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mikehallbackhoe
01-26-2014, 07:09 PM
sense some of you can solve cryptograms faster than I can read them, I was wondering if you can actually read them without solving any letters? I ask this because I just solved one that I was able to read the moment I saw the puzzle. Some word patterns jump out at me such as he who, or there is , and I am getting better at recognizing word patterns, but still have a long way to go.

abra
01-26-2014, 07:29 PM
I'm NOT a really fast solver, as you know, because I'm always chasing after you. But I can see some words, never a whole quote. I suppose I do recognize more words the longer I hang out here.

This is an interesting question, I'll be watching to see the answers.

gryhnd51
01-26-2014, 10:55 PM
On really good days, seeing the whole quote without actually solving it does happen. I'm really not sure if that is just practice or that my "spatial relationship" neurons are working better than usual. However, I've been here a long time and many quotes are familiar now.

SInce I'm not a "really fast" solver, I'm curious if Bansai or Nanrich will contribute to this dialogue. While they are both incredibly fast, Nanrich also has a 100% solve rate....a truly amazing feat. It took me several years to even care about solving them all.

And, to be absolutely honest, there are times when my brain cells feel like they're slogging through mud trying to solve ANY cryptogram!

mikehallbackhoe
01-26-2014, 11:22 PM
I shouldn't have said "really fast" since everyone is so modest. Can anyone read the cryptos without solving any letters first? I am getting better at recognizing words and phrases, but I don't have near the experience some of you have. I find having the letter frequency to be invaluable in recognizing most words, and have also noticed previous puzzles being played again.

Lurker
01-27-2014, 03:36 AM
I can read "There is" or "There are" and "It is not" or "He who" when they start a quote. By the time those get typed out by instinct, the general flow of grammar and common phrases in the quotes fill in the rest. I've yet to decrypt an entire quote without having to type a single letter. That sounds like a real talent!

PS: even after all this time, I can't see the word "nothing" without at least highlighting the Ns!

universalmom
01-27-2014, 10:25 AM
For the longer quotes, I think my eye subconsciously registers the words with 'th,' - the, they, their, those, other etc., and within a second or two I know where to start.

But wouldn't it be interesting to use cryptograms to teach foreign language? It wouldn't take long for your eye to recognize phases like "yo soy," "el es," "il etait," even "ego sum" - (imagine learning Latin conjugations and declensions this way!) The pattern recognition would become automatic, just as it is for the fast solvers on this site.

zenith
01-27-2014, 04:35 PM
Thanks for your question Mikehallbackhoe - I've been wondering the same thing and would also dearly love to hear from Bansai on this question. Personally, I've found it really exciting to watch my times speed up. Actually yelled out loud the first time i broke 30 seconds. I seem to have also oriented toward the "th-" words, and now a few combinations: "it is" "who are" for example. And for some reason i always seem to notice the word "people" at first glance. will be watching this thread for other's strategies. thanks

mikehallbackhoe
01-27-2014, 05:42 PM
you can call me mike. I look for " the"that "it is" no one" we are" he who" people" success" without" always"nothing" and quite often the second word in a puzzle, "is". I find that quite often, after finding the first few letters, the puzzle begins to read itself. I don't know how to type, so I spend most of my time hunting and pecking. I just recently discovered that I can hit enter on my keyboard instead of hitting solve. that helped speed my times up.

Lurker
01-27-2014, 05:58 PM
Mike, that Enter key is a lifesaver! Cuts off 2 or 3 seconds right there. Also useful is the = key, which centers the puzzle and puts the cursor on the first letter.

After that, I'm afraid it's up to brain power and fast fingers. I do about 40 wpm, but Bansai's a lot faster. He could make extra money transcribing. There are several online games that can help you practice your typing. Good luck.

nanrich
01-28-2014, 10:42 AM
The answer for a shorter quote sometimes just comes without even thinking and then it's just a question of typing and hitting enter as fast as my fingers will go. Being able to touch type is a huge benefit in this game.

I might have to look a bit longer at the longer quotes (yes, the ones that are rated easy). More letters hide the patterns on me unless there's something really easy like "it is" or "everything".

If something doesn't jump out, then I'll look for "the" using the letter frequency or try the common starters like "What you" or "If you" or if it's a long word, I'll try "tion" at the end. When I first started playing, someone shared that for single letters, "I" appears before "a" more often than the other way around, and I've found that to prove out. Sometimes you need to trust your instincts even when at first the letter sequence seems improbable -- how often have you started over when something looked wrong only to find out that it's because the quote includes a name or an unusual word and you were right the first time?

And there's no question that the more you play, the more familiar some of the quotes become. For example, I got the "busyness" quote yesterday and recognized right away what I needed to fix without having to resort to my list of hard quotes.

The three things that slow me up most commonly are having to move the cursor to a new spot, hitting send too soon without having filled in all the letters, and words having a number of letters only appearing once in the quote.

I was a lot slower when I first started, but at some point things just started to click and I started seeing the Baron more often. I think it might be a bit frustrating for the newer players: there was a lot more opportunity to set a record in the early days. Then you could make a mistake, hit enter, go back and correct it and still set a record. Now, one little hesitation can make the difference. I usually wait to actually read the quote and take in what it says until after I've solved it (unless I need to find a mistake).

One brand new tip (if you're playing cryptos on a Friday or Saturday evening that is): I find I go faster (or maybe it just seems that way to me) if I've had a glass of wine. For some reason, the patterns just appear more easily then :)

abra
01-28-2014, 07:00 PM
I can't believe that nanrich sometimes hits enter before filling in all the letters. I do this, or as I hit enter I see that AND should have been ANY or something like that.

I DO see "there is" "there are" "we are" "nothing" "something" Somewhere" "everywhere" I guess pretty well at "everything" "happiness" "success" and a lot of those you've mentioned. I doubt that I will ever get to the point where I can look at a puzzle and read it.

gryhnd51
01-28-2014, 11:49 PM
I'm giving up vodka....gonna try wine! :o

I hope that all the folks playing here read Nanrich's response....she/he is truly amazing!!

wvwoman
01-29-2014, 12:32 AM
i can't drink with the meds i take---i'm now going to use that as my excuse for not being better at this!
i'm in awe of you "gifted ones"--seriously, i truly believe that some folks just have a gift for this---and those folks, not unlike psychics who say, "everyone has this ability within them, they just need to blah blah blah," don't know that they have something special! i think maybe it's in how your brain processes what it visually sees--we know not everyone sees and processes things the same way. yes, i've gotten better at recognizing patterns and have learned some tricks, but it still takes me just as long as it ever did to study a puzzle, actuallly SEE it, looking for clues. i could be wrong, but i don't think that's going to change. but i'll let you know if it does!
(sure wish i could try the wine thing, though.)

damsel22
01-29-2014, 04:49 PM
Very good question. I don't consider myself a really fast solver yet, but I was super slow when I started compared to where I am now. I don't think I've ever been able to read an entire blank puzzle prior to filling in a couple of letters, but I do see patterns in small phrases, maybe three words at a time or so, that I have grown to customarily look for first. I wonder if it's like when you learn typing or keyboarding, where they tell you to gain speed that you need to advance from looking at letters to words to sentences, and that's when you become a quick typist.

abra
01-29-2014, 04:58 PM
'scuse me damsel, but you SHOULD consider yourself very fast, because you are. To me, anyone who's under a minute is Fast and anyone approaching 30 seconds is Very Fast.

Gonna try that wine thing on the weekend. I have a feeling it will just befuddle me.

Lurker
01-29-2014, 06:27 PM
The trick with the wine is to sip very slowly. You just want enough to dull out distractions, but not enough to feel the effects.

abra
01-29-2014, 06:42 PM
I also should have said that ANYONE who keeps 100% is Very Fast to me. If I HAD to do 100%, I would probably solve about 300 puzzles a month, and my time would be measured in hours rather than seconds.

I'm really in awe of you who can do it. Even in the old days of cryptograms in the newspaper, when I had all day to finish one, sometimes I just couldn't do it.

Barnabas
01-30-2014, 09:58 AM
Abra - I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You're one of the solvers I happen to admire. This month you and I have about the same solving percentage, but you're a good 20 seconds faster than me, and you've racked up close to a million points, as compared to my 200K (which is a good month for me). Like you, I don't compare to Bansai, Lurker, Nanrich, Gryhnd, Lily, Opallady, and several of the other truly speedy solvers, and I don't have the 100% solve rate that folks like Lurker, Nanrich, Gryhnd, Beagle, LLL (is there an echo here?) ;) All of these solvers are very gifted... but you're no slouch yourself. If I can improve to the level that I see you accomplishing, I'll be giving myself a pat on the back.

abra
01-30-2014, 04:28 PM
:o You made be blush, Barnabas. Thank you, for the shot to the ego. :)

damsel22
01-31-2014, 05:11 AM
'scuse me damsel, but you SHOULD consider yourself very fast, because you are. To me, anyone who's under a minute is Fast and anyone approaching 30 seconds is Very Fast.

Gonna try that wine thing on the weekend. I have a feeling it will just befuddle me.

Well, thank you for the compliment, Abra. But truly I still consider myself a novice compared to the likes of Bansai and others mentioned in the previous post. I'm definitely still learning, and I still find myself repeating my same errors. Just yesterday I signed up for Lumosity.com in hopes of improving my skills here. I also consider you among the best, as I find myself in competition with you practically every month for high scores. I say keep up your good work!

damsel22
01-31-2014, 05:17 AM
I also wanted to add that I have tremendous respect for the 100% solvers out there. It blows my mind how you folks do it. My current goal is to improve my own percentage rates, and this month I've lost two full seconds on my current average solving times-and still have only just over 98%. It's apparent that to get 100% or even 99.5, I probably wouldn't even score in the top 20 each month!

Barnabas
01-31-2014, 12:50 PM
:o You made be blush, Barnabas. Thank you, for the shot to the ego. :)

You're welcome. And the compliment was sincere. There are close to 19,000 people who have an 'account' with this website, and you're in the top 1% of all solvers, so it should be no surprise to you that there are others who look at your results and think you're pretty good compared to them. We're just climbers on a mountain, looking up at the climbers above us and thinking it would sure be nice if I could climb like them, while the ones under us are looking up at us and thinking the same thing.:o What I particularly like, though, about the ones at the very top is that they are generally quite gracious about their status, willing to pass along tips to others, and often are willing to be humorous and self-deprecating where their success is concerned (several of Bansai's hilarious photos he posts come to mind, especially the one where there is a couple of hands on a keyboard and each hand has 10 fingers - that was good stuff, Bansai).

abra
01-31-2014, 03:14 PM
This turned out to be such a nice topic, thank you Mike for posting it. It looks like what we have here is a mutual admiration society. That's a nice thing to know. :

universalmom
01-31-2014, 04:33 PM
I also wanted to add that I have tremendous respect for the 100% solvers out there. It blows my mind how you folks do it. My current goal is to improve my own percentage rates, and this month I've lost two full seconds on my current average solving times-and still have only just over 98%. It's apparent that to get 100% or even 99.5, I probably wouldn't even score in the top 20 each month!

Damsel, I have been in the monthly top 20 once - it happened because I was sick with an awful virus and spent several weeks on my living room sofa, doing one cryptogram after another...I'm not very fast, and my percentage isn't nearly as high as yours, but it must have been the sheer number of puzzles I solved that month. So I could easily see you making the top 20!

contrary
01-31-2014, 04:34 PM
I don't know about you all, but I have to have a pretty regular amount of solving time in order to keep solving quickly. It usually takes me ~30 minutes to get in a groove, then I can stay focused for about 3 hours, and then solving and focusing becomes impossible. And I need to do this at least 3 times a week or I start to lose my ability to 'see' the puzzles quickly.

As a side note, this is why you see me with sporadically heavy months. I don't know how you regulars don't burn out.

themunchlet
02-01-2014, 06:53 PM
it happened because I was sick with an awful virus and spent several weeks on my living room sofa, doing one cryptogram after another...

Ugh. These last two days I was besieged by the norovirus, aka stomach "flu," a plague one would not wish on one's worst enemy. You want to die -- in fact, you're sure that you will.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/31/health/norovirus-facts-info/

Not only GI symptoms, but a devastating headache -- in fact, the headache came first -- and so have spent way too much time solving cryptograms. The illness did nothing to boost my success rate, however.

Tomorrow, back to work, and someone else can take the High Score top slot. It's yours.

Andrea

wvwoman
02-01-2014, 07:05 PM
whoa, that sounds miserable--hope you're feeling better.

abra
02-01-2014, 07:18 PM
Wow, I have heard really bad things about the norovirus. I don't think I'd be able to do puzzles, let alone grab first place. Good for you.

I love the first couple days of the month when the board is so dynamic. You can be in 3rd place and get up for a cup of tea, and come back and be in 12th place. It's only at the beginning of the month that I've ever hopped into first place for a minute or two. It didn't last but it was fun sitting there for a minute.

Hope you feel all better tomorrow, Andrea.

themunchlet
02-01-2014, 09:05 PM
Thank you, Abra and WVWoman, for the kind words. Nothing like tea and sympathy -- I usually have a cuppa -- well, something -- while solving.

To clarify, I was flat on my back for 12 hours, then spent a sleepless night by the computer, and it had just turned the 1st of February. Solving focuses the mind, an excellent diversion.

btw, changing the subject, Nanrich wrote an excellent summary of techniques for solving these puzzles quickly. It is a matter of "seeing" and recognizing patterns at a glance. But while I can do that with maybe 85% -- improving slowly with practice -- she solves every single one at warp speed. Awesome.

Even if I had all day, almost certainly there's a few I'd miss. That, coupled with lack of patience, means I go for speed and leave many unsolved. The quick and the dead, that's my current strategy -- if it doesn't come clear in 30 seconds, basically, it's history till next time.

:p

wvwoman
02-01-2014, 09:15 PM
thanks, i think i'll try your method--i'm not sure that working and working on one helps me anyway--if i don't get a quick grip on it, it's usually just taking stabs at things--i'm not saying what i mean, but i'm too tired to think how to explain. taking a nap now!

mikehallbackhoe
02-01-2014, 09:52 PM
okay, I just solved a puzzle in 19 seconds, only to find that Nanrich solved it in 4 seconds!!! the question is not can he read a puzzle before solving it, but is he also psychic? :D

gryhnd51
02-01-2014, 11:08 PM
Mike, what makes you think Nanrich is "he"??:confused:

And Contrary....how does ANYONE sit and solve for 3 hours??? My longest is perhaps an hour and then I have to do something else. It seems to refresh and refocus my brain when I leave it for a bit ;)

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned that we should ALL be playing because it's FUN...??? I try to make my biggest competitor myself, and when it stops being fun to play, I'll quit.

wvwoman
02-01-2014, 11:32 PM
how would mike know nanrich's gender?!

mikehallbackhoe
02-01-2014, 11:39 PM
I assumed nanrich was a guy from the avatar of what I percieved was a guy playing in the snow. If I guessed wrong, I am sorry. by the way, who said playing wasn't fun? my biggest competitor is myself also. quite often I keep playing because I am trying to reach a certain average time, or a certain number of games played, or just because I can't sleep. I don't expect to ever be as fast as some players, my eyes don't work like they used to, and I could care less about learning how to type' but for some reason, I love to solve cryptos

gryhnd51
02-02-2014, 01:20 AM
Mike, it doesn't matter if you "guessed wrong"....until Nanrich tells us, who's to know?

So glad you're having fun!

I still buy cryptogram books when I can find them. I really think they help me to solve the hardest ones.

I also agree with nanrich that the "easier" very long quotes are sometimes the hardest to solve. I have always had much better luck w/ the shorter ones....it's easier to see a "pattern" in them.

contrary
02-02-2014, 07:50 AM
It's less of a problem of focusing my brain and more of a problem of unfocusing it. The game is fun for me for ~3 hours, then I start to lose focus, and then look up at the clock and realize that the day is gone. In the meanwhile, I LOVE it when I can see a long word with a few letters in it and recognize the patterns of the letters that are still missing.

(A few years ago I sat down to improve my minesweeper times. I looked back up at the clock and five hours had gone by.)

Barnabas
02-02-2014, 10:42 AM
I love the first couple days of the month when the board is so dynamic. You can be in 3rd place and get up for a cup of tea, and come back and be in 12th place. It's only at the beginning of the month that I've ever hopped into first place for a minute or two. It didn't last but it was fun sitting there for a minute.

I recall some months back (can't point to the exact month), but it was midnight {puzzlebaron time} and the monthly clock started anew. I started solving puzzles as fast as I could. I believe it was Gryhnd who was among a few of the others onboard at the time, and no matter how many or how I fast was solving there was just no way I was going to be able to jump into that number 1 spot even for a moment. I just couldn't keep up with someone in her/his league (Gryhnd, I'm not sure why, but even though your avatar shouldn't steer me one direction or the other by simply looking at it, for some reason with me it says Gryhnd is a she not a he. Again, like others here, my apologies if I'm wrong and/or if that offends you in any way. Offense is certainly not intended). But anyway, I don't know if Gryhnd happened to notice what I was trying to accomplish or not, but all of a sudden she/he just quit playing for about 10 minutes, and for a brief period of time there I was at the top of the scoreboard. I eventually quit and went to bed, and the next morning Gryhnd was rightfully at the top. If my interpretation of how I arrived briefly at the top is correct, Gryhnd, and if you actively participated in allowing me my moment... well, I thank you.:o

As to the viruses, Rochester (MN) seems to have been hit with a nasty cold virus. It gets hold of you and won't let go. After I'd had mine for more than 2 weeks, I started to ask around about how long I should expect to be harboring this thing. The reply was 4 to 5 weeks! Yuck! Anyway, I am now on day 26... still have it, and hoping it'll be gone before I leave for Mexico on the 17th.

Oh, one other thing, with regard to perceptions about names and avatars... Michaellbackhoe, your guitar avatar, combined with your moniker, always makes me think you're a Nickelback fan. And the backhoe part of your name makes me believe you're comfortable working outdoors with heavy machinery. How did I do?

abra
02-02-2014, 11:20 AM
I think I do understand "taking stabs at things". It would describe my method :D .

mikehallbackhoe
02-02-2014, 01:21 PM
barnabas, you got it half right, I do indeed run heavy equipment, but I don't even know what a nickleback is. I will admit that I am a guy.

wvwoman
02-02-2014, 02:03 PM
yeah, barnabas, what gave you the nickelback (band) connection? (this is so interesting!)

Barnabas
02-02-2014, 02:07 PM
barnabas, you got it half right, I do indeed run heavy equipment, but I don't even know what a nickleback is. I will admit that I am a guy.

I'm not that disappointed to learn you're not a Nickleback fan. I don't really care for them myself... just happen to know who they are. But I gotta believe you're a music fan of wide-ranging tastes what with the guitar avatar. What's been in my car's CD player of late has been Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven, a very good album which blends rock, blues, and country about as well as they can be blended. But then, I'm just as apt to playing Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Beatles, etc. as I am... say Little Feat, James McMurtry, Dave Alvin, etc. Ummmmm, what was this thread about again???:rolleyes:

damsel22
02-02-2014, 03:38 PM
I don't know about you all, but I have to have a pretty regular amount of solving time in order to keep solving quickly. It usually takes me ~30 minutes to get in a groove, then I can stay focused for about 3 hours, and then solving and focusing becomes impossible. And I need to do this at least 3 times a week or I start to lose my ability to 'see' the puzzles quickly.

As a side note, this is why you see me with sporadically heavy months. I don't know how you regulars don't burn out.

I also need consistent solving to stay sharp; however, I could never imagine playing for three hours straight. I do much better with speed if I keep short sessions, maybe 20 minutes at a time. Otherwise, I start to lose focus and slow down.

mikehallbackhoe
02-02-2014, 04:10 PM
I find myself sometimes playing for 3 or four hours straight, but my solve times do suffer. when I start overlooking words like "nothing" and "people" it is time to take a break

mikehallbackhoe
02-02-2014, 04:20 PM
by the way, I do play the guitar,some banjo, and some piano, but I really don't have a love for music. I play more for the challenge, just like cryptograms. if these puzzles ever get too easy, I would quit playing

universalmom
02-11-2014, 04:44 PM
I'm not that disappointed to learn you're not a Nickleback fan. I don't really care for them myself... just happen to know who they are. But I gotta believe you're a music fan of wide-ranging tastes what with the guitar avatar. What's been in my car's CD player of late has been Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven, a very good album which blends rock, blues, and country about as well as they can be blended. But then, I'm just as apt to playing Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, The Beatles, etc. as I am... say Little Feat, James McMurtry, Dave Alvin, etc. Ummmmm, what was this thread about again???:rolleyes:

Any Steely Dan in there?