Boatman and Jolt. [CW]
The picture of lock gates for this puzzle helped me to the theme, which was very nicely handled. Thank you, Boatman and Jolt. [RS]
A plum photo and a plumber puzzle [GL]
Really enjoyed this! At first it seemed impossible – couldn’t get many on the first pass without any clue about what A or B might be. But gradually picked away at it, realised there was a watery element to the first theme word, and it was very satisfying when the connection was finally made to the second. Best one of these I’ve done so far, I reckon. Gold Star! [JC]
Lovely puzzle with the main historic political theme and the two beautifully linked subthemes of water and gates. EXPLETIVE DELETED good! [NI]
What a great puzzle! Well done to Boatman and Jolt. Boatman must have loved setting all the water-related clues. It was very clever how many plays the setters made on the central words WATER and GATE. My favourite was Day 16 for the reference to “Deep Throat”. However I also smiled at the reduction of the FIG-URINE in the picture clue to reference Day 34. Graham Fox’s photo (are they locks – if so, wondering where the picture was taken?) was also an intriguing feature of this delightful challenge. [JA]
As far as I could see there were two (Four) candidates for the theme. The second favourite dropped out early on. A nice, precise xword. Thanks, Boatman. [ET]
An interesting variation to have to work out some of the clues. A few queries, which maybe I haven’t given myself enough time to think about: 1 IL isn’t really 49. 2 A + LIER with L/R swap? 7 Wordplay not understood. 9 Should this read “rents”? 14 A is “in faun” but this stops the clue reading properly. 18 Not an accurate Spoonerism. 29 PRO + OF? PR + OOF? [MJ]
Interesting theme – I had not realised it was 50 years ago [HB]
Very enjoyable👌 Thanks again🙏😃 [MN]
Clever puzzle – like the substitution idea. Took some deep thought to get there. [JP]
Surprised to see the theme so quickly then plenty of fun along the way. Thank you for another month’s entertainment. [SH]
More difficult with some clues still to parse. Enjoyed a lot, many thanks to Boatman [PC]
Obvious theme from the picture but a lot of luck to find it. Could this possibly be correct first try? [AM]
Boatman was one of the first setters I worked and remains one of my favorites! Thanks! [JS]
Excellent puzzle but struggled to get wordplay for 7 (11d) [RG]
It wasn’t easy to get started on this , not helped by thinking of Ariel on the 2nd as an airy spirit, rather than watery. However, when I looked up what happened in June 1972, it all came back, so had little difficulty, except I don’t get the wordplay on the 7th, though the definition was clear enough. I liked the way that Boatman had fitted in so much thematic material, but I only got Paul’s drawing after solving the clue [PM]
Loved it! [SC]
I really liked the visual pun with the canal locks – ‘Watergates’ in plain sight! [PA]
It took a while for the penny to drop on [A] and [B] (should have studied the picture more closely!), but when it did the trickle became a flood and it was all over quite quickly. Very enjoyable, and is it really 50 years? Tempus fugit… [MC]
Lovely puzzle, thanks. Clues were all efficiently parsed and fair, though some were harder than others. Fortunately the theme was easy to deduce, as I spend much of my free time running alongside the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. [JT]
Once A and B were established the photo made sense! I liked it😎. [DM]
Brilliant piece of clever deception with the theme from Boatman, given his propensity for nautical themes, and always including himself somewhere within the clues and/or answers, so the locks and canals references had me scratching my head for ages. When the penny dropped, the 1d[B]s opened! It was a very satisfying revelation, and made me appreciate all the more the wit and concise elegance of the clues. I am still stumped by the pictogram though, even when I know the answer! [MS]
Had a few doubtful ones at the end, none of which were mentioned in the newsletter… Gatecrash made more sense than gate clash. [RS]
A very enjoyable puzzle. Thank you. I can hardly believe that the Watergate affair was actually 50 years ago. But it was. Tricky Dicky, Martha the Mouth, Liddy et al . What a cast of characters. [SW]
Really good fun [MD]
A clever puzzle, hardly believable that this scandal was 50 years ago! Must be getting very old. [SF]
A very enjoyable challenge. Congratulations to Boatman for weaving the theme into the puzzle so skilfully. [JB]
This was a well-pitched, well-crafted puzzle with an interesting and original theme. At first it looked as if it had too many references to [A] and [B] to make it solvable! In the event, [A] = Water quite soon became self-evident, but [B] kept its secret for most of my solving time. The idea that IL = 49 (in Day 1) is wholly whimsical. Perhaps Boatman is in the same two-member club as Qaos, who also likes to use IL or IC (the latter ‘indicating’ 99) in this way when the opportunity arises! [AB]
This is possibly our favourite one! Such an ingenious set up, we very much enjoyed the mystery of working out the theme (nice photo) and so many clever clues. [AH]
Clever use of the theme by splitting into two words, and a very good workout to solve the clues, with some entertaining misdirection. Many thanks to all involved. [BS]
An interesting reminder of the notorious event, though only a few references to the what it was about. But Boatman was clearly in his element (!!) with the watery theme….. Couldn’t work out the cartoon this time, however. [SB]
Once I’d got the theme I enjoyed this one [EW]
Tricky (Dicky) in places but a most enjoyable Boatman trip [NH]
He hasn’t given me the location. I presume that he knows it. Thank you. It was a lovely puzzle. [RG]
Enjoyed it, just one answer I am not sure of day 9 [NC]
Loved it! [DB]