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23,429 - a fair test

Solving time: Irrelevant - somewhere around 10 mins on the day.

The last of the three puzzles in my preliminary round of the championship. A fair amount to explain, but nothing horribly difficult. Two fairly easy long down answers should have given everyone a good start. Completed by 50% of solvers inside the time limit, which is a fairly high number even with the old 30-minute limit.

1M,ALICE - ref. that AA Milne poem about going up to London with Alice to watch the changing of the guard.
4FREE,FORM (form = set of classes = Brit school lingo - something like "fourth form" equates to say "ninth grade" in the US, and a school of any size splits the kids in each form into separate classes. Except that now, most Brit schools use expressions like "year six" instead.)
11PLA(I)N - patent as in patently obvious
12SIC = Latin for 'thus', used to indicate reported misspellings in print.
13LIE DETECTOR - sooth means truth.
14HUMBLE as in 'eating humble pie', which various people did in the afternoon if not the morning...
16SPINACH - can in hips = fruit (rose-hips), all rev.
22THE HEBRIDES - anag. - a change from the usual wedding-related clues about the Hebrides.
25NO H - the xwd setter's instant summary of Cockney speech.
26TOSCA - O in anag. of acts
28C.,ON,CERT,I - one well-fancied horse fell at this fence with "CONCERTA" - wrong on two counts - (a) not even a (expetive deleted) word! (b) uses one=A rather than I, apparently not done in the Times puzzle

2LOST CAUSE - There's some quote about Oxford being a home of lost causes.
3C,R,EEL - a fish basket
6EUPHEMISM - hidden word - probably my favourite clue in this puzzle. In the pub session, several people had to be convinced by printed evidence that a hidden word clue for this word was possible.
8MONARCH(type of butterfly),Y(tail of "butterfly").
15BROKE,RAGE - the usual split for this word
17ARSEN(I,C)AL Non-Brits:Arsenal = a football club
18EC(lipse),STATIC - a nice bit of phrasing to make you think of something like corona or Bailey's beads.
21WHOLLY = "holy" - I have a feeling this was the last answer I wrote in on the day
23ESSEN - German city, all letters being quarters = compass points
24S(I)TAR - Indian instrument, not that far from the guitar with which it rhymes.

Indie 6248 - Dac
Took 4:59 - straightforward but included some good clues, such as the very apposite Family starts regal upset in this drama (4,4). And today's 'up-to-date' musical reference was only to DANCE BAND, not a blues singer like the one that troubled me a few weeks ago.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2006 08:47 am (UTC)
nice change from yesterday
This puzzle was quite straightforward (just over 20 min which is v. fast for me). Nothing obscure nor parochial. I'm beginning to take to heart someone's advice here to solve based on the definition when it's "obvious" and then work out the wordplay ex post facto (e.g. SPINACH, MALICE, EUPHEMISM -- I only saw it was hidden after I'd filled it in!).

Another point to self: solving puzzles v. early in the morning is signficantly quicker -- my brain is less encumbered at 7am...)
Oct. 25th, 2006 09:09 am (UTC)
Well, that just goes to show - I'm no speed merchant, as you know, but I had this cracked (almost) in 20 mins also.

Sadly, I slipped up on 23D - thinking it was ESSIN for some reason (ESS + "in"), thereby looking for 'brackets' that were never there. I knew it sounded familiar but wondered why I couldn't find any mention of it on Google...
Oct. 25th, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC)
I seem to remember it as the first puzzle at Cheltenham , Peter, and thought it was a gentle introduction (compared to the other two). I did it in about 12 minutes? on the day and took 44 minutes on the other two. I filled it in again online today and took 6 minutes!!! Doesn't say much for my chances if they ever do get round to "race the clock" cryptics.
Oct. 25th, 2006 01:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Time
Absolutely right - I stupidly assumed they'd printed them in the same order. My time is extremely approximate - I can't remember whether I took about 25 mins for the prelims, or had about 25 mins of the hour left to sit in my chair. I didn't bother to note how long individual puzzles took, as my no. 1 priority in the qualifier was avoiding mistakes. Hence about 2 or 3 minutes spent on the dreaded F/JUNCTION in the second puzzle (knew about Ada as a prog lang). Although the morning session had a few more ex-champs than I expected, I knew that with 12 places on offer, I'd be quick enough if all-correct, and that any attempt at high speed should be saved for later (some hope!). That's not meant to sound as cocky as it probably does...

When filling it in today to decide which clues to explain, I didn't remember everything either -you can forget a lot in 17 days.
Oct. 28th, 2006 08:37 am (UTC)
It was Matthew Arnold who decribed Oxford as the "Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties!" The description caught on (makes a change from dreaming spires, I suppose) but I still think it's a bit obscure, although balanced here by an easy anagram.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )