THE CHALLENGE: IN 2013, SOLVE 2500 CLUES IN THE WEEKDAY GUARDIAN CROSSWORDS.
FINAL RESULT: 2580 SOLVED!
DAILY PROGRESS SPREADSHEET: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=0
MY SOLVING ATTEMPTS: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mintypython/
JANUARY: 257 out of 653 clues solved.
FEBRUARY: 180 out of 551 clues solved.
MARCH: 196 out of 607 clues solved.
APRIL: 196 out of 640 clues solved.
MAY: 271 out of 641 clues solved.
JUNE: 200 out of 571 clues solved.
JULY: 219 out of 665 clues solved.
AUGUST: 181 out of 630 clues solved.
SEPTEMBER: 149 out of 598 clues solved.
OCTOBER: 222 out of 660 clues solved.
NOVEMBER: 236 out of 597 clues solved.
DECEMBER: 273 out of 598 clues solved.
FINAL TALLY: 2580 out of 7411 clues.
I finished the challenge on 24th December – it was a close finish! But I did it, with just over a week to spare. It was a fantastic year, one that I enjoyed a surprising amount. I wonder what my next Big Challenge will be?
Below are the rules of the challenge that I completed:
In 2013, I wanted to solve 2500 cryptic crossword clues from the weekday Guardian newspaper. In turn what I asked people to do is pledge to donate 1p per clue I solve, approximately £25 throughout the year. JUST ONE PENNY PER CLUE. If they were extravagant, they donated 2p!
- Answers must be entered correctly in the grid to count. Misspellings will be considered incorrect. However if there is a legitimate ambiguity in the clue, as determined by a third party (@gjmale on twitter), an alternative solution may be accepted.
- I will not cheat. Technically, the answers are available online immediately, but I will not look at them until I check how many clues I have correctly solved in the crossword.
- Clues must be solved by 11:59:59pm on the day of publication.
- I am solving CLUES. If a clue has multiple entries, e.g. the answer to a clue goes in entries 1 across and 3 down, even though it’s two entires I have solved ONE CLUE.
- No anagram solvers may be used.
- The only minor solving aids are allowed is Bradfords Crossword Dictionary (which is awesome by the way).
I updated my progress most days on a Google Doc so that you could see how many clues I am solved every day. You can still view the spreadsheet at:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=0 , and pictures of each and every crossword are availableat http://www.flickr.com/photos/mintypython/ . I also compiled an email mailing list for (approximately) monthly updates to keep interested parties with the latest news, mostly monthly.
I solved the clues for Rethink, the mental health charity, for several reasons. Firstly, people who solve puzzles and crosswords are likely to retain better mental health as they grow older – making this a fitting charity for this challenge. Secondly, Rethink provide support for people who suffer from a wide range of mental health issues, and also promote research into the underlying causes and new therapies to deal with them.
Thirdly, and most importantly in my case, I have had mental health issues in the past – and the taboo surrounding them is large. I would like to raise awareness for the fact that depression, from which I have suffered for several years, affects a wide range of people and can have a crippling impact on their lives and I should know. It’s not just “I feel a bit sad”, it alters your sleeping pattern, how much you eat, your energy levels and even the rate at which you speak. I refused to get help for over a year before I finally saw a doctor about it – and I’m still not recovered yet. But I’m getting there, I want to say to people that being depressed is nothing to be ashamed about. Having said that, it’s something I still struggle with daily. I want to help break through the taboo of mental health, and prove that we’re not “crazy” as people think. Given an estimated 1 in 4 people suffer from depression during their lifetime, how to keep mentally well needs to be talked about more often.