Constructing => General Discussion => Topic started by: leoanem on July 23, 2012, 02:11:52 PM

Title: Rating the difficulty of crosswords
Post by: leoanem on July 23, 2012, 02:11:52 PM
 Hello everyone !!!

I am new to this site and I find it very interesting and useful for those in the crossword business . I currently prepare some crosswords and I am interested in rating them so that the solver selects the ones he prefers . I have a database with rated words and clues but I would like to know if there is or could be a rule about rating a crossword . An imaginary example of a rule is in a 11x11 crossword if there 4 and more difficult word-clues then it is rated difficult . Could anyone help me with that?

Thank you in advance

Title: Re: Rating the difficulty of crosswords
Post by: AlexBajcz on July 25, 2012, 03:41:40 PM
Most crossword puzzles are rated difficulty-wise by the day of the week on which they appeared (with the exception of Sunday). Mondays are usually the easiest, and Fridays/Saturdays the hardest. Usually, clues, fill, and themes get more difficult and complex as the week progresses. If you want to build a database centered around difficulty, this is where I would start. Good luck!
Title: Re: Rating the difficulty of crosswords
Post by: leoanem on July 27, 2012, 11:50:37 AM
Thank you very much for your response . However ,my question is more about the constructing part of the crosswords. I will refer to a similar situation regarding themed crosswords. I have read the invaluable quidelines of Nancy Salomon who says that for a 15x15 crossword there could be the following theme entry lengths :
-Three 15's
-Two 12-15 letter entries and one 15
-Two 14-15 letter entries and one 13

This ,of course is a general advice bout it is very helpful for a beginner in order to follow a rule and create some themed puzzles.
So my question is if there is a similar rule for level of difficulties . I have a huge database word-clue-rating (1 up to 5 ) and I would like to know what percentage of 4s and 5s rated word-clues should be included in a crossword so that is defined as difficult. I know that this is a difficult question but even a small tip would be very useful for me.

Thank you in advance
Title: Re: Rating the difficulty of crosswords
Post by: AlexBajcz on July 27, 2012, 03:09:41 PM
I don't know that there's any hard and fast rule for the number of hard answers/clues that make a puzzle difficult. For one thing, a hard answer can be really easy with the right clue, and a really easy answer can be devilish with a challenging clue. Plus, there are aspects of the puzzle's shape that make things harder or easier that are independent of the difficulty of each individual answer or word. For example, puzzles with very few black squares are generally harder because the fill tends to be "denser" (i.e. larger chunks of fill). Puzzles with more "Theme squares" tend to be harder because theme answers tend to be harder to solve and the more theme squares there are, the more often the constructor will have to resort to less-than-stellar fill. Other aspects of a puzzle that make it harder is the average word length (longer words are generally harder to solve than shorter words), words with more proper nouns (these often fall in the "you know it or you don't" category), and puzzles with more open squares (squares that don't touch black squares in any direction). To rank puzzles by difficulty would require quantifying these aspects of a puzzle's geometry in addition to taking into account a puzzle's clues/answers. Or, at least, that's my opinion!

Oh, and some theme types are generally harder than other theme types. For example "quote" or "pun" puzzles tend to be pretty challenging, as are rebus puzzles.
Title: Re: Rating the difficulty of crosswords
Post by: leoanem on July 31, 2012, 06:18:04 PM
Thank you very much for your valuable advice . Actually , I will do exactly that . Take into account all these aspects , maybe quantifying them and then try to rank puzzles .

Thank you