Speed and Stats in Solving: The Pros and Cons of Streaks

Even before the advent of puzzle apps, stats and record-keeping in puzzle-solving was a thing.

Plenty of solvers keep track of their solving times — here at PuzzleNation we share ours during our Daily POP posts across social media each morning — and it can be for any number of reasons. Maybe they like to keep in tournament-solving shape, maybe they enjoy a bit of friendly competition with fellow solvers, or maybe they simply like testing themselves against their own previous times.

Whether it’s a thread on Reddit’s r/crossword forum or in a conversation with another puzzler regarding how look it took to complete that devious Saturday stumper, these numbers matter to many solvers.

streak 1

When you factor in the stat-keeping of puzzle apps, that numeral awareness increases. Take Daily POP Crosswords, for instance. It tracks your best times across the seven different daily categories, as well as the number of days in a row you’ve solved the daily puzzle.

And these streaks — unbroken chains of solved puzzles across days, weeks, and even months — are prized achievements for some solvers.

I get it. During my best run of daily solving, I managed 150 days or so in a row until I slipped and missed a day one weekend. We even celebrated a friend of the blog hitting a one-year streak back in 2019!

365screenshot

But sometimes, it seems like streak hunting is becoming too much of a priority for some solvers. I see posts where people lament “ruining” a potential month of clean solves by missing a day.

I mean, if you enjoyed solving the puzzles, missing a day can’t wipe away the good time you had solving those other 30 puzzles that month. Right?

Focusing just on time and statistics can mean you’re not taking the opportunity to really drink in all that puzzle has to offer.

We should be taking the time to appreciate the clues and solving experience, even if we’re looking to top our best Tuesday time or hoping to complete week three of a month-long run of success solves.

Heck, one of our own constructors suggested we slow down and smell the roses after posting a time he claimed was too fast for him to fill the grid… and he designed the grid!

streak 2

To be fair, I always go back and read through the clues once I’ve solved a puzzle, in case I’ve missed any choice cluing by zipping through the grid. But that doesn’t mean our constructor’s argument lacks merit.

Hopefully, avid solvers can strike a solid balance and get the most out of each and every solve.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m hoping for a sub-4 minute solve on this Daily POP Plus puzzle.

What do you think, fellow solvers? Are you a streak hunter? Do you track your times? Do you find yourself taking more time on paper or through an app? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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