Racing the cryptic clock – Times for the week’s puzzles

[Minor changes to the system below are the result of suggestions in the comments.  The first serious contest will be next week, based on your times for Puzzles from Sat 14 July to Friday 20 July.] [Another change added Wed 18/7 after a suggestion from richardvg about allowing those who haven’t done all the puzzles to have some way of competing.]

Over at Tony Sever’s RTC blog, someone made a suggestion about having a competition like RTC for the Times cryptic. Here’s an idea for doing this without creating too much work:

  • Late each Friday or early on Saturday, I put up a “Times for the week’s puzzles” post.  This will include a quick recap of the rules so that newcomers can see what to do.
  • By 3 pm UK time on Sunday, those who want to compete comment on this post, giving their time for each day’s puzzle during the Saturday to Friday week (in the obvious order), the number of errors, and where the errors were.
  • Sample comment:   16:43, 5:15, 6:17, 7:37, 8:21, 11;43, 2, 23,345/12A 23,346 17  [A/D only required where necessary, or if you can’t remember whether there were both Across and Down answers with the number concerned].  It’s up to you how accurately you time yourself, but if you round your times, do so on a “nearest” basis.  The idea of asking about which clues were wrong is that I can mention ‘popular’ mistakes if there are some.  If you take more than one hour, just show the number of minutes, e.g. 70:30 rather than 1:10:30.  If you don’t do one or more of the puzzles, put an X instead of a time.
  • Checking your other puzzles for accuracy is up to you, but the schedule is arranged so that you can check your answer for the Saturday puzzle in time to enter.
  • On Sunday, I collect the comments and do something in Excel to produce two rankings, and add comments to make a set of results for the week.  A few days after the results post goes up (or when putting up the next “Times for the week’s puzzles” post), I delete the previous post containing comments with your times.
  • One ranking will be done the same way as the current Times championship – someone with no mistakes beats everyone with one or more mistakes, and those with equal no’s of mistakes are ranked on total time.  This one is only for those who have attempted all six puzzles.
  • A second ranking (which includes everyone) will be done in a similar way to the T2 RTC contest – the quickest N all-correct solvers for each puzzle will score points from N for the quickest down to 1 for the slowest, and these points will be added up for the week.  In this ranking, like Times2 RTC, someone who’s very quick for half the puzzles but messes up the other half will still do quite well.  In Times RTC, N is always 10 – I’ll amend it so that N is the number of people who do the most popular puzzle of the week.  That way, you all score some points, but those who do the tougher puzzles get more credit as the slowest correct solver scores more than one point.
  • The only time limit per puzzle is the number of hours from you starting it to 3pm UK time on Sunday.
  • Your name in the results is your LiveJournal account name.  If you don’t have one or prefer something else, put it at the beginning of your comment -e.g. J Sykes 5:15, 4:17, 5:37, 6:21, 7:43, 0.

No time like the present, so those who want to can set things off with comments on this post. Or you can tell me that you really really want to have it done a different way, if you must.  [As the rules have changed partway through this post’s life, I’ll summarily declare Tony the initial winner and we’ll start proper scoring next week.

7 comments on “Racing the cryptic clock – Times for the week’s puzzles”

  1. 4:00, 9:50, 10:43, 8:15, 8:43, 1, 23650/17D

    Minor tweak to suggested method: if you can’t remember whether there was a 17A and don’t have time to look, play safe.

  2. Wouldn’t it be better to make the deadline midday on Saturday so that people have the chance to check that they really did get Friday’s puzzle right? I always check my solution against the given solution even when I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything right. (I’ve occasionally found that I’ve actually had something wrong which I thought was right, though not since I started reading and responding to people’s daily entries in this journal, and in fact not so far this year.) Of course where the given solution is wrong, which occasionally happens (as in 26ac in puzzle no. 23552, which still hasn’t been corrected, despite my pointing it out ages ago), that can confuse things, but usually such errors are pretty obvious.

    Apart from that, I’m up for it.

    PS: Should your (J Sykes’s) time for Friday have been 8:43 (7:43) rather than 8;43 (7;43), or am I missing some significance in the semi-colon?

  3. Further thought: how about running the weekly contest from Saturday to Friday so as to include all six puzzles? (Except I see that they still haven’t put up last Saturday’s solution, which I’d have expected by now. Perhaps the deadline would have to be midnight on Saturday?)
  4. some of us, who will remain nameless, actually (gasp!) need more than an hour to complete the Times cryptic — may I suggest the time format be simply mm:ss, e.g. 75:15, rather than 1:15:35, for the sake of uniformity.
  5. OK Tony, Saturday to Friday it is: I’ll put down a nominal 20 minutes for last Saturday’s puzzle this time, as I have no time recorded. But I’ll keep a note when I tackle today’s in a minute. Deadline for entries: let’s say 3pm UK time on Sunday – the chance of me processing entries early on Sunday is pretty slim. Semi-colon was just a typo.

    Ilan: yes, numbers of mins and secs please.

    If anyone wants to give a set of times for the week just gone, I’ll do an initial results set. Otherwise, we’ll start in earnest next week – I’ll put up the “Times for the week’s puzzles” post late on Friday or early Saturday.

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