Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 10 – your times please

This is a weekly unofficial contest based on your times for the Times cryptic crossword from Saturday to Friday.

In July 2007, someone commenting on Tony Sever’s Times 2 RTC blog suggested a competition like RTC for the Times cryptic. This request has been made at the Times club site, without success. Hence this DIY version – the format and exact rules may evolve a bit as we go along. The “your times please” post like this one will appear each Friday or 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, solvers are ranked first by number of mistakes, then total solving time – so you need to have times for all six puzzles. In the RTC points table, you score points for each puzzle based on your ranking for that puzzle – so you just need times (for all-correct solutions only) to one or more of the puzzles.

Sample comments:

For the mini-championship and the RTC points table:
Joe Bloggs, 00:16:43, 00:05:15, 00:06:17, 00:07:37, 00:08:21, 00:11:43, 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, 00:16:43, 00:05:15, X, 00:07:37, 00:08:21, 00:11:43
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 main reason for listing missing/wrong answers is so that ‘popular’ mistakes can be identified.

It’s up to you how accurately you time yourself, but any rounding should be 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 on-screen 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, the format is like this: 01:00:01. 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. 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, awarding “star” and “spoon” awards to those who’ve done well and badly – both based on performance compared to your normal standard).

The mini-championship will be done the same way as the current Times championship, except for having no time limit – 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.

A mostly good week for me with one slow puzzle but no slip-ups.

Times received so far:

Peter Biddlecombe, 00:06:20, 00:07:56, 00:08:24, 00:16:10, 00:07:34, 00:08:21, 0, 0:54:45
fgbp 00:11:52, 00:11:12, 00:04:23, 00:14:37, x, x

10 comments on “Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 10 – your times please”

  1. 00:12:54,00:17:35,00:07:57,00:36:19,00:27:10,00:33:48,1, 23712/11A , 02:26:43
    Brought down to earth with a bang! 38 minutes for first 3 puzzles then struggled with last 3.. and not even consolation of a clear round as came up against
    Spica- like a few of you.
  2. I knew (was confident of) PICA and liked the look of SPICA but was nervous about NEURONE and RIBOSOME too during the time of solving. A clear round this week, but with a few clipped oxers:

    00:06:45, 00:06:51, 00:04:04, 00:08:29, 00:07:08, 00:08:26, 0, 0:41:43

  3. 00:16:36, 00:11:45, 00:10:19, 00:19:10, X, 00:12:07 , 0, 1:09:57.

    No time for Thursday because I didn’t have time to look at it during the day, then forgot myself and looked on here.

  4. newsflash: no news.

    I’m not reporting times this week because I made too many errors on the Friday puzzle (and already had one on a previous puzzle).

  5. Rather pre-occupied this week, which I’ll blame for ‘chipworm’ on Saturday and ‘casting pouch’ on Thursday; curiously both were cryptic definitions and at 14 across. SPICA caught me out on Friday. Thursday’s time is to the nearest hour when I finally remembered ‘oxer’.

    talbinho, 00:11:50, 00:05:50, 00:05:17, 00:11:20, 49:00:00, 00:12:28, 3, 23707/14A 23711/14A 23712/11A

  6. Sabine, 00:11:28, 00:10:09, 00:04:57, 00:20:30, 00:13:51,00:22:30, 0, 01:23:35

    Luckily I knew OXER and PICA. Might have settled on OXTER anyway, but SPICA? Not a chance. Even knowing PICA I gave it a long look, and went through the alphabet for both spaces of S_I_A in search of anything more starry-sounding.

    1. I don’t think the comment was in the wrong place, but you did mention an answer from a puzzle in the next contest. As some people don’t do the puzzles as soon as they appear, we shouldn’t do that. If I see that you’ve made the same comment elsewhere, I’ll remove this version Here’s what you said, with one change in italics:

      I’m a Canadian now living in Australia, so I couldn’t be further from The Times.

      I’ve got two reference books… a 1950s classroom OED and the Hamlyn Crossword Dictionary. That one is priceless given the amount of references to English towns and rivers!

      My personal rules, though, are the books can only be used to confirm an answer. For example looking up CENSORED! in the OED today.

      I came up with Spica and confirmed it with the astronomy section of the Hamlyn, but I found the OED definition of pica iffy, but possible. In the end I paid it.

      I haven’t considered submitting a time because I’m one of those nitpickers who can’t leave a clue alone until I absolutely prove it works. I will try a week one day!

      On solving difficulties… I often run into trouble with the “sounds like” clues because of the way I speak. For eg… a myna (bird) sounds nothing like a minor or a miner to me! I’ve learned I have to suspend my accent!


  7. 00:52:34, 01:01:46, 00:39:10, 00:52:21, 01:06:00, 00:55:12, 2, 23711/10A 23712/11A (Total 05:27:03)

  8. 00:15:19, 00:07:36, 00:10:10, 00:19:55, 00:14:46, 00:15:53, 0, 01:23:39

    I keep hoping for a return to form – but it hasn’t happened yet. (Still a couple of weeks to go!) Doing three at a sitting tends to slow things down badly if the first one is tough, so I’ll have to hope for an easy first puzzle in the Championship.

    No problem with SPICA, but I took a ridiculous amount of time with AS IF in Thursday’s puzzle trying to justify AS IS or AT IT! (Doh!)

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