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A social event - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
A social event
Next Saturday (20th October) sees the 37th Times Crossword Championship; and (unless some disaster overtakes me in the coming week) I shall be competing for the 37th time.

There are half a dozen or so solvers (Brooksbank, Hanson, Howell, Dorn, Talbott, James, Smith) snapping at the heels of the reigning champion, Mark Goodliffe, hoping that he may slip up for once. (Or should that be - to switch metaphors - floundering, or perhaps even foundering, in his wake? ;-) And it would be unwise to write off Helen Ougham, given her track record; or some new star may emerge. But it would need a miracle for one of the rest of us to carry off the title. There are still things to compete for: my aim (as usual these days, though one I'm perhaps less likely to achieve this year) is to be fast enough over the three preliminary puzzles to reach the final, and to solve the three final puzzles correctly; and even those who fail to reach the final can win themselves a free entry to next year's Championship by finishing in the first 25 in their preliminary rounds.

However, I suspect the majority of contestants see the Championship primarily as a social event - a chance to meet other Times crossword solvers. There are some people I've been competing against regularly since the 1970s, and one of the pleasures of the Championship is renewing their acquaintance as well as meeting younger solvers, particularly those I've encountered online through this blog or the Times Crossword Club or the Times for the Times blog. Sadly the modern form of the Championship is much less conducive to socialising than the earlier model where there were four separate half-hour sessions. Particularly irksome is having to sit at your desk for the remainder of the hour once you've finished the three crosswords.

One simple improvement would be for contestants to be provided with name badges. Surely it wouldn't be too onerous (or expensive) for the organisers to provide blanks and marker pens at the checking-in desks to allow people to identify themselves? Some contestants have provided their own badges in the past (thanks, JerryW), and I've remembered to do so myself a couple of times, but all too often I forget, and have to hope that people will recognise me from my userpic.

If I don't recognise you, I can only apologise. As I wrote before last year's Championship:
I'm going to take this opportunity to apologise in advance to anyone whom I've met before, possibly several times, but fail to recognise. I've touched on this problem in an earlier blog entry (see the Footnote in particular). I can form a fuzzy mental image of several solvers whom I've competed against a number of times over the years. And if you're a regular commenter on the Times for the Times blog and your userpic is a reasonably accurate photographic image (of you, that is, rather than, say, Edgar Allan Poe), I think I stand a pretty fair chance of recognising you. But there are several people whose names I know but for whom I can form no mental picture whatsoever. I may recognise you, but I may well not. Sorry!
Finally I'd like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone competing next Saturday the very best of luck. See you there.

I've realised I may have missed some possible contenders from the half dozen or so I listed earlier. I can think of one solver who can be very fast but is apt to make careless mistakes and is thus liable to be overtaken by old tortoises like me. If he could put together a decent series of six puzzles, he too would be in with a chance. (I won't embarrass him by naming him now, but I may not be able to resist doing so if he wins :-)

Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: anticipatory

1 comment or Leave a comment
jerrywh From: jerrywh Date: October 14th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Evidently your recovery from surgery is progressing well Tony, which is good to know. I hope to see you next Saturday, and meanwhile, wish you good fortune in the competition.
1 comment or Leave a comment