This is the hint.
With a new collection of 100 puzzles, this long-running series of anthologies of the Times2 crossword reaches its quarter century, 25 books having appeared since my predecessor, Richard Browne, edited the first one around the turn of the century. With the companion Times2 Jumbo crossword series having reached its own volume 16 at about the same time, it would be immodest of me to make too much of an obvious reference to perfect squares when it comes to these crosswords, even though solver feedback and reviews are usually favourable!
Regular solvers will find the standard unchanged from previous volumes. For solvers new to the series, what should they expect? The words, clued by definitions, are such that they can be found in a good single-volume dictionary like Collins English Dictionary, with the occasional trickier challenge to keep you on your toes. Proper names are chosen to be not too obscure and are drawn from a whole range of fields, geographic names and famous people mainly from sport, science and the arts. The aim is not to defeat solvers but to give them some gentle mental exercise, stimulating them perhaps to recall something lurking just at the edge of their memory.
As before, I have included in all of these puzzles little hidden extras which some solvers like to find after completion of the grid. For instance, there may be a pattern of letters in the grid; or hidden words; or several answers may share a theme; or all answers contain the same letter; or . . . well, the full list would run to dozens of ideas so, if this aspect of the puzzles interests you just keep an open mind and open eyes and you may occasionally be mildly amused by one of these features.
I am grateful once again to Roger Phillips for his detailed proofreading of the puzzles. Any errors that may remain are, of course, entirely my own. Good solving!
Crossword Editor of The Times Concise crossword
An introduction by Richard Browne, former Crossword Editor of The Times and creator of
The Times Two crossword
Welcome to another collection of puzzles from the Times Two series in The Times.
There are no cryptic clues in these crosswords, but the puzzles are nonetheless not designed to be too easy, and deliberately use a wide vocabulary and some general knowledge; although nothing intended to be outside the normal experience of an average reader of The Times.
It may be helpful to new readers to explain some of the conventions that I use. I try to match the clue closely to the answer; so for example the clue Artist should have an answer like Painter; if the answer were a particular artist, I would give a clearer indication – for example, Painter of lilies – answer, Monet. A comma in a clue punctuates a single, amplified definition; a semi-colon divides two clues to separate meanings of the one answer. So Loud, undignified complaint – Squawk but Loud (tie); insipid – Tasteless. The clues will always be definitions of the answer, though not necessarily of its most obvious meaning!
The numbers in brackets after the clue also follow a convention, indicating whether an answer is one word, two words or more, or hyphenated; but I ignore apostrophes, as is normal crossword practice. So, Kneecap (7); Knee-length (4-6); O’Neill (6).
In phrases that could include my, his, your, etc. depending on the context, I conventionally use one’s; so for example Take one’s leave (4,4,5) not Take your leave (important to know as both are four letters). But I keep your where this is an invariable part of the phrase, so Bob’s your uncle.
Enjoy the puzzles!
Richard Browne, Times Two Editor