This is the hint.
For this book I have made a representative selection from the puzzles that I created for The Times during the early months of 1999. They encompass a fairly demanding vocabulary and wide-ranging level of general knowledge, but I do try not to be wilfully obscure, and the majority of each crossword should be of a reasonably straightforward standard, so that solvers can fill in plenty of cross-checking letters towards any more mysterious answers. In particular, I do attempt to give full and helpful clues: The Times allows enough space for a rather longer clue than many “quick” crosswords, where a single word clue can leave the solver not only with several synonymous alternative answers to ponder, but even unsure what part of speech is appropriate. I can reassure the solver further that the clues are simple definitions only, without any cryptic element, apart from the odd anagram or homophone, which regular readers have indicated that they enjoy as an occasional alternative; and these are clearly indicated.
As usual, there are some themes or word/letter-play hidden within some of the grids and solutions – I put these in partly to entertain solvers, partly because it gives me a start in filling words into the grid: even after completing over two thousand of these puzzles over eight years or so, staring at an empty grid first thing in the morning can pose that sinking feeling of not knowing where to start. Solvers may enjoy looking for these motifs, but all the puzzles can be completed without worrying about them.
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