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Boatman - The First 50: Collected Crosswords from the Guardian and the Stories Behind Them

By Ashley Knowles

Expect many hours of pleasure here, whether you're coming to Boatman's puzzles for the first time, looking for older pieces you may have missed in print, rediscovering half-forgotten favourites or returning to try again with a few that may have defeated you the first time round.

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Fiendish and inimitable, Boatman is widely regarded as one of Britain's most challenging and innovative compilers of cryptic crosswords. In this book, you'll find fifty of his puzzles from the Guardian, with an additional bonus crossword that was first published online in the Genius slot.

So much more than a puzzle book, here Boatman tells the story in his own words behind the development of each crossword: how he thought of the theme, the ideas that didn't make it into print and the unlikely coincidences that emerged afterwards. You'll discover his working methods and the lively relationship between setter and editor, be able to enjoy extra teaser clues and hear from the solvers who took the time to comment on the puzzles when they were first published.

All the crosswords in this collection have been freshly typeset to make solving them an even greater joy, with full solutions and explanations of all the wordplay. 


In the news:

My Sussex Life December 2016

The Argus, Brighton November 2016

The Guardian November 2016




This is one to savour. Boatman's puzzles are witty and ingenious – and he never forgets that his job is to delight the solver. It is now an extraordinary pleasure to read how his unique mind works. The First 50 is a book I never knew I needed in my life. Gift it to yourself and to the word-lovers in yours – Alan Connor, Question Editor of BBC2’s Only Connect and crossword columnist for the Guardian


Few compilers can, like Boatman, regularly  achieve a cryptic puzzle that leaves the  solver genuinely satisfied with the time  and effort expended. This is a unique  book of crosswords. Hugh Stephenson  Guardian Crossword Editor


Giddying stuff, merrily exceeding  the sum of its parts Alan Connor  theguardian.com


I think of Boatman as the Kandinsky of setting.  His puzzles inhabit their own world and, even if I’m stumped by the odd clue, I could  merrily sit staring at them every day. Bingybong


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