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The 2018 Times Crossword Championship Final - A New Champion - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
The 2018 Times Crossword Championship Final - A New Champion
Here are the results of the final of the 2018 Times Crossword Championship. The figures in parentheses are competitors' scores out of 90, where 1 point was awarded for each of the 90 clues solved correctly.

1 Roger Crabtree (90)
2 Matthew Marcus (90)
3 John McCabe (90)
4 David Howell (90)
5 Simon Chillingworth (90)
6 Helen Ougham (90)
7 Gerard McHugh (90)
8 Mark Goodliffe (89)
9 Alan Smith (89)
10 Simon Townley (89)
11 Chris Williams (88)
12= Paul Facey-Hunter (88)
12= Mike Davis (88)
14 Shane Shabankareh (87)
15 Colin Thomas (86)
16 Guy Haslam (82)
17 Allan Saldanha (81)
18 Alan Dorn (80)
19 Ian Clark (78)
20 David Webb (77)
21 Charles Wood (76)
22= James Davis (72)
22= Phil Jordan (72)
24 Toby Brereton (71)

Many congratulations to Roger Crabtree, the first new champion since Peter Biddlecombe's first win in 2000. Congratulations also to Matthew Marcus for his first appearance in the top 10. Commiserations of course to Mark Goodliffe, who for once made an unforced error by inventing a word. His magnificent run of ten consecutive championship wins is unlikely to be beaten for some time, if ever.

Commiserations also (and for the second year running) to Neil Talbott, who I understand made a careless mistake in the first puzzle in the second preliminary round. I'm not entirely sure what it was (I wanted to do the puzzles myself when I got home, so asked not to be told), but I think I can guess as there's only one word that anyone as good as he is could conceivably have got wrong. At least he has the consolation that even if he'd reached the final, Roger Crabtree would still have beaten him on speed.

My nerves get worse as the years roll by, as evinced by the effect it has on my writing (I really ought to apologise to the markers), as well as by the deterioration in my speed. However, although I was 36th to hand in my solutions, so many people made mistakes that I finished 18th in the first preliminary and so (being in the first 25) won't have to qualify next year. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth to hand in their solutions (David Meek, Sue Prout, Richard Grafen and Neil Robinson, all former finalists) made the same careless error, but I offer my particular commiserations to Neil Robinson who finished 26th. Neil would have done pretty well in the final too, since he knocked off the puzzles correctly in a significantly faster time than I did.

As one who's finished 13th in a preliminary in the past, and thus just missed the cut (the top 12 in each preliminary go through to the final), I have particular sympathy for Tim Hall and Anne Lickert (especially as it would have been her first final) and wish them both better luck next year.

Although this year's final puzzles seemed more difficult than last year's, I managed to avoid making a stupid mistake and finished them correctly in the allotted hour, though with only seconds to spare - so at least I achieved one of my two objectives (to qualify for the final and solve all the puzzles correctly). Over the years I've beaten almost all those I've competed against at least once (that even includes John Sykes - though he was in even poorer health than usual that year - and Mark Goodliffe - in the days before he became almost invincible), notable exceptions being John Brightley (a very fine solver, who sadly vanished from the scene before I came into my own) and Alan Dorn. Would I have beaten Alan if I'd reached the final today, I wonder? [Amendment, 17 February 2019: While checking up how many times I'd competed against Roy Dean (the answer turns out to be 14), I've discovered that I beat someone called A. Dorn in the London regional final in 1996, when I tied with M.A. Trollope for first place and he came 141st (with four mistakes). Although he must have been a raw beginner in those days, I'm still counting this as a win for me. Woohoo! :-)]

Once again it was good to see old friends whom I've competed against over the years. And I'm still hoping to be around in two years' time for the 50th anniversary of the first championship.

Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: better than last year :-)

11 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 4th, 2018 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for this report. I'd heard who won, but now I have a much deeper grasp of the day's events.

I'm pulling for you next year!
jon88 From: jon88 Date: November 4th, 2018 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops. Didn't realize I wasn't logged in when I posted that.
tony_sever From: tony_sever Date: November 4th, 2018 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's good to hear from you, Jon. Belated congratulations on your 11th place in this year's ACPT, by the way. (I'm afraid these days I'm mostly out of the loop when it comes to what else is going on in the crossword world, apart from the Listener puzzle.)

Strangely I was reasonably familiar with all the vocabulary in the three final puzzles, but had never come across one of the answers in the first preliminary, which was a bit unnerving as I hate putting in words I don't know. I suspect most other solvers, particularly the younger ones, found the reverse to be the case.

Edited at 2018-11-04 05:04 pm (UTC)
n_e_s_t_o_r From: n_e_s_t_o_r Date: November 4th, 2018 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Not wishing to give spoilers, I'll say that Neil's error was in 14 down of the first afternoon puzzle. I correctly predicted that it would be the commonest error in that session.
tony_sever From: tony_sever Date: November 4th, 2018 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was good to see you yesterday, Roger, and thanks for confirming my suspicions.

Since I started having some success in the Championship in the 1970s, I've kept a list of "difficult" words, which started life on a single sheet of A4 paper and has progressed via a .txt file (which I used with a Visual Basic program I wrote myself back in the 1990s) to a .ods spreadsheet file whose contents I upload to a website for downloading to a flashcards app ("Flashcards Deluxe", available from http://flashcardsdeluxe.com/Flashcards/ - might as well give 'em a plug as it's one of my favourite apps, allowing, as it does, for flashcards with more than two sides :-) which I run on my mobile or tablet.

At the latest count it holds 1318 flashcards containing some words which are admittedly highly unlikely to crop up these days, but which include the answer to 14dn (which was probably on the original A4 sheet and is now categorised as "easy") and the answer to 6dn in the second puzzle in the first preliminary (categorised as "moderate"), which seems to have given a lot of people grief. (The other categories are "difficult" and "very difficult", the latter reserved for a few words which I persistently get wrong!)
mauefw From: mauefw Date: November 4th, 2018 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great account of the day. Do you know where Mark made his fatal error? Just so I can cross-check against the four I made (I'm Colin Thomas) and see if I've achieved the ambition of a lifetime by getting one right that he got wrong!
tony_sever From: tony_sever Date: November 4th, 2018 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's good to hear from you Colin, and thank you for your kind comment.

I think you may be in luck, as the clue that Mark Goodliffe failed on was 14ac in the third puzzle:
Marshal calm when changing side repeatedly (5)
and it's hard to imagine anyone else making the same mistake, which seems to have simply been the result of a brainstorm on his part.
From: pat33 Date: November 5th, 2018 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


Just thought I'd drop in and say hello. The championship is well out of my league but I do like to see how the names I still recognise from RTC days are faring.

Best wishes, Tony.

From: (Anonymous) Date: November 6th, 2018 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hello

Nice to hear from you, Pat.

The old RTC brigade had rather a mixed day, I'm afraid. Chindit and oughamh did pretty well, but although Magoo and Shane made the final, they both made mistakes. lickert must have been bitterly disappointed to miss the final by just one place, but at least she managed to make the top 25 in her preliminary, as did andyw123 and I, as well as richardg (formerly rvong) and neil23, both of whom scraped home in 25th place, while reilr just missed out in 26th.

All the best,
jerrywh From: jerrywh Date: November 5th, 2018 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello Tony, glad to hear you are still well and still competing. Congratulations on once again qualifying for next year.
John Moody has done a fine blog entry for the day: https://reinterred.blogspot.com/2018/11/times-crossword-championship-day.html
.. and I expect you will have seen the TfTT championships page
Not able to be there this year but will try harder next year. Kind regards
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 6th, 2018 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello there, Jerry. It's good to hear from you. I'm sorry we didn't see you at this year's Championship, but at least you're still in the land of the living - and keeping reasonably well, I hope.

Hope to see you next year. All the best,
11 comments or Leave a comment