I agree with Alethea that this helps tremendously for me getting my times down.
There's a trick to doing it, and it's simply to use memory for stuff that isn't in the top section. Instead of marking clues in the other sections, I'll commit them to memory whenever possible. There's probably a lot of other things you need to learn first before you can start doing that though.
When I first started doing these puzzles, I would read that "Between A & B, one is C, and one is D". I would start to apply this to my chart, and then forget what I was doing in the middle. I had to look back at the clue to remember what I was doing.
Once I corrected that, then I began working on doing that flawlessly without errors. I trained my eyes to just see "A" "B" "C" "D", and not think to hard about the rest of the words.
After that, I finally began to restrict myself to just the grids in the top (as Alethea suggested). This is further extension of my memory. If a clue says that Chris paid less than person who got soda, I mark that Chris is not in the bottom row, and soda is not in the top row, but I don't mark that "Chris is not soda". Instead, I simply commit it to memory.
I can use this technique for easy 3x4 puzzles. And, I've recently gotten so that I can use it for many 4x4 easy puzzles (but not all, some have a lot of clues outside of the top area). I can't use it for 4x5 or larger yet. My memory is just not good enough.
It's for this reason that I stick with 4x4 easy puzzles (and smaller) when I'm going for points. Getting points requires speed. As much fun as larger puzzles are, I can't compete on them, because my speed isn't there.
Stan, I'd recommend going back to 3x4 puzzles and just working on them for a while, until you get fast at them. They may begin to get boring after a while, but since memorization is easier on them, you'll probably increase your speed the fastest by practicing with them.
Also, it is worth mentioning that if you click on a clue, then it goes away. If I get a clue that I can put in the chart completely (ie. A and B and C and D are all different customers), then I do mark them in the chart (even if they are not in the top portion), and then click on the clue, so I don't have to look at it any more. I only try to memorize the clues that can't be fully represented in the chart anyway.
Last edited by uigrad; 02-03-2014 at 03:16 PM.