Guidance for Setters
The Notes for Setters were last updated when the editorial team changed on towards the end of 2010.
They are available at the links below, either as PDF or HTML, with the latter broken into sections.
The additional “Mathematical Puzzles” notes are unchanged.
The links given below are for the Notes for Setters, which are provided for setters of Listener puzzles.
It is important to understand that in many cases these are guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules.
The very nature of a Listener puzzle renders it inappropriate and impossible to set down absolute rules.
The following are examples of this.
- The formulae for the frequency of unchecked letters in an entry are often difficult to apply.
Thematic information may provide extra checking. On the other hand, some entry methods, such as misprints,
will lead to less checking than would be apparent from the grid.
The editors do, however, try to estimate the effective degree of checking and setters are well-advised
to do so before submitting their puzzle.
- Different solvers have different experiences in solving puzzles, which complicates the editors’ task
of judging the suitability of a puzzle. For example, they seek to limit the degree of “cold solving”,
ie, the need to solve clues without feedback from crossing answers in the grid.
This is difficult to measure since the point at which a solver can start to make entries depends strongly on
the particular subset of the clues that have been solved.
- The accessibility of thematic information is carefully considered.
Although the editors would not rule out a puzzle that required solvers to visit a local library,
they will try to ensure that the reference material is likely to be available there and that
the extra effort will be rewarding. It should not be required simply to access a trivial piece of information
that is not well-integrated into the puzzle.
- One person’s seminal work is another person’s cult entertainment.
In short, the editors will take into consideration the puzzle as a whole when applying these guidelines.
An innovative puzzle that provides entertainment and satisfaction for the solver will be granted
more licence than one with few penny-dropping moments.
The “All Puzzles” information applies to all types of puzzle.
The “Mathematical Puzzles” links provide supplementary information for that specific type of puzzle.
The editors regret that they are unable to enter into any correspondence over these “Notes”
but will take into account any comments received when making periodic, though infrequent, revisions.