Old 07-18-2018, 06:14 PM
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TimmyTee TimmyTee is offline
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Default How Do You Solve?

As a relative newby, and I suppose one who only does a few puzzles every now and again, I've got a couple "theory of crypto" questions:

Are you folks mostly "top-down" solvers? As in looking at the puzzle from the 30,000 foot level and scoping out the overall structure?

Or a "bottom-up" person, like I think I probably am?

For example, I tend to start out looking for letters or word fragments. Single i's and a's are easy. e's are usually second-to-last or last in words and of course most frequent on average. Mutiple three letter words in the puzzle tend to be "the's". "that's" are easy to spot. "ing's" can sometimes be spotted. Etc.

Of course the key time comes when a few words emerge from the mist. Then it goes pretty fast.

As a more infrequent user, I've not done the same puzzle twice as yet, but then I've only done 172 puzzles so far. (With a success rate of 89.5%, not too good, I know, but I DO enjoy the puzzles!)
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:24 PM
Fudi Fudi is online now
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Hi Timmy. I'm a relative newbie too ... but I think I'm more obsessive about this game than you seem to be. You seem to have it under control. I don't know how anybody can.

Anyway, tho ... back to your question: I definitely solve in the manner you describe most of the time, starting with the letters and patterns you note, usually. Sometimes, certain longer patterns appear which are really helpful ... I look for words besides the ones you mention like "which" and "between" and "people" and "success" and "successful", "nothing" and "tomorrow". In addition to "ing" (which you name) "tion" and "ation" are frequent endings for longer words.

Occasionally, I just see the first word or first few words and then am able to solve the whole thing in order. It's fun when that happens. Puzzles which start with "People" or "There is" or "There are" enable this for me sometimes. "Sometimes", actually, is another good word to spot and SOMETIMES, I do.

My success rate is pretty good, I think - more than 95% overall - I started in April (2018) here ... I've got a rate of more than 97% this month. I feel like I may eventually become one of the stubborn 100%ers I do occasionally give up on some crazily hard ones though, sometimes. I think my success rate has gotten pretty good pretty fast because of the aforementioned obsessiveness. I need to get out more. For real.


Kidding. Not really crying for help. There are worse addictions and I am sometimes able to tear myself away from this site and do slightly more productive things than solve cryptos. Like sleep, for instance.

Have fun and welcome!!

Last edited by Fudi : 07-18-2018 at 07:26 PM. Reason: nuance and correcting a typo
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:26 PM
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LLapp LLapp is online now
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Timmy, I think I start for about one second with the top-down approach -- I look at the whole thing for an instant to see if I can see a glimmering of a whole quote there, because once in a while, I do see it. But not usually. Then I look at the author, which often gives a clue, and then I shift to bottom-up: I look for "THE" or other easy telltale patterns (all those patterns you mentioned, and more). By this point I may remember (either sorta-kinda, or sometimes verbatim) the quote from having solved it before, and then it's just a matter of typing fast.

If I go through all that and I'm still stumped, I'll look at the difficulty rating -- because sometimes I'll find myself completely flummoxed, only to check and see it has an "Easy" rating. When that happens, I'll hit "reset" and then start over, sticking with common/easy words and letter patterns. I can't tell you how many times this "reset to easy" approach has helped me.

You should check the forum for topic threads about quote-solving. There are threads about specific letter patterns, an "Obnoxiously difficult quotes" thread, and more.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:43 PM
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gryhnd51 gryhnd51 is offline
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Timmy and Fudi I think you both are doing really GREAT with your solve rates! I certainly took far longer to get to those averages!!
I pretty much solve in the same manner that Llapp explains. I would LOVE to hear from Nanrich or Bansai as to how they solve. They're both brilliantly good;, and so fast! My personal opinion is that they mostly solve top-down and easily recognize the "pattern" of words better than most.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:03 AM
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Roxanne Roxanne is offline
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I'm stubborn and slow, and I don't play as often as most people, but here are some thoughts anyway. I look for -ABCC at the end of a long word, which could be -LESS or -NESS. Of those words, -ABCC with another pair of letters earlier is a great thing to find: HAPPINESS gets you vowels and the H which leads you to WHICH and other words that begin or end with TH, SH, and so on.
Also remember that unless you are dealing with a quote about Mr Ed the are no two-letter words that start with E.
Sometimes I have to think about which two-letter words have letters that can be either at the beginning or the end. That is, XY and ZX could be TO and IT, or SO and AS or IS.
I agree with LLapp about the author: if it's a person from the 20th century who's known for humor, I think that a one-letter word near the beginning is more likely to be I than if the author is someone else.
Also, and this has nothing to do with solving, but since the authors of works of fiction are listed as the authors of the quotes, you can get a quotes from 'bad guys' that are attributed to the author. For instance "There is no evil worse than disobedience" would be attributed to Sophocles, when in fact it's spoken by the arrogant king Creon in the play Antigone, and probably not something Sophocles would have said speaking as himself.
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Old 07-19-2018, 01:18 PM
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maradnu maradnu is online now
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Default How to solve

Often I look for familiar patterns in words or phrases. Sometimes I just get a gut feeling about a puzzle and go with it. Sometimes my gut feeling is wrong, but far from always. Basically, see what works for you and go with it.

I'm a long way from being the fastest, and never in the top 10 any longer, and I suspect the fastest have a better and more reliable gut feeling than I do.

That said, there are times when I can almost do no wrong and other times when I really struggle. I don't give up though and have my own collection of some 3000 very difficult puzzles, along with a massive key word list of over 100,000 words indexed by pattern.

I am somewhat obsessive and out of more than 150,000 cryptos, I've failed to complete only 27. Most of those were in Feb 2008, the first month the site was up after the big crash when I got my only speed trophy (and the only one I'm ever likely to get). Since I knew I was near the third place on speed, I skipped anything that would bring down my speed. Even so, my speed then would not put me in the top 20 today.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:58 PM
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TimmyTee TimmyTee is offline
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This is very interesting! Thank you all for your input. It appears that crypto folks develop deep intuition after a while.

Things I've read suggest that if a person exercises their intellectual mind for a while, that the method and the cognitive aspect then go underground into one's subconscious and then becomes intuition. It's still a very mental process but one we aren't hardly aware of.
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:41 AM
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TimmyTee TimmyTee is offline
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Default Solving personality

Some limited self-examination has amused me!

I realize that I'm an "anti-speed" solver. I notice that as the puzzle starts to give, I actually slow down as I truly enjoy the last phase of the solution process.

Much more than some kind of speed challenge. Weird, huh? Still, I do get frustrated when I get one of those that just won't go, due to some odd letter or two. And that's probably just that my mind got fixated and is excluding an obvious choice of letters.
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