Championship qualifier 3

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Solving time : 12:44

A very enjoyable puzzle with lots of fun clues and smooth surfaces. And there were a couple I felt smug about getting quickly. Overall I was feeling reasonably pleased when I thought I was heading for a time that might be just under 10 minutes.

And then I came to 10A. I went through the alphabet and worked out that I did not know any words that fitted (except Donna, which made no sense). I eventually put in DONGA, which turned out to be right; but it meant nothing to me and felt like a pretty shaky guess at the time.


1 PAST PARTICIPLES – very neat. I knew I was looking for some sort of trick (beyond the usual crosswording tricks), but I still needed a few crossing letters before I spotted it
10 DON + GA(me) – Never having heard of the answer didn’t help. Otherwise I can’t entirely explain why this took me so long once there were only two letters to fill in. Perhaps because I was unnecessarily worried that “fellow” could be being used to indicate any name (as “man” indicates “Reg” in 18A); and “spending” for “dispensing with” was less than transparent.
11 HARE (=run) + MS – “Modern Miss” for “Ms” is irritatingly clever
12 MACARONI – two meanings neatly combined: a food that might be part of a beano; and a dandy. For some reason I knew this second meaning. Chambers defines it rather oddly as “in the 18c, a dandy” – does that mean that the word was only current in the 18th century? Or that people use the word now, but only in relation to a particular band of historical dandies?
13 R(UN) OUT
19 US(UnpopulaR)ER
23 (g)AMBLER – I now feel misled when “better” does not refer to gambling
26 (s)IMPLY
27 A (BAND ONE) D, with “backing” telling you that ONE follows BAND (=group). These last five clues have fairly normal words and approaches, but they have all been managed into surprisingly convincing surfaces
28 MUTATIS MUTANDIS – (MAN’S AUDIT IT MUST)* – Having failed to crack the 15-lettered 1A on the first run, I was pleased to find this blatant anagram for the other long one


2 S(h)OWER
4 (b)RUIN
5 INGR(A(r)T)ES – I think Flann O’Brien was the first to make the “more in Seurat than in Ingres” joke, which I confess is the only thing I associate with this painter.
6 IN + AID(rev)
8 SP(A N(ame))IEL
14 NIGHTSPOT (=”Knight’s pot”) – that’s another run of excellent surfaces
16 MASS MEDIA, being (A MISS MADE)* – “to look special” seems a bit of a stretch for an anagram indicator
17 MENE + LAUS, being the first word of the writing on the wall, followed by SAUL*
18 REA (L + IS) M
20 R(ER)ED + OS – I first met the words reredos and rood-screen in crosswords (perhaps originally in the same clue?). I visited Albi earlier this month and now know that the reredos can be what is on the back surface of the rood-screen
22 CRY + P(or)T
24 L(IN)ED
25 T(A B)U – Is it daring to have the break between wordplay and linking words in the middle of “you’ll”?

3 comments on “Championship qualifier 3”

  1. 12A – see wikipedia on macaroni for more, including the Yankee Doodle connection.

    I did pretty well with this one, clocking 6:55. It should have been a tad quicker, as I initially went for a careless ‘tramline’ at 15. 10A is a good warm-up for the real thing – an obscure word where you just have to trust the wordplay.

  2. Oh dear. I had a good start on this and was on course for a time of around 7 or 8 minutes, but then stagnated horribly in the top right, where DONGA, SPANIEL and MACARONI all proved troublesome. I also dithered for a long time over MENELAUS, not knowing ‘mene’, but my real problem was deciding that ‘Telminar’ must be some world-renowned music conductor at 15ac. What an idiot. I did submit, with a time of 15-something, but nothing heard yet so I’m not hopeful. Ah well, one more go…
  3. I did qualifier 3 in a genuine 16 minutes which for me is good especially as in the last few months i am rarely finishing the crypics unassisted . Anyway i sent it off and i have not heard either; yes i was able to trust myself on DONGA; vaguely recall it mentioned in Zulu ; maybe. My motivation is at the lowest it’s been in years; relegated to the third division in metaphoric terms. As a someone who has not knowingly finished a xcrypticxword in less than 10 mins what incentive could there be. If this year’s championship is going to be more or less like last years then it won’t be worth my while going; i would be far too grumpy and resentful for it be a pleasant social experience. AlanJC

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