Times 26559 – Championships, heat 1, puzzle 1. A gentle beginning.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
This one was a straightforward stroll up the nursery slopes, I thought; without rushing I had it all done and dusted in 19 minutes, ending with the NE corner. No doubt the gradients will get steeper in the 8 weeks to come. I’m surprised 31 of 82 competitors failed to solve it correctly, but no doubt the added pressure situation and the thought of at least two more puzzles ahead caused the problems.
There was one word I’d never seen before (16a) but the wordplay was very specific and the meaning obvious.

1 BARRIE – BARRIER = block, shorten it; D writer, J M Barrie of Peter Pan fame.
4 BAGPIPER – BAG = secure, catch; PIER = jetty, insert P for piano; D musician.
10 AUCTIONED – (EDUCATION)*, D offered lots.
11 DRILL – being ILL so at the DR’s; D practice.
12 TWO-DIMENSIONAL – (ALSO DOWN IN TIME)*; D like a plane.
14 FLAIL – Insert L for learner into FAIL for bad exam result; D thrash.
16 SONNETEER – SON = issue, NET = clear, E’ER = always poetically; D Shakespeare, say.
18 ESTAMINET – EST = ‘in Paris, is’, A MINT = a money-maker, insert E for English; D café.
20 GIRTH – H(ard) TRIG (area of maths, trigonometry), all reversed; D measurement of circumference.
21 PRE-RAPHAELITES – (ATELIER PERHAPS)*, D group of artists.
25 ATOLL – A(rea), TOLL = sound as a bell, D island.
26 EXCELSIOR – EX = former, CELSIUS = scale, replace US by OR, D higher still.
27 OUTLYING – Double definition, one cryptic.
28 GOOGOL – GOGOL the author, insert another O. A googol is a very large number, with a lot of zeros, being ten to the power of 100.

1 BEAUTIFIED – BEATIFIED would be in a blissful state, insert U; D looking much better.
2 RECTO – RECTOR shortened, D page 3 for example, word meaning a right-hand page, as opposed to verso.
3 INITIAL – Double definition.
5 ANDES – Hidden word in INC(AN DES)CENT; D here, &lit.
6 PADRONE – PA = secretary, DRONE = buzzer that doesn’t work, kind of bee; D innkeeper.
7 PRIVATEER – PEER = fellow, insert R = river, I VAT = one large vessel; D warship.
8 RELY – RARELY = seldom, delete RA = artist, D bank, as in bank on, rely on.
9 UNPERSON – (SPURN ONE)* D political outcast. Originally from Orwell’s 1984, where unpersons just had been evaporated.
13 ORCHESTRAL – R CHEST = right, part of body; insert into ORAL examination; D for a lot of players.
15 AFTERMOST – (FOR MATES)*, T; D behind all on board.
17 NUTHATCH – N(ew) THATCH = new roof, insert (yo)U; D bird.
19 MORALLY – MO = medical officer, RALLY = recovery; D in ethical way.
20 GALILEO – LAG = person with convictions, upset = GAL; I LEO = one Pope; D scientist.
22 PAEAN – PEN = write, alternate with articles A, A, D song of praise.
23 THING – THIN = lacking substance, G = leader in Guardian; D article. On the surface, a sideways pop at the Grauniad!
25 TACO – TAO = Asian way, Japanese religion; insert C = cooked initially; D foreign food.

57 comments on “Times 26559 – Championships, heat 1, puzzle 1. A gentle beginning.”

  1. I felt quite lucky to have got through this successfully in 57:55. ESTAMINET and SONNETEER unknown and PAEAN, PADRONE, RECTO, EXCELSIOR and author Gogol and Pope Leo at only the vaguest far reaches of my knowledge. Held up for a surprising time by TACO, with my LOI BARRIE.

    If this is the beginning of a steep gradient, I’m not sure I fancy my chances. Thanks to setter and blogger, as ever.

    Edited at 2016-11-02 09:07 am (UTC)

  2. LOI was the incorrect BARDIC at 1ac, failed to complete the alphabet search. Rather slow altogether anyway. Oh well, things can only get better.
    1. Yes; lots of scope for being misled on that one. I toyed with bards, bars, bans and biros before finally seeing BARRIE and working out the wordplay backwards from there.
  3. This looks very straightforward now. I can only say that, sitting on the 17th floor of the News UK building in a Mastermind-type hush, with 81 other solvers sitting at desks around me, it didn’t seem that easy at all! In fact, it was the one I struggled with most of the 3.

    I think it took me just north of 20 minutes all told, finishing with EXCELSIOR and GOOGOL (which just didn’t look right — I wrote out a number of alternate spellings before deciding it must be so).

  4. No problems with this sitting comfortably at home with a coffee and biscuits. GOOGOL known to me so a write in. Very clear word play throughout.
  5. Yes, v straightforward this .. inspired by the heading I used a stopwatch and took 13m50 secs. Doubt if I would have been as quick in the News UK building, though
  6. Strange how eleven days on, the only thing I can remember about this puzzle is that I found it particularly contestant-friendly apart from BARRIE, which was the very last penny to clang loudly to the floor before I held my number up in the air.

    Pip – about 40 minutes into the ‘exam’, we were interrupted by a very loud message informing us that they were investigating an alarm and we didn’t need to do anything (which raised the question as to why they were informing us at all) and this was repeated at regular intervals. This may have had an effect on the number of correct finishers, even though contestants were allowed an extra five minutes at the end to allow for the disruption, but fortunately all the finalists had finished before the beeping and loud announcements started.

  7. Another example of why it would be pointless for me to aspire to taking part in the proceedings. Leaving aside that a 20 minute solve is a very rare occurrence, the chances of my achieving 3 consecutively to complete all the puzzles in an hour are precisely nil.

    In addition to that I don’t respond well to pressures of exam conditions, time constraints and the like, so the first worry would be, will I ever get started or will I sit and look at a blank grid forever?

    Now that didn’t apply today because in the comfort of my own home I raced away and finished all but one answer in 24 minutes, but that then shifted my anxieties and inhibitions to the other end of the process, namely, having made a rather good fist of it so far, and with only 3 letters missing from the grid, will I be able to solve the final clue? Here it was 1ac that did for me, and having spent another 15 minutes on it I gave up and resorted to aids. BARRIE is pretty well-known but I simply couldn’t think of him or decipher his name from the wordplay.

    Edited at 2016-11-02 10:18 am (UTC)

    1. > will I ever get started or will I sit and look at a blank grid forever?

      That’s a dreadful feeling when you’re told you can start the puzzles. Whether it lasts ten seconds or five minutes, that initial period where you’ve got nothing in, and think you never will, is hell.

      1. A feeling that is multiplied one-hundredfold when you are sitting there at 3pm looking blankly at the first finals puzzle
  8. Congratulations to the 51 souls who got it right, and commiserations to the 31 who didn’t make it. How long did you get? I got there eventually, having FLAILED around in more than two dimensions but it took 40 minutes. And that was while staring at a print of Waterhouse’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a relic of student days in more ways than one, on the wall. COD GIRTH. FOI BAGPIPER. LOI BARRIE after BEAUTIFIED. I don’t think of being BEATIFIED as being made BLISSFUL, more as getting a gold star for being teacher’s pet.
    1. You get an hour to do 3 puzzles, although, as crypticsue mentions, they extended it by 5 minutes in the first heat because of the constant hectoring by the automated security announcement, which was helpful only to regular rail commuting solvers who apparently felt right at home!

      jackkt’s concerns about staring blankly at the grid are often borne out by competitors, especially at the first attempt. They tell you to start, you open your booklet, and you freeze. When I first entered a couple of years ago, I think it took about 10 minutes to solve my first clue. I know I’m not the only one. But I did find it rather less stressful at the second attempt.

      1. While I was busy composing my post, I see that other people had already effectively answered my question in their posts, so thank you for not making me look too big an idiot! I’d never get through three like these in an hour, and the old grey cells certainly won’t get any quicker. Maybe if they coupled one crossword with a Killer Sudoku Deadly in a Biathlon and allowed an hour and a half…no, not even then. Did you finish all three in the hour?
        1. Fairly comfortably, yes, and with no mistakes — unlike my previous nervy bash at it.

          I’ve suggested combination events before. You know, along the lines of ‘chess boxing’ (which is, or was, a thing). Maybe one crossword and a yard of ale.

          1. Sounds much like better than my idea, although I guess we could make it a triathlon and keep the number stuff in. A yard of ale would probably kill me nowadays, so can we make that a bottle of claret? The killer sudoku deadly was actually easy today, falling into place in quarter of an hour, unlike the normal hour of struggling and then finding out that I’d made a mistake somewhere way back down the track.
          2. Saw “Extreme Ironing” a decade or two ago. Alpinists scaling scarily high mountains with an ironing-board strapped to their back, an iron and some wrinkled clothes in their pack, for ironing on the summit. Very slow internet and brutal firewall at work, so can’t google it right now.

            1 ac “Writer…” heart sinks, my second least favourite clue after “Plant…”. Block – um, barrier – Barrie. FOI within 10 seconds, filled the whole top half on first read, hoping for a Severesque “Clean Sweep.”
            No such luck, but a very speedy 14 min 10s (par is 20), unable to parse GIRTH, forgot to parse EXCELSIOR, everything else understood.
            It won’t continue for the next 8 weeks.

  9. Jack, I think your main concern in the competition would be not to succumb to the temptation of sneaking into your time-machine and reversing the clock for your solve.

    I finished this one in the same place as nearly everyone else after 30 minutes, my main worry being whether a plane had more than just the one dimension. In the end, I reckoned it wouldn’t be much of a plane with only one…

    Give me paeans and even Galileo any day.

  10. Posted anonymously yesterday for first time…hence subtle headline! Thought I had finished today (I do it in the paper rather than on line) and came on here to read comments, only to realise I hadn’t got an entry for “taco”…which I am not sure I would have got.
    Once again thought it was a nice puzzle with some good clues. I liked 6d, 20a and when i finally got it (my loi) 1a.
    Must confess I had pencilled in “cautioned” at 10a and foolishly on finally “solving” the anagram at 12a wrote in “one dimensional”.
    I learn and move on.
    Guess it took me about an hour while also looking at the killer sudoku, which I’ve yet to finish.
    1. It’s lovely to hear from you again but by the time you get to third or fourth post we shall have lost count! Please put a name or nickname to your postings so that we will know it’s you.

      Edited at 2016-11-02 02:08 pm (UTC)

  11. They do seem a lot easier with the benefit of hindsight, don’t they? Mind you I had the three puzzles of this prelim done in 27 minutes or something, so it’s not like I made enormously heavy weather of this one. I too remember BARRIE as being a big PDM towards the end of play.
  12. I think I had most of this knocked off in about ten minutes, and moved on to puzzle two with a few gaps in the NW corner. When I came back to it I saw Barrie straight away which meant I could make short work of the remaining clues.
  13. I agree with many previous posters that the lull before writing in an answer – whether it’s five seconds or five minutes – is excruciating. Luckily, I rolled down the slipway with 5D and found the rest of this fairly straightforward, finishing in about 15 minutes with 1A the LOI.
  14. About 20 minutes, ending like many with BARRIE. I’m not tempted to cross the ocean to compete. Even if I was, I don’t know how I’d explain that to Mrs. Kevin. Congrats to the 51 who did both. Regards.
    1. You might not have to explain it if you bring her along. If I ever got to the point that I thought I could qualify, that’s the strategy I would take with Ms PiL. My performance on this ‘beginner slope’ suggests that I may never get the chance to try the ploy. Why did Google spell it that way, when it’s supposed to mean googol, anyway?
    1. Being a connoisseur de vin, K thought that the amber liquid was child’s play and paid the price.
  15. Excellent crossword, tough but fairly clued. My main hold-ups were EXCELSIOR, TWO-DIMENSIONAL, BEAUTIFIED and BARRIE.

    GOOGOL was a write-in. So was AUCTIONED, mainly because I had the task of clueing “AUCTION” in one of Sotira’s Christmas Turkeys, and used the “lots” device then.

    I’m one of those weirdos who actually enjoys an “exam room” atmosphere, but I couldn’t see myself knocking off three of these in an hour. Well done to those that did.

    Thanks setter and Pip.

        1. Would have chucked his pencil down after 5 minutes and run off with the organiser’s daughter.
  16. Having been in the second preliminary round on the day, this was my first sight of this one. All done in 10m 13s, but under tournament conditions I might have spent longer trying to convince myself of GIRTH (my LOI).
    I didn’t know ESTAMINET but wordplay was a big help there. COD for me is 20d.
  17. 7:15 on the club timer, one of my slickest ever. BARRIE had appeared elsewhere recently with similar wordplay so 1 across was a write in.
  18. 30mins for me today, so by my reckoning an average-difficulty puzzle. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to throw in one-DIMENSIONAL, or to finish with several minutes at the end on BARRIE.

    And massive respect for those of you who put yourselves through the hell of the competition. Masochists, the lot of you!

  19. Did this except 1ac in 28 mins. But took forever on BARRIE (sure it was BERLIN which fitted and perhaps BERLINE was a word). But it turned out I had one wrong and I’d written ESTIMANET and not gone back and checked the wordplay.
  20. I was there on 30mins with 2 to go 28ac GOOGOL and 23dn THING I finished in a Vinyl time (as per usual) of 41 minutes!

    BARRIE was a write in but GOGOL was not! More literary than scientific. However I manged to dredge it up.

    I was unbelieveing that THING took so long.
    Had it been clued – Article lacking substance, Guardian leader – I would have been OK. It was the ‘in’ that misled me to thinking I was looking for a guardian of sorts.


    Tomorrow is always better.

  21. It took me a dishearteningly long time to realise I’d done this before on the train back home after the second heat… and 1ac was still troublesome and last in!
  22. Did this one in the coffee bar at Middlesbrough College while waiting for the local Vauxhall dealer to do my car’s winter check and fit my winter tyres. Took two coffees and 38 minutes, but with all correct and parsed. FOI RELY, LOI TACO. Took me a while to see ATOLL as I’d carelessly written MORRALY for 19d. Doh! ESTAMINET dredged up from the depths with the help of the wordplay. Enjoyable puzzle. Giggled at PADRONE when the penny dropped. Thanks setter and Pip.
  23. 51 minutes today – but I’m happy because I’ve just had my £20 vouchers for puzzle 26538 🙂
  24. Got though in 29 kicked myself for initally trying an anagram of spoiled atelier (perhaps)doh! and nearly literally put my foot in it with paeon.Barrie and initial last in.Enjoyed this in the low pressure zone of the cottage kitchen but like some others dread the real thing…Today’s Guardian offering is well worth a look v difficult but clever.

    Edited at 2016-11-02 03:58 pm (UTC)

    1. Guardian sounds like a good idea – it will make up for the disappointment I always feel when I see my daily Times fix has been snatched away from me in the form of a puzzle already solved! So cheers…
        1. What a brilliantly conceived and executed theme! I had a whale of a time. Nice one Brendan.
      1. I also tackled the Guardian yesterday and it was great fun (unlike Tuesday’s!)

        I’ve been toying with defecting to the Guardian for a while—at least until I have some money coming in. The Times’ £26 a month is surely great value if you actually read a newspaper, but seems a bit steep for just doing the crossword.

        1. Yeah, the Times’ subscription model is really problematic. I appreciate that they need revenue streams, but having to subscribe to a whole paper (whose politics you may well robustly disagree with) to do its world-famous crossword puzzle seems harsh.
  25. 10 mins. I didn’t realise this was one of the championship puzzles until I came here. I then went back to the paper and saw that it was indeed notated as such, but in a different place to the last few years’ championship puzzles. Because I hate the exam room environment and deliberately steer clear of it unless I have no choice I have no idea how I would have done on the day. Like others I finished back in the NW, although I got BARRIE before BEAUTIFIED.
  26. 33 minutes, so not tough at all, but of course I wouldn’t stand a chance in the competition (so I’m not tempted to cross the Channel to compete, although Mrs Hydrochoos would understand). ESTAMINET and NUTHATCH were unknowns, but clear from wordplay. And for 1ac I immediately thought of BARRIE(R) for the block, so no problem with that one.
  27. Oh dear.

    I was quite pleased to have got through this in 26 minutes (meaning that I would only have to beat my personal best twice on the other two puzzles in the triad in order to get through all three in an hour). But, for reasons that escape me, I had mis-entered “RELY” as “rrey” at 8d and failed to notice my error, meaning that the only viable answer for 11ac was “drive”, which I put in unparsed. Still, as the MDU frequently say on my behalf, this elementary but fatal mistake must be set against the elegance with which the rest of the operation was conducted.

  28. Like others, I did not appreciate that this was a Championship puzzle until I came here but at around the 20 min mark, it went in OK.

    GOOGLE is indeed a big number, and if you knew it in the right circumstances, it would have won you £1 million (final answer a few years back in Who Wants To Be A Millionaire). A bigger number is a GOOGLEPLEX, which is 1 followed by a google of zeroa. But even this pales into insignificance besides what is thought to be the largest number which appears in a mathematical proof, namely Skewes’s Number. Look it up or, er, google it.

    1. Well I went to Google / Googol and read about Skewes numers, and Reihmann’s whatnot, and a few more Wiki pages with far too much unintelligible algebra. Now I know I was right to plump for chemistry 50 odd years ago on the grounds that physics involved more maths. I’m glad you understand it though, bigtone.
      1. Maths is fun but it doesn’t half muck up ones spelling ability, as does posting after a long day.
  29. No real problems with this one on the day, apart from my usual appalling nerves. Like others I was held up by BARRIE at the end, but not too badly.

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