Electronic versions of Listener Statistics

Computer-based preparation of the statistics commenced in 1996 (except for the “triangular table”, which was prepared by hand that year). John Green and Derek Arthur commenced, in 2001, a project to refurbish all earlier sets using electronic storage. Some of these were available only on fading photocopies. The original intention was to effect simple transcriptions, but as time went on they became more interventionist. There are therefore certain changes in the files on this CD.

  • The format, both overall and in certain details, has been changed to agree with later versions. They worked backwards, with an eye on 2000, on the basis of “final thoughts take precedence”.
  • Some style features have been adjusted to take advantage of word processing.
  • Some early puzzles, particularly those of Zander, had missing serial numbers and some others had titles such as “9 Down” that called for explanation. These were checked back to source and this uncovered some other discrepancies. Hence, all titles from The Listener era were checked.
  • Some of the “Common Errors” explanations had, with the passage of time, become incomprehensible. These were checked at source and reworded.
  • Common Errors were not provided for 1979–80 but these have now been constructed from Mike Rich’s records.
  • In a few cases setters were recorded as failing on their own puzzles. All such records that were identified have been deleted and the order in the “Solvers” records adjusted.
  • 1989–90 contained a table of average correct entries for each setter since checking started. This has been reworked to include the final few puzzles before The Listener magazine ceased publication.
  • All calculations have been checked and a few small errors corrected. There were two errors of 100/101 in one year in the early 1980s. These affected all subsequent totals, although not the final averages quoted a couple of times later.
  • The Dinner Reports — a real hotchpotch of styles — have been reworked with as little adjustment to the content as possible, e.g. setters’ names have been changed from upper case to lower case bold type.
Most sections appear regularly, but there are occasional extras, eg retrospectives. Thus, for 1983–84, the Annual Statistics bundle contained:
  • Puzzles: Puzzle data (for 1983–84)
  • Summary: List of highest and lowest entries, etc
  • Errors: Common Errors
  • Solvers: Table of leading solvers
  • Dinner: (note date) Dinner report for 1984 (covering year 1983–84)
Other sorts of occasional files are:
  • Addresses: Numbers of solvers for areas or postcodes
  • Setters: Data from the start of the statistics until the demise of The Listener
  • Preamble: Introduction at the start of The Times era
  • Dinner Report 2500: Special dinner at time of puzzle No 2500
  • Miscellaneous information, such as details of statistics and prize draw
John Green, Derek Arthur, Ross Beresford (March 2005)