The Times Crosswords Championships 2018

If anyone has happened to glance at the TfT right-hand sidebar, you will see that the results of the 2018 Championships are out, and we are once again providing links to the results.

Other than the actual results, interested parties who did not attend know little or nothing, as the Times does not usually publish its report until the following Monday.  However, it is evident from both the results and Keriothe’s comment in the Sunday puzzle blog that the great Magoo has finally been dethroned, and we have a new champion.

Well, here is a thread to discuss this exciting development.   Contestants and onlookers are all invited to comment at length, although I am asking that you not reveal the actual clues and answers, as the Times will be reusing the puzzles in its regular daily rota.

39 comments on “The Times Crosswords Championships 2018”

  1. Mark was once again so far ahead of the rest of the field on time that it wasn’t funny, and I’m sure he will be back with a vengeance next year, but it was nice to discover that the trophy isn’t necessarily a *permanent* fixture on his mantelpiece.

    It seemed like it must have been a very hard trio of final puzzles – only 7 all corrects!

  2. Warm congrats to the winner, and to Verlaine, Mohn, Keriothe and Penfold. Sorry I couldn’t be there to bask in reflected glory, but very excited to see you guys doing so well.
  3. And well done, TfTT! Apart from sterling performances by Mohn, Keriothe and Verlaine (Matthew I am sure it must be the Club Monthly effect!) I can see several other regulars past and present who did well enough to qualify for next year’s competition.. Linxit, Topical Tim, Fathippy, Tony Sever .. who has given his own report, that you can see here

    Edited at 2018-11-04 07:51 am (UTC)

  4. Well, someone has to finish 13th in the heats every year, and here I am! I remain sanguine, though, for various reasons. For one thing, while it would have been nice to reach another Grand Final, I went back in as an audience member, and from solving at the back of the room, I can confirm verlaine‘s suspicion that the puzzles were tough, even by the standards of Grand Finals. If I’d been sitting at the front, I would have been engaged in a titanic struggle to avoid 24th place (I’m glad I was there, though; I don’t think any of my non-crosswording friends understand that for those who were in the room, this was like being at ringside when Buster Douglas stopped Mike Tyson).

    Secondly, if I’d finished one place higher, Dr. Charles Wood would have claimed 13th place for the third year in a row, and I am not so heartless as to wish that on anyone (I reserve the right to change this view when we finish in the same places next year). Also, for those of us who fell short, it was brilliant to see other TftT-ers getting through, especially our two first-time finalists, so there was plenty of reflected glory to go round.

    Finally, as Sue (who had her own reasons to feel cross with the way things went) said in the pub afterwards, it’s only a bloody crossword. We all went to the George where I had a very nice time in excellent company, and even managed to add a few more faces to names from the blog. Good to see you all in person, if I did, and as far as the crosswords go, there’s always next year.

    1. 🙂 Although I should point out that the b crossword comment was part of a conversation about the people who grump about how difficult/obscure etc a crossword is and how not finishing it has somehow blighted their lives, when as we all know it is only a crossword, not a cure for anything or the solution to world peace, and they are like buses, there’ll be another one along soon
    2. It will be interesting to do the 3rd puzzle in the first qualifier and try to circumvent the bear-trap into which so many speed-solvers fell.
    3. I’m sorry I pushed you out, but finishing 13th three years in a row might have been too much to bear! I was surprised to get through to the final because I got the impression a lot of people had finished before me – which they had – although I did wonder whether “that” clue might result in a higher than usual failure rate. Anyway, I finally managed to make it through to the final after many failed attempts.

      I spoke to a few people before the heat, one of whom turned out to be Cryptic Sue. My immediate remark was “oh, you’ve been in the final before”, to which her reply was along the lines of “please don’t say that, you’ll have jinxed me now!”, but it was too late. Sorry Sue – I think you would have made a better showing in the final than I did.

      I found the final very hard going. It might have been first-time nerves, but I think the puzzles were definitely tougher than usual. When I have attempted the Grand Final puzzles from previous years, albeit in the comfort of my own home with no time pressure, I have generally come in below the hour mark, so it was a bit disheartening that I could not finish even one of the puzzles within the time. Fortunately, I did achieve my goal of not finishing last.

      I was actually sat next to Magoo and immediately in front of Mohn. After filling in three quarters of one puzzle and solving a few clues of the second, there was some rustling to my left telling me that Magoo had finished. How does he do it? I nearly congratulated him before the winners were announced and I am very glad I didn’t jump the gun!

  5. Last year I came 70th= out of 88 in the first heat. This year I was 70th of 90 in the first heat. So a percentage point or two better than last year but still stuck in the 70s. I found the puzzles really tough.

    Great meeting so many TftTers yesterday. Many congratulations to all the winners. Looking forward to next year already, when I hope to graduate to the swinging 60s.

    Edited at 2018-11-04 10:03 am (UTC)

  6. And congratulations to all from me. In addition to our stalwarts Verlaine, Mohn and Keriothe, I noted that Dave Howell came first in the first prelim and 4th in the Final. He was (and may remain although I don’t know for sure) reliably the best of the TLS solvers when the Club carried the puzzles.
  7. 83= out of 90 in the first heat, so still a work in progress :))
    Well done to all on here. Enjoyed the event and the view from the 17th floor.
  8. I arrived early and met Big Dave (who runs the Telegraph crossword site) and John Henderson, a good start.
    I then hooked up with Bolton Wanderer and Astonvilla1. Perhaps Accrington Stanley will turn up next year?
    Great to talk to them and many more during the afternoon.
    I held on to see who would win so was party to the big surprise.
    There is a good selection of beer at The George. I was drinking IPA which did look rather dark so I asked them for a whiter shade of pale. To no avail!
    All round a great afternoon and we were very lucky with the weather. An odd thing to say about a crossword championship. David

  9. In his blog of last Sunday’s puzzle Keriothe indicates that it was his crosswording ambition to make the Grand Final. My ambitions were never that lofty (I’d have been happy with another 25th place) so it was a bit of a shock when my name was read out as the 12th qualifier from the 2nd prelim. I thought I’d done fairly well but it seemed a bit of a stretch that all 3 puzzles correct in 46 1/2 minutes would be anywhere near good enough for the final. As it turns out I was 17th fastest but 5 of those ahead of me had errors. I was more than chuffed to come 19th in the final, fully expecting to come 24th and feeling a bit of an imposter.

    Sorry I missed many of you (old and new) at the George. I ended up in an area of the “beer garden” at the very edge of the crossword throng and wasn’t able to get round everybody. I’ll try and make amends next year. I did, however, have the pleasure of catching up with Verlaine, Keriothe, Mohn2, Topical Tim and Cryptic Sue and of meeting Phil Jordan for the first time. Congrats to V and M for the stellar performances, to Phil for making the final, to Keriothe for keeping me company as a first-timer and commiserations to Tim for the dreaded 13th. Well done also to Sue and my mate Ken (erstwhile Jumbo blogger 7dPenguin) for grabbing a free pass for next year.

  10. As a hanger-oner who can only marvel at the speeds you stars attain, I was just happy to be there. Lovely to see old friends and new faces alike. Many congratulations to all the stellar competitors, and commiserations to those who were hoping to do even better.
  11. From 83= in P1 last year to 50= in P2 yesterday.

    Congrats to all finalists and prize winners, sorry I couldn’t hang around at the George but had left wife, daughter and newly-acquired foster daughter unattended with my credit card in Hamleys so had to go and rescue my financial security*.

    Good to meet a few people again – albeit briefly – and to put a few more faces to names (most of which I’ll have forgotten by this time next year).

    This time next year Rodney……

    *actually they were quite well behaved all things told

  12. I made the mistake of sitting just to the right of Verlaine in the final, which put my own efforts somewhat into perspective. 15th overall, and I can confirm that they were toughies. And – I don’t think this gives too much away – one of the clues was almost identical to one in yesterday’s Times, which was unexpected (but helpful!).
  13. Congrats to all who did so well, from the poor S*d who probably has the unenviable job of blogging the nine in due course along with the series of tortuous Wednesday resurrections. The Final three sounded tricky. Am busy trying to match the real names reported here to their ‘handles’ as apart from our little TLS gang, plus Andy and Marcus, I have had no way to do so.
    At the time we were in Toulouse watching 250,000 crowding the streets watching a couple of mechanical giant creations stomping about and disrupting the city, allegedly an art ‘manifestation’.
    Is possible I may be entering next year if am allowed to repatriate even temporarily, so I’d better make more effort to speed up! Or I may just go straight to the George and buy a round.
  14. I came 61/84 in the second heat on my debut which I was well pleased with. It was good to finally put some faces to pseudonyms and to visit The George for the first time in over 10 years. Now I’ve made the acquaintance of some of you I’ll make it along to further events there as it’s only a 10 minute stroll from work.
  15. It sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t expect I’ll ever get there, so I’d love a picture of the whole event!
  16. Does the winner, Roger Crabtree solve online or post in TftT? If so, under what name(s)
  17. It took ten years and 99 puzzles, but the Times National Crossword Championship has a new name on its trophy.

    Roger Crabtree, 55, a former pensions clerk from Horsham, West Sussex, was crowned for the first time, dethroning Mark Goodliffe, a finance director from London, who had won every year since 2008. Both eased through their preliminary rounds to qualify for the afternoon’s grand final.

    Mr Goodliffe, 53, completed his set of three crosswords in 24 minutes and 40 seconds, almost ten minutes ahead of the next finisher, Mr Crabtree.

    However, spectators awaiting Mr Goodliffe’s 11th consecutive victory speech did not foresee the surprise that emerged from the marking room at London Bridge on Saturday. The serial champion had made an error, leaving Mr Crabtree, who submitted faultless solutions, to claim victory.

    After receiving the trophy, Mr Crabtree said: “I’m still dazed. Lesser mortals like me are just hoping to complete the puzzles correctly. I thought Mark was going to win for all infinity.” He said he would spend the £1,000 prize on better Christmas presents for his family.

    The clue that led to Mr Goodliffe’s downfall was 14 Across in the last puzzle of the grand final: Marshal calm when changing side repeatedly (5).

    The correct answer was array, but Mr Goodliffe put arroy, believing it to be the name of a French military commander; he later said this was probably a misremembering of a character from CS Forester’s Hornblower novels.

    He was gracious in defeat, however, saying: “My heartiest congratulations go to Roger; I’m delighted for him. He’s done well so often in the past.”

    Second place went to Matthew Marcus, 44, a software developer, also from London, and third place was taken by John McCabe, 47, an investor from Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire.

    The inaugural award for the most successful newcomer was claimed by James McGaughey, of St Albans, who won a bottle of champagne.

    The crosswords were said to be the most difficult in years, with only seven of 24 contestants finishing all puzzles correctly. The nine championship puzzles will appear in The Times on consecutive Wednesdays from November 14.

    Mr Goodliffe’s run may have ended but he need not be too disappointed, having won this year’s Times National Sudoku Championship.

    1. It’s a shame they included a spoiler in the article which will be read by so many enthusiasts who have not yet had a chance to solve the puzzle themselves. I was looking forward to trying my luck when the puzzle is published and then finding out whether I had fared any better on the clue than the erstwhile Champ.
      1. Sorry Jack, I could have thought of that and added a spoiler alert in the title. I’ve tried to go back and do so but it’s not possible. For what it’s worth, I’m sure you would have got it correct 😉
  18. … but finished well back in the pack of also-rans in my morning prelim. But never mind. It was a great day out and lots of fun. Well done to our successful bloggers! You can see some of my photos of the day on my blog Reinterred, if you are interested.
    1. I have used your pic for my Facebook profile, if that’s alright! I particularly like the fact that with only a modicum of cropping I could remove Roger et al entirely and just leave me standing in front of the trophy 😀
      1. I like it. Actually it is Katy, astonvilla1’s wife who took it and sent it to me. so thanks are due to her, really.
      2. Never mind. I must make a point of seeking you out next year. I failed to meet Penfold and Phil Jordan who were both in the Grand Final too. I must stay a bit longer at The George next year and take a later train home!
    2. Thanks for posting this. Excellent summary of the day.
      Look forward to seeing you again at The George.
  19. May we be told who the regular contributors to Times for the Times are, i.e. their names as on the results lists or at least the final one?
    1. I’m Neil Rapley. I’ll leave others to reveal themselves in case they prefer to remain pseudonymous.
    2. I am already out there upthread, but just to confirm, I’m the Tim who finished 13th in Heat 1.
      1. Thanks all and congratulations. I got to the London finals twice in the ‘seventies, in a kind of living but unicellular way; now content to applaud from afar. Roll on the chess.
      2. Of course I’m there with my preferred moniker rather than my full Sunday name (blame Google Chrome for that !). If there was any doubt as to the difficulty of the Final puzzles, just look at my return of 18/30 on the third one. It wasn’t lack of time – I only added two or three solutions in the last quarter of an hour ! There’s always next year (again !)
    3. I was formerly here as chindit – as also on The Times.
      Finished 5th ( Simon Chillingworth).

      It was interesting to note that the first 5 all came from the first heat. I rationed myself to the one pint of Portobello Porter before the final, I believe others were even more abstemious

  20. Congratulations to all who competed. Sounds like a fine time. I doubt I’d ever make an appearance, being on the wrong side of the ocean and all, but I salute all who threw their hats in the ring. Best regards.

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