Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 5 – your times please

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

At last I can log a set of all-correct times adding up to less than an hour – what I should be doing about two weeks out of three. Who can be first to beat 50 minutes, and then 45? (Magoo’s 51:24 in week 1 is the current record).

The answer to that question came quickly. You may want to make sure you’re sitting down before you read the times from Mark Goodliffe below. If my sums about average times are right, Mark could have got through eight puzzles in my time for six. I tip my hat, as they say in baseball.

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 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 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 you score points for each puzzle based on your ranking.

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, 00:06:17, 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 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 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.

Times received so far:

Peter Biddlecombe, 00:09:50, 00:04:30, 00:15:15, 00:06:57, 00:06:27, 00:09:09, 0, 52:08
Mark Goodliffe, 00:05:11, 00:05:02, 00:07:10, 00:06:13, 00:06:15, 00:08:46, 0, 38:37
fgbp, 00:20:21; 00:08:20; X; X; 00:10:08; 00:16:03

12 comments on “Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 5 – your times please”

  1. 00:31:34,00:24:35,00:32:15,00:12:22,00:58:13,00:13:06 2 23678/24D, 23682/19A,02:52:05

    Frustrating , put itas for etas , then a typo today – pistoleir.
    Must pay more attention!

  2. talbinho, 00:12:27, 00:08:22, 00:21:02, 00:05:46, 00:12:36, 00:09:00, 1, 23681/22A

    ‘Amaniensus’ for ‘amanuensis’. Very frustrating, I should have thought of the link with ‘manus’.

    As last week, I solved these 6 puzzles in a oner this morning – I don’t know what effect this has on solving times, but suspect it makes the later puzzles faster if they are easy and slower if they are hard.

      1. Like Fenby I was born in Scarborough, and as a boy growing up in Yorkshire with an interest in music, I got to know the word “amanuensis” at quite an early age.

        Neil’s technique of solving the week’s puzzles at one go has a good precedent, since that’s apparently what John Sykes used to do.

  3. Tony Sever, 00:16:03, 00:08:35, 00:16:22, 00:10:24, 00:09:36, 00:08:47, 0, 01:09:47
  4. Doing them all in one go didn’t work for me! My times, Friday apart, were terrible.

    00:45:04, 00:27:37, 00:23:19, 00:18:27, 00:19:54, 00:08:52,0,02:23:13

  5. Humbling to note that some of you have total times that are better than a couple of single solves for me! (Steven: where are you?? 🙂


  6. Sabine, 00:13:21, 00:10:34, 00:11:07, 00:09:08, 00:12:05, 00:12:10, 0, 01:08:25

    This is assuming no mistakes in Saturday’s puzzle (blog won’t be up in time to double-check it this week).

Comments are closed.