25,057 – 2008 Champs Prelim 1, Puzzle 2

Solving time on the day: about 8 minutes. This puzzle is probably just as easy as last week’s (the literary/artistic references are are gentle), but I found it a bit tougher as neither of the top row acrosses yielded on first look – ditto the next pair. I was left with 5A/D as my last two answers and decided to move on to puzzle 3 and come back. But by the time I’d drawn a big arrow under puzzle 3’s clues to remind me to do so, 5D popped into my head. 5A was then just a matter of realising that the IS in the answer was ?IS??? rather than ???IS? – I think this happened as I told myself that MUSISE was not a word. Subject to the same reservations as last week about fallible memory … the ones solved on first look were 11, 12, 15, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 14, 16, 20, 21, 23. Only 8 and 25 went in without complete understanding of wordplay.

1 LUST,RED – def. a bit too subtle for me on first look
5 M(I,S=succeeded)USE – muse=deliberate=ponder
8 TH(UNDER)E,R – I should have seen the def. from ‘Our paper’ and (8). “The Thunderer” is an old nickname, which Wikipedia’s article about the paper implies is sarcastic.
9 AMISH = Hamish as spoken by the trad crossword Cockney.
11 EL(E.G.)Y – nicely done reference to Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard, working in two crossword clichés to get me off and running at last.
12 STATIONER = (tears into)*
13 PA’S,SPORT – “acceptance” fits a metaphorical passport better than a paper one.
15 NIM,ROD – defined as a Biblical hunter. NIM is the “loser removes the last matchstick” game, and ROD is (old-fashioned?) US slang for a gun. Must have raised a smile for the Independent’s “Nimrod”, John Henderson, who qualified from this preliminary.
17 REGALE = (E=English,lager) rev. A fairly common crossword answer, built from stock parts.
19 ME,R,EDIT,H – George Meredith was a Victorian novelist and poet, possibly best known for The Egoist.
22 ELASTOMER = (some later)*
23 TH(r)ONG – lash is a noun here
27 S(tore),ARGENT – John Singer Sargent, of whom I’m about as ignorant as Meredith. His Lady Agnew of Lochnaw was used years ago by Penguin for a Henry James cover picture.
1 LETTER,PERFECT – doddle charade once you remember the old landlord=letter trick.
2 (le)S(QUEER)S(on) – Wackford Squeers is a dire schoolmaster from Nicholas Nickleby – the one who couldn’t spell ‘window’
3 R.U.,DoDgY – “blooming” is the def – blooming easy with two well-worn devices
4 D(ERIS = sire rev.)O,R(aunch)Y – tougher wordplay here
5 MORTAR – two defs
6 STABILISE – B=book in (sale is it)*
7 S(P)INNER – “who does wrong” = sinner. I remembered spinners from my father’s unsuccessful attempts at coarse fishing, which I think ended for good shortly after the “catching a man” incident near Arundel – a badly aimed cast impaled at least the clothing of a gent on a boat – not noticed until reeling in caused a lot of shouting from the other side of the river. Wikipedia suggests that they’re involved in fly fishing too (spinners, not blokes on boats).
10 HEROD THE GREAT = (hatred three go) – I worked backwards from ‘the Great’ as probable ending and what was left.
14 POLITESSE = (epistle so)*
16 HEAR,TIES – who are “cheerful people” or university sportsmen as the opposite of “aesthetes” when the two are assumed to be different.
20 IS,O,LATE – standard components – only thing to make you pause momentarily is the “So” between wordplay and def.
21 A,M,USED – {managed=used} is not run-of-the-mill
23 TASER – hidden in rev. of “there’s a threat”

Apart from the odd Jumbo or Mephisto, this is my last report here until 2009. I started a 6-week course of radiotherapy yesterday, and one of the side-effects is tiredness (extent unspecified, but it’s supposed to start a while after the treatment begins and continue for some time afterwards). So I’ve taken the opportunity to give some of our ‘subs’ some chances to write. I’ll probably still be commenting each day, but the times may not mean very much.

21 comments on “25,057 – 2008 Champs Prelim 1, Puzzle 2”

  1. Peter, best wishes and good luck with the radiotherapy.

    I have nothing to add except that I had assumed that today’s “spinner” was the same as in the explanation for yesterday’s “imago”!

  2. 28 min. This one grew on me as it progressed. The only less than common words (lustred, elastomer, politesse) were nicely packaged, so could be little else. The only hackle raiser was amish, a word which I initially encountered while working in the US of A, and was informed (quite assertively) was pronounced Aaaamish. However on further checking, the on-line dictionaries are quite relaxed about the pronunciation.

    In retrospect this would be a marvelous introductory puzzle for a Times neophyte, providing Pete’s blog was to hand.

    Hang in there mate.

  3. 40 minutes whilst commuting which usually involves time lost because of distractions along the way.

    Interestingly for me, Peter, I had the same last two in as you, and solved them in the same order.

    I had one or two guesses, ELASTOMER for instance, and some I knew were right but not exactly why, NIMROD, TIDES and PASSPORT. I had vaguely heard of MEREDITH and knew the name SARGENT but nothing about him as an artist.

  4. 19:26 which gave me a grand total for the 3 Prelim 1 puzzles of 54:35. 9 months ago that would have been unthinkable so take that as a hearty endorsement for the usefulness of this blog. Last week’s was 10:09 so I must have found this roughly twice as hard. Nothing went in on the first read-through of the acrosses but 1&3d went in quickly and I built from there, losing a minute or two at the end on hearties. I thought of “hear” for the first part but didn’t think of saying it differently. There’s a lesson there.

    An enjoyable solve with most clues requiring pause for thought. The unfamiliar faces in there (Meredith & Sargent) were clued unambiguously enough as were the other words that were sitting right on the edge of familiarity like elastomer, Squeers and spinner.

    “Tides” as critical moments came to me thanks to familiarity with Wodehouse, who borrows from Waggledagger’s Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune…”

    Q-0, E-8, D-6, COD – 25

    PS, what goes clip clop clip clop BANG clip clop clip clop?

    …An Amish drive-by shooting.

    PPS, Peter, hope the radiotherapy is bearable and effective.

  5. About 20 mins for me on the day, and I had to come back to it after solving puzzle 3 to get SQUEERS (which I really should have known straight away) and MISUSE/MORTAR. Cost me £25 for sure, as I came 26th in the preliminary and the top 25 get in free next year.
  6. I hope the therapy goes well Peter. We will all be thinking of you.

    Another easy puzzle again about 20 minutes to solve. No real issues or talking points.

  7. Good luck peter with the therapy and thank you for your very intertsing blogs. a hard act to follow! I liked 2Down and go for that as COD

    About 30 minutes today

  8. I whizzed through this in 19 minutes, which was a good thing because I had no more time to spend on it. I know my whizzing is slower than other people’s whizzing, but I was pleased following my slow performance for Monday and Tuesday. I didn’t take a lot of notice of the wordplay en route, but I liked 5a particularly.
  9. 16:10 .. Straightforward, without being easy. Last in was THUNDERER, which I can only put down to the ironic surface (in recent years the paper’s politics have been as flexible and pragmatic as those of its proprietor). I think that adds up to 36:10 for the three puzzles from this prelim for me.

    Good luck, PB.

  10. 14.37. I had a lot of problems with this – took almost three times as long as last week’s. I made the same mistake Peter did, assuming that the IS in 5a was in the wrong place – so easy once you’ve located one S to forget that there might be another. Early attempts to solve the anagram at 10d produced nothing better than ROGER THE HATED, and I struggled woefully with MEREDITH – completely thrown off track by the “To” at the start of the clue, and trying rather desperately to justify JEREMIAH, for no better reason than it fitted and I liked the IAH ending.

    Best of luck, Peter.

    1. ROGER THE HATED – brilliant. He must have featured in a Monty Python & The Holy Grail scene that was inexplicably cut. In fact… the wedding scene; Roger the Hated, Prince Herbert’s hitherto unknown rival for the hand of Princess Lucky. Arrives shortly after Sir Launcelot asks “Er – could someone give me a push?”
      1. You’re right; Roger does sound uncannily like someone the Pythons might have thought up. If only one of them had liked doing anagrams, RTH might even have got a bit part in Life of Brian…
  11. Sometimes you enter senior mode and you just can’t shake yourself out of it! I finished all but 5d in about 11 minutes, then sat staring at M?R?A? at 5d for another five minutes before finally giving up and looking on here. There must be something about championship crosswords that prevent me from completing them. I even struggled with the pretty easy anags at 12a and 10d.
    A very good crossword only spoilt by a half-witted solver
  12. As this took almost an hour’s struggle, lucky I wasn’t there on the day! Mistakenly entering STANDARDS for 8ac didn’t help matters much. I’d not seen B for book before, which stymied somewhat my attempts to sort out the anagram in 6d. Never mind…
  13. After a couple of days off, back in the flow with a time of just under 9 minutes.

    Some very nice deceptions in here and I feel heartily sick after the well-constructed 20D. I used the word in a recent puzzle; perhaps my wordplay was more testing but the surface was nowhere near as sharp as this.

    Of several candidates I’ll COD 4D DERISORY. Quite tough to get but the surface is wickedly funny and very true to (the) life (of others but not me).

    Very best wishes Pete. You’ll be back stronger than ever.

    Q-0 E-8 D-7 COD 4D

  14. After my flubs yesterday and Monday, and forgetting that this was a championship puzzle, I got this one together in 17 minutes with a couple of interruptions. This is an excellent puzzle, even though I didn’t know SQUEERS, a minute or so on the wordplay and it sounds plausible. 26 made me laugh, 5 is a clever use of MUSE, the surface of 10.

    Peter, I know you’re not one for the overly sentimental stuff, but I’ll be keeping various things crossed for you.

  15. Best wishes to you, Peter.
    This only took me 7.20 but despite a good time here I took an eternity on the last first heat qualifier to be blogged so, having made a decent non-qualifying show in second heat in Cheltenham ,I have the consolation of knowing that I would have done badly had I been in the other heat. Had to guess at Nimrod and was fortunate to recognise Meredith and Sargent quickly. Squeers would have struggled with most crosswords with his w-i-n-d-e-r window and b-o-t-t-i-n-e-y botany! phonetic spelling system!

  16. Also didn’t realize this was a championship puzzle, but took me longer than last Wed.’s, about 30 minutes. I didn’t understand THUNDERER at all til coming here, and I’m not familiar enough with Dickens so SQUEERS was my last entry, requiring a mental run through the alphabet when faced with S?U?E?S. My COD here is HEARTIES. Regards to all, and best wishes in advance to Peter, best of luck.

  17. The one omission from this blog that is plus the blogmeister – our illustrious founder:

    26a Superstar giving cricket side purpose (6)

    I seem to have started from near the bottom with this one – my FOI was 22a ELASTOMER and my LOI was 5d MORTAR. I did it quite quickly for me but nowhere near quick enough to consider the Championships.

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