The Changes at the Crossword Club

The forthcoming changes at the Crossword Club have now been officially announced:

As far as the brain trust here at TftT can see, these changes will have little impact on us, except for the discontinuance of the Times Literary Supplement puzzle.   We will no longer be able to blog this puzzle, and the final TLS blog will be appearing in a few weeks.   I would like to thank our four TLS bloggers for their loyal service in blogging this rather difficult puzzle.

I am asking that anyone who wishes to discuss these changes post here, rather than to the individual puzzle threads.   Our friend and founder of this blog, Peter Biddlecombe, is very confident that the site will work well, and that the remaining technical glitches will soon be fixed.

August 10, 8 PM – This entry will be unpinned from the top of the blog tomorrow.   Last call for complaints!   Thanks to all those who provided detailed explanations of their difficulties and why they matter.

211 comments on “The Changes at the Crossword Club”

  1. I would like to add my thanks to these TLS bloggers for their wit and insight. I hope they and others will find a way to continue doing the TLS crossword.
  2. I hope that another home can be found for the TLS blog. It is needed at least as much as the others: one can usually figure out a cryptic clue but a reference to a book one has never read cannot be worked out.

    It is not for The Times to say whether their puzzles should be explained on line and the TLS bloggers should not take this lying down.

    1. The Times is not saying that the TLS crossword should not be blogged, and nor is the TLS. I would be delighted if the reports continued. The TLS no longer want their crossword to be part of the Crossword Club site, so the current bloggers would have to buy copies (or know friends who do) to continue. It will be a shame to lose the reports, but I understand the decision.

      Peter Biddlecombe, Sunday Times and TLS crossword editor

  3. … we can complain too much. We’ve been getting free access for quite a while now. And there do seem to be some good additions to the site.

    Still, I do hope they’ve looked at the Groan puzzle site. I always solve those puzzles on line and (after a few initial glitches) it’s a seamless experience. By contrast The Times puzzles are always a treeware job.

  4. I can’t access the Crossword Club website at all today, nor follow the link above explaining the changes. Is this just a temporary thing, does anyone know, or are they looking to integrate the Club into the full subscription packages?

    Sorry if I am behind the curve here. Also I do think it’s a shame about the TLS.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

      1. When I click on the link I get only an invitation to subscribe to the Times. How do I get to the Club site?

        1. Same for me. Am I right to infer from the previous message that the Times envisages the resumption of normal service will happen tomorrow?
  5. I do not have time to read the whole paper, and, although the enjoyment one receives from working the puzzles is difficult to quantify, the new price seems a bit steep for only the puzzle. Does The Times not realize that they will surely make more money if they continue to provide club-only subscriptions?
    1. It’s certainly a high price to justify if one only does the crossword.

      Also, while I can subscribe online, I had to phone up to cancel last time, at it was one of those irritating experiences where you’re talking to a salesman going through a script and have to ask to cancel about nine times in a row before they actually do it. Makes me very reluctant to click on “subscribe” again, otherwise I already might have done, at least for the duration of my current contract (i.e. while I have money and a commute!)

      Nevertheless, I understand that newspapers have to make money somehow, and that people who only subscribe for the crossword are a tiny minority to cater for. (Though I note the Guardian has a lower-price option, which I’ve been happily paying for more than a year now, even though their 15×15 is free to print out online…)

      Edited at 2017-08-02 04:26 pm (UTC)

      1. A small minority, many of whom would gladly pay for the crossword only but not at the price of the whole paper. That’s a small amount of money, but it’s still some pounds they wouldn’t have otherwise, and they don’t have to do anything more. Dumb decision, if that’s the way it is.
        1. £5 a month doesn’t seem THAT much even just for the crosswords. I feel like I get more than 15p’s worth a day… and having access to an online newspaper if I ever whimsically feel like it is just a bonus.
          1. And that’s just… $6.62, at the moment. (How do you think the pound will go?) Sure, I am considering it, and will probably capitulate in the end, but I think there are others who won’t.
          2. That is, indeed, a good price. Which makes me wonder if it’s changed, as I thought I was paying the minimum I could with my previous subscription, and it was £26/month… Is it really possible I missed a subscription option in amongst the plethora? Or was I only offered one option when I signed up on the iPad, I wonder…

            (Also, I feel like if it had been mentioned at any time in the excruciating extrication process of cancelling the sub, I probably would’ve said “yes”. Though it’s possible that after the fourth or fifth exhortation to stay I might’ve just turned bloody-minded and dug my heels in…)

            Edited at 2017-08-02 06:46 pm (UTC)

  6. I’ve just been allowed in and it looks pretty fab to me. I think I can see how it’s meant to work but there are still plenty of bugs to sort out which should take a while to sort out. I’ve chosen the ‘leaderboard’ option which looks like I can’t post offline now. Oh well, the ‘private’ alternative seems to involve having access to the answers.

    So that’ll be interesting, especially as we get used to the new interface which annoyingly doesn’t seem to start an entry in the first square of an answer if that letter’s already been entered by a crossing clue. And it doesn’t allow one to tab between clues as far as I can see. So I expect typos aplenty for a while. I wonder if it will offer ‘Unlucky’ immediately for a filled in grid without allowing it to be checked before submission. Some of the things that made the main site a pain to use and sent me scurrying back to the club site seemed to have migrated over.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

    1. If you click on the cog to the top right of the puzzle, you can toggle the Skip Filled Squares value. As mentioned below, you can use Return instead of Tab. Also, it does indeed offer Unlucky before you can check – this is especially annoying if you’ve, say, transposed two letters, as when you correct one it will then immediately give you the Unlucky message again.
      1. Even with the ‘skip filled letter function’ turned on the cursor still starts in the second square for me when the first is filled. Could be just me. Inability to tab backwards was another thing I couldn’t do and see I’m not the only one.

        1. I clearly replied too soon – sorry. I assumed this would work the same way it does on the Times website, but apparently not. And when I tried on the Times website it didn’t work there either, though I’m pretty sure it used to …
        2. By my understanding of your description and the functionality, you’re complaining about the site doing what it says. The whole point of the “skip filled letters” option is to let you, er, skip filled letters, so if the first letter is filled in but the second letter isn’t, selecting that answer means you start typing at the second letter. If you want to type the whole word rather than just the missing letters, the option should be off (red) rather than on (green), which seems to be the initial default.

          I have sent a link to this page of comments so that the people handling the release can see what other problems have been reported.

          1. Thanks, Peter! And thanks for helping to steer us through all this technological change.

            (Incidentally, if the people handling the release sit anywhere near the people that handle new subscriber emails, when I signed up just now I was greeted by an email with the first paragraph:

            We are delighted to confirm that your Sunday Times Digital Pack Trial membership has been set up. Your subscription includes %%FORMAT(Discount_Period_Month,”M”)%% months

            …so someone might want to have a look into that, too…)

          2. I prefer not to skip filled letters, but even if you select this option the site skips the first filled letter (or letters). So if the grid shows CR—W-RD, the cursor will start after then CR, even though it then doesn’t skip the W. [I assume mrkgrnao meant to say ‘turned off’]
            (The site works on my iPad so I am using that. As mentioned below it doesn’t work at all on my laptop).

            Edited at 2017-08-02 06:56 pm (UTC)

            1. Puzzled – I’ve currently got the option turned off and 1 Across filled in for a puzzle. If I select one of the first few downs by clicking on the clue, the highlighted square is the first one. If I select by clicking on a square in the grid, I start on the square I clicked.
              1. Don’t know if it’s the same problem, but If, in your circumstance, I’ve just finished putting in 1d, and hit Enter to move to the next clue, the highlighted square is the second letter of 2d, no matter what I have set for “skip filled squares”. Maybe it’s a keyboard rather than mouse thing?

                Edited at 2017-08-02 07:32 pm (UTC)

                  1. Yes, I was using return to flip between clues too. By the way I would strongly support verlaine’s suggestion that this function ought to use the TAB key, and at the very least there should be a way to flip backwards between clues as well as forwards.
    2. I’ve just subscribed (at around £100 p.a. it seems reasonable value for the online paper as well). I generally use a laptop, and have to say – it’s horrible. Doesn’t work at all in Chrome, so I have to use Firefox, which is OK, but a third of the screen is taken up by the rubric at the bottom – surely that could be collapsible.
  7. Is there any option to tab between clues in the new format? Without that functionality I feel my already sluggish times will be much impaired…
      1. Is there any way of going backwards? I have been practising on the Quick Cryptics and I’m starting to get there.
        1. I don’t think so, unfortunately. I remember this as being a slight annoyance when the Quickies first came out (as they’ve been on this, or a very similar, infrastructure since day 1) but perhaps if enough people flag it up then the functionality might be added – I can’t believe it’s a difficult code change, and tabs (and reverse tabs) between words seem more intuitive than between letters.
          1. It should work like everything else works, shouldn’t it. Tabbing and reverse tabbing – the petition starts here! Please sign 🙂
        2. I learned you were practising on the QC by having a go myself and being second only to you for the first and probably only time in my life!
  8. I’ve been a “crossword club only” member for a good few years – when the main paper site went behind the paywall, and the crossword pages were redesigned, I stopped having to pay – if I remember right this was meant to last for about 3 months but so far has gone on for nearer 6 years.

    Having just qualified for the champs for first time, I could do without losing access to any potential training material, as £6 per week seems a bit steep just for the crossword (not really interested in getting my news from the Times – haven’t got the, er, time for it (sorry))

    Is it now cast in stone that the club as we knew it is behind the main paywall?

    1. I got in via The Digital International Pack – £5 a month, not per week, or so it claims.
      1. Now that I could probably justify to Mrs O.

        Hmmm, on second thoughts best make that “possibly” to be on the safe side…

      2. Sunday pack looks the best bet at the moment – £20 for 13 weeks then £2 per week after that.

        Just as long as it grants access to the crosswords of course….

      3. The international pack is hard to pin down.. it will not appear at all on my UK computer. Cheapest options are the Sunday packs. I had to google it, and then select the cached page to find it.. but even then it won’t tell me what the terms of the offer are
        1. I wonder if I only got access to it due to being in New York at the time! And what will happen next week when I go home again…
  9. Well, I cannot get to the forum so I guess that is the end of me on the Crossword Club. As an iPad user I do not submit solutions
    1. When I log in and go to resume today’s cryptic, all I get is a little spinny thing…Teething troubles to be expected, perhaps, but it would be nice if they kept the old site in parallel until these are resolved.
      1. Dr Thud,

        Nice to see you back.

        As a complete aside, do you have any comment on why ENT in Crosswordland seems to have become Otorhinolaryngology Dept in the real world? Same thing?

        1. Thanks – nice to be back!

          I think the main reason for the change was because they suddenly realized that, when they said “Ear, nose and throat”, some of the brighter patients actually understood what they meant. Medicine is a bit like the Freemasons, the Magic Circle or sausage manufacturing – you don’t really want the man in the street to know too much.

          The other factor may be that many doctors don’t really bother with noses, so there are plenty of otolaryngology departments (without the rhino); under the old system, these would be “ET Departments”, which might not be taken seriously.

          Oh, and the new club page now seems to be working!

  10. So, the same interface as the paper. I’m probably going to be printing from now on and no longer submitting to the leaderboard (goodbye, Nitch) as I’m not fond of interfaces where the clues scroll inside text boxes — makes me seasick!

    Shame, because the stats part of the site looks very nice.

  11. I rang the Times earlier, and they told me that the Crossword Club (i.e. the old system which didn’t require a subscription to the paper) was undergoing an upgrade, and would be back online tomorrow or Friday. I hope this is right. It might have been better had they put a message to that effect on the old CC page, rather than automatically directing one to the page telling one to get a subscription. But we shall see, I suppose.
  12. Well the new site doesn’t work at all on my laptop. I can’t even open the puzzles.
  13. Please could someone summarize what has actually happened to the Crossword Club? I’ve tried to log in to view the link above, but can’t.

    (I had one of those free accounts that ‘rolled over’ from a previous revamp, but I used a script to download the crossword directly to my iPad, so haven’t logged in manually for years.)

    Thank you.

  14. I like to print out a few older puzzles (say from 2001) to do while I’m out of reach of internet connection. I used to be able to do this easily but now there seems to be no print option for the older puzzles which makes them useless for me.

    On edit. I just had another look at FAQs and I see they are still working on the print option for archive puzzles. The sooner the better.

    Edited at 2017-08-02 06:38 pm (UTC)

  15. There’s no Quickie section in the Forum as was promised. The loss of grey printing was announced so I was ready for that although a bit disappointed, but I hadn’t realised we’d end up with printed puzzles filling only half to two-thirds of A4 with smaller grid and smaller font for the clues. More strain on my ageing eyes!
    1. It seems quite grey compared to the previous black option. The clue font in particular seems quite watery. That does feel like a step backwards, and I’m not sure how my eyes are going to cope with it in the morning. Only time will tell…
      1. Thanks, I’ve found it now but what a dog’s breakfast that area is! Hopefully someone will find a way of organising it so that the various threads appear in date order with latest at the top.

        Edited at 2017-08-02 09:08 pm (UTC)

  16. There doesn’t seem to be any way of reviewing your completed puzzle once submitted: if you go into it again after completing the answers have gone.
    1. To confirm what’s working, I’ve submitted QC 888 as a leaderboard player. If I click on “Review” in its panel on the front page, I can see my answers and their correctness. If this doesn’t work for you, I guess we’re into the joyous “what OS/browser” questions ….
      1. It seems to be working now. This is with today’s cryptic, which last night (I’m in Canada at the moment so able to solve puzzles soon after they are posted) I couldn’t submit at all. This morning I was able to submit it and I can now review it (and see the stupid error I made!).
        Yesterday when I did the same thing (i.e. tried to review my answers) with one of the quick cryptics it just showed an empty grid.
        This is all with my iPad. On my laptop, which is an HP machine running Windows 8.1, the puzzles don’t work at all. When I try to open one I just get the spinning symbol. This is true for Firefox, Chrome and IE. From other comments here it’s clear I’m not alone in having this problem.

        Edited at 2017-08-03 01:11 pm (UTC)

  17. I tried subscribing (International Digital Pack) and got this message:
    Apologies, an error has occurred

    with phone numbers to call instead—“free from a landline.” But that wouldn’t be free from the United States.
    The Times used to have a free international customer service line…
    I am afraid that if I start over I will be charged twice.

  18. and it was yesterday’s so did that in 3.44 umm this is simply horryble.

    No pressure!

    1. and as Jack states the type makes the grid and type smaller – if it was made any smaller I might go blind!

      Come in 26,794 my time is up!

      Mood meldrew at 7.37am

      Edited at 2017-08-02 11:37 pm (UTC)

  19. One of the side-effects of the change is that the main puzzle no longer rolls over to the next day on the stroke of midnight so those who like to solve before going to sleep and perhaps get in early on the leader board may be kept waiting. The Quickie has always had this problem. It’s 12:10 now and we still have yesterday’s puzzles.
    1. I am used to grabbing the puzzle at 7 and working it before leaving the office or on the subway home or (sometimes and) dinner afterward. So no puzzle tonight!
      I am going to wait a couple days to see how things shake out.

      Edited at 2017-08-02 11:30 pm (UTC)

    2. I can confirm this. The roll-over is broken. This is a major problem for “antipodean” solvers who like to do the puzzle over breakfast.

      Strange that we have to go back to The Times as such in order to log out. Wonder why?

      Edited at 2017-08-02 11:19 pm (UTC)

    3. Ironically, the only reason I’m up this late is because I’ve been bodging together a system that will print out the crossword ready for me when I get down to the printer in the morning. Perhaps if I ever get it working I’ll set it for 6am rather than 1am!
  20. 26,794 can so far only be done on line, with cheating readily available, if you’ve subscribed!

    Home in 29.34 but highly unsatifactory?
    Messrs or Messers Murdoch and Biddlecombe.


    What is The Times coming to – it’ll go tabloid next, mark my words!

    Blog anyone?

    Edited at 2017-08-03 12:33 am (UTC)

    1. Printing was available in the new Club for all Wednesday puzzles but currently only for Thursday’s QC. In the meantime those wishing to print can do so via the newspaper site. Open the puzzle and click on the “hamburger” icon. This is for PCs and laptops; I’ve no idea about other devices.
      1. Thanks, jackkt. My ‘new’ era of treeware almost stopped before it began, but you saved the day.

        And yes, I do hope they add ‘bigger typeface for clues’ to the list as a priority. It’s no joke having to squint to read the clues for a puzzle.

  21. This is a most unpleasant experience.No Thursday crossword (00.54 GMT),unable to print out.No comments visible.Ein Durcheinander.
  22. Am wedded to completing the Cryptic on paper each day.
    Where has the print facility gone? It was there yesterday? Have I missed something? Will I have to engineer a snapshot of the screen now?!
    Peter Pond
  23. I came here to get suggestions on how to print. I can’t find the option at all. And it seems from the FAQ that we are losing the “print grey” option which has proved very economical for me. I always work from a printed copy because I enjoy doing the puzzle in bed with my morning cuppa. We old folks have our little rituals. Is there no print option available yet or am I simply looking in the wrong place?
    1. As Jack’s posts here note, yesterday’s puzzle was printable — though not in grey. So I’m hoping normal treeware service will be resumed at some point.
  24. A most unpleasant experience.Won’t let me submit (01.40),can’t print out,very user unfriendly.Have to stay awake until 1 am.
  25. Jack you are right – the three lines that normally appear first at the top right (The Nothing Burger) are for e-mail – print – and re-size. Hiding in plain sight (site even)!

    Fine but re-size only affects the clues on screen.

    But this does not enlarge the print out – which has to be an option – surely – I guess most of us are a little hard of seeing – and I would guess wear bins. C

    So PB – let’s lobby The Times to help this 8pt grow to 12pt an option for us ‘Oldies’!

    No surprise that everyone is not happy. I dearly hope The Times and TLS get the revenues that will justify these (WOD) pettyfogging changes. We have supperted them for six years – a period of six months grace would have been equitable.

    1. Horryd, apparently you’re not the only person I have confused by what I wrote so that must be down to me, but if you look back you will see I was referring to the newspaper site when I mentioned the hamburger, not the Club site. Nothing has changed (as yet) on the newspaper site so far as the puzzles are concerned and the print option is present via the hamburger symbol. Why there’s a hamburger offering different options but no printing on the Club site is anyone’s guess.

      The problem with adjusting the scale I find is that before the page is filled the ends of the clues at the RH margin fall off the page. So far I haven’t managed to get past 100% without losing stuff, at which point the page is still around 30% blank and I’m still left squinting. For th emoment at least I’ve gone back to cutting and pasting into Word and printing from there. Something I used to do before it was possible to print the QC from the newspaper site.

      Edited at 2017-08-03 05:03 am (UTC)

  26. I couldn’t find a way to print today’s (Thursday’s) puzzle. Older ones have an obvious “Print” on the home page and a “Print” option via the cog on the puzzle page. Can I print the current one?


    – Vince

  27. Is there any way to find out whether your entry for a competition puzzle is correct or not, before the solution is published? The “my profile” page no longer includes that information..
    1. No – you now have to wait until the solution is available, like other solvers of the same puzzle. And for leaderboard solvers, this also means that your score won’t appear until the closing date.

      (If anyone’s going to mention Answerbank or similar sites, yes, they exist, but apart from not being able to stop them, they are not giving information ahead of time about a puzzle run by their own organisation, which always seemed rather odd to me.)

        1. Ah …

          If you use private rather than leaderboard solving, you can check answers as soon as the puzzle appears, as long as it’s not a competition one. But if you normally want to be on the board, you need to remember to switch back before your next solve.

          1. I do appreciate that a lot goes on behind the scenes and also that technology moves on and new machinery and interfaces must be catered for. And you know I very much value all you have done personally, to raise standards and to make The Times crossword staff a little more interactive and willing to listen. And no doubt the recent changes bring benefits such as incorporating the quick cryptic (and the Latin, I would love to see completion figures for that idea!) But for myself, all I see at present is losses, no gains:

            – I can no longer influence or change print output
            – I can no longer be sure the (competition) crossword I am blogging is correct until after the solution is published
            – I can no longer complete the TLS
            – I appear to have lost the contributions of some old friends such as Tony Sever

            It’s not the end of the world, but it is a bit of a blow I will admit.

          2. Hi Peter – as the regular blogger for the Saturday Cryptic, I share Jerry’s problem. Is there no prospect of bloggers getting a way to check?
  28. OK, I admit, I’ve had free crosswords via the club site for a while. I’m going to have to pay Mr Murdoch. has anyone worked out the cheapest way of getting a crossword to print out for someone in the UK? Weekday puzzles only, and for someone in the UK.
    £6 per week seems a tad steep compared to the Financial Times (£270 per year I think).
    1. It’s just 5 quid a month for the International Digital Package! That’s still rather more expensive than the NYTImes puzzle-only subscription. But I have been trying to sign up. The problem is, the only link I can find is for new subscribers only, and the system recognizes me, all my info is there. What complicates matters, perhaps, is that in March a Times rep I e-chatted with ostensibly canceled my sub before I went to Europe for all of April (I promised I would resubscribe), but didn’t really cancel it, because there were fewer than 15 days left in my billing cycle. I have been getting the club for free the last few months, but I would gladly pay, if the Times would only let me now!

      Edited at 2017-08-03 10:00 pm (UTC)

  29. The Print and Stats links on the Home Page have now been restored for today’s puzzles.

    If anyone at The Times is listening, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO OUR CROSSWORD CLUB? I Know there have been dozens of comments, but all I want is the crossword, not the paper. I will happily pay for the privilege, assuming the rate is sensible.
    A chap at the paper assured me it would be back today but now I am doubtful. Any change at all to the format would be a retrograde step,too.
    When there was talk of The Times going tabloid, and I was a regular reader, assurances were given that the paper would continue to be printed in broadsheet format as well. Well look what happened there. I have not bought the paper since.

  31. Am I being dim? I’ve had free access to the Crossword Club for years but now I cannot access any pages in it. I just get redirected to a page asking me to subscribe to the Times. I’ve read through all the comments here and it is not clear to me whether this is a temporary situation or not. Can anybody give a definitive answer as to whether I will eventually get my access restored on the same terms or not?
    1. It appears you won’t. The new system has connected the club papers and the website proper much more closely; and if you (and I) don’t have a kosher subscription you won’t have any access.
      Frankly I’m amazed they allowed free access for as long as they did.
      1. I have had my Times sub for ages but then how many can ‘organs’ can one afford.

        The Telegraph took the plunge first and The Independent is on-line only. It’s all very brave whilst the BBC is in biz, unable to charge for on-line content – but that charter may change before long.

        We should do a Kerry Packer and start getting The Times setters to work directly for The Crossword Club! Make Crossword Puzzles a professional sport. Snooker did it! Darts did it! Mah-jjong and bridge does it in China! Countdown has been a phe nomenal success with both students and oldies.

        Verlaine could give up his hated employment and go full time professional – what fun for all in the wee small hours!

        On-line makes all this possible – main stream TV not required nor the ‘treeware’ media. Cut out the middle men!
        A small independent stable of professionals could lift our game and cause a lot of interest. People enjoy crosswords a lot!

        Edited at 2017-08-03 09:37 am (UTC)

      2. That’s right. I had a chat with a times rep today and it’s necessary to pay for a package to have access to crosswords.
  32. Well, either I’m being very dim or the crossword page is still broken. Or both, of course.

    When I go to, I see the current puzzles and my recent puzzles listed. When I click on any one of them, I get taken to a page with a big blank space where the puzzle should be, with leaderboard details underneath that. In the big space, I just get the “loading…” icon, but nothing happens.

    I’m logged in, and it all worked briefly yesterday (but reset the puzzle I was working on, so I had to re-enter my answers). But now, nada. I’ve tried in two browsers (Firefox and Chrome, both on a Mac).

    Does anyone else have the same problem? Any helpful suggestions?

  33. (My last attempt at posting this comment was marked as spam, presumably because I had a URL in it).

    The site is still broken, at least for me. I’m logged in, and can see the current puzzles and my recent puzzles listed. But when I click on any one of them, I go to a page that has a big blank space where the puzzle should be, and the leaderboard details underneath. The blank space contains a “loading…” icon that just persists.

    This happens in two different browsers (Firefox and Chrome, both on a Mac).

    Anyone have any helpful suggestions that don’t involve my going out to buy a paper?

    1. I have the same problem on my HP laptop running Windows 8. I’ve tried Firefox, Chrome and IE: just the spinning icon in all three. Fortunately I have an iPad so I’m using that for the time being.
      1. Thanks – good to know it’s not just me! I presume that the man with the IT Spanner is on his way to mend it…
      1. Personally, this is not an issue. Now that I no longer have to tramp to the station, pick up a paper and go to work, I read The Times online and the Club comes as an extra. Also, as i work via iPad, I am never going to be able to submit times. Sad though that I seem to be unable to comment on the Club Forum.
  34. I still just get a spinning “I’m thinking about” icon when I try to open any puzzle. I don’t suppose this could be because my subscription isn’t what I thought it was? I presumed that, were that the case, I’d get some message to that effect…
    1. I am using the same subscription for my iPad (works) and laptop (doesn’t work) so I doubt that’s the problem.
  35. Good on my iMac and iPad; I’ve found that printing the puzzle ‘best’ quality gives it that old familiar feel of heavy black squares that I prefer. Hope this all works out for the rest of you encountering some problems joining up.

    Edited at 2017-08-04 05:50 am (UTC)

    1. Just tried it at 1200 DPI on my laser printer, but I’m still finding the text of the clues nothing like as black and crisp as it was before. I’m going to try moving a table lamp next to the sofa to see if shedding more light on the thing improves things any…

      Edited at 2017-08-04 06:37 am (UTC)

      1. 75 years old now and with lens replacement can see just fine but with the change of font (Arial?) from Times Roman the flavour of the Old Times puzzle has been lost and it’s more difficult to read the clues. It’s the nature of the font that counts. A sans-serif typeface is not as easy to read and rendered even more difficult with lighter characters. I’m all for modernity and streamlining but recall my typography teacher’s admonition….”Can you read the damn thing?” which is, after all, the whole point. Now, as to the use of commas in the last sentence..oh, never mind….
  36. As I already had other things to do, I left it a day before giving the new site the necessary attention (experience tells me that the first day of a new thing is often the worst day). Anyway, I don’t want to deliver a verdict until I’ve got used to the new style (obviously it’s quite easy to be irked at change, just because it’s change, and overlook the fact that there may be improvements). However, I do want to add my name to the petition to bring back the tab key (and possibly more important, alt+tab for going backwards). My fingers keep pressing even though I know nothing happens, which shows how ingrained these habits become…

    Edited at 2017-08-04 10:07 am (UTC)

  37. I’ve had an email telling me about the changes and that the site is live again.
    I clicked the link and nothing happens. Attempts to go to the old CC website just get the submissions begging page.

    I used to pay for the original CC access, but I refuse to pay any money to the Murdoch clan for “news”.

    As a former Listener setter (when it was the Listener), like Araucaria, when the puzzle went to the Times I preferred not be published at all than be published by Murdoch.

  38. Peter – I tried doing the last couple of days online, and found I was constantly submitting my partial solution!

    Please is it possible to address the anomaly that the club has a SUBMIT button where the iPad app has an ENTER THIS WORD button? Please!?

  39. Puzzles appeared on the old club site at the stroke of midnight UK time. When do they go up on the new site?

    Edited at 2017-08-04 11:08 pm (UTC)

  40. Peter – this is a specialist problem I realise, but as I start to prepare the blog of today’s crossword to publish next week, I did what I usually do: cut the clues out of the printable puzzle and past them into a word document.

    Normally that works fine, and I can just start typing the blog. Today, clue text and numbers come out of order for several clues. Will you please pass this on?

    For example, here’s how the ACROSS clues appear:

    Quietly 1 utter joke (5)

    4 One replacing a DIY essential for occupant of flats (9)

    In favour of cutting Liszt’s 3rd and 4th with old musician’s direction (9)

    10 Free and easy (5)

    11 Simple code that cannot encrypt bid, for example (6,7)

    14 Horse and trap’s return is imminent (4)

    15 Hyper? Arrange sedative and R&R (10)

    18 Wind instrument contributing to atmospheric records? (10)

    Feature of landscape gardens comprising two hectares (2-2)

    Wretchedly moan often: this is a fellow who certainly did

    24 Cheers and jeers largely disapproved of (5)

    25 Pancake falls to earth once tossed (4,5)

    Before Christ impressed Mark, providing an example for
    followers (9)

    28 Scottish League One team’s first in division (5)

    Edited at 2017-08-05 03:56 am (UTC)

    1. Brian

      This is a problem that has been experienced occasionally by Quick Cryptic bloggers in the past as the printing process just introduced to the Club has been operating on the newspaper site for a year or two and that was the only source for the QC. A little editing in Word soon puts it right, but there are more sophisticated blogging tools available if you wish to use them, in which case, have a private word with Jonathan (vinyl1) initially, and I’d be pleased to provide additional advice if required.

      Edited at 2017-08-05 05:49 am (UTC)

    2. As far as I can tell by testing the copy/paste into both Notepad and Word, what happens is that if the clue runs onto an extra line, the number appears in a separate paragraph afterwards. As jackkt says, fixing this up in either editor is pretty easy. I have passed it on, but as it affects just one person per puzzle, I can’t see it getting high priority. In the first across clue, which was on one line, I did not get the clue number moved into the middle of the clue as in your example. (Same puzzle used).
  41. This morning I took the opportunity of digging out last week’s printed Saturday puzzle to compare it to the new printed version. I’m hoping this photo might shed some light on the problems I’m having reading the new version. These side-by-side photos were shot under laboratory conditions in my living room 😀


    I think my laser printer is “halftoning” the printed text in the new version, likely because it’s not entirely black in the PDF. I’m wondering if perhaps the laser printers at The Times’ IT department don’t do that, so perhaps it doesn’t look quite so terrible for them?

    Is anyone else seeing this effect on the printed version, or is it just me? Ta!

    1. I think Peter or David wrote that the new printing is 70% black whereas the old Club was 100% unless one chose the grey option, and that may account for your problem. As far as I’m aware the new printing is the same as we’ve been getting on QCs or other puzzles printed from the newspaper site (as opposed to the Club) for some years. It’s most noticeable when one blows it up to compensate for the smaller font and your laser printer seems to be making it even worse. Also in the old Club one could one could print the grid in grey without it affecting the blackness of the clues. It was altogether a much better arrangement but times move on…
      1. Indeed they do. But as a programmer myself I know I’ve had users suffering in silence for years on many occasions for want of a five-minute fix in a piece of code, so I wanted to mention it!

        Incidentally, if anyone else *is* in my position, I found this web page:

        …which will, if you upload a Times crossword PDF, then choose “more options” and set “Text Conversion” to “Black”, produce a beautifully crisp, 100% black PDF version for printing, and significantly less eyestrain.

    2. You might see if you printer allows you to set options for print quality etc. what you’re seeing looks like “draft” quality.
      1. Nope, that’s 600dpi full quality. Both prints were printed on the same printer with the same quality settings. And if I edit the PDF to make the text 100% black, it prints fine on the same settings.

        Luckily, I’m a reasonably hardcore geek, so I now have a process running on one of Amazon’s servers that grabs today’s crossword, edits the PDF to be black and then prints it off on my living room printer every morning at 5am, so it’s sitting there ready for me at breakfast. I don’t generally let technology beat me 😀

        Edited at 2017-08-08 01:28 pm (UTC)

  42. I’m signing the TAB petition – and also the BAT (ability to go backwards with SHIFT + TAB) petition.

    (For right handed solvers, there is even a good reason for using TAB instead of SHIFT – which is that the left hand is almost always on the keyboard, whilst the right sometimes goes to the trackpad or mouse. It is much much more difficult and much much much slower to go back and forth to get to the SHIFT)

    Another nice feature that many crossword sites have is the ability to skip over words which have been completely filled in when you tab (or shift) through the clue list. Like the ‘skip filled letter’ feature, this can often be turned on or off

    And I need help with this: when i started solving today, I was in full screen, and I could see the entire grid. I did something, and got a truncated grid. I cannot figure out how to get back to the full grid. This is running Safari.

    Similarly, I could have sworn that at least once i had seen two columns of clues – down and across side by side. Assuming that I really did, I now cannot produce that. Am I mis-remembering, or is

  43. I can only envy those of you who are having issues with the new layout and format – I’m still puzzleless. I still just get a perpetual “waiting…” icon when I click on any of the puzzles. Worst of it is that I am stuck in a location without access to civilisation (i.e. a printed copy of the Times). I can already feel my brain cells beginning to soften.
  44. I have to say that I have tried all day to get into the Crossword Club and failed. Everything I do gets me to the subscriptions page.
    I have spent rather a long time trying. I am now seriously Pi**ed off. And the On-Line help people didn’t.



    1. There were many people who had been getting free membership of the Crossword Club for a number of years courtesy of a loophole in the subscription process. That loophole now appears to have been closed. If this situation applies to yourself, then you will need to pay for a subscription in order to access the puzzles. If you actually DO have a paid subscription already, then I’m afraid I don’t know what the problem is.
      1. My problem is not getting to the crosswords but the following:

        1.Am not able to see if I have all correct on the Saturday puzzle.
        2.No visible stats on Sat puzzle.
        3.No comments on Sat puzzle that I can access.
        4.Unable to comment with my pseudonym.
        5.No easy access to past puzzles.
        6.No easy access to past puzzle stats or comments.
        7.I get the TLS so can still do puzzle if I want,but how petty minded to remove it.As if anyone buys the TLS for the crossword.

        What a case of change for changes sake.Those sort of changes always lead to a deterioration.

        1. All of these points have been dealt with either in the FAQs, comments by the Editor or others in the General forum at the Club or elsewhere in this thread on TftT. There are immediate solutions to some, others will come right after the first week or two of operation or later in the case of archived comments. Point 7 is a bullet that we just have to bite because TLS don’t want to participate, which is hardly the fault of the Times crossword staff.
  45. Came back from holiday to find everything had changed! Initially I didn’t like the new site, but now I know that you can use the RETURN key instead of TAB, I’m happy (although I too would like the SHIFT + TAB key to go backward). Integrating the crossword site into the main Times site makes sense, I’m afraid: it means that the paper only has one site to maintain, and The Times has to make money somehow (there may be such a thing as a free lunch, but eating without charge for 6 years is beyond reasonable). The leaderboard on the new site is much easier to use and the site is easier to navigate once you get used to it.

    My main gripe is that I can’t see any way to see comments. When I submit with leaderboard, every puzzle has 0 comments. Has everyone else got this problem?

    Finally, I know everyone’s concentrating on the bad features, but the PAUSE button working will change my life, as will IPad access.

    Edited at 2017-08-05 10:31 pm (UTC)

  46. After so many years of free puzzles I certainly don’t mind paying the subscription fee which turns out to be about $7.00 Canadian per month. The bonus is the subscription to The Times; excellent journalism from a different perspective than the Yanks or the Canucks. Having spent half my working life as a broadcast journalist I appreciate a good story well told.

    (I still have my London Press Club tie presented to me when I visited in 1974. You know, the thin blue one with the white crossed quill pens logo. I was a member of the Toronto Men’s Press Club at the time and now known as The Toronto Press Club.)

    Edited at 2017-08-06 03:32 am (UTC)

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