From Ashland to The New York Times: The Journey of an Amateur Cruciverbalist

In the old town of Ashland resides a crossword creator extraordinaire, Steve Weyer. With a heart full of lexicon love and a mind bubbling with wordplay, Steve has been on a quiet quest. His journey of crafting crosswords, which began as a humble hobby, recently culminated in a grand achievement that caught the eye of The New York Times and its crossword editor, Will Shortz. Steve got the November 1 Puzzle published on New York Times.

The world of crosswords goes beyond a simple pastime. It’s an art, a science, and, for many, a daily ritual. The crème de la crème of this world is having one’s creation featured in The New York Times crossword section. On a bright Wednesday morning, the Ashland amateur crossword creator, Steve Weyer found his creation among the prestigious pages of The New York Times. His name, although usually an overlooked aspect by the everyday cruciverbalist, became a symbol of aspiration for amateur puzzle constructors far and wide.

For decades, Steve has been meticulously weaving words together, creating puzzles that tickle the brain. His patience and perseverance gave its fruits after a year-long wait, putting him into the limelight under the shelter of Will Shortz, a name synonymous with crosswords in the New York Times and a familiar voice on National Public Radio as a puzzle master.

The journey to this point wasn’t a cakewalk. The New York Times receives over 200 crossword submissions weekly, with a year’s worth of puzzles already lined up. The competition is fierce, and the criteria are strict, requiring a blend of originality, puns, invented words, and ambiguous clues that dance on the fine line between confusion and revelation. Despite the odds, Steve’s passion for crosswords never faded. At 74, he found the practice of creating and solving crosswords a stimulating endeavor that kept his mind sharp and victorious.

Steve, a retired website and software developer with a career spanning Stanford University, Xerox PARC, Atari, HP (Hewlett-Packard), and Apple, found solace and a sense of accomplishment in his crossword adventures. His fondness for wordplay wasn’t merely a personal quest for mental agility; it was a journey of discovery and creativity. Scientists, too, have promoted the benefits of engaging in wordplay games like crosswords, linking them to improved mental flexibility, memory, concentration, and mood.

Unlike the direct question-and-answer format in shows like “Jeopardy,” crossword puzzles have a vague and playful nature. They are a space for playful word tricks, where mixing up letters, words that sound alike but have different meanings, and reading letters backward are common. Every puzzle Steve created told a new story, with a unique theme waiting to be discovered by the person solving it.

The thematic essence of Steve’s puzzles often begins with a captivating word sequence or phrase. The theme remains a mystery to the solver, and the construction process is a detailed task. Checking crossword databases for originality, Steve ensures his themes stay fresh and unique. His submission to The New York Times in June 2022 was proof of his craftsmanship. After a few rounds of revisions and anticipation, the magical acceptance email arrived on November 1, 2022, marking the beginning of a new chapter in Steve’s crossword journey.

A year later, his crossword puzzle graced the pages of The New York Times, making a lifelong dream come true. Maria Geigel, Steve’s partner of 45 years, and their family rejoiced at this achievement, happy that Steve’s passion found recognition at such a prestigious platform.

The humble crossword creator from Ashland, however, remains grounded in the newfound recognition. “Not everyone is a crossword fan; only some solvers may try a Wednesday puzzle, and even fewer notice the constructor’s title,” Steve jokes. But for the crossword community, Steve Weyer’s story is an inspiration, a tale of persistence, passion, and the profound joy of seeing one’s creation acknowledged in the world’s most esteemed crossword column.

Thus, the tale of Ashland’s amateur cruciverbalist serves as a beacon of hope for many with a lexicon dream, reminding us that with patience, passion, and a tad bit of wordplay, dreams do find their way from the quiet corners of creativity to the columns of The New York Times.

Steve Weyer

Mastering The Mini

Unveiling the Compact Charm of NYT’s Bite-sized Crossword

In a world where patience is a virtue, the allure of quick yet stimulating challenges holds a real charm. Among such endeavors is The New York Times’ daily puzzle cornerstone – the crossword. While the daily version offers a marathon of mental stimulation, its compact sibling, The Mini, proposes a sprint. The Mini crossword, embodying a quicker challenge, has emerged as a delightful brisk dare for many puzzle enthusiasts.

With fewer clues to crack, The Mini may appear simpler at a glance. However, it bears its share of tricky clues capable of halting even experienced solvers in their tracks. Fret not, as navigating through The Mini’s compact maze can become a breezy walk with a sprinkle of strategy.

Below are some tailored tips to enhance your Mini crossword-solving prowess:

Kickstart with the Simplest Clues: Begin your journey by addressing the most straightforward clues. This approach not only propels you with an initial momentum but also serves a dollop of confidence, prepping you for the trickier clues lurking ahead.
Employ Cross-referencing: Keep an eagle eye for clues that interlink. Solved clues intersecting with others can be a mine of hints, aiding in narrowing down potential answers through the intersecting letters.
Decode Word Patterns: The structure of the crossword itself can be a subtle nudge toward the right answer. For instance, a five-letter word following a vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel pattern can weed out unfitting words, making your quest for the right answer a bit easier.
Acquaintance with Common Crossword Fillers: Every crossword has its set of frequent fillers – words and phrases that recur. Familiarizing yourself with these common fillers can often expedite the solving process, acting as handy keys to unlock other parts of the puzzle.
Practice Makes Perfect: Hone your crossword-solving skills with daily practice. Dabble in The Mini or explore other crossword puzzles to sharpen your wit and broaden your vocabulary horizon.

The Mini, updated daily, invites crossword lovers to a fresh challenge every day. Available both online via The New York Times’ website or mobile app and offline through printable versions or crossword-solving apps, it extends a convenient space to indulge in this intellectual exercise wherever you are.

While The New York Times doesn’t offer hints or answers for The Mini, a robust community of enthusiasts on various online forums is always buzzing with discussions and insights on crossword puzzles, providing a haven for those seeking a nudge or a space to share their love for puzzles.

The time to unravel The Mini’s mysteries varies widely among individuals, depending on their experience and familiarity with crosswords. While some sprint through, eyeing a speed run, others savor the journey, unraveling each clue at a leisurely pace.

Embrace the challenge that The Mini presents, relish the cerebral exercise, and remember, every stumble is a step forward in the puzzle-solving adventure. So, gear up, dive into the compact world of The Mini, and let the letters guide you through a world of whimsical wordplay and cerebral satisfaction.

The Art of Crafting Crossword Puzzles: Insights from an Oregon Puzzle Creator

Crossword puzzles are a beloved pastime for many people, but what goes into creating a captivating puzzle? Matt Jones, a seasoned crossword creator with nearly three decades of experience, shares his journey and thoughts on crafting engaging puzzles.
A Lifelong Passion
Matt Jones’s fascination with crossword puzzles began in elementary school when he stumbled upon a stack of “Games” magazines left by a teacher in a classroom. The allure of these puzzles never waned, and as a teenager, he decided to try his hand at crafting them for submission to various publications.
“I didn’t think I had a chance,” Jones admits. “I was 15 at the time, probably… and I didn’t know if my quality level was right there just yet.” However, after a few attempts, his puzzle was published in The New York Times when he was a mere 19 years old. In those pre-email notification days of the 1990s, Jones received a personalized message from the Times’ renowned puzzle editor, Will Shortz.
Recounting the moment, Jones says, “You get a letter… saying, ‘This is great, congratulations, you’re going to actually be in the paper.’ I think I (still) have that letter somewhere.” Since then, Jones has created and published an impressive 1,163 crosswords.
Jonesin’ and the Alt-Weekly Puzzle Revolution
Jones’s weekly puzzle, aptly named “Jonesin’,” has graced the pages of alternative weeklies nationwide, including Willamette Week, since 2001. Back then, most alt-weeklies featured crosswords similar to those in publications like The New York Times. However, Jones and fellow puzzle writer Matt Gaffney sought to inject a bit of edginess into their puzzles to align with the magazines’ more daring content.
Reflecting on the early days, Jones says, “When we were first going about it, he was like, ‘I want to make this as subversive as possible. It’s going to have R-rated references and, you know, drugs, sex, rock and roll.'” Over time, the puzzles have evolved and mellowed, while still striving to maintain a unique character.
Keeping Clues Fresh and Relevant
Jones remains committed to keeping his crossword clues contemporary by staying in tune with trivia and pop culture trends. However, he acknowledges that he may occasionally slip with references from the ’90s, given his deep-rooted understanding with that era. While he endeavors to absorb the ever-evolving cultural landscape, he humorously concedes that TikTok celebrities might not be his strong suit.
The Recipe for a Memorable Crossword
So, what constitutes a great crossword puzzle, according to Matt Jones? He emphasizes three key elements:
Exciting Clues
The clues must pique the solver’s interest, prompting them to delve deeper into the puzzle.
Fresh Language
The language used in the puzzle should be contemporary and vibrant, ensuring that solvers connect with the clues.
A truly outstanding crossword puzzle lingers in the solver’s mind well after it’s been solved. If you find yourself discussing the puzzle for at least 10 minutes after solving it, it’s a sign of a genuinely memorable crossword.
Matt Jones’s dedication to the art of crossword creation continues to captivate solvers across the country, leaving them with puzzles that are as intriguing as they are unforgettable.

From Puzzle Enthusiast to Crossword Syndicate Extraordinaire

Meet Myles Mellor, a true puzzle expert who turned his passion into a thriving crossword business. Born and raised in Oxford, England, Mellor’s journey from creating homemade puzzles for his father to becoming a syndicated crossword creator has been nothing short of remarkable. 

Today, his puzzles are featured in over 600 magazines and newspapers worldwide, captivating puzzle enthusiasts everywhere.

A Puzzle Person with a Purpose

Unlike the average puzzle enthusiast, Mellor’s love for puzzles extends far beyond casual interest. Raised in Oxford, England, Mellor grew up in a household where intellect thrived. With a doctor and a teacher as siblings, his family embodied a wealth of brains. 

After completing his education at Bristol, Mellor relocated to the United States for a career in real estate administration while his family remained in England.

A Journey Sparked by a Memory

Tragically, Mellor’s mother passed away, leaving his father in a state of deep sorrow. Determined to lift his dad’s spirits, Mellor drew upon a cherished childhood memory of attempting to solve the challenging Guardian crossword puzzle together. 

Inspired, he created personalized puzzles to send to his father, resulting in a remarkable transformation in his father’s mood. Encouraged by his dad’s response, Mellor’s homemade puzzles sparked a new idea – publishing his own puzzles.

The Path to Publication

Starting a puzzle business from scratch is not an easy task, and Mellor encountered numerous challenges along the way. Despite the initial setbacks and a lack of response from syndicates and magazines, Mellor persevered, driven by his father’s encouragement. 

Eventually, he connected with puzzle creator David Hoyt at the Orange County Register, who recognized Mellor’s dedication and suggested creating themed puzzles tailored to specific magazine interests. Following Hoyt’s guidance, Mellor made his breakthrough, with his first puzzle published in 2001. 

This breakthrough propelled Mellor’s part-time hobby into a full-time pursuit by 2006. Today, his puzzles are: 

  • Syndicated and published in over 600 magazines and newspapers
  • Featured in numerous books, and
  • Available through his online presence on Amazon

From Hobby to Full-Time Pursuit

With an estimated 16,000 puzzles crafted throughout his career, Mellor continues to astound puzzle enthusiasts with his impressive output. Publishing around 80 crosswords each month, Mellor’s dedication shines through.

Creating a single puzzle can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, requiring meticulous attention to detail. However, Mellor’s hard work has paid off, allowing him to enjoy a fulfilling and financially rewarding career alongside his supportive wife, Debby.

A Master of Themed Puzzles

Mellor’s passion lies in crafting themed puzzles, infusing the clues and answers with the content of the publication itself. From personalized puzzles for engaged couples, families, and businesses to sudokus, cryptograms, and word searches, Mellor’s creativity knows no bounds.

While he humbly admits to being better at puzzle creation than solving it, his humble nature adds to his charm. Mellor’s puzzles can be found in various formats, from novelty books to national newspapers, both in print and online.

A Rewarding Career

Unrelenting in his pursuit of puzzle excellence, Mellor recently founded National Crossword Solved Day, an annual celebration taking place on December 8th. With his undeniable impact on the world of crosswords, Mellor stands as a testament to the passion and dedication required to turn a hobby into a successful career.

Myles Mellor’s remarkable journey from crafting homemade puzzles for his father to becoming a syndicated crossword powerhouse is a testament to his passion and talent. His dedication to his craft has earned him recognition and success, allowing him to turn his love for puzzles into a fulfilling career. 

As he continues to create puzzles that captivate and inspire, puzzle enthusiasts can look forward to experiencing Mellor’s ingenious creations across various platforms, reaffirming his status as one of the best puzzle creators in the world. With each new puzzle, Myles Mellor invites us to engage our minds, embrace the joy of solving, and celebrate the love for puzzles.

But what is a Crossword? Terminologies and Types

Crossword Puzzles

A crossword is a puzzle with overlapping answer words. Hence the name Cross Words, they cross each other horizontally and vertically.
The first published crossword puzzle was created by a British-born Journalist called Arthur Wynne on  Dec 21, 1913 and it was published on the Sunday Newspaper New York World. The first puzzle had a diamond shape. Wynne is the credited as the inventor of the popular word game.

The puzzle it’s made by a Constructor and solved by a Solver both of these people are called Cruciverbalists. Each answer has it’s own distinct Clue.

The Grid

The grid is a combination of Columns, Rows and Black Squares.

Now, the grid is usually square like this:

but that is not always the case.

Black Squares

Now back to Black Squares

They can be arranged in fingers of two or more, that are perpendicular to and touching the perimeter of the Grid.

They can also be arranged as UTAHs


Black Squares that don’t divide a row or column like so:

are called cheater squares.

Grid Symmetry

Grid symetry refers to the convention that black boxes be arranged in a symmetrical pattern in the grid. The most common arrangement is 180 Degree rotational symmetry

so the grid would look just the same, if you turned it upside down.

Mirror Symmetry

Mirror symmetry refers to an arrangement of black boxes that is symmetrical across the middle column.


Minion Puzzles

Also called Entry.

Get filled in answer Slots also known as Words. If you add up all the answer words, both down and across, you will get the total word count of the crossword.

A clarification must be made however. Even if a slot contains an answer, that itself is made up by multiple words, that answer slow still only counts as one word in the crossword’s word count .

The point where two crosswords intersect is called a crossing.A crossing where most folks are unlikely to know any of the intersecting answers, is called a Bad Crossing.

A bad crossing is also called a Natick.

Unchecked Box

If a box only appears in one answer is called an Unchecked Box

Crossword Theme

Most crosswords tend to have a theme. That is an Idea, Motif or Gimmick, that some of the answers have in common. Answers that are part of the theme are called theme answers or just Themers.
Sometimes one of the theme answers explicitly describes what the theme is, thats called a Revealer.


A theme that asks you to write multiple letters in one box is called a Rebus.



Answers in a themed puzzle that aren’t part of of the theme are called a Fill. Fill answers that very few people actually know or heard of are called Bad Fills.  Examples of bad fills include partial phrases like “ONME” (on me) and crosswordese “ECARD” (e-card).
Crosswordese refers to answer words that tend to show up a lot in crossword answers but rarely get used in daily life.

Dublicates or Dupes

Occur when two answers contain the same word or variations of the same word.

Crosswords that don’t include a theme are called Themeless Crosswords or simply Freestyle Crosswords

The Psychology Behind Crossword Puzzles

Delving into a crossword puzzle takes you on a captivating journey, unveiling intriguing revelations about the intricate workings of the human mind. From the satisfaction of finding an elusive answer to the power of intuition, crossword puzzles offer a unique window into cognition.
Read this article until the end to learn more about the different mental processes involved in crossword puzzle solving and the ways they help us understand our mysterious subconscious mind.

The Mysterious Process of Crossword Solving
The human mind is a complex web of preconscious processes, and crossword solving is no exception. Raymond Nickerson, a psychologist at Tufts University, takes a close look at the role of intuition in tackling crosswords. Often, the preconscious mind supplies answers instantaneously, producing those gratifying moments of clarity.
However, when intuition fails, a more systematic approach may be necessary. Considering potential solutions one by one or listing synonyms, related to the clue, can help unravel the puzzle.
Surprisingly, even if the list seems absurd at first, it may reflect the preconscious mind’s step-by-step problem-solving process. Peter Farvolden’s work in the 1990s demonstrated this phenomenon, suggesting that the mind approaches problems in incremental stages.

The Power of Incubation
When deductions fail, a period of incubation can work wonders! Studies confirm that taking a break from a clue and allowing the mind to engage in other activities can lead to the much-anticipated “aha” moment. However, it’s essential to stay partially engaged.
Engaging in tasks like drawing or reading, which involve verbal elements, tends to enhance the effectiveness of incubation periods.

The Multisensory Nature of Word Retrieval
The mechanics of how the mind retrieves words to answer a clue remain somewhat elusive. As written language is a recent development (compared to the spoken word), researchers suspect that sounds play a significant role. For instance, when presented with word fragments ending in specific sounds, individuals often find it easier to generate words that follow common patterns of stress and pronunciation. Saying the clue or guesses out loud can potentially aid word retrieval.
Decoding the “Feeling of Knowing”
During crossword solving, individuals often experience a strong sense of whether they know the answer or not. Remarkably, these intuitions are often accurate. In tasks involving word associations, subjects reliably predict which words they can and cannot answer. In crosswords, this “feeling of knowing” guides decision-making.
If confident about knowing the answer, individuals invest more time in finding it. Conversely, if certain about not knowing, attention shifts to intersecting words instead.

The Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon:
Psychologists differentiate between the “feeling of knowing” and the more frustrating “tip of the tongue” state. The latter represents the belief that an answer is imminent rather than just eventual. Unfortunately, it often proves false, as the answer remains elusive.
One theory suggests that an initial wrong guess can hinder finding the correct solution, creating a mental blockage in word retrieval.

The Cryptic Puzzle Challenge
Cryptic crosswords pose unique cognitive challenges that can have unexpected effects on the mind. Research by Michael Lewis at Cardiff University revealed that engaging with cryptic clues significantly impairs face recognition, even more so than tasks like Sudoku puzzles or reading a book.
The involvement of suppression

Breaking down linguistic units and Searching for wordplay and hidden meanings in cryptic crosswords
These three factors above seem to hinder the brain’s ability to perceive faces as a whole. This phenomenon suggests an intriguing overlap in processing across different cognitive tasks.
Crossword puzzles serve as valuable tools for studying various aspects of cognition. From intuition and word retrieval to problem-solving and face recognition, the human mind’s intricate puzzle finds parallels in the challenges posed by crosswords.
Psychologists could further explore the potential of crosswords as a tool for studying cognition. As we unravel the mysteries of the human mind, crossword puzzles continue to challenge and enlighten puzzle enthusiasts worldwide.

Gen Z Surpasses Boomers in playing Puzzles

Who says the younger generation is only glued to their screens? A recent poll conducted by Unscrambled Words shows that Gen Z is taking the classic game of crossword puzzles by storm, surpassing their older counterparts in puzzle-solving fun.

Out of the 1,000 people polled, 50% of Gen Z respondents reported solving crossword puzzles regularly, compared to 38% of Baby Boomers, 31% of Gen X, and only 15% of Millennials. It seems that the allure of solving puzzles printed in books or newspapers still holds strong appeal for the younger generation.

The poll also revealed that most crossword enthusiasts attempt the puzzles because of the mental challenge they offer. Additionally, many said they do it because it exercises the brain, and who doesn’t love a good brain workout? Interestingly, the poll also showed that women are more likely than men to indulge in crossword puzzles, with 31% of women reporting regular play versus 26% of men.

Although some individuals may choose to solve puzzles digitally, most Americans still favor the traditional print version. The preferred locations for completing crossword puzzles include the comfort of one’s own home, during transit, while occupying the bathroom, and even at the workplace. As for the best time to indulge in some serious puzzle-solving time, Sundays have emerged as the most popular day of the week for crossword enthusiasts.

When it comes to the most challenging crossword puzzles, the New York Times takes the top spot, followed by regional publications. These puzzles often require a wide range of knowledge and a knack for wordplay, making them a favorite pastime for many crossword enthusiasts looking for a mental challenge.


In today’s fast-paced world, crossword puzzles provide a perfect escape for people looking to unwind and exercise their mental faculties. Apart from being a source of entertainment, research shows that puzzles also have cognitive benefits, such as improving vocabulary, memory, and overall brain function. With the rise of digital puzzles, crossword enthusiasts can now access a wide range of puzzles online, making it easier for them to indulge in their favorite pastimes. Whether you are a seasoned puzzler or a newbie looking to join in the fun, there is always a crossword puzzle that caters to your skill level. So, why not join the millions of crossword enthusiasts worldwide and challenge yourself to some brain-boosting fun?

Group Solving a Crossword on the Train – Happens in London

A delayed train event was the reason why a guy from London, UK started to play crosswords and challenge other passengers while waiting. As a way to keep them busy and entertained so the delay wouldn’t seem frustrating. He and a couple of his friends had been traveling from a small town towards London when the train stalled because of some water floods in a part of the track.

It seems like the floods which delayed the train would make the group of friends and the passengers remember this seemingly routine trip, for a long time. Due to this problem the train staff suggested everyone to go in the first wagons, which made it very crowded. The people started complaining as some people were sitting on the floor.

He took it upon himself to boost morale of the whole wagon and a video of him on a social media platform has surpassed 3M views. It cheered everyone up and everyone was trying to interact and guess the correct answers. Something rather rare in today’s world where everyone seems so detached with the reality always staring at the mobile screens. What’s even more interesting is that had a paper puzzle.

To ease the tension the almost-drunk group of friends came up with this to ease the tense passengers.
The paper crossword puzzle was an old newspaper which the guy had in his pockets. This made the friends make fun of him for keeping old newspapers in his jacket. In the video Brown is shown asking crossword clues to fellow passengers who didn’t pay much attention to him.

“London street off Trafalgar Square 6 letters?” the puzzle guy asks and his friend tell him you he has no idea what the answer is.

“Animal Doctor in 4 letters”. The silence starts.

A few more questions and some persistence from Brown and the strangers in the train started to relax and started responding and guessing the answers more eagerly. And from a tense delayed train the atmosphere changes and now it resembles a tavern in an old town with people talking from one table to another. The whole wagon started getting involved and to their surprise there were actually people who knew how to answer the clues. It was fun to witness this collective interaction, where people from all age groups were talking and joining in. There was a senior who answered one clue and helped the tipsy guy to spell it on paper.

The video of it became viral on social media as it is something very unique.


#puzzle #socialexperiment #socialising @J.Ofosu @benpoole698 @Damion Francis

♬ original sound – Damion

Studies Show The Benefits Of Puzzles For Brain Health

A daily crossword has long been promoted as a great way to keep our brains healthy. Studies show that those that engage in this activity regularly can reduce the onset of cognitive decline. However, conflicting research also suggests that video games and problem-solving tools are more beneficial.

Cognitive Decline Is a Big Problem For Older Americans.

Statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that as many as 1 in 9 adults in the United States will report symptoms of cognitive decline in later years. This worsens with age, with 8% of those in their late 60s affected compared to 15% in their late 70s and 37% of those 85 and over. It is also shown to be more common in Black and Hispanic communities than in other ethnicities.

Studies Into Crosswords For Cognitive Health And Dementia.

Researchers at Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Duke University Medical Center worked on a study to compare the effect of games and crossword puzzles on cognitive impairment. They assigned 56 people to a program of crossword puzzles and 51 to games and tracked their progress. This involved 12 weeks of intensive training with either the computerized game or crosswords, followed by six booster sessions. They measured responses based on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive score.

The results of the study showed more improvements in cognitive function for those on the crosswords side compared to those working with the games. However, the differences aren’t as significant as they may have hoped. Following the tests, there were much better scores in the crossword group after 78 weeks. There were also better signs of brain health in the MRI scans of the puzzle group. However, statistics also show that while 17 of the crossword participants reverted back to normal cognition from a mild impairment, the same happened to 12 of those working with the games.

Although these improvements are encouraging, we can’t assume that crosswords will have a significant impact or stop the onset of dementia. Out of the participants in this study, 6 of the 56 assigned to the crosswords group still went on to develop dementia. It was a similar number in the games group, with 8 of 51. Some cases of early cognitive decline are early symptoms, and progression is inevitable.

The Problem Of Crosswords And Crystalized Intelligence.

It is important to note that other studies don’t show such a positive link between crosswords and reducing cognitive decline. Instead, they suggest that alternative methods or a variety of solutions could be more effective.

One such study was carried out by Zach Hambrick from the University of Michigan back in 1999. He found that participants in his study did not see any change. The reason for this comes down to the importance of the type of cognitive abilities tested when aiding people with cognitive decline.

There are fluid abilities and crystallized abilities, and it is often found that people with mental decline and dementia struggle most with fluid abilities. Crossword puzzles target crystallized abilities, such as verbal ability and social knowledge, where there is prior knowledge crystalized in the brain to tap into. Fluid abilities relate more to abstract reasoning and problem-solving. Therefore, puzzles that focus on these skills, such as jigsaws, model building, or video games, could be more effective.

Crosswords vs Video Games.

The CEO of Re:Cognition Health, Dr. Emer MacSweeney, has highlighted the potential of video games in improving cognitive health. This echoes findings from the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. Here they tested crosswords against cognition targetting videogames and found those working with crosswords didn’t fare as well.

Of course, these studies highlight key differences between digital video games and paper crosswords, and we can’t overlook their age. The rise in apps for adapted crosswords with video game mechanics could close the gap and provide help with both crystalized and fluid applications.

Using Puzzles For Brain Health.

What is clear here, despite the contradictory studies, is that there is great potential for both types of puzzles. Many that use crossword puzzles do see improvements, but we can’t overlook the potential of other problem-solving puzzles and video games for helping with fluid intelligence. Perhaps the best solution is a combination of both.

Cryptic Crossword and Learning – Connection

Cryptic crosswords are quite the rage. They’re everywhere – at the office, on holiday, in the waiting room, at the airport, and even in our homes! You might have wondered, hat’s the magic behind these puzzles?’ Why are so many consumed with solving them?

Before tackling that million-dollar question, let’s take a quick peek at the society in which we live. Bombarded with social media, cell phone notifications, and all manner of mobile device overload, we’re constantly receiving information. In this era where FOMO (ear of missing out’) reigns supreme, we’re encouraged to continually consume countless amounts of material. It’s overwhelming and our brains need a rest!


Offering an opportunity for mental self-care, these magnificent puzzles do more than just promote a sense of stillness. They also center mindfulness through extended focus and concentration. Who couldn’t use more help in that department?

But wait, the benefits go further than what I’ve already mentioned. Consider these to get a fuller picture:

* Improved memory
* Stretching the mind’s boundaries
* Learning something new
* Stress reliever
* Social connection (think: colleagues, family, friends)

There’s another crucial component that mustn’t be overlooked when talking about the perks of these puzzles. Looking at their capacity to challenge our brains with new information, this is something very personal to me. As a senior who has become a bit frailer, deciphering a cryptic crossword is music to my mind – they sing to me.

And alongside that singing comes the learning factor.

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. As a former teacher with 33 years of experience in government secondary schools, I keenly understand the importance of making learning fun. To see the sparkle in the eyes of a student whose brain has made the connection to successfully decode an entire cryptic crossword is sheer joy.

The reasons behind this are multiple. When you start to dissect the setter mindset you begin to comprehend their character, and figuring out how someone thinks is a large part of the game plan. Unraveling the setter’s backstory gives solvers an edge in terms of speed and strategy. It helps the solver to determine the answers more quickly. And if you add to that a puzzle where multiple people are collaborating together, the social aspect too offers its own rewards.

So, back to that initial question surrounding the immense popularity of cryptic crosswords. Certainly, you can now see more clearly what the hype is all about. Everything from stimulating our brain cells through active learning to even improving our social interactions, cryptic puzzles take problem-solving to another level. I should know – thanks to its addictive inspiration, I’ve spent nearly 40 years working on them, both individually and with others.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time to get in on the action with cryptics. You might be surprised at what you learn – about yourself and about the world around you. Be prepared – you’ll likely find the hobby bringing you countless smiles and years of satisfying companionship!

Puzzle Clues Hidden Within Crime Novels

Uncovering the mystery of truth behind a crime novel requires acute investigative skills. Together, the riddles and puzzles embedded in each story form the irresistible recipe enticing the reader – turning them into the metaphorical ly on the wall.’ Along with the protagonist, the reader begins an overwhelmingly thrilling quest to solve the secret. That’s where several inevitable questions arise, like:

* Who’s the killer?
* What was their motive?
* Will they strike again?
* When will the evil perpetrator be crushed?

Crime novels are addicting! And the authors know it. That’s why they make their stories so engaging and challenging for readers. One of the first things we (readers) do when selecting a new mystery novel is to search for clues within the puzzle’s theme. Among a multitude of topics, we find greed, power, money, and love.

Which of these focuses front and center?

Once the reader has figured that out, they’re one step closer to unraveling the puzzle. Therein lies the hook! By blending intrigue and detective work, we’ve now set up a virtual ALLIANCE with the book’s hero. And everyone knows what that means – the crime novelist has lured us in. There is no turning back!

Now that the reader has unequivocally accepted the challenge, it’s time to pursue those initial clues. Scouring line after line, page after page in hopes of uncovering further details to the mystery’s puzzle, the reader must use their discerning eyes to avoid getting thrown off. For example, did the author’s description of the hero’s childhood penchant for playing hide-and-seek in the forest really mean something? Or was it just a distracting element – an irrelevant tangent taking us nowhere?

It’s crucial the reader be well-versed in recognizing the difference. When analyzing the puzzle, staying focused on the key parts offers a certain amount of control over the story. A strongly crafted crime novel uses these puzzles to its advantage. Lacing together elements of intrigue and inquiry, the reader could very easily find themselves going in circles. By knowing how to take a serious deep dive into the story’s nuanced language, the reader has a real chance at Sherlock Holmes-like results.

Another angle to consider when picking up one of these books is to comprehend they are pattern-less puzzles. Unlike newspapers (usually following a particular path), crime novels are designed differently, making the reader sift through a virtual _mountain of debris_ to uncover the truth. Comparing it to a crime scene, where an investigator fervently dissects every ounce of evidence, it goes with this popular literary genre. Each piece of information must be scrutinized to get to the truth. All of it matters – hints, suspicions, intuition, hunches and general mistrust must be closely examined.

A perfect example of this is Nero Blanc’s 12-book Crossword Mystery series. In the first book, Detective Rosco Polycrates joins Crossword Creator, Annabella Graham to uncover the mystery behind a man’s death. This sets the stage for the remaining stories in the series. It is via these types of crime novels that readers like me get to feel that we’re playing a key role in solving the mystery.

On why these novels are so gripping. Do you remember Rubik’s cube? People would spend hours on end attempting to figure out how to align the color scheme, intensely turning the toy’s faces and evaluating which move to make next. Puzzles like these are grand mysteries. It’s the same concept with crime novels. The author’s prime motive is to keep readers so attached that they can’t possibly set the book down. Just like with Rubik’s cube, you can’t let go of the novel until you’ve gone through each phase of the investigation with the protagonist.

Sometimes that means you’re going to re-read several pages, perhaps even a chapter or two. Heck, it might even mean going back to the initial opening to take side notes. Whatever it takes, the reader is in it for the long haul. And that’s another reason why crime novel series do so well. Imagine this: you’ve started Nero Blanc’s 12-book series. As mentioned earlier, you already know the mystery stage is set. You’re already familiar with the main characters. You might start to anticipate who the players will be in the next story. From there, you begin to draw into your memory bank – hhhh, I remember what Detective Rosco discovered in the first book!’

When going through a series, you won’t want to skip any of the parts. And that’s because each book ties into the next – the mystery keeps you coming back for more. This is how authors ensure their readership, and it’s how readers like you and me continue to feel like we’re part of solving the puzzle.

All of this makes crime novel reading one of my favorite hobbies. What about you…..why are you hooked?

Nytimes Crossword in Augmented Reality on Instagram

The NY Times crossword puzzle keeps up with latest tech trends and now you no longer have to get the paper edition of the newspaper to get your hands on the famous puzzles. In fact all you need to do is open the Instagram app and try solving the game in Augmented Reality.

This new game was built with Facebooks Spark AR technology, nytimes says, and it is not the first time that the company has created an AR gaming version of a game although it’s not the first time the nytimes company has worked with AR technology.

This new A.R version  of the New York Times crossword looks a bit different from the classic one. The popular  newspaper collaborated with Instagram (not for the first time), to reveal a new Augmented Reality effect which allows players to play the puzzle in your story thanks to this new method of playing.

The AR effect for this weeks Wednesday crossword, allows you to visualise in voic space the crossword puzzle grid and join the shattered letters together. So you have to put back the shattered crossword puzzle, find the words among the shards by changing your perspective.

In order to do this simply the phone’s camera in space to quickly find the right angle to find the letters making up the missing answers. This gesture actually proved to be a bit complicated for some users on social media as some people posted on twitter or facebook asking for help because they struggled in trying to find the right angle to arrange the letters.