Times Championship Final 2023: Like Falling Off A Bike

Hello, did you miss me? A bit? Well in that case, go on then, have a new blog.

My friends, I did not distinguish myself. Except insofar as I solved without any errors. My time was, by my standards, catastrophic. I found myself starting stupidly at clues that, with hindsight, weren’t actually that impenetrable, my pen (heroes always solve in pen) gormlessly idling an inch above the paper.

Some of the clues were, in my opinion, quite easy. Let’s look at the ones that, in my opinion, weren’t:

5a: _E_T_D is nasty nasty nasty. It’s got to be a word for “bit”, ending with -ED and probably beginning with V (“five”), hasn’t it?

12a: Observers noticed me throw my hands up heavenwards about a minute after submitting my paper, and thought, uh oh, he’s just realized he made a mistake. In fact the opposite was true. I’d entered STEP thinking that the parsing was maybe a reversal of a word meaning “plain”, but there was no way that PET or PETS means plain, right? But eventually the penny dropped and I was like “GAH! OF COURSE!”

17a: I froze up on this one for minutes and minutes at the end. I thought “one thing for another” might be transactional, and the answer might be CASH, but there was one pesky little problem: that made no sense at all with the rest of the clue. The word “devonport” pounded in my brain in 12-foot tall neon high letters, I couldn’t submit, could NOT submit, until I knew what was going on here. Eventually the long agonizing alphabet crawl brought me to PASH and I suddenly saw everything. I blame Americans for not using this word ever (as far as I can recall).

22ac: This is the one what won it for me, or rather lost it for Steggle. It’s an absolute bear of a clue to parse, and I freely admit I only did so well after the event. Fortunately I knew two different ways to spell Ulaanbataar and neither of them had a second U in it. Better lucky than good!

4dn: Another clue that look me many minutes to fully parse, and not till many days later.

8dn: Not actually that hard, but I certainly hadn’t heard of a river Amber.

18dn: This absolute blighter! So, after the event, I must have spent at least as long torturing myself over this clue than I spent actually solving the whole damn puzzle on the day. Given _T_I_R_D (5, 3), obviously STAIR ROD goes straight in and you don’t look back. Had I got any idea what a stair rod actually is? I did not: I think I thought it was one of the uprights supporting the rail that stops you falling off your landing and tumbling down the stairs after 5 pints the nights before a crossword championship. Okay, fine, what about the cryptic? “Appearing to come down in bad weather?” AIR could be “appearing”… how is STROD bad weather? Nope, getting nowhere. it was only after desperately reading the Wikipedia page for stair-rods (!) and spotting its use in an idiom I’m 100% sure I’d never heard of before that the light finally dawned. Ye gods and little fishes.

21dn: Kind of a hard word, no? It seemed SORT OF familiar, but until I looked it up just now, I’d have guessed it was African, not Japanese. Given that the clue is kind of just a big old pun, if you don’t have any kind of good feeling about the word I expect you’d submit it was some trepidation. See also that bloody cactus clue in an earlier puzzle!

25dn: Just wanted to say that when you’re staring down B_R_ the alphabet trawl technique is going to take a good long while to bear you, sorry, brrr you, any fruit.

Okay, let’s rewind a little, to the second set of three puzzles. As we know, Mark Goodliffe is the greatest solver of our generation. When he was looking at R___L_Y, and finding an approximate definition match for RIVALRY somewhere in the clue, and then seeing that the across clue put a confirmatory V in the third, he didn’t hesitate, he wrote in RIVALRY and carried on to the next clue. And this is absolutely the correct approach if you want to win this thing. Look at what I’ve said about the clues above: there are at least half a dozen of them where if I’d waited to be 100% sure I knew everything that was going on everyone else would have been long gone and the cleaners would be hoovering under my chair.

You’ve got to throw answers that probably work in and just hope for the best, stair-rods, cacti, Mongolian capitals, Asian former currencies, Beatrix Potter characters. You can check your work in the first three puzzles, probably, if you look around and see most of the room is still plugging away. In puzzles 4-7, you’ve got to just go for it and hope your finely honed crossword instincts aren’t playing you false. ULAN BATUR seems like a pretty good answer if you’re trying to put a U for United “in” something else. I was just lucky enough to know somewhere deep down that that just didn’t look right. That was the tiny difference between just about covering my plane fare over and getting a bit of pocket money into the bargain.

I had a lovely time at the crossword tournament, and I would have if I’d gone away empty-handed. I’ll be back next year and probably Mark and Peter won’t slip this time, and maybe Mohn and Jason and other heavyweights will be back to further dash any quixotic notions I might have had of retaining my title. All I know is, in the second half of the time I’ve been alive, only 4 different names made it onto that trophy. If Mick H has managed to find the time to nip out to the engravers, there are now 5. What a privilege to be one of them now!

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Huge rock came down hard on girl (8)
MEGALITH – ALIT [came down] + H(ard), on MEG [girl]
5 Five pound bit (6)
PENTAD – PEN [pound] + TAD [bit]
10 Novel science fiction cat, regular feature of Welles’ War of the Worlds (9)
NEWSFLASH – NEW [novel] + S(ci)F(i) + LASH [cat]
11 What’s underground and rounded, primarily (5)
TUBER – TUBE [underground] + R{ounded}, &lit
12 Pace, it’s plain, picked up (4)
STEP – homophone of STEPPE [plain]
13 Hand study notes in miserable (9)
PALMISTRY – MI’S [notes] in PALTRY [miserable]
15 Safety device close to till a large city branch has installed (5,5)
SMOKE ALARM – {til}L + A, “installed” by SMOKE ARM [large city | branch]
17 Is a hip eccentric, always dropping one thing for another? (4)
PASH – ({i}S A H{i}P*)
19 Table oddly situated to the left (4)
EATS – reversed S{i}T{u}A{t}E{d}
20 Be on high alert here: after working WC with hot water (10)
22 City or United to be in yellow to secure win mostly (4,5)
ULAN BATOR – U(nited) + BAT [to be in] + OR [yellow], “securing” LAN{d} [win “mostly”]
24 Part of conservatoire going back to Constantine I (4)
IOTA – hidden reversed in {conserv}ATOI{re}
26 Footsore after heading off for America, say (5)
UNION – {b}UNION [footsore]
27 Degree day clothing about right in general (9)
MACARTHUR – M.A. + THUR(sday) “clothing” C(irc)A + R(ight)
28 Actor playing vampire with hump — very big one (6)
LUGOSI – LUG [hump] + OS [very big] + I
29 Buy gold for one who should be paid (8)
CREDITOR – CREDIT [buy] + OR [gold]
1 One giving you her cheek in thirty-second kiss? (4)
MINX – MIN{ute} + X
2 Be clear to leave mum (2,7,6)
3 One not passing on title of animation, at any time, under pressure (4,4)
LIFE PEER – LIFE [animation] + E’ER under P(ressure)
4 Home for one a poor tent, finally put up? (5)
TRAMP – P.M. [(Alec Douglas-)Home for one] + A + {poo}R {ten}T, reversed &lit
6 Occasion to be sick, with superior medical department (6)
ENTAIL – AIL [to be sick], below E(ar)N(ose&)T(hroat)
7 Potter’s character rather taken in by that sorcerer one time (7,8)
TABITHA TWITCHIT – A BIT [rather] “taken in by” THAT WITCH [sorceror] + I + T(ime)
8 Where Amber runs, dashing Romeo by her side (10)
DERBYSHIRE – (R BY HER SIDE*). The River Amber is a left bank tributary of this county’s River Derwent.
9 Bad-tempered, if successful golfer, one breaking clubs repeatedly (8)
CHOLERIC – HOLER [successful golfer] + I, “breaking” C(lubs) twice
14 Normally, say, study involves university (2,3,5)
AS PER USUAL – AS [say] + PERUSAL [study] “involving” U(niversity)
16 Heavy metal back issue’s production period (4,4)
LEAD TIME – LEAD [heavy metal] + reversed EMIT [issue]
18 Pole on flight appearing to come down in bad weather (5,3)
STAIR ROD – per Wikipedia “It is sometimes used as a metaphor for heavy rain, e.g. “It’s raining stair rods”. Thought to have its origins in the optical illusion of large, driving (wind blown) raindrops appearing to greatly elongate.”
21 Obsolete coins you get from dud crackers? (6)
OBANGS – if your crackers are dud, you get O (zero) BANGS from them
23 Snake breed with its head reappearing by its tail (5)
RACER – RACE [breed] + R{ace}
25 It’s fresh book with basic school skills? (4)
BRRR – B(ook)+ the three R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic)

42 comments on “Times Championship Final 2023: Like Falling Off A Bike”

  1. First, Long Live the King!

    Puzzle-wise, I managed it in 58 minutes but with a typo. Really ought to have spent 20 seconds proofreading after such a marathon on the thing itself.

    PASH and BRRR towards the end (natch), as was OBANGS, when the detonator finally went off in my mind. Liked the historical MACARTHUR and LUGOSI clues. ULAN BATOR I only know one way to spell (so didn’t have to pay the price of genius there), and had no clue what was going on with STAIR ROD.

    A very fine final puzzle, I thought. Witty and erudite: prototypically Timesean.

  2. Thank you for your honesty in your description of your torments; it will be of great comfort to the rest of us that trophy winners are subject to the same yips or even screaming abdabs when tackling a stinker.
    My first thought was how on earth did you hold your nerve and soldier on when that hand went up on your left? And “Better lucky than good!” is so true, but the longer you solve the luckier you get, if you’re blessed with a good memory.
    I had to thank The Beano for 1d, a nearly blind student, to whom I taught English and rowing, from 22a for 22a and my late grandparents for reading and re-reading The Tale of Samuel Whiskers to me countless times for 7d.
    53’30” – Slow but steady pace throughout. There was a pause to fully parse 7d which thankfully showed up an errant E in Twitchit, the rest were justified, bar TRAMP, but I wasn’t alone there, I see, and it took me a fair while to dredge up Sir Alec.
    Thank you setter for a very fine puzzle, and congratulations to both Verlaine and the many other posters here for your spectacular joint performance.

    1. I can’t say I even noticed when Mr Steggle submitted, my head was well down. I of course noticed (and wasn’t particularly surprised) immediately after I’d finally twigged PASH and my paper shot up!

      My girlfriend of the time was a spectator of the event ~5 years ago and she observed on that day that everyone’s hands were shaking but that Magoo was completely calm and poised. I think that’s the secret of his enormous success, that he’s a man completely without panic stations. He is to our marvellous cryptic universe what Daredevil is to his own MCU.

      1. My little trick is watching the minute hand on my watch approach the vertical and recalling the abject terror I had to conceal when the countdown was punctuated by cannons and silver cups, or shame and the blame of eight rowers, lay in my hands.
        When I drop the imagined chain, a crossword grid seems very soothing in comparison.

  3. Great write-up! I made pretty good (subjectively evaluated) time to get all but PASH, but I gave up on that. I really need to see a definition to feel on solid footing. I also hadn’t gotten around to researching STAIR RODS.

  4. Well done Verlaine, superb effort. Down here at ground level I suspect I won’t be the only mug to admit defeat on this one, in fact I felt quietly smug getting within four or five of completion before giving up on the hour. PENTAD, DERBYSHIRE, PASH, the person from one of a series of books I’ll probably never read – these were never going to yield and quite a number more required the blog’s help to unravel, having gone in on a wing and a prayer. I’m looking at you OBANGS, STAIR ROD and TRAMP. But I DID get BRRR and ULAN BATOR without too much trouble. Terrific puzzle, clever and beautifully crafted, now I’m looking forward to something a little less challenging…
    ON EDIT: Having just read vinyl1 I learn that the Potter referred to was not Harry but Beatrix. Wouldn’t have mattered, never read her either.

    1. The Harry Potter series contains many eccentrically-named wizards and witches – The name Tabitha Twitchit wouldn’t have seemed out of place in those books either.

      On a point of order, how can this puzzle be deemed a genuine Times Crossword? It has no birds in it!

  5. Congratulations Verlaine!
    Filled the left hand side of the puzzle in about 10 minutes, all parsed. Remembered OBANGS from crosswords past, as rectangular coins. Can spell ULAN BATOR and the confirming parsing was quick. RACER came up in the daily a few days ago, I think?
    Then the right hand side was very slow. NHO Tabitha Twitchit, but the cryptic was friendly, guessed it was Beatrix not Harry. Had heard of raining stair rods, and it’s not used down here so it must have been in UK or read a UK author. After another half hour, with 3 left I had to go away to reset. L3I PALMISTRY, my only unparsed clue TRAMP – didn’t see Home as PM, then finally figured out what was going on in PASH, which has a different meaning here.
    Great puzzle.
    Are they going to publish all the competition puzzles as they have in the past? One a week on Wednesdays, I think it was?

  6. Congratulations Verlaine, a well-deserved victory. And thanks so much for bringing us this blog with your unique perspective.

    This took me 56:43, but here come the excuses. I had been alerted that this was a stinker which put me into an over-cautious frame of mind. And stupidly I was on the lookout for the “two possibilities” answer that tripped Magoo up, forgetting that that was in an entirely different puzzle.

    So I nearly had it all wrapped up in under half an hour, but struggled with PASH (as Isla3 says, different meaning down here, but easy enough to join the dots). Then I refused to submit with the unparsed and unparsable STAIR ROD, thinking this was obviously the trap that the great man had fallen into. Eventually shrugged and went with it. In normal circumstances I think I would have shrugged a lot earlier. Oh well, at least I now know why it was unparsable.

    I was also unable to parse TRAMP, but there wasn’t much room for doubt there.

    A very enjoyable ride. Loved BRRR, PENTAD, TUBER and PASH (when I got it). Looking forward to seeing the puzzles from the earlier rounds.

  7. Congratulations again v, a thoroughly well-deserved victory. This year’s competition was an object lesson in the importance of accuracy over speed.
    I actually completed this puzzle about 10 seconds behind Mr Steggle, which demonstrates the effect of pressure. I like to think of myself as someone who handles pressure quite well (I always did disproportionately well in exams) but in the semi-final I found the puzzles very hard, got myself in a right old tiswas, made extraordinarily heavy weather of several easy clues, and then put in a pair of spectacularly stupid mistakes. Solving this one, in the knowledge that it didn’t matter and no-one need know how I did anyway, was a relative breeze.

  8. Well done V, great crosswording.. and welcome back to TfTT, also!
    I did the Final puzzle, but it took me a while. Definitely the hardest of the set I thought.
    No unknowns (having read the entire Potter oeuvre to my children, in years past) but some very tricky parsing.
    In France they say “Il tombe des cordes” which I imagine means much the same thing as stair rods…

    1. I think I owe it to Ripley’s Believe It or Not for the parallel expression “il pleut des hallebardes” which is, if anything, even more threatening than STAIRRODS.

      1. I’m in Wales right now and my friend informs me that the Welsh say of heavy rain that it’s raining “old women and sticks”. I guess a battleaxe and a halberd are the same general kind of idea?

  9. I also solved this puzzle in a pretty zippy time, but I don’t for a moment think this means I would have done the same if I’d been sitting at a desk up front, rather than in the much more relaxed audience. I must admit I was slightly worried when you weren’t the first to declare, but as observed, there were quite a few mistakes by fast solvers this year, so nobody thought it was over at the point (and when the scrutineer came back from the marking room to have a fairly long conversation with Mick Hodgkin towards the end of the contest, we whispered amongst ourselves “this one’s gone to a VAR check”).

  10. Thank you so much for the blog. I read about the tournament in The Times and to hear your first hand account is thrilling, especially to have it in such an honest and entertaining way. Congratulations for the win and being the 5th name on the trophy. I read that you didn’t even take it back home with you! Prof

  11. I managed this thing in 33.51, but never did get round to parsing TRAMP, rescued by the fact that nothing else I could think of would fit. It takes a true champ to be courageous enough to bung it in anyway, honest enough to admit the temerity, and bloody-minded enough to grind away at it until light dawned days later.
    My money was on TABITHA TWITCHIT being the source of the pinks, with an ET at the end looking and sounding more likely, and readily biffable in a hurry, but I yield the ground to anyone who discovered it was in PENTAD, which I presume at this unrevealed stage might have been entered as PUNTED: PUNT after all was an (Irish) pound.
    Very fine puzzle, clearly designed to be veering towards MCS level, perhaps lacking the laugh out loud bits that characterise a really good Times. But I guess hysterical laughter in the Final needed to be guarded against!

    1. There were a few (suppressed) laugh out loud moments at the back of the room on the day, especially for the brilliant PASH, BRRR and MINX. With the pressure off (having completed the semis with 10 seconds to go!) I found it very hard but great fun, finishing in 23:35 and spending the rest of the time parsing the devilishly cunning TRAMP! Congratulations to Verlaine on a fine performance, and to the organisers for a great day out. Let’s hope we’ll all be back next year.

  12. Great blog! Thanks Matthew and congrats once again. Great to see you back here. All the best.

  13. Great blog- thanks. And well played on the day.
    I still can’t see how TRAMP works. Where’s the definition?
    Stair rods a familiar phrase from my youth. But we did live in the rainy North West.

    1. &lit/all-in-one. The whole clue is the definition. And the whole clue is the cryptic wordplay.

    2. Thanks for pointing out that I forgot to specify that this was &lit. Editedf!

      I went to school in Chester, but I don’t recall any stair rods, except when being disciplined by Mr Wickson the headmaster.

    3. Congratulations to Marcus.

      As I sit typing these words in my adopted county of Norfolk it is actually, very unusually, raining stair rods. But the phrase is familiar to me having spent most of my life living in the rain sodden county of Lancashire. And given that we always considered Cheshire to be in the Midlands that may explain why Marcus was not familiar with the phrase.

      This puzzle, and some of the regular ones, are way beyond my current capabilities, but I can take delight from getting the odd answer which others found tricky.

      I find the blog an invaluable resource as a means of improving my solving and stand in awe of the casual way in which such skill and erudition is shared.

  14. Many congratulations, Verlaine, and thank you for an excellent and amusing account of how it feels to be in the competition.
    Just reading it gave me the shivers – I could never dream of entering!
    “Better lucky than good”: true, but you’re obviously both.
    Mr SR and I don’t time ourselves, but reckon we took about an hour on this and, even then, didn’t finish as we had to use an aid to find PASH. Could have kicked myself as it used to crop up in the very old fashioned (even then!) schoolgirl stories I read as a child.
    Had no trouble with STAIR ROD thanks to my father who was an excellent source of old fashioned slang. He was in his mid-50s when I was born and I’m in my late-50s now, so my vocabulary goes back a good way.

  15. Had a go at this yesterday, and was defeated by PENTAD (like others, couldn’t get away from thinking of a V at the start), TRAMP (I thought of Alec Douglas-Home, but then didn’t take the next logical step of making that PM and piecing the rest together) and PALMISTRY (where I thought of paltry but couldn’t think of what to put inside it.

    Looked at the wrong anagrist for ages for 8d before getting DERBYSHIRE, having to trust that there is a River Amber. Know PASH as a kiss rather than a ‘thing for someone’ but managed to figure out the wordplay and trusted that it was more likely than ‘hasp’. Hadn’t heard of TABITHA TWITCHIT or LUGOSI but got both from wordplay, didn’t parse the ‘bat’ in ULAN BATOR, and had to trust that OBANGS were old coins.

    Obviously a very tough puzzle, so congratulations to Verlaine and everyone else who completed it.

  16. Congratulations Matthew, well done. Thanks also for the very interesting blog. Francois.

  17. Many congratulations to Verlaine for a well-deserved win after holding his nerve. I never managed to parse TRAMP, but the rest went in all parsed, albeit with some assumptions made about NHO rivers. Interestingly, the hardest were the short ones, or so it seems in retrospect.

  18. Congratulations on the victory!

    It took me over an hour and 20 mins to solve this one, although I was being very cautious and trying to parse everything carefully to avoid any mistakes. Had I really gone for it I might well have been able to dip under the hour and 20 minute mark! I think it was an enjoyable solve but sometimes with ones so tough it can be hard to gauge the line between peak solving pleasure and agonising torture.

    Pentad, pash and Macarthur were really difficult to crack but I got them in the end. Tramp and stair rod had to be the solutions but I never did manage their parsing.

    A very high quality puzzle worthy of the final.

  19. More than an hour…

    Enjoyed this a lot and although I had all the correct words, the parsing of a couple of the answers was a bridge too far for me – TRAMP in particular where I didn’t think of the former PM, PASH which I made a hash of working out – I did however manage to come up with the NHO OBANGS.

    Nice to see that those who appear like swans above the surface, are flapping about just as much as the rest of us, though with more success at going in the right direction. Well done to all three finalists – quite an achievement – and congrats to Verlaine for taking his opportunity to land the big prize.

    As David says a (pen)tad ruefully in his video though, if Matthew had got one answer wrong, and David had managed to come up with his one missing answer, he would then have been the winner – narrow margins…

  20. Congratulations from one of those names appearing just once on the trophy. I managed to win on the only occasion since 1999 when Mark wasn’t present for the championship, but did beat him for my first win, in 2000. I’m daring to say that when the puzzles are hard, you may have a long time to ponder a last answer, or enough time to be just a shade careful with the answers you write in. But it’s not easy to know which of 30 answers in a puzzle is suspect. I was lucky in 2007, as a wrong answer I’d entered in the three-puzzle final was my only one, and it happened to make a crossing answer unsolvable, with all the other 88 answers completed. At some point in a few minutes of frenzy, I decided to rub it out, solved the other one, and then put APHASIA where APHONIA had been (or vice versa). My hand went up about 8 seconds before David Howell’s, so I had time, but only just …

  21. Did this on Monday as had to dash away on Saturday to rescue my credit card from the wife and children.

    Maybe because I’d read the reports, so was in “look out for a stinker” mode, BRRR went in straight away.

    No problem with STAIR RODS, that’s a term of used ever since I can remember, also comfortable with ULAN BATOR (it’s come up before, when I got it wrong so that’s kind of engraved on the memory).

    Thought the Potter clue was cunning, especially with added use of WITCH in the middle of the answer, and being from a Potter-mad (the wizarding one) household that took a bit of getting out of my head.

    My second biggest* downfall (and LOI) was PASH – which I must have stared at for a good 5 minutes trying to decide which way round the P and H needed to go. Perhaps trying to be too clever, if I hadn’t had “SAPPHIC” in my head for “another” –> “the other” I would never have considered SAPH as a potential answer. So PASH it was with crossed fingers.

    *Obviously my biggest downfall had come 2 days earlier when I spectacularly failed to get anywhere near finishing the semi final puzzles in time to be one of the lucky(?) 3 taking the spotlight.

  22. Did this on Monday as had to dash away on Saturday to rescue my credit card from the wife and children, and ended up a whisker under 25 minutes.

    Maybe because I’d read the reports, so was in “look out for a stinker” mode, BRRR went in straight away.

    No problem with STAIR RODS, that’s a term of used ever since I can remember, also comfortable with ULAN BATOR (it’s come up before, when I got it wrong so that’s kind of engraved on the memory).

    Thought the Potter clue was cunning, especially with added use of WITCH in the middle of the answer, and being from a Potter-mad (the wizarding one) household that took a bit of getting out of my head.

    My second biggest* downfall (and LOI) was PASH – which I must have stared at for a good 5 minutes trying to decide which way round the P and H needed to go. Perhaps trying to be too clever, if I hadn’t had “SAPPHIC” in my head for “another” –> “the other” I would never have considered SAPH as a potential answer. So PASH it was with crossed fingers.

    *Obviously my biggest downfall had come 2 days earlier when I spectacularly failed to get anywhere near finishing the semi final puzzles in time to be one of the lucky(?) 3 taking the spotlight.

  23. Many congratulations Verlaine. I managed to finish this but never understood Ulan Bator or tramp. Very satisfyingly twisty clues. Brrr was a write in for me and FOI as I always start in bottom right corner.

  24. Outstanding Verlaine, I am in awe. Great achievement and a great blog. I am never going to be a competitor in the championship because my average time for a standard (easy) daily is about 40 minutes, but I consider myself a winner just because I have learnt the pleasure of completing these infernal puzzles, or at least attempting to complete them. Thanks for your honest and thoroughly entertaining thoughts on your experiences.

  25. Congratulations Matthew. A splendid effort! I’ve just done this one in a tad under 64 minutes, but crashed and burned on TABITHA TWITCHER and PROCUROR, which also knocked out my STAIR RO(C)D without my noticing. I still had EATS and PASH to solve at that point so didn’t linger sadly. I did manage to parse TRAMP and PENTAD, but confess to looking up whether the Amber ran through LondonDERRY., before realising it was Derby.

  26. Well done Matthew. Thanks for the blog. I have just done the puzzle. About 2 hours! No end of respect. Your modesty serves you well, couldn’t happen to a better person.

  27. I tried this and found the right hand side too hard after about an hour. But I’d like to be grateful that a few days after the championship we have:
    Today’s blog from the winner
    David’s video from one of the runner-ups
    Mark’s video about his mistake that eliminated him
    Simon’s video explaining the whole crossword.
    plus the actual crossword for all of us to pit our wits against without having to wait for a dozen wednesdays.

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