This is the hint.
The puzzles in this collection represent a sample of those printed in The Times during the second half of the year 2000, and they appear exactly as printed, apart from a slight expansion of some clues to spell out abbreviations and the other conventions that are customary in the paper in order to fit the crossword into its little corner of the page.
Regular solvers will know that, although the clues are straightforward, I like to put a few little themes into the puzzles, always unindicated but there for the solver to notice if interested. After we passed the 2000th Times Two puzzle (in April 2000) a favourite theme, the events of the year associated with the puzzle number, was no longer available, but I have continued with other themes – indeed, most of the puzzles in this book have one, however modest: it may be simply a repetition of letters in the grid, a word or phrase hidden in it, or the inclusion of a number of related answers. The last two puzzles in this book appeared either side of our non-publishing weekday of the year, Christmas Day, and I hope the appropriate themes will be obvious. As always, identifying any theme is entirely irrelevant to solving the puzzle, and it is there simply as a little extra that solvers may enjoy spotting, just as I enjoyed fitting them in.
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