Times Crossword Championship 2008 – Puzzle 2

See the posting for puzzle 1 if the format puzzles you.


Italics = words quoted from clues, < = reversal, * = anagram, (X) = container component, (x) = dropped letter/s

1 COP+E.
3 WA(i)TER TABLE Not a particularly coherent clue but wiped for removing the I from WAITER is nice.
11 (gran)NY LON(g) Pretty easy hidden answer unless, of course, you fall into the “this can’t be as easy as it looks” trap.
12 FASTNET Sole neighbour refers to the shipping forecast area. Powerful online connection would presumably be FAST NET.
13 T(W)ITCH Little guy = TITCH – love it!
15 AGAIN + *STRAIGHTEN = AGAINST THE GRAIN Don’t know why I paused at this one, as I’m not the type to think straighten out doesn’t mean an anagram of straighten. I needed a few moments to realise once had nothing to do with EX. Or something like that.
18 BERNESE OBERLAND This one caused some consternation among solvers as the wordplay is tricky. Black=B, bird=ERNE, of muted colour=SOBER+LAND (alight) around E(vening).
21 DESPOT Clear reputation to suggest DE-SPOT is perhaps something of a stretch, but checking letters made the idea clear enough to follow.
26 CLEAR At last a bit of chicanery. The Cambridge college is CLARE, from which we take E (English) and place it in the middle. I wonder if any solvers puzzling over this and 21 missed clear at the beginning of the latter clue?
28 RETROGRADE This one is a tad tricky too. Soldiers=RE which captures (p)ETROGRAD. The def looks like wordplay, of course, just to muddy things.
29 FLAN(k).
1 CHIEF RABBI Personal taste – I’m not overly keen on indicated components of anagram fodder, in this case the B (book) which is ‘grammed with IF HEBRAIC.
2 PEPYS (homonym PEEPS).
4 A + RIS(TOT+L)E.
5 EVENT Hands up all who didn’t like this! Our life-span, traditionally is meant to be SEVENTY, the answer appearing in the middle of that.
7 BALACLAVA Fairly complicated in terms of spotting how it fits together, Endless dark molten rock is BLAC(k)=LAVA which covers A=area, another Timesy abbreviation.
8 E + D.N.A.
9 PENN + ON. Penn it was who founded Pennsylvania
14 ENID BLYTON = TINYBLONDE* – delicious anagram.
16 A GREE(MEN)T An appreciative pat on the back for the setter’s use of opening for as the container indicator.
17 HOBNAILED I only parsed this after solving as I couldn’t see how it worked at first. Worn through is HOLED and we put in A BIN* (for recycling). Very nice surface.
19 E.S.P. (ART) O.
20 ROOKIE Homonym taken from the Macbeth line “The crow makes wing to the rooky wood”.
22 TAM(p)ER. P=power – guess what; another Times abbreviation.
24 SPELL Double meaning.
25 SCAR(e) In the “old days” Cliff/Mark was a well-worn standalone double def.


The first thing I’m saying about this one is that it will encourage me to continue checking that the grid contains recognisable answers which are words – when I did so, I found CHIEF RABBY at 1D and saved myself from plummeting down the rankings to about 19th. I did miss the hidden word at 11A on firsat look, but from haste rather than over-analysing. 18A is the kind of thing I’ve made hay from in the past, and I was interested to see that Mark mentioned it as a tricky clue. 14D is my favourite of the clues in the finals and I think this is my favourite puzzle, though I’m biased by knowing it’s by one of my favourite setters.

Based on memory … The clues I solved on first look were 13, 15, 23, 26, 27, 29, 1, 2, 14, 19, 22, 24. The ones I wrote in without understanding wordplay were 10, 18, 28, 4, 17, 20. Partial ideas noted were: 12 FISHER? (Wrong shipping forecast area), 23 possibly AL(e) for lots of beer, which would have been a flukey route to the AL at the end, 5 “35?” which means I’d understood the seventy = “threescore (years) and ten” part though not yet what to do with it, 6 ____ING, 9 QUEEN? for ‘founder of new colony”, 16 ____MEN_, 20 ROOKIE? – I didn’t know the Macbeth quote either.

2 comments on “Times Crossword Championship 2008 – Puzzle 2”

  1. What I find most extraordinary about Mark Goodliffe’s time for the three final puzzles is not that he finished in 18 minutes, not even that he beat the rest of the field by 4 or 5 minutes, but that he did so without having heard of the ‘Bernese Oberland’ (see the report in Monday’s Times).

    This was probably the slowest of the three for me. I loved ‘Sole neighbour’ for FASTNET.

    1. I was surprised about the Bernese Oberland too – but I was equally surprised by the cricket reference that Helen Ougham didn’t recognise in one of her two wrong answers last year. If you can do the rest in 16 or 17, pondering a bit on one clue doesn’t matter!

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