Championship Qualifier #1

Solving time : shhh, it’s a secret. I’m not entering the Crossword Championship – even if they had a Southeastern US regional final, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the UK in October. It would be for the best if timings are left out of comments too, I guess. I’ll stick as much as I can to wordplay analysis.

1 RED(=”read”) SQUARE(=traditional)
6 MATCH: hidden in forM AT CHelsea
9 BUFF,A,LO(t): a port on Lake Erie, where I once had my luggage stolen. Grrrr.
10 (bu)S,ARGENT: silver being in long form here
11 DONOR: N(=name) in DOOR
12 TOOK(=adopted),ISSUE(=children)
14 BEST: Ref to the recentishly departed George Best
17 NEAR: double definition
21 ENTERTAIN: double definition
22 NEAT,H: a town in Glamorgan
26 THE,M(undan)E
27 PITCHES,IN: PITCH to try to sell, then (INES)*
2 DEFINITE,ARTICLE – “The” is the definition
5 EUSTON: (SUE)<=,TO,N, good thing everyone’s played monopoly
6 MARTIN(i): Ref to Dean Martin, who was rumored to enjoy one or seven of the drinks
8 HOT,TEN,TO,T: Carpobrotus edulis
16 BRANDISH: BAND about R then IS,H
19 ARCADE: A in (CARED)*

14 comments on “Championship Qualifier #1”

  1. I agree with glheard. I,too, am not interested in anyone else’s solving time. It’s more satisfying to me to completely understand the wordplay of each clue, rather than to see how quickly I can write in answers, some of which I might have to look up in a reference book afterwards.
    1. The decision not to mention solving times for the championship qualifiers was made by me to avoid any suggestion that we might be helping someone who wanted to qualify by declaring a false time. Concerns about such cheating were expressed when the current ‘honesty system’ was introduced.

      As I’ve said before, there is no requirement here for you to state your own time or to be interested in other people’s times. The main reason for stating times here is to indicate how difficult the puzzle was. If you would prefer to say how many things you needed to look up, or whether there were wordplays you couldn’t understand, that’s equally useful.

  2. … like various initial qualifier puzzles ove the years, this was on the easy side.
    1. It was easy indeed until I made a mistake in the SE corner and gave up in disgust as the minutes ticked past half and hour. I had PRESSES ON instead of PITCHES IN which put short shrift to my fantasy of Cheltenham in October
  3. This puzzle realy does highlight the change of tack adopted by The Times on these championship qualifiers. The eliminator puzzles used to be a real treat – very difficult. This was much easier than average daily cryptic standards and not even very interesting. Jimbo.
    1. I too miss the eliminators, although in fairness they were only ever used as “tie breakers” when too many people had qualified (usually for London and Bristol, which just happened to be the heats I always went for!). With a different method of qualification now they aren’t needed. And I suspect the qualifiers are deliberately more straightforward: if they were too difficult people would probably feel inhibited about entering with a slow solving time.
      So the change of tack is in some ways regrettable but in the circumstances understandable.
      1. The elimators were great material for “you kids have it easy these days” stories, but were a pretty artificial way of restricting numbers – a bit like getting the Olympic 1500m field to run a marathon as a qualifier. The puzzle in the paper that started the championship, and which got you into the other regional finals, was usually as easy as this one – from 1989 onwards if not before.
  4. I was happy enough with my time on this to finally bite the bullet and use it as my entry for this year’s comp. Only held up by THE ASPERN PAPERS, which I’ve never heard of. With all the checkers in place though there wasn’t much doubt what the answer was. Why can’t we mention times yet?
    1. In theory times could be mentioned fairly harmlessly, but I decided to play safe and not mention them for these puzzles, but just let people say “easy!” or whatever. As this was OK’d by the championship organiser, I’m not going to change in midstream.
  5. I think we all understand that the organisers have to popularise the event. It wouldn’t amount to much if only a few dozen people felt it worth entering. We all miss the tough eliminators, especially in those times before the web made it so easy to cheat. But it really is the case that those who cheat only cheat themselves. No one is going to win the competition by kidding themselves about their expertise. I’d say the organisers have it about right, even if the puzzles are a little on the easy side. And this puzzle was easy. Incidentally, I’ve just worked through the three finals puzzles from last year’s competition, and averaged about 23 minutes for them. Have they been blogged? I found them really interesting in parts, and would love to see what others made of them.
    1. The Grand Final puzzles were blogged – they’re among the postings on 28th October 2008. One or two comments will be a bit cryptic unless you skim through other postings that readers would have remembered at the time.

      There weren’t many comments on these postings because I left enough of a gap after the puzzles were available for an unofficial race with these for those who wanted to try it. You can see some comments in other stuff about the championships in October 2008 – including rough timings for a couple of strong contenders who were unable to be at Cheltenham on the day.

      Edited at 2008-04-14 08:15 am (UTC)

  6. Is it being over-cynical to suggest that the organisers have deliberately selected an “easy” puzzle to maximise revenue (i.e. get in as many £15 cheques from completed puzzles as they can) in much the same way as TV producers do with premium-rate multiple-choice phone in quizzes?*

    * e.g. Who is the Queen’s husband?
    A HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh
    B David Beckham
    C Homer Simpson

    1. Probably over-cynical – it may be a simple fact that once you’ve got the quickest 50 or so solvers together, adding 200 more is unikely to change the podium positions, but a competition with 200 or so people seems more credible to the general public and probably to the powers that be at the Times. And there are solvers who enter just for the hell of it, knowing that they’re very unlikely to make the final. There used to be far more of these in the old days when entry was £5 if I remember right, but I think that was as much to do with the more convenient locations of regionals finals as the lower price.

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