History of the statistics

Near the end of 1975, The Listener magazine carried an announcement that the most successful solver in the following nine months would be invited to meet the setters at their Dinner in 1976. (In the event, four solvers were all-correct and all received an invitation.) Full checking, record-keeping and notification of the results commenced soon after this exercise, with No 2397 (7th October 1976), under the auspices of Michael Rich, the crossword’s first statistician.

Soon after becoming an Editor for the series Michael passed the mantle to John Green, who commenced his duties in 1985–86 and is still in post. John has maintained the overall procedures established by Michael, but has developed and enhanced them in the light of experience. Solvers are offered, each year, a set of documents that contain their own individual records, with each error detailed, as well as:

John is an active solver who therefore has direct experience of attempting each puzzle. He is also able to be tolerant over late submissions, but only if good reason has been reported in advance, eg, absence on vacation, provided, of course, that the submission is dispatched prior to the publication of the solution (on Friday evenings by the Times Crossword Club).

In 2005 all versions were converted to electronic format, which involved some corrections and reformatting. An account of this can be read HERE.

Documents by year

All the documents associated with the Annual Statistics are available as PDF files, for each year, HERE.

The lists of ‘Leading Solvers’ have been reduced here to only those who were ‘All-correct’ for each year. This is for reasons of privacy. Also, the postal districts for these solvers have been removed.

The following collates the numbers of solvers who failed on between 0 and 10 puzzles in each year; it also gives the total number of individuals who submitted at least one puzzle in each year.
TABLE: numbers of solvers for each year

Submission data

A single file including the submission data for every puzzle from No 2397 to the end of 2014, suitable for input to a spreadsheet program, can be accessed HERE. It may be best to save the file and open it outside the browser. To do so, Right Click on the link above, then “Save Target As…” wherever convenient.