Times for The Times is a blog created to provide solvers of The Times of London puzzles with a full explanation of the how the clues in each puzzle work, and give them an opportunity to discuss clue construction, word usage, and general crossword topics arising from a particular puzzle.
TfTT was started in 2006 by Peter Biddlecombe, an elite solver who had twice won the Times Crossword Championship. Many of the early commenters were also elite solvers, so there was an emphasis on posting solving times, and some degree of competition within the group. As the blog became more popular, a wider variety of solvers joined in, and more bloggers were recruited to provide full coverage of the puzzles provided in the Times. So while each blogger often still posts a solving time, the blog is no longer the province of the world’s top cryptic solvers, and both the blogs and the comments reflect a wide variety of solving ability.
At first, TfTT only covered the seven daily cryptic puzzles and the Mephisto. The Jumbo Cryptics were added to the mix during the first year, and have continued ever since; The Club Monthly was added in the second year, and has also continued to the present day. The TLS puzzles were covered for a while in the 2010-11 period, but then were dropped, then revived in 2016. However, they were again dropped in 2017 because the TLS decided not to make the puzzles available to Times subscribers any more. When the Quick Cryptic was begun on March 10, 2014, TfTT immediately added it to our daily blogging schedule, which required quickly recruiting a number of new bloggers. Our current line-up is the Daily Cryptic, the Daily Quick Cryptic, the Jumbo Cryptics, the Mephisto, and the Club Monthly. We do not cover non-cryptic puzzles, and the Listener puzzles have been covered in another blog since 2007.
The earliest blogs were often terse, and only the more difficult clues were blogged. As time went on, and the breadth of commenters grew, and they started to ask more and more questions, the blogs were expanded, and nowadays all the clues are blogged. This was helped along by the development of scripts by some of our more technically adept bloggers, which allow the generation of blog skeletons from completed puzzles, which has made blogging easier and quicker.
In May 2022, TfTT moved from Live Journal to this, its current site. We have tried to keep as many features as possible from our old platform, but there are inevitably some differences.
TfTT has always allowed anyone to freely comment on the blogs. We prefer that you subscribe to the site, but we do allow anonymous users to comment. This facility is often used by Times setters and editors, but anyone can use it – a name and an email address are the only requirements. We have a very pleasant and erudite community, and we allow a lot of freedom to off-topic comments and general discussion. However, the administrators do read all the comments, and we have the power to delete your comment, as well as block you from posting. Only one undesirable individual has ever been ejected, but it can be done if necessary.
We ask that you do not mention clues or solutions from any competition puzzles that are still open. This includes the Saturday puzzle, the Sunday puzzle, Mephisto, and the Jumbos. Our blog-posting schedule for these puzzles reflects the closing dates for competitions. The blogs for the daily puzzles, however, appear soon after the puzzles are published by the Times, so don’t open TfTT unless you want to see the answers!
When we moved to the current site, we decided to allow all users to publish a single link in their comment. If you include more than one link, your comment will be held for moderation and may not appear immediately.
The Current Blogging Team
The current blogging team consists of 20 active bloggers, plus two available substitutes who sometimes fill in for bloggers who are on vacation or otherwise unavailable. This team has been recruited over time, as the original bloggers who started in 2006 gradually faded away, and others took over their spots. Additional bloggers were added as coverage expanded. At present the group is pretty stable, but sometimes there are openings for new bloggers. Often, respected commenters are asked if they would like to join, but there have been several general calls for volunteers that have turned up some fine bloggers.
The blog is now administered by vinyl1, who took over from linxit in 2017. This administration of the blog is ably assisted by three other bloggers with special privileges to fix problems in the blog as they come up: johninterred, glh,and jackkt. These bloggers are scattered around the world, so we are able to deal with issues at any time of the day or night.
The daily puzzles are blogged by these bloggers:
Monday: vinyl1, ulaca
Thursday: glh, zabadak
Friday: william_j_s, plusjeremy
The Quick Cryptics are blogged by these bloggers
Monday: kitty, jackkt
Tuesday: Merlin, BletchleyReject
Wednesday: Doofenschmirtz, Mike Harper
Thursday: rolytoly, therotter
The Jumbos are blogged on the basis of the last digit of the puzzle number by the following bloggers:
0, 5: kitty
1, 6: penfold_61
2, 7: johninterred
3, 8: JerryW
4, 9: Jackkt
The special-interest puzzles are blogged by the following bloggers:
Club Monthly: johninterred
In addition to the current blogging team, there is a glittering array of past talent who have given up their time to blog for TfTT. They include at least four past Times Crossword Champions, some very highly regarded setters, and other luminaries.