Well, if I’m going to start titling these updates then occasionally something portentous-sounding will emerge.
This time the puzzle is an Independent daily from 2005. It doesn’t feel entirely like one of mine – far too many cryptic definitions, for one thing – but I seem to have been paid for it!
The Independent daily is now online only, of course – you access it here. There’s an advert to play through – I seem to keep getting the one for a branch of Westpac in Auckland (filmed on what seems to be a wet Saturday evening), though I did see a strange one that implied chewing gum in a hotel bedroom could change you into something suitable for a Rio carnival – but once through that the interface is now much friendlier, with a clear set of instructions, and a print option. It’s also possible to put brief instructions at the top of the puzzle, somewhat as The Guardian does occasionally. A PDF option is not (yet) in place, but the printed-out version is perfectly acceptable.
I saw a report this week which mentioned that a ‘you-must-watch-this’ video advert was the least successful online approach, leading to clicks away even for popular content such as crosswords, so I do urge you to persevere. Perhaps the videos for other national markets are more interesting (and is NZ chewing gum really like that?)
One other consequence of the change is that there is no longer a prize puzzle on Saturdays, which also means the loss of the ‘bucketful’ of entries as a means of assessing interest in the puzzle in general. It wasn’t ever a very good assessment approach (things like the sort of prize offered could affect the likelihood of people entering, and no-one ever quite imagined that people might just like solving the puzzle without entering), but it has now gone. The consequence of losing the prize puzzle is that Saturday is just another day now, and thus you may see the occasional shift in days setters appear. All of which is a long preamble to noting that next week’s Phi puzzle is on Saturday. I wonder why…
I do occasionally check which pages on the site have been most popular and there has been a continuing run of hits on the Beelzebub announcement of 20 March. I hope that’s a sign of continuing interest. Well, 20 March was something of a non-announcement, I suppose, and there is scarcely anything to add now. I hear some stories of pressure to restore it (along with the Saturday General Knowledge Jumbo), so I’m holding fire on using unpublished puzzles here yet awhile (equally, though, I’m not creating any new ones beyond the seven or so I tried to keep in hand in case of unexpected events). Certainly the experience of other outlets has been that the interest in puzzles is unabated and probably growing, and the online arena is an economic way to feed that demand. But if nothing transpires, I will sneak the occasional unpublished one on to this site.