23746 – Championship Prelim 2, Puzzle 3

Solving time: say 11 minutes

I have a time of 9:25 written next to the grid from solving this shortly after the champs, but I’d heard one or two answers already and even had a brief glimpse of a completed grid as you’ll see below. There are plenty of clues to make you think, but apart from the possibility of misspelling 7D, I can’t see anything that would have tripped up potential finalists. Unless of course, you know different …

Sod’s law of xwd blogs: late last night I scribbled notes on my championship copies of puzzles 1 and 2 for this prelim, thinking today’s would be one of the two. I guess there’s something in both of those puzzles that would clash with other puzzles around 23476 in the publication sequence.

5 UTOPIA – (Op., I) in oUt-TrAy – a book by Thomas More – he’s the one keeping his kit on in the BBC Tudors series.
10 NI-CAM – hidden in ‘screen I came’. N?C?M was a grid no-no until this handy word came along. But see the comments …
11 PAINT(B(rigade))ALL
12 SUB(JUG)ATE – a tricky clue which I think I’ve seen before, but still had to think about a bit
13 ER(A)SE – ‘clear’ in the calculator sense
14 MESS=muddle,TIN=can. Very clever wording here, “Tommy Tucker” being a CD for ‘soldier food’
16 TAILOR – 2 def’s, one referring to the “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor” rhyme for cherry stones, or a John le Carré title if you prefer
18 HAWSER = washer* – a hawser ‘fastens’ a ship to a mooring
20 ACH(IEV=I’ve*)
22 (g)USHER
23 FOOL=strawberry dish,HARDY=writer
25 I’M PATIENT is what the person in an operating theatre might “profess” (if awake!)
26 UNITE(d) – Wed being the def.
27 SCY=”sign”,THE=article
28 RE(VERS(e))AL
1 HANDS,(h)OME – “Striking workers” is our “lift and separate” phrase of the day
2 JACOB – Ca. rev in JOB = position, ref. Jacob’s ladder – Bible story
6 TO THE LIGHTHOUSE – (T S Eliot though he)* – book by Virginia Woolf, I’m fairly sure
7 PHALAROPE = (a poplar,eh)* – this may have caught out one or two solvers – one finalist who qualified from prelim 1 had “pharalope” written in the grid on the table in front of him at the pub. (No names …)
9 DIVE,ST. – strip = {remove clothes from} is the original meaning of divest (emarrassingly obvious when reading the etymology just now)
17 VERY=actual,WELL=bore
21 QU(O)ITS – even = quits.
24 (b)RUINS

21 comments on “23746 – Championship Prelim 2, Puzzle 3”

  1. I stormed through nearly all but the SE corner missing only 7D which I later guessed and mis-spelled along the way. SE caused me a few problems but I got through it in the end. My vote for COD must go to 14A. Very nice!
  2. It must have been easy as it’s the first one for ages I’ve done without a break for coffee/rumination and then resuming half an hour later. 20 mins at a guess, though if I start to time it properly, my mind always goes blank!

    Might just be me, but I felt there were too many requiring you just to take off the first or last letter of another word to get the answer.

    Still, mustn’t grumble. 🙂

  3. I got of to a cracking start with 11 of the right hand third going in almost immediately. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE and PHALAROPE jumped out at me, though I’ve never heard of the former and I didn’t realise I knew the latter ( I must have encountered it in the dim and distant past). Then I had a block of about 10 minutes when I just couldn’t get anything. Eventually I got the easy NICAM and the rest followed. In the end I was pleased to finish in just over 18 minutes (I really should get a second hand on this watch).
    Clue Of The Day – 26a.
    1. Both clues nominated as COD so far use a capital to disguise the definition. I believe this is permissable by convention but twice in the same puzzle seems a little indulgent to me.
  4. A very straighforward 25 minutes with only the bird at 7 down needing a guess. I liked 12 across, 1 down and 21 down but am not absolutely convinced that 14 across shouldn’t be Tommy’s Tucker although it caused me no problems. I guess the Sheffield football teams are well known enough for 26 across to be OK. Jimbo.
  5. Don’t usually like to be pedantic but I will in this case as it illustrates the general ignorance of technology that is displayed by crossword compilers. NICAM is NOT a digital TV system, being neither truly digital nor a TV system. It is a method for encoding stereo sound that is often (but not always) used with TV systems. This is along the same lines as using the word engineer to mean someone who fixes the washing machine…..


    1. A closer parallel might be using Dolby to mean a cassette recorder …

      You’re right to fuss as this clue is just plain wrong. There may be the germ of an excuse in the def. on the AskOxford website (from the Compact Oxford Dict., but bigger versions may say much the same): a digital system used in British television to provide video signals with high-quality stereo sound. This could be read as “provide video and high-quality sound” (wrong) rather than “provide high-quality sound for video” (right).

      1. Have just confirmed that the COD def is the same – the Collins one gets it right.
  6. A pleasing 9 minutes or so here, helped by 3D and 6D being tackled first and going in without hesitation. The last entries were 20A/D and not too sure why they held me up, particularly as 20D’s use of JOB also appears in 2D. I’d plump for 12A as COD for its sound construction and surface.
    1. Your pointing out the JOB connection between 2D/20D reminded me that when struggling with 17D and 28A which meet in the grid, I was a bit distracted by both clues containing the word “actual”.

      Unless there’s a theme to a puzzle or an intentional link between clues wouldn’t setters usually try to avoid repetition of this sort? Or maybe the crossword editor would intervene?

      1. Believe me, I’ve been guilty on plenty of occasions of repetition within a puzzle, but I only have a problem if it involves two answers containing the same word/element, more so as the number of letters increases. Some while ago I set a puzzle in which HOUSE formed part of two answers – a disaster! That said, not everyone feels the same way and, in fairness, it took me a fair while to notice the repetition of JOB (and I didn’t spot ACTUAL at all).
  7. I enjoyed this one but I’m not sure about 6D. How can the link-word ‘from’ be combined with the anagrind ‘needed translating’?
  8. quibble, perhaps, but isn’t there too great a difference between ‘damages’ and ‘ruins’ for the clue to be sound?

  9. Half filled out quickly, the other half took a while. I have pharalope at 7d, and was surprised to come here and find that phalarope is correct – will have to look at Chambers when I get home, isn’t a pharalope a tiny water bird? Quoits was the second last to be filled in, I liked the wordplay there.

    Mostly off topic, but I snuck away some last night to work on Listener 3953, and think I may have finished my first non-numerical Listener in two years. Fingers crossed.

  10. 21D (QUOITS) is an example of the recent tip here that if the second letter is U, it’s worth looking at Q for the first.
  11. Damages and ruins: all I can say is that they were close enough for me, both when solving and blogging. But I’m not always fussy about the same things as others.

    From … needed translating: this seems more of a problem to me looking back, but (… as above …)

    Repetition: I’m not bothered by occasional repetition of words in clues, or elements of wordplay. I believe there was quote considerable editing of the championshp puzzles, but mainly with the intention of avoiding the possibility of duplicate answers and ensuring that a reasonable number of people solved the puzzles in the time limit. So a puzzle without repetition might have acquired it in editing.

  12. I did this in 7:33 today, remembering most of the answers from the Championships. This was a strange experience for me in Cheltenham – I’d struggled with the first two puzzles, and left the second one with six clues unsolved when I started this one. I was half-way through this when the announcement came: “five minutes remaining”.

    Suddenly I was spurred on and became a good solver again, and I managed to polish it off and go back and finish puzzle two (although with a couple of mistakes in each as it turned out). Before the announcement I’d been staring at it for maybe fifteen minutes without adding a single answer!

  13. A shocker for me, 64 minutes. Could see ‘nicam’ but had no idea what it meant; hadn’t heard the term ‘mess tin’ but it fit; a correct guess on ‘phalarope’; and knew it had to be ‘quoits’ but I don’t know ‘quits’ for even.


  14. This blog marks a year since TfTT started. It has taken me a bit longer than a year (nearly 18 months) to complete a year’s worth of blogs. I have enjoyed the puzzles, the incomplete blogs and the various solvers’ comments a great deal. It is perhaps appropriate that we start and end the year with a puzzle from the annual Championship and a blog by our illustrious founder Peter Biddlecombe.

    This one serves to remind me to never even contemplate trying to enter the Championship. I can print out, fold and pocket and have a companion for the rest of the day (or days sometimes). It is sufficient to be able, eventually, to find the same answers as the speed merchants and not be in a rush but to savour the clues that lead to them.

    Just the 3 “easies” not in this PB blog. Is this the beginning of the end of my mission? We shall see.

    3d What divers may do, itching to make the grade (4,2,2,7)

    15d Devil-may-care or punch-drunk? (4-5)
    SLAP HAPPY. Hyphen heaven.

    19d Touching cord? It’s instinctive (6)

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