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Times Championship finals

So, the big weekend has come and gone. The blow-by-blow account:

Saturday: drove to stay the night with some friends in Nailsworth, Glos. After tea and a chat, the ladies of the party left the two gents to tackle their various puzzles. The Saturday four:

Times took an agonising 37 minutes because of a rushed answer in the top left corner which I didn't spot for ages. Very humbling and discouraging.
Indie - Nimrod - just over 6 - a nice puzzle with 8 14-letter entries. Feeling better now.
Guardian - Enigmatist - stopped after 23 minutes with one rather fiendish clue to a deity left over. Not so good.
Times Jumbo - about 13:20 - much more like it.

Sunday: off to Cheltenham for the morning preliminary session. Met up with lots of people not seen in the flesh for ages, including former champs Roy Dean and Michael MacDonald-Cooper, who I hadn't realised was attending, but was there in full Scots outfit including the skean dhu in right sock (an intriguing piece of kit for a crossword contest - maybe he sharpens pencils with it...). Also met a few familiar names from the Times Race the Clock leader board, and Richard Grafen who chips in with comments here sometimes. The morning puzzles were no pushovers, but were all perfectly solvable. As usual there were one or two clues with plausible but wrong answers that tripped up some people. I took things carefully and checked my grids twice, as I hadn't noticed any hands going up really quickly. I ended up in second place in the prelim behind Tim Smith, who won the online version of the 2000 event. I believe 16 people of 89 were all-correct, compared to about 31 in the second prelim - which I don't think was easy but maybe had fewer clues that were easy to get wrong. Of the former finalists and others I thought were likely winners, only a couple didn't make it to the Grand Final.

Back for the grand final after a lunch. (The £25 set lunch at the Greenway hotel in Shurdington is highly recommended.) Sadly there was no space at all for anyone other than the finalists and officials to attend the grand final. This was the disappointing side of the afternoon and I hope this aspect will be improved next year - the large room used in the morning wasn't in use in the afternoon, so spectators could have been accommodated even if only to see which hand went up first.

In the final, the first hand to go up, after about 28 minutes, belonged to Peter Brooksbank, who has been
in the final before. About 15 seconds later, Mark Goodliffe, the 1999 champion, raised his hand. He was followed about 3 minutes later by Helen Ougham who won in 1995. One or two minutes later, David Howell, 1997 winner, finished, followed by me about 20 secs later. But it turned out that three of these five had made mistakes (all different ones) so the results were (position, name, clues solved, time (where known for certain), position in prelim, which prelim):

1. Helen Ougham 90 31:49 7B
2. David Howell 90 3A
3. Phil Jordan 90 6B
4. Peter King 90 9B
5. Jason James 90 4B
6. Gerard McHugh 90 6A
7. P (Phil?) Dodd 90 8A
8. Tony Sever 90 4A
9. R J Crabtree 90 1B
10. A A P Thorpe 90 7A
11. J S Williams 90 12B
12. Neil McHale 90 9A
13. Peter Brooksbank 89 3B
14. Mark Goodliffe 89 2B
15. Peter Biddlecombe 89 2A
16. Tim Smith 89 1A
17. Michael MacDonald-Cooper 89 5A
18. M Dilke-Wing 89 8B
19. Richard Grafen 89 12A
20. C Chapman 89 10B
21. Michael Trollope 89 5B
22. S G Subbuswamy 88 11A
23. Mark Thakkar 83 11B
24. Roddy Forman 82 10A

Congratulations to Helen Ougham on joining the very small club of people who have won twice (now 5 - others are Roy Dean, James Atkins, John Sykes, Bill Pilkington); and to the 8 or so people who reached the final stage for the first time.

The Times appears to be willing to hold the championship again, which is encouraging. So thanks to the organisers, both for getting the competition out of limbo and for providing a questionnaire for comments and suggestions.

That's it from me until we're back from holiday. Thanks again to Mark Goodliffe who takes charge tomorrow.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
On Times 23,414 I have answers for 1D and 26A which I can't quite explain. Please include these in your solutions when you publish them. Didn't have a problem with 1A though!
Oct. 9th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC)
A noble loser
Well done, PB, for such an interesting and lucid account - and for finding the motivation to provide it when you were probably feeling more parrotlike than overthemoonlike
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )