Times 24667 – Championship Preliminary Round 1, Puzzle 1

This was the first puzzle I solved in this year’s championship, and I’m pretty sure it was the easiest – my guess is that it took about 7 minutes of the 27 or so that I took for the three in this preliminary round, and I finished it first time rather than leaving any tricky bits to come back to – which I think I did for one corner of puzzle 2. Most of the top half went in very quickly, but there was a bit of resistance from the anagram at 5, and some trickier answers in the bottom half.

According to the club website, this puzzle was solved inside the time limit by 65% of contestants at the championships. I believe this equates with “very easy” – with the old half hour limit for one puzzle, a percentage over 40% was unusual in regional finals, but these had more competitors than Cheltenham prelims. The current time limit is of course a movable feast – 60 minutes if you don’t mind finishing only one puzzle, much less if you aim to finish all 3. I suspect most people who finished all three puzzles completed this one inside about 12 minutes.

If you think this one is too easy for a championship: of the 6 solvers who were in the first 10 finishers but had one or more mistakes, 3 had a mistake in this puzzle.

I forgot to mention one unusual aspect of this puzzle on the day. When telling us there were 5 minutes left, organiser David Levy stated that there was still at least one place in the Grand Final available to an all-correct solver inside the time limit. Except for “Keep solving Bryan, he’s made at least one mistake” in a tie-breaker, I can’t remember any such announcement being made before. That said, I’m pretty sure that other prelims since the 2006 restart have always provided 12 all-correct solutions well inside the hour. This one was a bit more like the old days, when the number of all-corrects from 240-odd solvers in a London regional final could be as low as a dozen or even 3 – of the 77 solvers, just 15 were all-correct, though I think there were some optimistic punts in the last few minutes, as well as some unnecessarily hurried attempts to get into the first 16 or so finishers – the number normally needed for 12 finalists. Time order positions of the 15: 2, 3, 6, 9, 14, 15, 16, 22, 26, 28, 31, 32, 33, 38, 45.

1 S(CRIB = manger)E, with the external SE from “empty stable” – minor diversion here as STERNE must be to of my S????E writers mental list – I then wasted a few seconds looking for alternative writers before trying for a synonym rather than an example.
4 SHORE = Hero’s*, D.U.P. = party in Stormont – “shored up” is the def., using this kind of shore
9 HEAD OFF – 2 definitions
11 LAMBENT = shedding some light – B=book, in LAMENT = keen – potentially misleading if you miss B=book and start pondering abbreviations for books of the Bible
12 ROYAL = “one in palace” = ROY,AL = “two names”
13 TRADESMAN = (and master)*
14 COOK’S TRAIT = “characteristic of chef” – the Cook Strait divides NZ’s North and South Islands
16 BO(L)D – {bod = person} is old-fashioned slang
19 LIEN = right – N=name replaces D = duke, in lied = song. As the N is unchecked, it’s possible to see “song” as a possible def. and hastily put LIED, but “right here” and “with name for Duke” should both help you to identify the right answer. For old hands, the letter swap in an unchecked spot should scream “potential trap”, however clear the rest of the clue, and you should take that extra time to make absolutely sure you’ve got the right choice. As you tackle the other two puzzles from this preliminary, watch out for another of these.
20 APOPLECTIC = seeing red – POP = drink, in ALEC = smart chap, then IT reversed, C=cold
22 SOLDIER = tommy, O(fte)N – a fairly easy one as the “soldier” in answer and wordplay are pretty much the same
23 NABOB = “a very wealthy man” – rev. of BAN=outlaw, then O = old, B = bishop
25 Omitted for you to work out from checking letters and the clue
26 E(x)TERNAL – using “Eternal city” = Rome
27 HE = male, N.(PART = role)Y. – “male role” needs lifting and separating
28 (l)ASSES,S – “rate” is the def., lifted and separated from “second rate”
1 Omitted for you to work out from checking letters and the clue
2 READ = study, Y = close of plaY
3 BOOTLESS = unprofitable – BOOTLE(g),S(eem)S
5 HALF A SIXPENCE = musical – (a chef explains)* – the fact that this clue is the second with a chef in it is exactly the kind of thing you should not be noticing under competition conditions
6 RUMMER – 2 defs – a whimsical “stranger” and a glass
7 DREAMBOAT = “very attractive man” = (“met aboard”)* – I like the cruise ship surface meaning, and the incidental closeness of ?????BOAT and “aboard”
8 PUT ON = don (verb) – reversal of “not up” = down
10 FUTURE PERFECT – two definitions – “tense”, and “terse utopian forecast” – the closeness of the words “tense” and “terse” in the clue might divert you, but isn’t significant
15 (l)OVER = “beau goes topless”, L = left, ADEN = port – removing an L and then adding one is something else that might divert you
17 DUCK = avoid, BILLS = legislation – duckbill = platypus
18 MEANNESS = spite – ANNE = queen, in MESS = portion of pottage – one of my last answers, I think
21 VIENNA – N = “centre for finaNcier”, in naive*
22 S = small, L=large, ASH = tree
24 BONCE = head – more old slang = B(razil),ONCE

47 comments on “Times 24667 – Championship Preliminary Round 1, Puzzle 1”

  1. Yup! Hardly a pause until SE corner which despite having APOPLECTIC and NABOB early on took me as long again as the rest, MESS for portion of stew giving the most trouble and so last in. Didn’t know BOOTLESS or RUMMER. I liked LAMENT for keen.
    If they are going to have all the championship puzzles shouldn’t the participants get a subscription extension?
    1. Repeating championship puzzles with the percentage of correct finishers stated is an old Times tradition (and starting to finish them in good time without being frightened by the percentage may be the first sign that you have the right ability/chutzpah combination to enter). I don’t think we were ever offered our money back for 8 copies of the paper in the old days when we did 4 each at regional and national finals.
  2. Also solved in approx 7 minutes in the championship, but I fell into the LIED trap through hurrying too much, which ultimately cost me a place in the final. Similar traps in the other two puzzles didn’t fool me for a second, which makes it all the more annoying.

    Having said that, I found the Final puzzles much harder, and only had one fully finished in the hour. That wouldn’t have been much fun.

    1. You’d have been in good company in the final – I can see 7 previous finalists in the results (including a former champion) who were 6 or more answers short of complete solutions. Only one of these finished more than one puzzle.
  3. Easy one done at home sipping coffee, a bit harder I suspect under competition conditions. 15 minutes for me. Clocked the LIEN trap and got it right but one can easily see how adrenalin could cause difficulties. Nice smooth but undemanding puzzle – softening competitors up for the torture of the final – sadistic I call that (but then I suspect a touch of masochism in competitors)
    1. “… but then I suspect a touch of masochism in competitors”

      In all of us, Jim, in all of us. That and many other neuroses, I’m sure!

  4. 18 minutes here but I too stuck in Lied. Will I ever learn to read properly? The clue’s easy enough. Good to know on this puzzle at least I was up with some of the Cheltenham crowd timewise. Look forweard to the other preliminaries if they’re on the way.
  5. The easy one some of us were hoping for. Last in APOPLECTIC followed by MEANNESS – all done in 28 minutes, quite a few from the definition only. Fell into the ‘lied’ for LIEN trap; I knew it was iffy, but couldn’t resolve it, failing to separate ‘right’ and ‘here’. The unknowns, LAMBENT, BOOTLESS and RUMMER (n.), were all eminently gettable.
  6. A PB for this at 12:45s – no stumbles and one easy guess at “RUMMER”. Rare for me to get under 30 minutes and first time ever under 20 so feeling well chuffed.
  7. Easy and straightforward, though it is still worth pausing to admire some of the nice smooth surface readings.
  8. Didn’t notice this was a round one puzzle, and solved in 14 minutes,my normal “quick” time. I DID take time over LIEN, but only really because I didn’t get the clue at all first off.
    Nobody’s complained abut manger=crib yet, when the most authoritative text on the matter clearly states “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.”!
    CoD today to the cute PUT ON at 8d.
  9. Doing 3 puzzles in one go is definitely a different experience to doing one at a time. I don’t expect to finish the first before going to the second etc so when i come back to the first there is a ‘having a break’ effect where presumably the subconscious has worked silently away and previous mysteries and doubtfuls become obvious (hopefully).
    I’m not improving any more; the final finals i couldn’t finish to my own satisfaction and living with my mediocrity has become my primary task. Any commentary on 3 final puzzles now the solutions have been published?
    1. Final puzzle reports are in preparation and should all appear tomorrow, all described by finalists other than me for a change.
      1. Is there another link for the Grand Final puzzles please? I was unable to print off satisfactorily from yourlink of Monday.

        Thank you in anticipation.

        Carole H.,Fermo,Italy

        1. I was told that the puzzles were going to be available on the Crossword Club site (along with the Times article about the championships). But so far, this has not happened.
  10. Around the 20 minute mark for me, which says something about the relative easiness of the puzzle. I didn’t know DUP or RUMMER either, and almost fell in the well LIED trap, with the SE being the slowest corner; so a solving experience common to most.
  11. This “easy” puzzle helped to settle my first-timer’s nerves on Sunday as I was panicking that my mind would just go blank. When I started it my watch said 11:03 and when I finished it was 11:11 so this must have taken somewhere between 7:01 and 8:59 which is pretty bloody quick for me. Unfortunately in my haste I fell hesd first into the lien/lied trap. If I manage to qualify next year I’ll be sure to heed Peter’s advice above (somehow I managed to avoid the trap in the later puzzle where several people came unstuck).

    As Ulaca has hinted the unusual words were soundly clued so didn’t cause any problems.

  12. 20 minutes which must be a PB or something approaching it. This is the nearestI get to writing the answers straight in. Only three clues held me up: RUMMER (glass) which I’ve never heard of so despite thinking of it immediately from the other meaning and the checking letters it didn’t go in until I had been through the alphabet in search of an alternative, ROYAL where I had hastily written REGAL, and ETERNAL where I needed all the checkers.
  13. A relief to have a nice easy one. 14m. As alreasy commented, the unknowns were all perfectly gettable and I managed not to fall into the LIED/LIEN trap.
  14. 9:15 .. only real pauses were over LIEN and RUMMER – I hadn’t heard of the glass but it seemed the only possibility.

    This does seem easy. But against the clock and with other puzzles waiting to be solved I think I might have thrown in LIED as well. I’ll refrain from passing judgment until I’ve had the nerve to turn up for the Championship myself.

  15. 3:25 today, though having the slight advantage that I also solved it on Sunday. I didn’t time individual puzzes on Sunday but I reckon this was polished off in about 7-8 minutes. The LIEN/LIED trap was probably the only one I didn’t fall into on the day. As Penfold says, it’s nice to have a nerve-settler but, having entered 1a,1d,2d,3d,9a,12a straight away, this resulted in me scrapping my original “take your time and get them right” plan into the fatal “you’ve got a chance here, just get a shift on and throw in anything that looks about right” plan.
    1. >3:25 today, though having the slight advantage that I also solved it on Sunday.

      I took advantage of the fact I’d already done this puzzle to have a go at online solving for the first time. It took a while to get used to (kept putting spaces in multi-word answers and kept getting letters in the wrong places) and it took 6 minutes odd but I managed to make a right horlicks of it and submitted a puzzle with lambant and draemboat crossing.

      1. I think there’s definitely a benefit in being young: sometimes I blog on the Independent in the early hours so know the solutions when I come by a paper copy late in the day: although I know the answers I always take at least four minutes, so there must ne something to do with age and arthritis etc.
  16. 9:14, and no real head-scratching pauses, which leads me to conclude that average Wednesday solving times will rise as we work through the preliminary finals puzzles.
  17. I too managed to avoid the LIEN/LIED trap, after a pause for thought, and finished today in just over 5 minutes. Not under championship conditions though!
  18. I was beginning to think I’d lost the ability to do cryptics after the past couple of days (had to cheat furiously to finish yesterday’s), so this came as a bit of light relief. 10 minutes to do the LHS, and another half hour or so off and on to do the other half.

    COD 24d, for making me frantically try to recall old capitals / currencies of Brazil, until the simplicity of the clue finally dawned.

  19. A steady trot through finishing in 30 minutes, and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even see LIED as a possibility . The first puzzle in the afternoon preliminary round was definitely a lot harder than this.

    I did like the comment about solvers’ masochism, above, which I hadn’t come across before.

  20. Didn’t get to time it as I started, then went for a boozy lunch, before finishing it upon my return. The online clock said 1:58:00, but it felt quick – around the 20-25 minute mark. Got hung up on a few in the SE corner, and the 6/11 cross.

    My Submit button worked for the first time today!

  21. I took jimbo’s advice and tackled a Mephisto this afternoon. Didn’t particularly enjoy the experience but it did make this seem pretty easy afterwards. 26 minutes, with a messy squiggle where I changed LIED to LIEN at the last minute.
  22. Completed the puzzle correctly (from the paper) in 25 minutes: it wasn’t until I came here that I was aware that this was from the Championship! Hence, very chuffed!!

    Not sure about what is coming up, though!

  23. About 20 minutes here, ending with the LAMBENT/RUMMER pair, neither of which I knew but the wordplay was helpfully clear. No problem on the LIED/LIEN letter switch, but it certainly is different to be solving leisurely at home as opposed to a competition setting. Agreed that this was not a head-scratcher, although I also wasn’t familiar with D.U.P., BONCE, bod as a person, or the musical. Nevertheless, it seemed a relatively straightforward offering. Regards to everyone.
  24. Well, had written in my first answer before twigging that I’d done it before…

    My overall time was 45 minutes for the three puzzles; this was the easiest, but deliberated over LAMBENT and RUMMER for a while so tried the other puzzles before I went back to this one. Had spotted the LIED / LIEN ambiguity on first read so double parsed the clue!

    Note on Peter’s comments above: when the results were initially read out (before MMC withdrew) I qualified in 11th; Stephen in 12th said he’d finished in 47min. So David Levy’s comment was inaccurate and possibly a little unhelpful – I wonder if any would-be all corrects were caught out in the rush after them?

    I think the puzzles were probably tougher than last years first qualifier; again finished with a time of 45, but was 38th to put my hand up then, and 28th this year.


    1. I did wonder whether David’s statement should have started with “although there are some scripts not yet checked …”.
  25. Didn’t get a chance to tackle this until 17.00. Solved half on my walk into town to give blood and finished it on the couch there. Getting SPHERICAL on first look and from that HEAD OFF, COOK STRAIT and LIEN set me quickly on my way.

    All my holdups were in the RHS. Last six in were DUCKBILLS, BOLD, DREAMBOAT, HALF A SIXPENCE (which I guessed when I spotted SIXPENCE as a fit for the last word – didn’t realise it was an anagram until coming here – d’uh!), LAMBENT (new word for me) and finally RUMMER (ditto).

    While looking for the Grand Final puzzles on the crossword club website I was amused to see that John Daly competed at Cheltenham – presumably not the big hitting US golfer !!

  26. Not familiar with BONCE or RUMMER so DNF although I can say around 25 minutes even while watching baseball playoffs. Peter directed me to the page where the championship round puzzles are to be found but printing them out produced copies with print far too small or quite hairy and difficult to read when blown up in the scanner. Off to buy a copy of the paper or photocopy the puzzles at the library.
  27. a personal best today at <20 minutes. i thought it was too easy!
    when will the championship puzzles be on line on the crossword site?
  28. A very easy puzzle, except for my last three entries, that is, which I needed assistance for and still didn’t get them all right. Two mistakes at the end: I did fall into the LIED trap (convincing myself that LIE meant “right here”, geographically, and D was a “name for Duke” (but I should have realized that “name” would be superfluous then). And I had SMASH rather than SLASH, with SM being the “drastically pruned” small. I entered RUMMER on my own but didn’t know the glass, and before I entered it I was trying to make LUCIENT or LUMIENT fit where LAMBENT eventually went. And when I did consult a dictionary to find the right word, I misunderstood the wordplay to be LAM, the Book of Lamentations, followed by BENT to mean “keen to”. Oh well, better next time.
  29. 20 minutes, but 3 weeks late. When will Murdoch publish current crosswords for the Aussies?

    CoD for antipodeans must be the duckbill!

    1. Looks like a new customer – welcome!

      As crosswords are mostly produced months ahead of publication, I can’t see much reason why they shouldn’t be published simultaneously in all the papers owned by the same organisation, given 21st century technology. (The International Herald Tribune has the current New York Times crossword every day.)

      Pending a major change of heart, your quickest route to current xwds is probably to pay for a Crossword Club subscription, which is at least cheaper than buying the paper every day.

      1. Thanks Pete. I have a sub. for the Oz, so not keen to pay extra. Love this forum though. Thanks to all the bloggers and solvers.

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