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Crossword battle

Real-time or turn-based bidirectional setter-vs.-solver crossword duel
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I recently learned that several of us here enjoy cryptic crosswords. That, and seeing clues I wrote be solved two at a time, inspired me to think of this. I think it could work equally well for conventional and cryptic crosswords.

It's an online game for two players. You and the other player are each given a solved crossword without the clues, i.e. just the grid with words in it that are compatible with each other as far as the intersecting letters go. The words, and potentially the shapes of the grids, given to you and your opponent are different. You are also given an empty grid, corresponding to the filled grid given to the other player, and the other player is given an empty grid corresponding to your filled grid.

As soon as you have your filled grid, you may start writing clues for the words in it. As soon as both players have written at least one clue each, you start to see the clues written by your opponent, and vice versa. As soon as you see clues written by your opponent, you may start solving them, and filling the answers into your empty grid. (Words that your opponent solves, based on the clues you've written, are visually indicated as solved in your filled grid, so you can see their progress.) Solving them sooner (after they're available) gets you more points.

But if you slow down on the setting side of the game so much that your opponent runs out of clues to solve, you start to lose points at some rate. So you have to divide your attention between setting, to not lose points, and solving, to score more points. Also, you have to make sure your clues are hard enough to delay your opponent in solving them, rather than just writing very easy clues to get ahead on that side, because that won't delay your opponent much. On the other hand, your clues do need to actually be solvable, so the spectators on the game (who can see both the clue and the answers, though they can choose to hide the answers from themselves if they wish) can vote to disallow a clue that makes no sense, in which case you get a penalty and have to write a new one. If there are no spectators, a computer program can evaluate whether the clue/answer pair makes sense. (That should in theory be easier than solving clues with unknown answers, which computer programs can already do to some extent for both conventional and cryptic crosswords.)

The game ends when both players have either filled their entire empty grid (which requires their opponent to have written all of the clues) or given up, and the player with more points at that point wins, except in cases where one gives up, in which case the other wins. As well, it doesn't necessarily have to be winner-take-all—giving up or losing when you're only a little bit behind your opponent might still award you ranking points, just not as many.

The above description is probably sufficient for a real-time version of the game, which I imagine would be quite fun. But a lot of players probably won't have contiguous blocks of time to devote to it, and I for one find that it often helps to take a break from a cryptic crossword in particular and come back with a fresh brain. Therefore, I think there should also be a non-real-time version, a bit like how online chess can be played between two players who aren't necessarily online at the same time or for a long time at once. In this game mode, maybe scoring would be based not on clock time but on "turns", where each turn is counted as one clue set or solved. I'll take suggestions about how to do that. The turn-based mode would probably actually be the first one to be implemented, if one (I?) were to bake this website, because it would be easier to implement and it would be more viable with a small player community.

N/A [immediate]

notexactly, Jun 21 2019

Inspiration Peach(es) Protest
by [not_morrison_rm], and annotations on the same by [MaxwellBuchanan], [pertinax], and myself [notexactly, Jun 21 2019]


       // come back with a fresh brain. //   

       Make sure Igor knows you want one good at cryptic crosswords ...
8th of 7, Jun 21 2019

pertinax, Jun 22 2019


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