Thursday 19 November 2009

Gridman Trivia

[Also read Neyartha Trivia and Sankalak Trivia]

Some interesting facts about crosswords by compiler Gridman in The Hindu. Based on Gridman's set of 528 puzzles that he has kindly shared for this analysis.

Top-12 Most Clued Words

Top Answers in Gridman's Puzzles Avg no. of clues per puzzle = 30.71; Avg no. of words per clue = 6.43 The words most often clued are ERATO, EXTRA and INERTIA - 11 times each.  

If you aren't familiar with the word ERATO yet, commit it to memory today. With its grid-friendly sequence of letters, this word is likely to feature in the most-clued list of any crossword. It is there on the Guardian crossword's list of frequently clued words as well.

The word EXTRA is another common favourite. It tops the Guardian's word list as well as Gridman's. ECHO and ARCH, too, appear in both.

ORGANZA is an unexpected entrant on this list. Gridman's other often-used solution words are abundant in crosswords universally, but I wonder if ORGANZA is so popular with other setters.

All of the most-clued words start with a vowel, and most end with a vowel too. These probably fit checked slots in the grid that don't offer many alternatives.

There is no skew towards excessive usage of any single word, and not much repetition of solution words in general. Nearly 70% of the solution words in Gridman's puzzles have had a one-time-use only. These are good signs, indicating a freshness of vocabulary in the grid.

Lengthiest Clue Ever

The lengthiest clue ever penned by Gridman was published on Sep 24, 2005 (THC 8405), with a whopping count of 19 words.
What a would-be tenant might want to do or what a car driver may when he can't make progress (4,1,4) FIND A FLAT

A nice idea in a not-so-elegant construction (sorry, Gridman!) but it did make a record :)

Clue Text Wordle

First of all, what is a "wordle"? A wordle is a diagram showing the frequency of word usage in a given text. Most-used words are identified and randomly arranged. The more a word is used, the larger it appears in the wordle.

What kind of words does Gridman use in his clues? Not in the solutions, but the clue text? Look at the wordle of the entire set of 16213 clues written by Gridman, to find out.

Wordle of Gridman's Clues 
*For meaningful results, common words like articles & prepositions have not been included in the visualization.

  • The word "one" appears most often (1099 times). In yesterday's THC 9391 for example, "one" was used four times.

  • It is no secret that Gridman loves to include local references in his clues. The visualization confirms this. Word counts show that "Indian" appears 230 times, "India" 117 times - which means that on average, out of every two puzzles, an Indian reference appears at least once. And this is not counting "Tamil" and "Kerala" and so on.

  • Surprise – Gridman is fond of France too. The word "French" appears 202 times, "France" 52 times. Not too far behind India. The usage of "English", "American" and variants is in the range of 70-80 words each.

  • There's high use of words that express ambiguity: "may" (402 times), "maybe" (21 times) and "perhaps" (132 times). These come into play in Gridman's typical cryptic definitions.

Your Thoughts?

Do these findings agree with the idea you had in mind of Gridman's puzzles? Did any of it take you by surprise? Notice more that's interesting? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Coming soon: Neyartha Trivia!

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Vasana said...

Very interesting - great post. Thanks! You are doing a great job.

Gridman is the only THC composer I enjoy solving ...have you met him?

Shuchi said...

Hi Vasana,

Glad you enjoyed the post.

I've communicated with Gridman and Neyartha via emails. I'm looking forward to doing a similar analysis for Neyartha - his clue wordle is going to have some complex words, I bet.

Hobbes said...

Neyartha's a 'he' ?? Somehow I always assumed tht he was a 'she' ... Fantastic post . Thanks a ton ....