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 Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles 
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Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:06 am




Posts: 422
Location: Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 2:43 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
Right on arrows, left on numbers.

That said, you really should have your left fingers placed like this:
1 - pinky
2 - ring
3 - middle
4 - index

I unfortunately developed a bad habit of not using my pinky so I actually have
1 - ring
2 - middle
3 - index
4 - I move index over if I need this number

But the first way is really better. I think if I tried to switch now I would just get confused.

For 5x5 and 6x6 timed, I just move my index finger over to whichever number I need. If you want to practice this, you can just do it on regular puzzles. Feel the distance you have to move.

While you practice not looking at your hands for arrow keys, you should not have to look at your left hand either. Again, it takes practice, but if you force yourself not to look, eventually your brain will know that "1" means "depress pinky finger", etc.


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Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:57 am




Posts: 497
Location: Ladysmith, BC, Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 1:37 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
Will try your way as my "pinky" doesn't respond well as it is numb most of the time......now all I have to do is get the mental calculations right and be able to recognize, instantly (which is a problem) , some of the number combinations used.


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Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:15 am




Posts: 73
Location: Delft, The Netherlands
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 7:15 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
sneaklyfox wrote:
Right on arrows, left on numbers.

That said, you really should have your left fingers placed like this:
1 - pinky
2 - ring
3 - middle
4 - index

That's what I do. And I never look at my hands while I'm doing a puzzle.


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Posted on: Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:41 pm




Posts: 497
Location: Ladysmith, BC, Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 1:37 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
Sheldolina: I'm sure you don't, because one glance away from the puzzle and there would go any decent time......which is exactly my problem.....because I'm unsure about the 3' and 4's I usually glance down 2 or 3 times a puzzle.....hence my high scores.....one of these days I hope I will not have to glance away from the puzzle and get a sub 15 sec time but my brain is not as "agile" as it once was!!!!


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Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:12 am




Posts: 422
Location: Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 2:43 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
beaker wrote:
Sheldolina: I'm sure you don't, because one glance away from the puzzle and there would go any decent time......which is exactly my problem.....because I'm unsure about the 3' and 4's I usually glance down 2 or 3 times a puzzle.....hence my high scores.....one of these days I hope I will not have to glance away from the puzzle and get a sub 15 sec time but my brain is not as "agile" as it once was!!!!


Is this when you use index finger for both 3 and 4 (like me)? Try typing 3434343434... using just the index finger. In a puzzle, if you are looking at the screen, you should see whether you did it correctly or not. I think it would be faster to correct a mistake while looking at the screen than to look down to do it correctly and have to look up again and find your place. Practice, practice, practice.

I also realize that I am on a laptop. Even though I don't usually look at my fingers, the distance between the puzzle on the screen and the number row is relatively short. (The distance is about 5 inches to the middle of a puzzle.) If I wanted to glance at my fingers, it's very easy. And even if I don't directly look at my fingers, I can see them indirectly because they're so close to the screen. Not very ergonomically friendly since I have look downwards. For ergonomics, the monitor should be level with your eyes and your elbows bent at 90 degree angle which would make the distance between the puzzle and the numbers more like 2 feet apart or something like that. Perhaps if you have it set up more like that, you have a slight disadvantage.


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Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:36 pm




Posts: 98
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 12:48 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
sneaklyfox wrote:

For ergonomics, the monitor should be level with your eyes and your elbows bent at 90 degree angle which would make the distance between the puzzle and the numbers more like 2 feet apart or something like that. Perhaps if you have it set up more like that, you have a slight disadvantage.


Aha! That explains why I feel the need to hunch over, even when I'm away from the 'puter! I will now raise the monitor.


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Posted on: Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:40 pm




Posts: 497
Location: Ladysmith, BC, Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 1:37 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
"Is this when you use index finger for both 3 and 4 (like me)? Try typing 3434343434... using just the index finger. In a puzzle, if you are looking at the screen, you should see whether you did it correctly or not. I think it would be faster to correct a mistake while looking at the screen than to look down to do it correctly and have to look up again and find your place. Practice, practice, practice."(quote)

OK.....so I tried concentrating on finger movements and in so doing was not able to concentrate on puzzle and made many mistakes (mentally) and ended up with my worst time ever for a 4x4....exactly 1.00 min....so, will have to muddle along using old method for the timed ones and practice (as you suggested) on the normal 4x4's until I get comfortable with new method....hope it works and thank you for the suggestions.


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Posted on: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:56 am




Posts: 422
Location: Canada
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 2:43 am
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
beaker wrote:
"Is this when you use index finger for both 3 and 4 (like me)? Try typing 3434343434... using just the index finger. In a puzzle, if you are looking at the screen, you should see whether you did it correctly or not. I think it would be faster to correct a mistake while looking at the screen than to look down to do it correctly and have to look up again and find your place. Practice, practice, practice."(quote)

OK.....so I tried concentrating on finger movements and in so doing was not able to concentrate on puzzle and made many mistakes (mentally) and ended up with my worst time ever for a 4x4....exactly 1.00 min....so, will have to muddle along using old method for the timed ones and practice (as you suggested) on the normal 4x4's until I get comfortable with new method....hope it works and thank you for the suggestions.


Yeah, practice on the normal puzzles until you're more comfortable with your fingers. I have some training ideas for those people who have to look at their fingers.

Arrow keys training:
- practice RIGHT LEFT over and over again as fast as possible for short bursts... for finger agility
- practice RIGHT DOWN LEFT UP (in that order) over and over again... for finger agility... cursor should just move around 4 cells in a clockwise circle
- go to a large size puzzle like 12x12 and practice moving to different single-cell cages as fast as you can

Number keys training:
- close your eyes, choose a random sequence of numbers, speak aloud the numbers (numbers between 1 and 4 if you are practicing for 4x4 puzzle) then press those keys in order. It can be as short or long as you want but it probably doesn't need to be very long. Start with 1 number, then 2, then 3, etc. Example: "313" then type it.
- alternating between two numbers only. Example: 1313131313, 14141414, etc... for finger agility
- make a random sequence of numbers with the numbers you want to practice and then copy it. Example: "232413324313442112344" (tap fingers quickly and randomly with fingers over the keys). Then "read" the string of numbers you just made and type it again. It's best if you type the copy right under the one you made so it's easy to see if you made a mistake.

Hand coordination training:
- you can use something as simple as 1234 over and over but between each number move to a difference cell using arrow keys. You can use any size puzzle to do this and it doesn't matter if it's the correct solution for that cell or not. Just try not to always move in the same direction. Also, try to fill in a cell only once so sometimes you have to press the arrow keys more than once to get to another empty cell.

Just some ideas. Hope this helps someone improve their times!


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Posted on: Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:30 pm




Posts: 98
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:28 pm
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
A bit of a late reply but whatever [biggrin]

I tend to only use my ring, middle and index finger, and sometimes my pinky on the numbers. I shift them along the numbers when needed; For example, when there is an L-shaped 18x cage in a 4x4, I'll put my index on the 3 and my middle on the 2. But when filling in a 6: in a 6x6, I'll move my index to the 6 and my pinky/ring to the 1.
The main reason I don't use my pinky too much is because I use it for the shift key a lot, especially on the bigger puzzles (though most of the times on 5x5's too), which allows me to pencil things in very quickly. I remember starlings 6x6 video solve in which he didn't use the pencil at all. Am I the only one to use it? [scared]


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Posted on: Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:08 pm




Posts: 226
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:03 pm
Post Re: Tip for getting faster at timed puzzles
I tried using the keyboard today. Worked fine for the 8 x 8 (where I tend to be pretty slow anyway - it's more about speed of thought than finger speed), but I was way slower than usual for the smaller puzzles. I guess it's just a matter of perseverance, so maybe I'll get there eventually (I've made close to ten attempts at some of the book puzzles before finally solving them), but I really need to get my left hand working properly!

Paul V


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