Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Secret Weapon of the Solo Puzzle Solver

I'd tell you what it is, but I'm not sure what it's called.  It's very similar to backsolving, and somewhat similar to guessing, and probably called "figuring out the answer after having done only half the puzzle."

For example, in the most recent issue of P&A Magazine, this is what I actually have for the puzzles (I think there's one or two sort-of spoilers here depending on if you've gotten the trick, so be warned):

  • Imperialism: 12/14 rows
  • Redistribution of Wealth: actually complete
  • Like Making Sausage: 33/48 total bubbles/boxes; 5/8 courses
  • King of the Jungle: actually complete
  • Country Is King: 9/12 identifications
  • Let Them Eat Gateau: actually complete
  • The Royal Touch: 5 letters
  • United We Stand: 20/25 circles (I think)
  • Class President: 6/7 quotations
  • Conspiracy: actually complete
  • The Emperor's New Clothes: 6/7 clues
  • Redaction: crossword complete; answer backsolved from meta
Leaving the last puzzle aside (since I'm not really sure how to score it) that gives me an average figure of 86% per puzzle.  The same thing works with finding the meta from the puzzle answers; this time I had 11/12 answers when getting the meta which is fairly high for me (often I start really looking at the meta when I have about 6-8 puzzles done; IIRC last issue I hit the meta with 9/12).  It's certainly expected to be able to finish a meta without every single answer (if you're stuck on a puzzle, you're stuck on a puzzle), but for some reason (probably just an overly-developed sense of guilt and paranoia) it feels wrong to me to do that for an individual puzzle.  (Perhaps this is the ACPT crossworder in me, where every square Must Be Filled.)  Not wrong enough that I don't actually do it, of course.

Am I the only one?


lahosken said...

"I'm not sure what it's called"

I'm not sure it has a name. If you say "short-circuiting", I bet folks will catch your meaning.

Greg said...

I use "partial solve." Though that can sometimes refer to the "partial answer," making your automated answer system accept the phrase "DARK KNIGHT DIRECTOR" and say yes, seriously, type in the name of that person.

On my team, I'm sort of the designated whatever-this-is person. In Hunt-like events, I'll go around every so often to see if there's something I can skip the last 30% of.