detuned radioMy blog is called "detuned radio" because I am a big fan of Radiohead, and really enjoyed a particular lyric from their song Karma Police:
Karma Police, arrest this man, he talks in maths, he buzzes like a fridge, he's like a detuned radio.Since launching my blogging career, I've taken the moniker "detuned" to represent myself online. It's kind of stuck now, and I don't really envisage changing it.
Puzzle Solving Career
I started taking part in competitive puzzle competitions from 2006, when I entered the Times newspaper's Sudoku competition. I tried the puzzle early on in its renaissance in the UK when Wayne Gould unleashed the global craze. The story I like to tell is seeing the puzzle in the newspaper on my way up to my first year at the University of Warwick in the autumn of 2004, thinking: "how hard can this be?"
When I read about the first Times competition in 2005, my bravado stated I'd have won if I'd been invited. When I entered in 2006 and came 4th, I was surprised as anyone. Actually, I'd have been 3rd if it wasn't for a minor error made on flip-charts, and maybe 1st had I not gone one-on-one with my good friend and deadly rival David McNeill in the semi final.
Whilst the 1st placed prize of a £1,000 cheque and shiny trophy eluded me that particular year, the 2nd and 3rd placed prize of a Times atlas of the world thankfully also eluded me, leaving me to console myself with a bottle of champagne and an unforgettable triumph later that evening in the field of Monopoly. Anja, it was a pleasure doing business no matter what alternative opinions Richard ever had.
Since 2006, the Times prizes have not improved (indeed the competition's future is now in doubt), but my solving achievements include:
- Regularly representing the UK at the World Sudoku Championships (since 2007);
- Winning the Times Sudoku Championship (2007, 2009, 2015, 2017);
- Winning the nikoli.com time trial, sadly now a relic of the past (Sudoku x4, Shikaku x1, Masyu x1);
- Winning the UK Sudoku Championship (2011 - most years I organise it);
- Regularly represented the UK at the World Puzzle Championships (since 2011);
- Winning the UKPA Open Sudoku Tournament (2013, 2016), and the best placed UK solver (2014, 2020);
- Gold medals at the Mind Sports Olympiad in Sudoku/Kenken (2017) and Sudoku/Killer (2019).
Puzzle Writing Career
There weren't too many puzzle bloggers at the time, so I like to think I made a genuine contribution to the online puzzle community.
My Friday puzzles series was shortly followed by Thomas Snyder's Friday puzzle series. He has a rather more successful puzzling career than me, having had several books published and founding the rather wonderful Grandmaster Puzzles. I have since become a "Contributing Puzzlemaster" for Grandmaster Puzzles, and my published puzzles can be found here.
Aside from that I have previously been involved with both the World Puzzle Federation and the UK Puzzle Association. I used to regularly organise the online UK Sudoku Championships, and I have previously been the Competition Director for the 9th World Sudoku Championships, held in London in August 2014, and the 2016 WPF Sudoku Grand Prix series.
I've also authored a few other online puzzle contests, contributed to the occasional national qualifying competition, and playtested/offered general advice to plenty more. Once I even designed a flag!