Has he solved the great tensquare teaser?


Blackleaf
#1
Has he solved the great tensquare teaser?
By JAMES MILLS, Daily Mail

1st December 2005




It is more fiendish than any Countdown conundrum, more mind-bogglingly frustrating than the most cryptic of crosswords.

The idea is to fill a grid with ten words, each containing ten letters, which read the same across as down.

Known as a tensquare, the puzzle has been around for centuries and has stumped anyone who has ever tried to solve it - even those armed with a computer program.
But now a retired aircraft design engineer from Cornwall claims to have cracked it - well, almost.

Ted Clarke, 79, has come up with a solution which - by his own admission - is not perfect, but comes closer than any other that has so far been found.

He has achieved it by including one word - nonesevent - which is now the subject of a heated debate among word puzzle experts around the world.

Mr Clarke says nonesevent means an event occurring on the nones - the ninth day before the Ides of March in the ancient Roman calendar.

Unfortunately, it does not appear in any dictionary. "Finding the perfect tensquare is so extraordinarily difficult that it is widely accepted that the boundaries of language have to be stretched a little," Mr Clarke said yesterday.

"They say that anyone who comes up with the perfect solution will be immortalised.

"Well, I don't claim to have made myself immortal, but I think I have come within a whisker of it - and certainly closer than anyone else.

"Others have done it by pushing together names such as Kevin Brown, or repeating the same words twice. But no one has ever created a tensquare using ten different recognisable words, and possibly they never will." Ross Eckler, editor of Word Ways magazine in the United

States, and New Zealander Jeff Grant, a Scrabble fanatic who has spent the past 30 years trying to crack the problem, have accepted all Mr Clarke's words besides nonesevent.

Six of the words can be found in various dictionaries. These are discussing, incantator, scarlatina, carnitines, unlikeness and itinerates.

Two others - satinweave and grassnest - are technically two words, but are often used as one these days. Satinweave is a type of fabric and grassnest is a bird's nest made of grass.

The remaining word, stateswren, is also a little dubious. According to Mr Clarke, it refers to a number of wrens which are the symbols of American states, such as South Carolina.

Puzzle expert Tony Augarde, who compiled the Oxford Guide to Word Games, said Mr Clarke's is the best tensquare he has ever seen. "It's not perfect, but it's the best yet," he added.

"Some of the words in Mr Clarke's square are not well known - but it depends on your definition of what language is.

"Mr Clarke has pushed the boundaries of language, but who is to say what is a word and what isn't?"

The first word squares were constructed in ancient Greece as far back as 600BC and are the forerunners of the modern crossword.

A five-word square was found carved on stone in the ruins of Pompeii, dating from the first century AD.

The game was developed in England in the 19th century to include 'across' clues and in 1913 the first crossword was published in the New York World newspaper. Word squares using more than six-letter words are extremely difficult to construct. A number of seven-word squares using recognisable words have been created, but squares using eight or nine-letter words require the use of obscure or archaic words and a computer program.

Other tensquares have been created in the past, but have fallen short of the ideal that foreign words should not be used in an English-language puzzle.

Thus, one tensquare that used the French phrase ses tunnels - with the words run together - and the German verb amputieren, was frowned upon.

Another possible disqualification in the eyes of purists is that words must not be too tortuously contrived.

Mr Clarke, who has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren, lives with his 74-year-old wife Margaret in the village of Mawgan Porth, near Newquay.

He has been a fan of word puzzles since he was a boy and over the past decade has built up a computer database of more than 70,000 words.

He uses a speical program to search the millions of combinations for possible solutions.

Once he finds one that comes close, he tries to find obscure words that might fill in the gaps.

John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, said: "As far as I can see, all potential tensquares have a few wobbly words in them. This seems to be no exception, but I'm not a word square expert."

dailymail.co.uk
 
rexgooch
#2
The above is not accepted by experts because 3 rows do not appear in reference works. I made the breakthrough to high-quality ten squares, and the best today is my DESCENDANT. I found 2000 in all, and published a number in Word Ways, including one consisting entirely of place names. I have also published two 11-squares, and many other firsts in large word squares.
Clarke's database of 70,000 words needs to be at least 250,000, which is why the problem cannot be solved with dictionary words alone. For further reading, see my "Hunting the Ten-square".
 
Teddyboy
#3
There are, so far as I am aware, no other rules than the "strictest criteria, laid down in 1993, of sticking to words or phrases that are main entries in dictionaries". Every single word used in the DISCUSSING tensquare abides by these criteria. Please note, however, that NONES EVENT -- as is IDES EVENT -- a two-word phrase; it's not a single ten-letter word! And, I quote from James Mills aricle in the Dail Mail; "Ross Eckler, editor of Word Ways magazine in the United States, and New Zealander Jeff Grant, a Scrabble fanatic who has spent the last 30 years trying to crack the problem, have accepted all Mr Clarke's words besides nonesevent."

The article "Hunting the Word Square" was not able to be viewed in full without disclosing private financial arrangements, but the
DESCENDANT square does not fully comply with the strictest criteria.

An up-to-date comprehensive set of rules has been drafted; a copy of them may be obtained by contacting the author.
 
Teddyboy
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by rexgooch

The above is not accepted by experts because 3 rows do not appear in reference works. I made the breakthrough to high-quality ten squares, and the best today is my DESCENDANT. I found 2000 in all, and published a number in Word Ways, including one consisting entirely of place names. I have also published two 11-squares, and many other firsts in large word squares.
Clarke's database of 70,000 words needs to be at least 250,000, which is why the problem cannot be solved with dictionary words alone. For further reading, see my "Hunting the Ten-square".

 
Teddyboy
#5
There are many events held by religious societies, e.g. Easter and Christmas events. According to several Websites, the fastest-growing religious body in the world today is the Nones. I woud be grateful to learn whether any specific dates are devoted to Nones Events.

These are not to be confused with Ides or Nones Events in the Roman Calendar -- the most renowned being the date of Caesar's assassination -- of which there are numerous instances throughout history.
 
Teddyboy
#6
Post No.5
In an English language dictionary of around million entries, approximately 15% will be ten-letter words, i.e. about 75,000. It appears,therefore, that the cited 250,000 words is more than three times as many as can be expected to be found in any dictionary. So Gooch might, at first glance, seem to be correct in his stating that the tensquare solution "cannot be solved with dictionary words alone".

It's rather remarkable, therefore, that any tensquares could have been achieved at all, further than to the first three rows! Yet more than twice this number -- eight rows -- are readily found in regular searches of a database of 75,000 ten-letter entries.

It's an absolute fact that the smallest database, which would give rise to a solution, need contain just ten words!
 

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