Doctor’s Note – Week 5

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We’re now halfway through what I’ve been calling the “introduction” phase of Grandmaster Puzzles, in which I introduce the majority of the genres I’ll be including in my next few books, both as author and as editor. After the “introduction” phase, there will be puzzles by some other talented puzzle constructors here. And I hope to have over half of the puzzles in The Art of Puzzles written by others, maybe even you. I’ll be sending a detailed contributor email out by the end of the week so if you haven’t contacted me yet with interest in writing puzzles for these projects, now is the time to do so.

After the discussion last week, I’ve decided to change my reported time standards a bit. First, “Grandmaster” will be introduced and will be equivalent to about where Master was set before, timed close to my best test-solver and equivalent to where I expect someone in the top 10 in the world to be. Master will now be set around the median of my group of solvers, which will be about where a 10th place USPC finisher will be or about top 100 in the world. In some sense these two times will inform on the mean and s.d. of the puzzle, and can highlight the Aha nature versus speed nature of particular solves as I have a few where one solver blazes through but the average solve takes much longer. Expert will be set at 2x the new Master time, which will often be close to the old 3x of GM but is hopefully more stable as it is using many more solvers’ data. There will no longer be a Novice time. It has not been a very useful measure at all, and I think has encouraged more disappointment than cheer from people trying to target it.

Next week will be “Think Outside the Box” week, with two puzzle styles where the clues are outside the grid. That should be a pretty easy Puzzle and Sudoku pair to identify, and I hope you enjoy the set of challenges I’ve lined up.

Best,
Dr. S.

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