⏴ Slip No. 1967 View the clue list Slip No. 1975 ⏵



1.  Dr I. S. Fletcher: Craft apt when aim’s Head of the River (anag. incl. R, & lit.).

2.  C. M. Edmunds: One Down absorbs us all – need for stroke of genius (man in Watership; ref. Richard Adams novel and AZ comp).

3.  R. J. Heald: Sampan owner hit rocks, showing no ——? (comp. anag. & lit.).


T. Anderson: With advance fee, desolate spirits cross Acheron’s banks in Charon’s craft (w a + A, n in terms hip5).

D. Arthur: Hit fencing master hard in developing skill with blades (anag. incl. H in wap).

J. Baines: Introducing trendy ‘New Look’ for men, a straw boater’s got such flair (anag. + hip).

W. Drever: A prowess, in the main? This is one possibly (comp. anag. & lit.).

P. F. Henderson: What means I start to row with unsettling power? (anag. incl. r + P, & lit.).

M. Hodgkin: Putting one’s oar in skilfully to rally MPs round a new style after Labour’s second period (a term + a NS, all in whip).

R. J. Hooper: Taste of Worcester Pearmain’s not quite the fresh quality of a good Cox, say (W + anag. incl. th(e)).

J. C. Leyland: Doctor saw sign of paralysis in the arm, characteristic of a stroke (anag. incl. p).

W. F. Main: With a title, one has to take on board what Steve Redgrave has achieved (w a term an ship).

D. F. Manley: Requirement for effective blades? Being hairy, I want ’em sharp (anag.).

C. G. Millin: With one in turbulent stream, knowing this helps rower (w + an in anag. + hip).

T. J. Moorey: What men as pair on the rocks are lacking? (anag. less a, & lit.).

C. J. Morse: When ship breaks down within reach of the south coast, rowing craft comes out (man in Watership; W. Down in Hampshire).

R. S. Morse: Racing men’s pair – what’s on display? (anag. & lit.).

A. Plumb: It’s possibly poor, at first, in a Thames row when Oxford’s lead is lost (anag. incl. p less O, & lit.).

N. G. Shippobotham: Redgrave’s skill does warm thespian (anag.; ref. Steve and Michael R.).

I. Simpson: A half minute and tap washer will be fixed – good, it will avoid a terrible row (anag. incl. min(ute)).

A. J. Wardrop: Core requirement for crewmen with their sampan adrift (w + anag., & lit.).

D. C. Williamson: Manoeuvering of a prow in Thames, striking nothing? (anag. less 0, & lit.).

A. J. Young: Heading for Putney and Mortlake and a win, hearts pounding – just what’s needed (anag. incl. P M, & lit.; ref. Boat Race).


D. Appleton, D. K. Arnott, M. Barker, M. Barley, T. C. Borland, C. Boyd, C. J. Brougham, A. & J. Calder, J. & B. Cheesman, C. A. Clarke, M. Coates, E. Cross, N. C. Dexter, V. Dixon, L. K. Edkins, A. S. Everest, J. Glassonbury, N. C. Goddard, M. Goodliffe, G. I. L. Grafton, R. Griffin, J. Grimes, A. H. Harker, D. Harris, P. J. Hartley, V. G. Henderson, R. Hesketh, Ms M. Irvine, Mrs S. G. Johnson, G. Johnstone, B. Jones, J. R. H. Jones, E. W. Kelly, Dr A. Kitching, E. Looby, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, P. W. Marlow, P. McKenna, Rev M. R. Metcalf, P. J. Nightingale, R. A. Norton, D. J. R. Ogilvie, G. S. Parsons, M. L. Perkins, R. Perry, Dr T. G. Powell, A. M. Price, S. Saunders, C. M. Steele, P. L. Stone, A. W. Taylor, J. R. Tozer, Ms S. Wallace, L. Ward, W. B. Wendt, Dr M. C. Whelan, A. Whittaker, Ms B. J. Widger, P. Wilson, R. Zara.

A good entry this month, in both quantity and quality: 285 in all, including two which might have made the VHC list but arrived long after the deadline bearing indecipherable postmarks, and a tiny few that failed to get JASS. Favourite clue by a very wide margin (of 21 nominated at least once) was ‘Wherein one may find Usain Bolt after a dash?’ for ABLUTIONS. I spotted this pleasing anagram (which may have been used before though I don’t recall seeing it) some months ago and then forgot about it for a while. I dare say there are those who make it their business to discover one-word anagrams of the names of well-known people; for me it’s purely serendipity.
And while we’re talking of anagrams, WATERMANSHIP offered a wealth of possibilities, which you duly exploited to the full. For once, absolutely no one complained about its being a difficult clue word. The difficulty was in the judging, which was uncommonly hard, so rich and varied were your offerings, for which I congratulate you all. Many essayed composite anagrams with an ‘& lit.’ element, always very elegant when it comes off, but beware of wording such as ‘What pairs men represent’, which for the cryptic reading to work should be the unacceptable ‘What what pairs men represent’. The Chambers definition of WATERMANSHIP seems at first over-precise, excluding as it does the more general sense of boating skills of all kinds, e.g. the sort of thing that Ratty enjoyed. I had to go to the bigger Oxfords for this wider definition and even there it seems to suggest that these days watermanship is confined to skill with oars. I took this on board, as it were, and tried to make my judgement accordingly.
A number of you have commented, not always favourably, on the new-look Observer and how it has affected the positioning and appearance of my puzzle. I have to say that, on balance, I am reasonably content, though they don’t always give a helpful contents list for the new enlarged review section. If you do feel strongly about this, please write directly to the editor, John Mulholland, as this is likely to carry more weight than if I simply forward views expressed to me.


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