Hopeless addiction

Sometimes I wonder if we take this puzzle pastime just an inch too far.

Yesterday was a veritable triumph of puzzling – after the morning’s success, we put our thinking caps on again when Mr L had finished work. We elected not to look at the remainder of Wednesday’s puzzles but to use a hint to address one of Tuesday’s.

I am not kidding… we sat and worried at that puzzle solidly from 4:30pm to 9:30pm, when we finally had an answer. You may think five hours excessive, but I have to tell you that I had done work on it earlier in the day and the day previously.

There is nothing in this for us. No prizes, no kudos. It is just something fun that we are able to do together as a team. We like that aspect. This particular puzzle lent itself well to sitting side by side and cooperating in our efforts.

I just cannot decide if that makes it time well spent or if we are sad and obsessive geeks. 🙂

What I do not understand… can never understand… is how some teams solve these things so swiftly. Even with a team of four, the volume of work required for some puzzles is enormous. Take the one in question, for instance. The first step involves solving 78 cryptic crossword type clues. Seventy-eight. No matter how good you are at cryptic clues, just solving and writing the answers down takes time.

You have 78 words now. You also have a pyramid, made of 78 stones. There are twelve in the bottom layer.

You need some time to analyse this situation and work out what the next step is.

Now… if and when you figure that bit out… you probably have some internet research to do, and in this puzzle you also require a revelation that will slightly modify your initial idea. If that were not enough…

Each stone has a number on it. All but one are single digits. One has a 12 on it. You need to fathom what to do with the digits.

Got that bit sorted? You get sets of letters. Hurrah! But…

… you still have to make sense of them.

The final step will be instantaneous for some puzzlers, others will need the internet once more.

That is a LOT of work. For anybody.

One team solved it in under two hours. That to me is amazing. Especially as the method for the puzzle requires that all 78 clues are solved. No short-cutting. Let us say that we took six hours, but with the aid of a hint.

We are currently 43rd, with 9 solves – almost half the puzzles done. Interestingly, although we are putting much less time in this year, our solve rate does not seem to be suffering significantly. I think we are working more efficiently this year – we are not inducing puzzle fatigue by doing too much.

We  have identified a fun one from today’s set and will work on that tonight.

Mr L is back from having his blood drawn. He has some medication that should have him feeling better soon. That’s good news.

The Truffle oil has arrived so we shall be having a mushroom orzotto today (I’ve run out of carnaroli.)

Knitting seems to be taking a back seat. Normal service will resume next week but the Sydney SUMS puzzle hunt starts the week after and I shall be in puzzle mode again.

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