This is the hint.
These puzzles from the daily Times Two series were originally published during the first half of 2001. The eighty puzzles in this book represent roughly half of those that appeared in the paper during that time; how do I choose which ones to select? It would be nice to think that some are so outstanding that they demand a second airing; but in fact, on revisiting them, I am more struck by the way that the overall style and standard does not vary greatly from one day to the next, which is what I originally set out to achieve. In this the Times Two may differ from the cryptic crossword, which I know many people believe builds in difficulty through the week.
My aim in choosing the selection of puzzles was simply to achieve a representative sample, with a balanced mix both of grids (51 of the possible 60 grids appearing at least once in this book) and of vocabulary, with a wide spread of general knowledge, and a minimum of repetition. I also aim to include a high proportion of puzzles in which some theme underlies the construction – for example, a hidden message spelled out in the unchecked letters of the grid, or a series of linked words (which solvers may care to spot after completing the puzzle). At the times these puzzles were created, I was putting such themes into about half the puzzles, but a higher proportion has been collected into this book. Sometimes these themes are linked to the publication date; for example, puzzle 79 appeared on the anniversary of a certain event crucial to the outbreak of war in 1914.
Finally, I correct any mistakes that came to light after publication (which readers are always helpfully quick to point out!), but otherwise the puzzles appear exactly as they did in the paper, apart from a little expansion of some clues into the more generous space available here. I remain unrepentant, despite several letters at the time, about the inverted commas in puzzle 34, but this is about the only expression of personal opinion you need fear coming across in what I hope you will find a pleasantly challenging set of crosswords.
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