24,051 – 2008 Champs Prelim 1, Puzzle 1

Solving time: maybe 6-7 minutes on the day

I expect my time to be beaten – it includes what felt like a couple of minutes of jitters near the end (though it may actually have been just thirty seconds or so) – the euphoria of ripping through the top half suddenly disappeared when none of the last six or so clues yielded to a quick read and quick think. From possibly unreliable memory (which applies to other points about my solving of the clues, though noted down last week, not just now) these were 25, 27, 28 of the Acrosses and 14, 20, 23, 24 of the Downs. 20 or 28 may have been the ‘breakthrough’ clue which got me back into action. Clues solved on first look were 1, 5, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 16, 18, 26. I can’t recall jotting down any ideas for partial answers, and only 25A may have been entered without full understanding, from ‘be decisive’ and enough checkers.

As we don’t know times for individual puzzles in the championships these days, the only information we have about relative difficulty of puzzles is the number of correct solutions. This one was solved correctly by 73 of the 79 entrants, compared to 54 and 44 for the other two puzzles. Even allowing for people starting this puzzle first and therefore potentially spending more time on it, that makes it a very easy puzzle. Too easy for championship solvers? Probably, but in the past, regional finals often started with an easy one and saved the agony for puzzle 2 or 3.

1 TURN,COAT – easy components and an easy def – instant answer.
5 FOR(MoAt)T – much the same
10 PUT ONES FOOT IN IT – 2 defs, one cryptic
11 IN,D(I,CAT)IVE – grammar terminology is stock Times xwd material so the real meaning of “mood” was easy to guess and the checking letters changed the answer from ‘tip of the tongue’ to confidently written in (opp. of subjunctive – passive is not a mood but a voice)
13 DEAL – triple def
15 GOA HEAD – “Indian state” is easy as none of the others lend themselves to wordplay except maybe Assam.
17 TRIPPER – 2 defs made into cryptic clue of old-fashioned style – this would have fitted into a 1940s puzzle.
19 EAS=sea*,TERN – anything about Asia and seabirds and the old hands are thinking of the TERN in eastern.
21 M(AG)I. – Magi = the ‘Three Wise Men’.
25 KNOW=understand,ONES OWN=loved ones,MIND=remember. A bit wacky to have ONES in both clue and answer, though in different roles
27 NUMBER – 2 def’s – in a puzzle using some clichés, note that NUMBER is not an anaesthetist or injection
2 RUT(h)
4 ASSE(n=knight)T
6 OATH – 2 defs
7 MANTELPIECE = (a nice pelmet)* – worth pausing for a moment to remember ‘mantel not mantle’ here
8 T(ATTLE(e))R – nice to see Attlee in puzzles – he was a fan of the Times puzzle. There is some def/wordplay overlap as noted in comments below – my understanding of Richard Browne’s view is that he doesn’t mind this on occasion – I can remember him using a phrase like “solving by rote” in an e-mail with almost audible disdain. I can understand the sentiment, though others here may not.
9 CO.,R=’commander finally’,VETTE(d) – I suspect ‘warship with CO?V at the beginning’ was enough here
14 D(I’S,SON)ANCE – in response to comment Qs about “harmony”, here it’s presumably “the art or science concerned with the structure and combinations of chords” (Collins) – just as “aesthetics” needs to consider the ugly as well as the beautiful.
16 DIS,(e)ASTER(n)
18 PUMP,KIN – ref. Cinderella, pump = ‘to question’
20 N.(O,TED,L)Y.
23 R,HONE – a bit of subtlety here as ‘stone to edge’ uses the noun meaning of ‘hone’, but no trap here for speedsters just picking up R=river and ‘to edge’=HONE
24 POLE – 2 defs, one using two of the old imperial measures trio, rod=perch=pole
26 (h)ILL – though if you have I?L, you don’t need a clue.

24 comments on “24,051 – 2008 Champs Prelim 1, Puzzle 1”

  1. 17 mins. with coffee. I imagine the pros would have ripped through this. I think we have been spoiled for the past two days. This felt a bit flat and had rather too many cliches.

    I look forward to an Indian state being something other than Goa, or a hospital department which is not ENT. It may be a bit tricky working “Uttar Pradesh” or “paediatrics” into a clue, but there must be someone out there to take up the challenge!

    I’m not sure what the surface readings of 5, 16 and 18 are supposed to mean.

  2. 15 min, and would have been much better without going for “notably” instead of “notedly” for 20 Dn. I suspect there will be many personal bests for those who picked correctly for this clue. Gentle without being patronizing. More a case of “please stand there while we adjust our sights”
  3. 27 minutes today with no particular problems. Either I’m getting faster or the puzzles must be getting easier. No doubt Friday’s will be the stinker of the week!
  4. 15 minutes with hardly a pause for thought. Two questions. What is the definition and what the wordplay at 8D? Is DISSONANCE a harmonic device?
    1. Yes, it’s a device in music used to raise tension by giving the impression that the music needs a resolution.
      1. Thanks to you and Jack. I’ll look it up when I get a chance. On the surface it looks like the exact opposite of harmony!!
    2. I think it’s the first letters of Transmit Rumours around ATTLE(e). I assume a Tattler is a gossip and that’s the definition. DISSONANCE is definitely a device used when writing harmony.
      1. I think you’re saying, Jack, that it parses T(ransmit)-ATTLE(e)-R(umours) and I agree with you. If we are correct either the definition is “one”, which makes no sense or its “one starts to transmit rumours”, which means that the wordplay is doubling up as a definition.
  5. I might have stood a chance with this one, 10 minutes with a phone call in the middle. Biggest slowdown was not remembering how to spell MANTELPIECE. There’s some nice clues here, 11, the surface at 9, wordplay at 8 (Clement’s turned up in a few crosswords lately, but he’s burned into my mind as being thematicised into INES in a Listener earlier this year).
  6. I found this incredibly easy. I ought to have finished in little over 12 minutes, since that’s how long it took me to enter all but 14, 23 and 28. In the end it took 16 minutes; the unnecessary wordiness of the indication of HONE in 23 delayed my getting RHONE, and I was slow to see PLOY for ‘stratagem’ in 28. After the first handful of answers were entered, most of the time I was filling the spaces, with only half an eye on the clues.
  7. Oh so close to the TMB, stopping the watch at 10:09 so that’s 2 PBs in less than a week. If I hadn’t gone for mantle instead of mantel it would have made deal a quicker entry (luckily -L-L was clearly wrong so the need for correction was obvious) and that would have been that. Ah well, at least I now believe I’m capable of a sub-10.

    Q-0, E-5, D-1.5, COD 23

    I wonder if 10 will remind 7dpenguin of the joke whose punchline is “No, but I could’ve done”.

    1. I can’t remember the joke exactly, only that it was vulgar. you’ll have to remind me via another medium
  8. Agree with most that it was easy, but that’s no bad thing. I finished in about 7:30 but I was disturbed by somebody insisting on asking me questions despite my grunted answers. I’m going to try really hard next Wednesday to remember it’s a championship one. I wish my heat had this one!
    COD – 10a because it should remind me of a vulgar joke.
  9. 30 minutes, and the first this week I’ve managed to finish in my lunchtime… Nice to have one or two each week that make me feel that I’m getting somewhere with this crossword lark! Only unexplained for me was Dis = underworld, which a quick Google search cleared up.
  10. 8:40. It definitely should have been faster, but my goldfish memory when it comes to old tricks had me floundering around for a couple of minutes searching for an Asian seabird. The only other significant hold-up was REDEPLOY which took up residence on the tip of tongue and refused to budge. My one smart move in solving this was leaving a 3-letter gap in the middle of the MANTELPIECE until I had the ‘deal’ triplet – the spelling of ‘mantelpiece’ being a Rumsfeldian known unknown for me.

    Certainly a bit easier that I would have expected, but I suppose it’s a level playing field, Brian, and you can only play what’s in front of you and there’s no such thing as an easy puzzle in international competition.

    1. Sure, but it’s the combination of seabird with other stuff that makes (Eas)TERN the obvious one here for old hands.
  11. Yes, a pretty simple puzzle, went through it with hardly a pause in 15-18 minutes; I’m not a strict timer. My only problem was convincing myself that the old PM in 8 was Pitt, so I had to leave that aside and return at the end. When I couldn’t justify ‘tittler’, I realized the answer must be TATTLER and only then identified the correct statesman. Apparently this wasn’t meant as a real challenge. Thanks Peter for the very thorough blogging. Regards all, see you tomorrow.
  12. I registered a personal best time here. Did on the train, so don’t know exactly but under 12 minutes. I twiddled my thumbs for the rest of journey.
  13. Agree with many of comments…pleasing to have a puzzle whee all the answers came flooding in. 16 minutes.

  14. 1d Excellent garnish for food (7)

    This was possibly the easiest Times 15×15 that I have encountered. I never time myself exactly as I usually solve in odd moments here and there but this was a straight solve in about 20 mins.

    Nowhere near as good a puzzle as yesterdays but perhaps a bit of encouragement for the troops in a Preliminary round of the championships?

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