Dead tree solving - eco edition! 
Best of both worlds - paper and pencil/pen solving, but rather than curled up with the newspaper, you're curled up with your tablet/iPad/Android! Write, even draw, in the grid, directly on the screen. 

Perfect for rebus puzzles, like this one from a recent Thursday NYTimes puzzle. Use a stylus, for the feel of really writing, or just use your fingertip - it is remarkably easy and is your real writing... I filled this one out using my finger - the stylus is just there for show. (The rebus was MAN - as in TAXMAN at 54D...) If you would like to try it out, click on "About Me" on this page and send me an email.

Monday, April 30, 2012

ACPT Scoring - how it's done

In response to a question posed in Rexville, and r.alph's question in yesterday's post, here is more detail than you might ever want to know about ACPT scoring - how it's done, and how we interpret it.
To reprise part of yesterday's post:
If you want the complete low-down on how the scoring works, click on "Read more" below...
For many, you won't need to bother with the detail - just the final results are enough to see how you would have done at the "real" ACPT, and to use it to help you gauge your progress as you get better at solving, and to help you brag to your friends!  My favorite part is that I the first section tells me how much actual solve time I spent, automatically removing pauses for petting of cats and talking to friends, napping, whatever!
(To answer r.alph's question, as to how I could have 69 correct words out of 70, but no incorrect letters, see *** at "Read more".)

How the time limit of the puzzle is computed:
Unlike in the real ACPT, Will Shortz does not publish the time limit of the puzzle, so the program computes it as follows.

Short version:  There is a time limit for each day - if you take longer than the time limit, for scoring purposes, anything you did in "overtime" is ignored.

Gory details:
1. Each day of the week is assigned an absolute time limit as follows:
         Monday: 15 minutes
         Tuesday: 20
         Wednesday: 25
         Thursday: 30
         Friday: 45
         Saturday: 60
         Sunday: 45

2. The time limit used by the program is the smaller of 1) the absolute time limit above, or 2) the longest total time needed by the solvers.  
In the puzzle displayed here, the absolute time is 60 minutes because it is a Saturday and the longest total time among the solvers is Tita's 59min 9secs (rounded up to 60 minutes). So the time limit is 60 minutes.
Solve time, as at ACPT, is rounded up to the next minute.

In the puzzle displayed here the absolute time is 60 minutes because it is a Saturday and the longest total time among the solvers is Tita's 59min 9secs (rounded up to 60 minutes). So the time limit is 60 minutes.

Had Tita finished in 50  minutes then Ralph would have had the maximum time among the solvers, 54 minutes. Since 54 minutes is less than 60 minutes, the time limit used would have been 54 minutes.

If Tita had taken 65 minutes to solve the puzzle, she would have had the maximum time among the solvers and since the 60 minutes (the absolute limit) is less than 65 minutes, the time limit would be 60 minutes. Got it?? ;)

3. Letters entered by the solver are ignored by the ACPT scoring algorithm in three situations:
    a. Any letters entered after the time limit are ignored. This simulates the puzzle being handed in when the time limit is reached.
    b. Any letters entered after the solution is checked are ignored.
This simulates the fact that you cannot check your solution at the real ACPT.
    c. Any letters entered after Googling are ignored. This simulates the fact that you cannot Google at the real ACPT. Of course, the solver has to be honest and admit that they Googled. The program allows the solver to admit this by tagging the answer as Googled.  (No, big brother is NOT watching - you have to admit to having googled!)

4. More analysis.
The puzzle had 70 words.
*** The current algorithm gave Tita a break. Tita admitted Googling the last word she entered so she did not get credit for that word (MNEME) but she also should not have gotten credit for the cross word (REM). The program should have listed only 68 correct words for her. This will be fixed. She should also be charged for all the letters she filled in because she Googled. In this case, she should have 1 wrong letter (the M).
This program error simulates the occasional scoring errors that occur at the real ACPT. ;)
This will be fixed in the next release!

When Ralph checked the puzzle, he had one wrong letter in the ICh/TIKhA crossing. Hence he had 68 correct words and 1 wrong letter.

When Dave checked the puzzle he had two wrong letters REp/pNEME and PiU/PiRCE. Hence he finished with 66 correct words and 2 wrong letters.

The scores are computed as follows (as per ACPT):
  • 10 points for every correct word entered across and down;
  • 25 bonus points for each full minute you finish before the time limit. However, this bonus is reduced by 25 points for each letter that is omitted or entered incorrectly, up to, but not beyond the point the bonus returns to zero;
  • 150 bonus points for a complete and correct solution.

Time bonus = 60 - 60 = 0
Correct words = 68 * 10 = 680
Incorrect letter penalty (does not apply because there is no time bonus) All correct bonus = 0
Total: 680

Time bonus = 60 - 54 = 6*25 = 150
Correct words = 68 * 10 = 680
Incorrect letter penalty = 1 * 25 = 25
All correct bonus = 0
Total : 150 + 680 - 25 = 805

Time bonus = 60 - 46 = 14*25 = 350
Correct words = 66 * 10 = 660
Incorrect letter penalty = 2 * 25 = 50
All correct bonus = 0
Total : 350 + 660 - 50 = 960


  1. Wow this is cool, later this summer once I have some free time, I am going to give this a shot.
    Very very cool.

  2. Hey Tobias - this takes no more time than regular may even make it easier for you to post to Rexville!
    Don't wait for the summer rush... ;)
    Jut kidding - would be delighted to have you try it out.