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U.S. Puzzle Championship - Solving Tips


  • Make sure you are familiar with the rules, especially those for procedures, scoring and permissible solving tools.
  • Be sure to try the Practice Test, to familiarize yourself with the test procedures, and to discover and resolve any technical problems before the real test.
  • Download the Puzzle Instructions file, with sample puzzles, and the encrypted test file the day before the test. Read the puzzle instructions carefully in advance.
  • The 2015 USPC will be approximately 22 printed pages in total, and generally one page per puzzle. Make sure your printer has plenty of paper, and ink/toner.
  • Establish a clean, spacious, and quiet work area. This should be near your computer so that you can enter answers as you go along. Have all your solving tools handy.
  • Your puzzle solving time is precious, so make sure you will have no distractions during the test.


  • After decrypting the test file, print the page you want to solve first, then the rest of the test. The puzzles are designed to be solved on paper, so not printing them will likely not save you any time.
  • The point values are a good indicator of the time required to solve the puzzles. More points usually implies a more difficult puzzle, but might mean there is just a lot of work. Puzzles are ordered roughly from easiest to hardest. Of course, your experience may be different.
  • Don't guess -- except where indicated on the test page for the puzzle (typically for spot-the-differences or counting puzzles), there is no penalty for incorrect answers, but answer keys are designed so that it is very unlikely that guessing will do anything more than waste the scorekeeper's time.
  • Be very careful when entering your answers on the Answer Page. Don't go too fast -- everyone has to do the same thing. There is nothing worse than spending the valuable time to solve a problem correctly, then losing points because of an incorrectly entered answer.
  • You should enter and Submit your answers as you go along to avoid any last minute time crunch.
  • From the Answer Pages, you can open the Timer Window. This shows the server time, and counts down to the overall deadline. It is provided for your convenience -- you are still responsible for submitting your answer before the test deadline.
  • Relax and have fun.


Answer Entry

Each puzzle will include Answer formatting instructions, typically requesting information about multiple lines in a puzzle grid:

  • Enter the lines or groups in the order specified: group A followed by group B, etc., otherwise from top to bottom.
  • Separate the lines or groups by space or comma.