Monday, December 21, 2009

For the Love of the Crossword Puzzle

As a fervent lover of crossword puzzles, Scrabble and any kind of word game, I had no idea how the crossword puzzle started until I checked the internet to see what happened on this day in history. The first crossword puzzle was actually called a "Word-Cross" and was invented by an English editor and puzzle constructor named Arthur Wynne. Mr. Wynne moved to the United States and settled in Cedar Grove, New Jersey and went to work for the New York World.
He was asked to invent a new game for the paper and based on a game he played as a child called "Magic Squares" he came up with the "Word-Cross". The first crossword puzzles were diamond-shaped with no black squares! Eventually they were called a Cross-Word puzzle and then became known as crossword which we all know and love today. There are even different variants of the crossword puzzle in other countries. Britain uses a lattice-like structure with more shaded squares, the Japanese style grid has two additional rules which the shaded cells may not share a side and the corner squares must be white and the Swedish grid would be a high challenge for a lot of American users as they don't use grid numbers. The clues are put into the actual puzzle itself and arrows are used to indicate which direction to put the answer.

There are a couple of mystery writers who have even tied the crossword puzzle into their novels. There is a Clue for the Puzzle Lady and Dead Man's Puzzle by Parnell Hall. Nero Blanc has several titles such as Death on the Diagonal, Anatomy of a Crossword and Wrapped up in Crosswords. If you are new to crossword puzzles or cannot remember that three-letter word for a Yale student, (it's "eli"), you could try a crossword puzzle dictionary. The two best ones in the library are The Crossword Puzzle Dictionary by Andrew Swanfeldt or The New York Times Crossworld Puzzle Dictionary by Tom Pulliam and Clare Grundman. The New York Times Dictionary is an older edition, but sufficient for someone starting out solving crosswords. There is a great documentary in the catalog called WordPlay which showcases New York Times puzzle enthusiasts and participants in the 28th Annual American Crossword Tournament.

Now, if you are so inclined to make your own crossword puzzle you could check out The Complete Cruciverbalist: How to Solve and Compose Crossword Puzzles for Fun and Profit by Stan Kurzban and Mel Rosen or read about one man's journey with crossword puzzles called
Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession by Marc Romano.

If you also like the crossword game "Scrabble" there is a great digital video in our collection called Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Game Circuit or you could read Stefan Fatsis' book Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obssession in the World of Competitive Scrabble. We also have the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary or the Everything Scrabble if you are so inclined to look up and possibly memorize certain words to be ready for your next Scrabble game, but we all know you don't really need to do that, because after all you are a whiz at getting those triple letter and triple word scores, right?

1 comment:

alanna said...

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Lucy

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