Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 6 – your times please

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

I’m harbouring hopes for my first win this week after Mark G told me that he’d struggled with Saturday’s puzzle, but I should have been sub-45 and might just have blown it on the last day (see comments on 23,688 in a few minutes from now). Well the last bit was right. I blew it on a much bigger scale as reported in comments on 23,688. I think I know where the spoon’s going this week.

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, 00:07:38, 00:07:33, 00:05:01, 00:11:09, 00:04:42, 00:09:48, 1, 23688 19D, 45:51
fgbp 00:09:40; 00:08:37; 00:04:45; X; 00:08:18; X

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

  1. 00:10:58,00:16:34,00:10:03,00:29:05,00:10:23,00:18:06 ,0, 01:35:09
    John P Marshall

    took a bit more care,Wednesday involved at least 7 minutes of trying to convince myself that upriser or uprider was a suitable entry for upriver but got there in the end

  2. …but 4 ‘proper’ mistakes/missing answers, which is a bit depressing.

    talbinho, 00:09:27, 00:09:16, 00:08:03, 00:22:30, 00:06:10, 00:25:57, 4, 23684/12A, 23685/27A, 23686/11A 7D

  3. 49:15, 27:10, 37:50, 55:10, 52:15, 1:05:30, 1, 23686/13A

    I found Friday quite hard… Steven?

  4. 00:10:10, 00:9:57, 00:5:19, 00:22:14, 00:6:00, 00:11:15, 1, 23688 19D 00:65:55

    So annoyed about that 19 down yesterday, after a much more respectable week than recently. Still not quite sure how that clue works…

      1. Thank you for the explanation – and perhaps you would consider lending me your cap!
  5. 01:11:30, 00:38:30, 00:56:12, 01:15:00, 00:52:38, 00:47:45, 1, 23683/17A (Total 05:41:35)

    I thought I’d got them all correct until I checked last Saturday’s. There were a couple where I didn’t understand the wordplay, one being 17A where I put RESIDING instead of RESIDENT.

  6. 00:15:44, 00:14:11, 00:12:55, 00:22:20, 00:12:53, 00:20:50, 0, 01:38:53

    Sneaking in just under 100 minutes again, but my aim is sub-90 so I’ve got to try to eliminate those 20+ times.

  7. Richard Grafen, 00:13:53, 00:17:05, 00:07:39, 00:14:38, 00:11:09, 00:07:47, 0, 01:12:11
  8. Sabine, 00:11:50, 00:14:10, 00:09:57, 00:16:39, 00:09:11, 00:09:01, 0, 01:10:48

    A second week of steady but unspectacular times. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll ever shave off those extra minutes to reach the times the top solvers manage to produce on a regular basis, but the best thing about life in the second division is you do always have that to aim for. I wish I could say I spend one of those extra minutes meticulously checking the grid for stupid mistakes – but I don’t.

    The crossword gods seem to be smiling on me at the moment; after an extended dither over FIRTH/FORTH I suddenly had a flash of inspiration and wrote in FORTH for reasons that turned out to be wrong in every respect.

    1. I remember in the 1979 Times Crossword Championship Final, Roy Dean also solved one of the clues correctly for entirely the wrong reason (if I remember correctly, there was a reference which he thought was to Rupert Brooke’s The Old Vicarage, Grantchester but was actually to an entirely different poem), and he went on to win, beating John Sykes into 2nd place into the bargain. So you’re in good company.
  9. Tony Sever, 00:07:40, 00:07:44, 00:07:23, 00:14:11, 00:06:31, 00:13:07, 0, 56:36

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