Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 15 – your times please

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

Championship puzzles and this contest

Contests 13-18 will consist of five puzzles each rather than the usual six, omitting the Wednesday puzzles, which are reprints of ones used in the Times Championship preliminary rounds. These puzzles will form Contest No. 19, which we’ll have on about Nov 16th, just after the last of these puzzles is published. The Grand Final puzzles are being used for a separate contest.

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.

An annoying week with my slip-up on Monday. Tony’s ‘vocalophobia’ diagnosis is spot on.

Times received so far:

Peter Biddlecombe, 00:09:26, 00:07:55, 00:08:56, 00:11:40, 00:09:18, 1, 23738 10A, 47:15
fgbp x, x, 00:07:32, 00:20:00, 00:09:55

6 comments on “Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 15 – your times please”

  1. Tony Sever, 00:15:24, 00:07:54, 00:14:26, 00:09:38, 00:10:13, 0, 00:57:35

    Tuesday’s slow time was mainly due to tiredness, but I found Saturday’s fairly tough.

    This seems to have been a week for cheesy old clues: while grepping through for PROP UP, I found that the Saturday cryptic for 21 October 2006 (No. 23426) contained not only the “Support for youngster” clue, but also “Left tart after eating slice of apple and cheese” = PORT SALUT. (Great minds …? Or the same setter?)

  2. 1:04:00,32:00,36:00; [39:00];1:10:00;1:17:00 3, 23738 10,23741 18,23742 23

    Not a great week for me. I think my ambition must be to try and achieve a ‘clear round’ in horse-jumping terms. The three hiccups did include Friday’s ‘osage’ however which was simply overlooked as I was trying to finish the puzzle off as a car passenger in fading light. I had thought of ‘os…’ so maybe I’d have got there. ‘Size’ did for me as did, inexplicably, ‘guidance’ which only popped into my head afterwards. Very much enjoyed the colonel (ret) this week.

  3. A disappointing week owing to the mistake, compounded by finding out later that (a) this was the Times preliminary puzzle for the week – though not for the heat I was entered in and failed to show up for, and (b) my hopeless incorrect entry was exactly the same made by Simon Anthony on the day (WYFORD). Weird.

    For some reason the knowledge of this error has emboldened me to mention my time for the Grand Final puzzles in total.

    Some times slightly estimated owing to interruptions and no watch once or twice.

    00:09:00, 00:04:35, 00:04:55, 00:09:45, 00:06:30, 00:09:45, 1, 23740 20d, 44:30

    1. Mark,

      You’re saved in this contest by the fact that the champs prelim puzzles are excluded – the 6 together will form a separate contest restricted to those who weren’t at Cheltenham. (This is remove “memory test” puzzles from the contests for those who were there.)

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