Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian – review of 2009

Posted by Andrew on February 21st, 2010


I thought it would be interesting put together some statistics about how many puzzles there were from each Guardian setter in 2009, and how many comments the blogs have attracted on this site. I’ve treated the weekday and Saturday prize puzzles separately, as the latter are hugely dominated by Araucaria and (to a lesser extent) Paul, and also because they tend to have far fewer comments. It’s been fascinating to review the blogs and to relive some of the highs and lows of the blogging and commenting year: I can highly recommend it as a way of passing time that should probably be spent doing something more productive.

Sorry for the late appearance of this. I did the research for it and started writing it up in January, but have only just managed to get round to finishing it. Anyway, I hope it’s of interest.

General notes

There were 260 weekday and 51 Saturday puzzles, the only absences being on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (which was a Saturday). Altogether there were 23 setters (or setting “teams” – see below). Only one Saturday setter did not also set any weekday puzzles: this was the 4-man team of “Biggles” (“We Johns”) on 6th June.


Rufus was the most frequent setter, with a puzzle on all but 10 Mondays, followed by Araucaria, Paul and Gordius. Brendan came fifth with 17 puzzles – rather to my surprise, as I tend to think of his offerings as something of a rare treat. Other familiar names complete the list, with the other “team” bringing up the rear with just one puzzle: this was the tribute to Albie Fiore (Taupi) on 19th August by the double-act of Enigmatist and Paul. The puzzle on 13th October was credited to “Fiore”: I don’t think we ever got to the bottom of what happened there, but in the table I’ve assumed it was actually a mistaken attribution to a puzzle by Taupi.

The average number of comments per puzzle for each setter varied between 23.8 for Quantum to 44.9 for Enigmatist, but I don’t think we can really deduce much from these numbers, as the sample size for some of them is rather small. The puzzles with the most comments were from Rover, 5th Feb (86), Araucaria, 22nd Jan (82) and Logodaedalus, 8th Jan (70); some of these are from the time before Gaufrid cracked the whip about off-topic comments, so again perhaps one shouldn’t read too much into it. The smallest numbers of comments were 10 for Araucaria on 24th December (not surprising in view of the date) and 11 each for Paul (28th July), Rufus (3rd August) and Chifonie (20th October).

Setter Number
of puzzles
of total
Average comments
per puzzle
Rufus 42 16.2% 24.7
Araucaria 35 13.5% 37.7
Paul 30 11.5% 29.7
Gordius 23 8.8% 34.7
Brendan 17 6.5% 30.5
Orlando 13 5.0% 30.6
Chifonie 11 4.2% 31.7
Brummie 10 3.8% 25.1
Pasquale 9 3.5% 31.9
Rover 9 3.5% 43.9
Arachne 7 2.7% 31.3
Enigmatist 7 2.7% 44.9
Puck 7 2.7% 28.9
Auster 6 2.3% 29.2
Quantum 6 2.3% 23.8
Shed 6 2.3% 35.5
Logodaedalus 5 1.9% 34.8
Taupi 5 1.9% 30.4
Boatman 4 1.5% 34.5
Bonxie 4 1.5% 26.8
Crucible 3 1.2% 40.0
Enigmatist & Paul 1 0.4% 44.0


As I mentioned above, the Saturday table is dominated by Araucaria, with 24 puzzles (47% of the total), and Paul, with 12. None of the other nine who set puzzles managed more than two. In general there are far fewer comments for Saturday puzzles, with Pasquale on 28th March attracting the most with 24, and eight puzzles with fewer than 10. My theory is that people comment less on puzzles that they have solved some time before the blog is published, so that it’s less fresh in their minds.

Setter Number
of puzzles
of total
Average comments
per puzzle
Araucaria 24 47.1% 18.4
Paul 12 23.5% 15.1
Boatman 2 3.9% 21.0
Brummie 2 3.9% 18.0
Enigmatist 2 3.9% 17.5
Puck 2 3.9% 10.0
Shed 2 3.9% 16.0
Taupi 2 3.9% 9.0
Biggles 1 2.0% 8.0
Gordius 1 2.0% 16.0
Pasquale 1 2.0% 24.0

7 Responses to “Guardian – review of 2009”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    As a (not too weird) mathematician, I liked these ‘numbers’.
    There are clearly three G-setters that stand out:
    Araucaria (59 in total), Rufus and Paul (both with 42 crosswords).
    What an achievement!!!

    Further conclusions (for me):
    – the fantastic Brendan didn’t do a Saturday one – funny, ay?
    – Crucible did 3 while I thought 2, apparently I missed his September one (I surely will have a go at that one, even if the Guardian don’t give us PDF’s for old ones anymore – shame on them!!)
    – Rover and Enigmatist get a lot of comments, relatively (Rover, yes, I do understand, but Enigmatist, well, a bit surprised)

  2. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re Crucible: I was wrong – I did solve three.
    Maybe (and hopefully) he will be mentioned in the 2010 statistics.
    Oh, How I Long For A Saturday Crucible.

  3. Bryan says:

    Thanks, Andrew, this clearly provides proof (should it ever be needed) that Rover is The King.

    Long may he reign!

  4. Chris says:

    I’m surprised to see that Araucaria set less than half the Saturday puzzles – my (clearly flawed) perception is that he does them a good bit more often than not.

  5. matt says:

    So are the “we johns” who make up Biggles other guardian setters?

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Yes, see:

  7. jetdoc says:

    For a picture of Biggles, see my Facebook album:
    Biggles et al

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