Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 7 – 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 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.

After falling at one of the last hurdles last week, I seem to have got throuh this week with no silly slip-ups except the notion that I could do Saturday’s puzzle at full speed while watching the World Championship athletics on the box – probably lost 2 minutes or so there.

Times received so far:

Peter Biddlecombe, 00:14:28, 00:08:21, 00:15:25, 00:06:20, 00:06:55, 00:08:55, 0, 1:00:24
Mark Goodliffe, 00:14:48, 00:05:19, 00:13:58, 00:03:38, 00:04:32, 00:06:41, 0, 00:48:56
fgbp 00:14:24 ; x ; 00:34:30 ; 00:04:50 ; 00:07:15 ; 00:09:35

11 comments on “Unofficial Times cryptic RTC No. 7 – your times please”

  1. 00:22:10,00:14:34,00:38:30,00:10:02,00:12:28,00:18:23,0,01:56:07

    Pleased to get a second consecutive clear round but 20 minutes slower than last week and all down to a tough one on Tuesday (glad to see it was comparatively slow for Peter/Mark too!)
    Is Mark’s Wednesday time close to the record?

    1. Mark’s 3:38 is easily the fastest time so far in this contest.

      Roy Dean’s 3:45 back in Today studio in the early 70s is the closest thing to an “official” record for the Times puzzle, with proper witnessing and timing.

      At the Times Championships, a couple of very quick times have been claimed – both when solving puzzles in the audience at the final, I think. From memory they were:

      Paul Henderson (aka Phi, Former Champs finalist): 3:15

      John Henderson (aka Enigmatist/Nimrod/Io, former Times Champion, no relation): 2:53

      I believe the record for the fastest solution in the Championship belongs to John Sykes at 4:28.

      In daily solving, I claim 3:00 for a very easy puzzle a couple of years ago, and my guess is that Mark’s best ever is between 2:30 and 2:50.

  2. X, 00:35:30, 00:41:30, 00:26:30, 00:24:10, 00:37:30, 1, 23690/2D

    The only clue I missed is in the puzzle I blogged interestingly.

    I haven’t read Peter’s highly informative rule and regs which probably expalins how X’s are accommodated in the scoring?

    1. If you mark any puzzles as X, you only get listed in the RTC-style contest where correct solutions are the only ones that matter. The ‘mini-champs’ needs a time for all 6 puzzles, right or wrong.
  3. Sabine, 00:17:35, 00:08:54, 00:46:03, 00:11:01, 00:08:24, 00:09:16, 2, 23691/20, 23694/27A, 01:41:13.

    Definitely a week to forget; struggled horribly on Tuesday and made another mistake besides.

    Very impressed at sub-4 minute times. I only started timing myself this year; the best I’ve managed so far is 4:22, and as I recall it scarcely seemed possible to go any faster. (This was for the fourth qualifying puzzle for the 2007 championships, which made me wonder if the response to the previous three had been less than expected.)

  4. I’m not posting a set of times for this week, despite the majority of them being not too bad, because I nearly gave up crosswords altogether after the puzzle with Redstar(t), Din, Poverty Trap, Rabid and Roswell (all in the same corner and all as bad as each other, along with whatever clue would have given me the P of Poverty). I can’t remember as bad a day as that for a long time! But the rest of the week was tolerable, so I’m hoping this was a one-off blip. But I’m not posting this week’s times, because if I hadn’t looked up the answers above my time would now be still ticking and likely to continue indefinitely.
  5. talbinho, 00:16:17, 00:09:02, 00:24:30, 00:04:35, 00:09:02, 00:07:45, 1, 23690/2D 21A, 01:11:11

    This was a week where the ‘last clue’ cost me dear, often being a word I didn’t know or couldn’t remember (except Wed):

    Sat – ESTANCIA (8 mins looking for alternatives)
    Mon – CLEPSYDRA (last entry, just couldn’t think of the word)
    Wed – TINWARE (3 mins; just avoided ‘tonnage’)
    Thu – CARMELITE (2 mins)
    Fri – MIGNON (2 mins; just avoided ‘Gianon’)

    So nearly a pretty good week; the two stupid errors on Tuesday I’ll blame on difficult solving conditions.

    [Peter: just to confirm that the Monday and Thursday times are correctly equal.]

  6. Only 3 completed this week – I didn’t get a chance to look at it Wed-Fri. Not very good times for the other three either…

    00:35:03, 00:15:18, 00:22:15, X, X, X, 0

  7. Tony Sever, 00:23:10, 00:10:06, 00:21:32, 00:09:16, 00:09:43, 00:09:00, 1, 23691/11A, 01:22:47

    I thought I’d try an experiment this week by doing the puzzles in batches of three. This didn’t go quite as planned, and I’ll have to try not to take it as a portent of disasters ahead in the Championship. Unfortunately I left it until Wednesday before I tackled Saturday’s to Tuesday’s puzzles, by which time one of my RTC3 correspondents had divulged one of the answers to Monday’s puzzle (or actually two answers now I look back, but fortunately the other one didn’t register). Since it wasn’t a particularly difficult word or a particularly difficult clue – the solver in question had just made a daft spelling mistake – what I should have done is just written in the answer as soon as I came to it and added on 10 or 15 seconds at the end. Instead I pussyfooted round it, pretending it didn’t exist until I had most of its crossing letters, and almost certainly took longer as a result!

    Anyway, I made heavy weather of Saturday’s puzzle (that’s twice this month Saturday’s has taken me longer than August’s “Club monthly” puzzle!), and in fact wondered whether I shouldn’t abandon the attempt at all three puzzles at that point, but ploughed on through Monday’s (pussyfooting day) and then made heavy weather of Tuesday’s, and was so exhausted and so desperate to finish by the end of it, that when I spotted that EXPIRY DATE would fit in for 11A (Charge traffic cops on departure = EXPORT DUTY) I shoved it in without really thinking too hard, imagining it was something to do with the expiry of one’s tax disc! I was horrified when I checked the solution, which brought back unpleasant memories of past Championship failures. (Sigh!)

    Wednesday’s to Friday’s puzzles were slow but (extremely) steady.

    I’ll probably persist with this experiment, at least until this year’s Championship is over, but if the whole thing becomes too depressing, who knows …?

  8. Richard Grafen, 00:24:10, 00:12:45, 00:21:42, 00:08:51, 00:12:18, 00:13:15, 1, 23694/13A (total 1:33:01)

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