Unofficial Times cryptic RTC contest No. 2 – your solving times please

Special information for this week: 5D in 23663: On the basis of Google searches, if you had GARBAGE BAG instead of GARBAGE CAN, you can count it as a right answer for this competition. I’m not allowing GARBAGE VAN though.

The rest of this post is the same as last week except for editorial tweaks and a point discussed in last week’s comments, so only new entrants should need to read it.

In July 2007, someone commenting on Tony Sever’s Times 2 RTC blog suggested having a competition like RTC for the Times cryptic. The same request has been made more than once on the Times club site bulletin board, without success. Hence this unofficial one – the format and exact rules may evolve a bit as we go along. The “your times please” post like this one will appear on the Friday if I have time, otherwise the Saturday.

There are two contests each week, both covering the 6 Times cryptic puzzles from Saturday to Friday – a “mini-championship” and an “RTC points table”. For the mini-championship, you need to have times recorded for all six puzzles, but for the RTC points table, you just need times (for all-correct solutions) to one or more of the puzzles, as your score points for each puzzle based on your ranking. One advantage of the points table is that Times setters can compete (probably under pseudonyms) without waiting for a week with no puzzle of theirs. Some Times setters are former championship finalists, so this could add a bit of spice at the front end.

Sample comments:
For the mini-championship and the RTC points table: Joe Bloggs 16:43, 5:15, 6:17, 7:37, 8:21, 11;43, 2, 23345/12A, 23346/17A (Total: 55:46)
Format: Name (optional – I’ll use your LJ name otherwise), times for Sat., Mon, …., Fri, number of wrong/missing entries, Total. In the list of wrong/missing entries, A/D is only required where necessary, or if you can’t remember whether there were both Across and Down answers with the number concerned. The total time is optional, and will be ignored if not correct – it’s just to let you see quickly whether you beat your own closest rivals.

For the RTC points table only: Joe Bloggs 16:43, X, 6:17, 7:37, 8:21, 11;43
Format: Name (optional – I’ll use your LJ name otherwise), times for Sat., Mon, …., Fri – X represents a puzzle you missed or did not solve correctly. As with Times2 RTC, only correct solutions score any points at all. If you want to add information about any mistakes made, that’s fine, but not necessary. The reason for listing missing/wrong clues is that I can mention ‘popular’ mistakes if there are some.

It’s up to you how accurately you time yourself, but if you round your times, do so on a “nearest” basis. If you’re short of a second-hand, your computer almost certainly has one somewhere (e.g. try double-clicking the onscreen clock in Windows, but take care not to change the system time or date), or you can try a google search for “Javascript stopwatch”. If you take more than one hour, just show the number of minutes, e.g. 70:30 rather than 1:10:30. Whether/how you check your answers is up to you, but the schedule is arranged so that you can check your answers for all the puzzles, including the Saturday one at the beginning of the week, before entering. I don’t mind if you put up your times on the Friday because it’s convenient, and then own up later if you discover any mistakes on unchecked puzzles. In fact, you need to be a member of the online Times Crossword Club service to see one Saturday’s solution on the next Saturday – paper solvers don’t get the official solution until Monday. If you solved on paper, our posting about the Saturday puzzle should be up on the following Saturday, and you can use that to check the tricky answers or discuss them in comments. Mark yourself based on this or your own expectations after checking references where necessary. If the official answer differs, add a comment when you find out.

If it’s difficult for you to get internet access at the appropriate times, you can e-mail your times instead. Send them to CrypticRTC at biddlecombe dot demon dot co dot uk if you don’t already have an e-mail address for me.

Deadline: add or send your times by 3 pm UK time on Sunday. I’ll then collect the comments and do something in Excel to produce the rankings, and add some comments about who’s done well and badly (maybe having “star” and “spoon” awards in the tradition of a running club I once belonged to – both based on performance compared to your normal standard). A few days after the results post goes up (or when putting up the next “Times for the week’s puzzles” post), I’ll delete the previous post containing the comments with your times.

The mini-championship will be done the same way as the current Times championship – someone with N mistakes beats everyone with N+1 mistakes, and those with equal no’s of mistakes are ranked on total time.

The RTC points table will be done in a similar way to the T2 RTC contest – the quickest N all-correct solvers for each puzzle will score points from N for the quickest down to 1 for the slowest, and these points will be added up for the week. In this ranking, like Times2 RTC, someone who’s very quick for half the puzzles but messes up the other half will still do quite well. In Times 2 RTC, N is always 10 – I’ll amend it so that N is the number of people who do the most popular puzzle of the week. That way, you all score some points, but those who complete the tougher puzzles will get extra credit as the slowest correct solver will score more than one point.

The only time limit per puzzle is the number of hours from you starting it until 3pm UK time on Sunday.

Reference books: please give times based on solving without any books or computer-based solving aids. So if you can’t get the last two answers without riffling through a dictionary or using TEA, stop the watch at that time and say that you have 2 missing answers.

One sitting? I expect most times will be for one continuous solving effort, but if you get interrupted by real life, don’t worry – just add your two or more solving spells.

Timing disasters: if you mess up the timing, do your best to give an honest but conservative estimate of your time.

Times received so far

Name Sat Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Missing/wrong Total
Peter Biddlecombe 9:03 12:35 6:41 25:46 5:10 5:44 1 – 23660/1A 64:59
fgbp 6:15 13:08 9:41 X X X

14 comments on “Unofficial Times cryptic RTC contest No. 2 – your solving times please”

  1. 7:47, 8:56, 13:36, 50:00, 5:36, 18:40, 7, 23661/18dn, 23662/27ac,16dn,24dn, 23663/4dn, 23664/13ac,4dn (total 104:35)
  2. Jason J 10, 13:40, 6:24, 36:34, 6:33, 8:50. Total 82:08 I think (I can’t make my computer add up times in minutes – any ideas, Peter?)
    1. For adding up just 6 numbers, your best best is just to add the minutes, then add the seconds and split the total seconds into whole minutes and whatever’s left. I make it 82:01 for you this week.
      1. Alternatively if you’re really, really lazy you could use a spreadsheet to do the work for you (and preserve your results). If you use OpenOffice, I could send you the one I use.
  3. Sabine 11:22, 24:13, 9:56, 50:42, 11:38, 24:21, 0, 132:12

    I found this a very tough week, the only saving grace being that I avoided mistakes. A kind of paralysis induced by the pseudo-competition conditions led to some awful times, with ages wasted gazing at completed, correct grids trying to justify answers (esp Monday for BRITISH/BLIMP/PRESS in the SE corner, and Friday for MANGROVE). Resolved to be more reckless in future.

    1. If you have doubts about a cluster like the three from Monday, I think the justification time is worth spending. For a single answer like MANGROVE, recklessness is less dangerous, but is at your own risk!
  4. Chris Peake 13.54, 10.45, 21.50, 50.19, 9.59, 13.23, 0 (Total 120.10)

    I had a real nightmare on Wednesday’s and had it been the regional finals I would have recorded 30 minutes and 7 incomplete = incorrect, so I don’t know how you will handle this.

    There’s always one awkward one isn’t there?

    1. I’m not worrying about any time limit for this informal contest – partly so that the supposed experts can feel suitably humbled when they slip up.
  5. 10:02, 10:58, 7:49, 14:20, 9:57, 8:40, 2, 23660/16D, 23662/5A (Total: 61:46)

    I think I can probably lay claim to the spoon this week for squandering what would have been a reasonable time through careless mistakes

Comments are closed.