The Listener series is unique among newspapers in publishing numerically-based puzzles, usually in the last week in Feb, May, Aug and Nov, although this schedule may be disrupted by word-based puzzles that must be published on a set date. Some regular solvers dislike these and object to their inclusion in the series, while they are a significant group of solvers for whom they form the high point. In 1998, on the occasion of the publication of the May puzzle (No. 3464), the editors printed the following:
Listener mathematical puzzles
THE EDITORS of the Listener series are well aware that a certain number of people remain opposed to the appearance of these mathematical puzzles, complaining (with some justification) that they are not crossword puzzles.
However, we respect, rightly or wrongly, their continuation in a series which has reached number 3464 with this puzzle; that number represents about 70 years of puzzles throughout which mathematical ones have been a feature, and sometimes a much greater feature than they are now.
It is our intention to use mathematical puzzles about three to four times a year, and we would like to draw attention to the fact that for every one person for whom they are anathema there are two people for whom they are a delight. Yes, really.
It is difficult to find published sources that give guidance on how to solve these puzzles, but one of the Editors has prepared a short monograph, accompanied by a set of tables giving numbers in different number bases and a list of prime numbers. These are available here: