Times Championship Qualifier No 4

I still remember my student days in the early 70’s when a Times qualifier would be nigh to insoluble and today, I am blogging one. It shows that I do indeed have a positive learning curve:-) This one took less than 30 minutes with time off to refill my whisky glass with single malt GlenMorangie. But it was no where near Peter Biddlecombe’s average time of below 15 minutes; so it looks like Peter’s title is safe from any possible challenges from Malaysia.

1 SUPPRESS Simple cha of SUP (drink) PRESS (journalists)
5 STABLE Another simple cha
10 GRAND TOUR Gran (old lady) Detour minus e
11 BLOTS B (black) LOTS (much)
12 THOU thou(ghts)
13 DANGEROUS *(guards one)
17 PIER “peer”
19 SUNG Rev of gnus, large African antelopes
20 DESALINATE Ins of ESALIN *(aliens) in DATE (appointment)
22 INCURIOUS incur + iou’s (debts)
24 HOCK (s) hock
26 INEPT Ins of NEP (rev pen) in IT
27 DOVERSOLE Ins of (l)OVERS (partners) in DOLE (portion
28 GEMINI GE (GestatE) MINI (tiny)
29 ONLOOKER On + Looker (a beauty)

1 SIGN Ins of G (good) in SIN (evil)
2 PEACHES-AND-CREAM PE (exercise) ACHE (long) SAND (beach) CREAM (best)
3 REDOUBLE Ins of ED (journalist) in ROUBLE (Russian money)
4 SCOLD Simple cha
8 EASY STREET Another simple cha
9 PRUNELLA *(rule plan) – a strong silk or woollen material, formerly used for academic and clerical gowns
14 WASSAILING was sailing – singing good wishes, carols, etc from house to house at Christmas.
16 THE GOODS *(hot dogs e)
18 HITHERTO Hit her to(o)
21 BRETON Ins of R (second letter of arrival) in B (British) ETON (school) Bretons are natives of Brittany, France
23 SEVEN S (first letter of such) EVEN (divisible by two) and of course 7 is an odd number

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

7 comments on “Times Championship Qualifier No 4”

  1. 1 and 2, very easy. 3, mildly tricky. 4 pretty easy.

    I’m not entering, which is bad news for those of you aspiring to be second-last. From these four, I would expect busy business at the regionals, so get there early to beat the parking rush.

    Best of luck to those that entered – if there’s an “international” regional I’ll give it a stab someday (we can wager a bowl of laksa on it, Uncle Yap).

    1. I think 4 was in the easiest two for me, but the time differences were pretty small. 3 was the slowest.

      Alas there are no regional finals these days – after the qualifiers, everything happens in one day. The regional finals were more fun, but I have to admit that being one of the first 12 in the current ‘preliminary’ rounds feels rather easier than fighting over four or five qualifying places in a London A or B regional.

      Your best hope for international competition is that one day they might give you the chance to solve in ‘Race the Clock’ style on the internet. There was a parallel electronic contest back in 2000 when the sponsor was a website. Looking back at the results in my file of championship memorabilia, the winner was tsmith who I’m 98% sure is the Tim Smith who’s been in the last two Times finals (his time would have placed about 4th in the ‘live’ version). I’m pretty sure that ajaia, who came second, was 1995 and 2006 champ Helen Ougham. shane and shanson who compete in Times 2 RTC were in the top 10 with the same names, and the mwalmsley who was 10th is almost certainly the markw who’s leading the current RTC monthly table (discounting the obvious cheat).

  2. I found this by far the easiest of the lot. No1 took half as long again as this one, No2 took about half as long again as No 1, No 3 half as long again as No2. Since everything’s closed now, am I allowed to say that this one took just over 6 minutes?
    1. OK then – these times sound as if it’s worth having a go at the Championships, though the real key is how much you slow down when the puzzles get harder.
      1. Are you trying to psyche me out Mr B? Only kidding. The key for me though, as things get harder, is whether I’ll get some answers wrong. I’ll be there to make up the numbers in the afternoon session. Since George won’t be able to compete for geographical reasons, I’ll share any prize money I win with him.
  3. If I suddenly come by a large amount of money, some free time or a lucrative booking at a nearby comedy club, I’ll try to get over to heckle from the peanut gallery. Surely this is a spectator sport?
    1. It’s a spectator sport, but only just. For the two preliminary rounds, only competitors are allowed in the room – in fairness, there’s not room for anyone else except the folks running the contest. For the final, spectators are admitted and can tackle the same puzzles. They can see the contestants, but can’t see what progress they have made – just whether they’re writing furiously, staring blankly into space, or (if you catch them at the right moment) thrusting their hand skywards with the completed puzzles in it.

      This contrasts with the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament where the top three solvers tackle their last puzzle on huge whiteboards while wearing white noise headphones, and have timed starts so that the first of the three to finish correctly is the winner. The audience hear a gently mocking commentary and applaud the winner as soon as they finish and take the cans off. I’d like to see something like this at Cheltenham, as it just might get the BBC to send a TV crew along, which would get the competition a higher profile.

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