2010 Championship Grand Final – Puzzle 1

I think it was widely accepted that this was a difficult puzzle. I can’t give my own time, or even a very good estimate, as besides not timing the individual puzzles, I chopped and changed with a few answers left in each. There are some great clues, and contrary to the received wisdom, they are appreciable even at speed.

1 Post Lar? (7)
BOLLARD – Lar ‘in BOLD’! – Clearly this would be a gimmick of some sort, and not something I expected to solve without plenty of checking, and even then I feared it might prove hard to deduce the reasoning. In the end I got it with an A and D in the grid by considering ‘post’ synonyms, and think it is a fair and clever clue, exploiting a slight, but clear, indirectness.
5 Head over heels, desperate to wear finest stone (7)
PERIDOT – DIRE in TOP, all rev
9 Before the end of Rigoletto, bass part held back by great big noise (9)
MAGNIFICO – FIN rev in MAGIC + O – I always admire a clue which uses a (heteronymic) homograph, like ‘bass’ here. This is the sort of answer that I might have just filled in three years ago without checking the wordplay (I had the G and I’s checked), but I certainly bothered to confirm it, and not just because I didn’t know the word outside the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody.
10 Strike loudly, bearing lower (5)
WHANG – W + HANG – My most worrying entry in all the puzzles. I was neither certain of the meaning of WHANG (which I know colloquially as ‘throw’) nor whether ‘lower’ was a synonym for ‘hang’. When I held my number up it was partly because I was convinced no other word fitted the checking letters, and had a bad second or two when I subsequently thought of WRANG.
11 Set off to catch man, clever, not a cheat (13)
THIMBLERIGGER – HIM + (A)BLE in TRIGGER – I was quite pleased to know this was a word, though I couldn’t have said that it related to the old sleight-of-hand trick.
13 Brave protagonist behind cape, eager to remain nameless (8)
15 Discomfort running, might this be? (6)
STITCH, 2 defs – Actually I’m still not sure about this. At the time I thought it an &lit, the whole referring to both a jogger’s pain and a needlewoman’s error, but now I’m inclined to think that the last four words refer to a ‘running stitch’ as an example.
17 Jacket exposed at the front, assign pockets (6)
REEFER – E(xposed) in REFER
19 From here, drive anger out, a difficult issue? (8)
TEENAGER – TEE + ANGER* – well-constructed, very misleading clue.
22 Prepared for battle, and striking? (7,2,4)
Omitted for you to work out – easy one at last.
25 Sect ending in boxing ring (5)
CLANG – CLAN + G – I believe I call ‘boxing ring’ here a ‘lift and separate’…
26 Same agent arranged for Liberace, say (5,4)
STAGE NAME – same agent* – not a great choice of stage name, as it was Liberace’s real surname!
27 Asian I’m sure put in the shade (7)
28 Conceive it, say, as something to bury (7)

1 Fail to attack (4)
BOMB, 2 defs
2 One was gifted, finding opening in shelter (7)
3 Party enters perfect defence (5)
4 Baby on the ball? (8)
DRIBBLER – 2 defs
5 Soft tripe that’s to be disdained (6)
PHOOEY – P + HOOEY – this was the one, the clue that 3 of the top 6 finishers and several other finalists got wrong. The huge problem, apart from the slightly obscure answer and misleading definition (‘that’s to be disdained’) is that even if you deconstruct correctly you need to find a –O–E– combination meaning ‘tripe’, and you’re unlikely to think of using a vowel in the middle. For myself, having looked at this for over a minute on its own at the end, I was quite pleased to come up with PHONEY, which could be something to be disdained, perhaps – while HONEY might have enough meanings to include ‘rubbish’; it was while I was writing it in that I realised it wasn’t quite good enough, and now that my brain had the PH- beginning, it was able to supply the correct answer. I have great sympathy for all those who tried PHONEY.
6 Amended appeal to round number, after partners secured by bishop (9)
7 Current man on board (7)
DRAUGHT, 2 defs
8 Ocean predator rights wrong, saving English ship (5,5)
12 Mouse minded to hide in tree, given no more time (7-3)
SCAREDY-CAT – CARED in SYCA(more) + T – a brilliant clue in my opinion, using lots of quite fair but unobvious parts to give a seamless and misleading surface. I was lucky to get this cold, having decided that ‘mouse’ in the sense of a timid person would be the definition. Perhaps it’s because my children have been watching so much Tom & Jerry that MOUSE led to CAT in my mind.
14 Slip open, inspiring whisper (9)
16 Memorial of Circe, not Aphrodite (8)
CENOTAPH – (Cir)CE NOT APH(rodite) – some purists dislike ‘of’ to indicate a hidden, but I think it’s fair enough
18 Young animal, born ram, we reared (3,4)
EWE LAMB – B + MALE + WE, all rev – I found this easy given the definition and enumeration
20 Giant curly thing in porker, twisted (7)
GOLIATH – TAIL in HOG, all rev – the ‘curly’ is just compiler generosity, or a sort of shared joke, as it’s only in a pig that the tail is curly traditionally.
21 Inventor — one blasted off to orbit Pluto (6)
EDISON – DIS in ONE* – with a D in the grid and the word ‘inventor’ this went straight in, but again I bothered to check that the wordplay worked. Very neat surface.
23 Take lid off vessel with temperature static (5)
24 One wing allowed to remain (4)
LEFT, 2 defs – a bit of a worry, with the multiple fits for –E–T and the somewhat vague first definition; I decided that if LEFT wasn’t intended, it was at least completely defensible, and stopped worrying.

A very tough puzzle for me, made tougher by my somewhat hurried arrival
for the final. I think 13A was my first answer. I retired hurt after
about two thirds of this one to try No. 2, which turned out to be even
worse for me. 10A was hard to be really sure about and I think was my
last answer in this puzzle. One of my few good moments was spotting
PHOOEY as a better answer for 5D just after PHONEY was written in.
Helen Ougham mentioned “honeycomb tripe” as an unfortunate false
justification that she’d thought of. Solved without full wordplay: 9,
11, 12, 21.

6 comments on “2010 Championship Grand Final – Puzzle 1”

  1. Certainly the hardest of the three for me. Amazing that as well as at least 7 other finalists, both Mark and Peter had ‘phoney’ in at 5dn at one stage!

    I also had some doubt over WHANG, which initially I thought was going to be ‘whack’. 1ac (BOLLARD) looks so obvious in hindsight but it took me ages on the day, and to be honest the unconventional bold type threw me a bit. I wasted time at 1dn on ‘beat’ and ‘goat’ (‘go at’) and couldn’t remember the exact word THIMBLERIGGER until I had several checking letters.

  2. Although I missed the final due to errors in the second preliminary session I completed these puzzles in the newspaper on Monday. I went through the same thinking over PHOOEY/PHONEY and made the correct choice. Whether I would have done so under the pressure of the Grand Final is another matter!
  3. Just tried the three of them – PHOOEY wasn’t a cause for concern, but I did agonize over WHANG, that being my last entry on what was the first to start and the last to finish of the three crosswords. Not sure if I would have gotten them in the time, but I have three correct grids, woohoo!

    I printed the three on a single sheet, so it wasn’t obvious until a long time later that LAR was bolded in my printout and I was looking for every possible combination of the letters POSTLAR as an &lit. If I had a copy where you could see the bolding, I might have shaved a few minutes off this.

  4. This is the one I wouldn’t have had time to finish if I’d been at Cheltenham – I was just about on schedule with the other two. Though, like George, I was hamstrung by not being able to see the bold type in 1a in the rotten printout made available.

    Something just over half an hour for this. I solved all three in a row, with this one last (having heard a rumour that it was tough) and I have to admit I struggle for mental stamina over three consecutive puzzles. I can only sit and think for so long before I find that I’m just sitting.

  5. Yes, hardest of the three for me. I found it hard to get going and eventually started at the bottom. Whang last in and still not keen on it as a clue.
    So I also have three correct solutions now. But would not have done so inside an hour, I’m afraid.
  6. Being a boring methodical sort I have finally got around to these and have started with number one. My problems were the same as most others with a guess really at WHANG and an age seeing PHOOEY, my last in. I got BOLLARD from B…..D, thinking post=BOLLARD? and then the penny dropping – interesting clue! Very difficult puzzle that I enjoyed sitting at home but might have lost the will to live if trying to do it under pressure.

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