Times Championship 2015: Prelim one, puzzle three … learn your antelopes!

I noted Jimbo’s comment last week about the need these days for coffee and domestic perambulation to aid his little grey cells; were I to find myself in the Exam Room next year, would I be permitted a thermos flask of expresso? What time does the torture usually commence? My grey cells are on peak form in the mornings (well, some mornings) and go downhill as the day progresses.
I found this slightly easier than last week’s except for a couple of unknown words which were derived from wordplay but had to be put in hopefully (not being check-able under exam conditions).

1 CHOMP – H inside COMP; D bite.
4 ASPARAGUS – A SPA is a spring, something fattening = SUGAR from the east is RAGUS; D vegetable.
9 CONCOURSE – CON for Tory, COURSE for hunt, as in hare coursing; D lobby. We had DISCOURSE last week, in the same space, so there is some continuity.
10 CURIO – CU for copper, RIO(T) for street fighting not entirely; D an uncommon thing.
11 OPENER – O = old, PEN = writer, ER = the Queen, D the first to receive; the obligatory cricket clue.
12 BONTEBOK – One sad day I am going to find a definitive list of antelopes and learn them all; I didn’t know this one. Wuthering Heights is a BRONTE BOOK; take away the ‘seconds’ letters of each word and here’s your Damaliscus pygargus. Wiki says “Bontebok are not good jumpers, but they are very good at crawling under things.” Sounds like our dog Ted.
14 INSINCERE – IN = not leaving the house, SINCE = as, RE = engineers; D not to be trusted.
16 RULER – L inside RUE, then R; D monarch.
17 TOAST – DD.
19 SLAPSTICK – SLAPS = swats, TICK = creepy-crawly; D simple entertainment.
21 EYEGLASS – EG = say, LASS = girl, insert YE = the, old; D what helps a chap focus.
22 WINGER – WINTER is the season, replace the T with a G (good for the time); D footballer. I’m tempted to elaborate WINGER into WHINGER and mention WENGER and Chelsea languishing, but I won’t.
25 EBONY – E(xamine), BONY = scrawny; D tree.
26 EQUIPOISE – EQUIP = supply, O = nothing, IE = that is, around S for singular; D balance. Not a word I knew, but I do now.
27 TIT FOR TAT – ins TIT ute, re FOR ms, dic TAT ing; D payment in kind.
28 RIGHT – FRIGHT = panic, remove the F for fine; D moral.



1 CUCKOO IN THE NEST – CUCKOO = mad, IN THE NEST = at home, D uninvited intruder.
2 OUNCE – Hidden large cat in S(O UNCE)REMONIOUSLY.
3 PROTEIN – (TORE)* inside PIN = leg; D what’s needed to build muscle.
4 AURA – Alternate letters of tAqUeRiA; D character.In case you wondered, it’s a shop which makes tacos. Or taquos?
5 PHENOMENAL – PAL = China (CRS); insert HE (man) and NOMEN (Latin for name); D most unusual.
6 RECITER – (W)RITER = author, not the first; insert CE for church; D one storytelling.
7 GARIBALDI – GI = soldier, insert A RIBALD = a rude; D patriot, he of dead fly biscuit fame.
8 STOCKBROKER BELT – STOCK = cattle, BROKE = stopped running, R = river, BELT = area; D where the rich live. Well, not the Very rich.
13 PERSISTENT – PERS (half of champers), IS, TENT (Spanish red wine); D determined.
15 SPACED OUT – (POT CAUSED)*; D disorientated.
18 TALLY-HO – ALL = quite, YH = gutless youth, inside (‘stopping’) TO; D cry at blood sports.
20 SKIPPER – S(mall), KIPPER (fish); D head for trawler.
23 GOING – GORING-ON-THAMES is a large Oxfordshire village known to some, perhaps residents of the stockbroker belt; remove the R; D conditions for racing, as in ‘the going is soft’.
24 QUIT – QUITE = utterly, remove the E for energy; D give up.

47 comments on “Times Championship 2015: Prelim one, puzzle three … learn your antelopes!”

  1. DNF for me. I went for the (non-existent) SOUTHBOK. Seconds=S, away=OUT and no idea about all the Bronte stuff and how it got to HBOK. But I did sort of know Antelopes end in BOK (like springbok). I have to say it is at least as plausible as a word than the actual answer.

    Also messed up for a time by putting in LIGHT at 28C (FLIGHT with no F) which isn’t quite right for moral but didn’t shriek idiot at me until I got SKIPPER

  2. Also noticed something weird. The blog is set for 8am tomorrow, which I assume means UK time (it is only 11.15pm here in California, 8am is midnight). But I can see it already, even though that is in the future. Since nobody else has commented, I guess many others cannot. LJ never ceases to amaze.
    1. I think LG works on local time of the poster. I am on CET (GMT +1), it is now 8.25 am on 18th. Once it’s posted, it’s visible everywhere.
      1. Ah. The fact that it was set for 8.00am precisely made me think it was queued up to go live then. I do that with my blogs on the company I work for (I set them for 5am which is 8am on the east coast). But my comments show up as 7.15am (which is correct in UK time) so i guess they don’t follow the “time zone of the poster” rule
        1. Yes it was set in advance. But your comments show as 8.15 etc on mine, so it seems they are also reported as local time to the observer. Very Einstein.
  3. Yes. I whizzed round the earth a zillion times at close to the speed of light until the times matched perfectly
  4. So if they let me start 15 minutes early, I’d have successfully completed all three within the hour. Almost. Magoo must be dreading the day I cross the ocean to enter the championship.

    Nice crossword. Never heard of the antelope, but I surprised myself by spotting the construction quite quickly, so I’ll give it my COD.

    Thanks setter and Pip.

  5. 28 minutes so I guess I won’t be worrying the contestants just yet, but at least I get the satisfaction of completing the puzzle in a decent time.
    FOI was 1a, which is always encouraging, but didn’t get the long ones until about half way through.
    LOI was the unknown Bontebok, having decided that Pringbok in all probability had nothing to do with Haworth Parsonage.
  6. I wrote the LH side in almost as soon as I read each clue but then struggled to get going on the Right, starting with wasting time trying to justify ‘aubergine’ at 4ac. I finished eventually in 42 minutes. Apart from ‘springbok’ I have come across ‘gemsbok’ and ‘reebok’ aka ‘rhebok’ but BONTEBOK was a new one on me.
  7. Like Jack I had lhs in very quickly, but then struggled with the right (finishing in about 35mins), particularly the EQUIPOISE / GOING pair. Didn’t help that I (a) had ‘winter’ in to start, (b) had never heard of EQUIPOISE, and © hadn’t a clue where Goring was.

    BONTEBOK was a great clue (as I got it right). Had I been wrong, it clearly wouldn’t have been such a great clue.

  8. It seems a long time ago now but I think this one was the middling difficulty one of the three puzzles on the day – my particular favourite was the clue for the antelope.
  9. The hardest of the three for me at 21 minutes. I really like BONTEBOK, but then I saw it fairly quickly so I suppose I would, wouldn’t I.

    Re the competition conditions, Pip, I don’t know if there’s a caffeine rule (not as far as I know, though getting out the thermos mid-solve and tormenting one’s neighbours with the aroma might be considered unsporting) but I do think the time of day is an interesting one. The two Prelims begin at 11am and 1pm, the Grand Final at 3pm. In the highly unlikely event of my ever reaching the latter (outbreak of food poisoning among the other contestants, say) I might cede my place to someone else because at 3pm I would struggle to solve one puzzle in an hour, let alone three. 1pm isn’t exactly prime solving time for me, either. I don’t know how anyone does it.

  10. Another very fair puzzle of middle level difficulty although Goring is a bit obscure. Good that the unknown words can be derived from wordplay – I’d also never heard of a BONTEBOK

    Many years in IT schooled me to be able to work at any time night or day given sufficient supply of strong black sweet coffee and room to wander around talking to myself – both things invigilators take a dim view of

  11. For me, an easier one than last week at 20:36, with COD being 12ac. GORING is just up the river from me and always seems to be referred to as Goring and Streatly, two villages on either side of the Thames joined by a fine bridge and effectively becoming a single township.
  12. 14:08… and thus the quickest of the 3 for me, but totalling 69 minutes for the 3, I’m in the same boat as galspray. Still, at least I finished all 3 without aids or errors. Same as several others – BONTEBOK was unknown (and my LOI), but spotting BOOK without the O got me there. Some lovely surfaces – 5d my favourite.
  13. 14:54, so the easiest of the championship puzzles for me.

    I thought this puzzle stood out for having a lot of nice surfaces. LOI and COD for me was BONTEBOK. Great clue.

  14. 15m, bringing my total time for these three puzzles to 41m. By this measure they are slightly but not much easier than the puzzles in the second prelim, although I don’t know how to adjust the stress of exam conditions against the trials of solving on an iPad standing up on a train.
    I didn’t remember BONTEBOK, but I have certainly come across it before, because at one point a while back I used the Chambers app to answer the question ‘just how many blinking words for antelope ending BOK are there?!’ For future reference the answer is 15:
    16 if you include BOK.
    Now you have no excuse.
    1. Now if you could just set them to music, Tom Lehrer style …

      btw, my total for the 3 was 48 min.

        1. If only … but a) I’d have buggered something up on the day, for sure, and b) I was slated to be in the second prelim. I’d say 49 mins ‘under the cosh’ was pretty good going, Penfold. Well done again.
    2. It’s an even shorter antelope list to memorise, as JAMBOK/SJAMBOK is a whip with a different etymology to the other boks.
      1. So it is, thanks. I have a feeling that’s come up before somewhere. In any event we are now all fully briefed on BOKs.
      1. Not me, Chambers! It only has STEINBOCK (unlike Collins and Oxford, which both have STEINBOK).
        Anyway, I think that’s quite enough of this fancy bok-learnin’ for one day.

        Edited at 2015-11-18 01:13 pm (UTC)

  15. For no particular reason, I turned my paper over on the day and solved this one first, so doing it at my freshest may have helped. Anyway, I don’t remember any particular hold-ups, such as I found in #2, and even under exam conditions I found time to appreciate the excellence of the BRONTE BOOK clue, which stood out in my mind (I accept it helped that I already knew the antelope).
  16. About 9m35s on the day for this, making it the middle one for me in terms of difficulty. Couldn’t parse GOING, and I hadn’t heard of EQUIPOISE (which seemed a believable word) or BONTEBOK (which didn’t). The latter was my LOI, and I was half-expecting that the wordplay might admit other possibilities.
  17. I decided to do this while drunk out of my mind after a heavy beer and boardgames session, for old time’s sake, and since it took me almost twenty minutes (including a couple of trips to the littlest room, but despite surely having seen/discussed some of the clues on Champs day?) my suspicion is that drinking and solving don’t really mix after all. I liked the antelope best but then I *was* rather drunk.
    1. Perhaps it’s a question of degree. I always find that my pool-playing ability improves with drinking until around pint 2.5, passes back through sobriety-equivalence at about 3.5 and deteriorates rapidly thereafter.
  18. I can’t remember how long this took me on the day but I think I completed in in a single go before going back to fill in the gaps in the other two. I was relieved that bontebok and equipoise were right and had to get confirmation that Goring was an actual place.
  19. Well over 40 minutes for me, with aids to confirm the antelope which I only parsed post solve. Count me as another with RH word blindness because the LH went in relatively quickly.

    I don’t think I’ll be trying for the Championship yet for a while, unless they allow aids as well as black coffee.

  20. LH went in quickly but I fancied ARICHOKE for 4ac.

    At last STOCBROKER BELT went in – I slid past GOIRING to GOING without a care and finally got BONTEBOK all in 55mins.

    Back in the day when I was at the Picadilly it would have been 28mins!

    I always remember meeting a chap in the foyer who saw that I had almost completed that day’s Saturday crossword. I noted that his grid was utterly blank – he told me had finished it – but never filled them in!!

    horryd Shanghai

  21. Back from a little break – my biggest hold-up here was to look at the enumeration at 15 and write PHASED OUT. Never heard of CUCKOO IN THE NEST so on the day I would have been waiting to find out if there was an expression CUCKOO IN THE TENT or the like.
    1. Your youth is a handicap, some of us spent a large part of the sixties SPACED OUT. Am surprised the CUCKOO phrase is not also US argot, are there no cuckoos?
  22. 15 mins, which means I would have been under the 60 minute mark for all three even after taking into account the brain freeze I suffered last week doing puzzle two. EQUIPOISE was my LOI after SKIPPER. Count me as another who had never heard of the BONTEBOK but it was a simple enough construction once all the checkers were in place.
  23. Beaten by the bok. Never read Wuthering Heights, and had only a vague memory of the Kate Bush adaptation of it. Therefore, I was completely open to the idea that some part of the story took place in the village of South Bosk, thereby justifying “southbok”. Except that it didn’t, obviously. Ah well. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten springbok (rather bland, as I recall), and have been known to wear Reeboks.

    GOING went in on the tenuous reasoning that I’d heard of (and have even had tea in) The Goring, and in any case it couldn’t be anything else. EQUIPOISE was unknown but plausible. Everything else was fairly straightforward and, gazelles notwithstanding, enjoyable.

  24. Very nice puzzle. I also got ‘bontebok’ from the wordplay and I biffed a couple of others where the solution was pretty evident from the checkers and definition. I have struggled through Wuthering Heights, but I much prefer Charlotte’s books, especially Jane Eyre.
  25. Right. As you will all see from the next three Wednesdays, Session 2 was much harder. I’d have done all right with this one, barely, in 16.40, but then again this is a dozy time of day, late mid-evening, for me to be solving.
    I was mildly surprised by two clues (1a, 13d) where you merely had to reprise selected letters from words in the clue, but I suppose “half of bubbly” or some such would have been a bit mean. But “competition” to supply COMP? D–n, you people in session one had it on – um – brown bread.
  26. DNF this as failed on the Bok – never got near it really as to my mind there was nothing to indicate the book title was intended so by my own personal rule book this was an unfair clue! Not that knowing it was referring to the title would have helped anyway! Did the rest in 24m.
  27. Like others I found this more difficult than the first but easier than the second.

    BONTEBOK went straight in without any crossing letters in place, which could mean that I’d come across the clue before – though perhaps not within the last 10 years.

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