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RTC3 - Too much of a good thing
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
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Too much of a good thing
In the days when this blog recorded the trials and tribulations of competing at Race the Clock (the Times Crossword Club's previous contest, using Dutch software, for solving the T2 Concise crossword), Ninas cropped up pretty frequently but they didn't appear every day. In addition, the software allowed you to keep trying until you solved the puzzle correctly (or gave up), so that if, as happened all too often, a clue allowed more than one possible answer, you at least got a second (or third, or fourth ...) chance. Nowadays there's a Nina every day; and the current software gives you no second chance should you choose the wrong answer to an ambiguous clue. In some - probably most - cases, the Nina resolves the ambiguity, but it appears that I'm not the only solver who finds this tiresome.

Speaking personally, I'd be quite happy if there were no Ninas at all. I find the Sunday Times Concise puzzles, which don't have Ninas (at least not obvious ones), more enjoyable, though that's obviously helped by their being more of a challenge. Most of the Ninas in the T2 Concise puzzles these days are pretty boring: a particular letter appearing in each answer, some blindingly obvious theme, that sort of thing. (Fortunately we haven't had a repetition of the complete works of Philip K. Dick appearing on successive Mondays, where the predictability - once someone had tumbled to the sequence - made for a particularly dire experience.) However, some people clearly enjoy Ninas, and I've no objection to the occasional Nina provided it presents a decent challenge. So I suggest that the setter should provide one interesting Nina a week, either on a fixed day or on a day chosen each week at random. And it should definitely not be used to resolve ambiguities in clues.

Footnote
I expect most readers of this blog will know all about Ninas, but in case you're left in the dark, you'll find an explanation in this blog's original FAQ (here).

Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: bored bored

Comments
jon88 From: jon88 Date: June 9th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
100% behind you in the Ninas "should definitely not be used to resolve ambiguities" business. Sadly, this will all become moot in three weeks (unless a certain sharing opportunity gets used, in which case a friend of mine will perhaps be credited with generally quick solving times and Nina IDs).
From: pat33 Date: June 16th, 2014 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I rarely spot a nina but glad some do. It can sometimes be useful to find out from the forum where I went wrong, especially when a word can be spelled more than one way. Caster for castor (wheels) was my latest wrong choice, although I can't remember which puzzle it was in.
Jon88: I hope your comment doesn't mean that you, too, might bow out of the TTC.
Best wishes to you both. Patricia
petebiddlecombe From: petebiddlecombe Date: June 18th, 2014 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Sunday Times concise crosswords are not completely Nina-free. We have something like half a dozen Ninas each year, and there is one in the pipeline which think you'd have noticed without me mentioning it.
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