The Once and Present Crossword

After more than 100 years, crosswords continue to thrive, with many options for solving electronically
Theme answers are generally the longest horizontal ones in the puzzle

No other type of puzzle can equal the pleasure of solving a good crossword. I’m going to explain why I think that is, offer a few tips on how to tackle a crossword and help you find a puzzle that’s just the right fit, especially online.

I say all of this as a lifelong puzzle solver, but also as a professional puzzle maker. I’ve been writing crosswords for 20 years and many other types of puzzles from even earlier on: mazes, brain teasers, word searches, math problems, sudoku, hidden pictures, anagrams and other word puzzles.

Crosswords have been around a long time. The first, a diamond-shaped “Word-Cross Puzzle,” was created by Arthur Wynne in 1913. It appeared in the now-defunct New York World. The New York Times crossword didn’t start up until 1942, to help people cope during World War II. Prior to that,
The Times had deemed the pastime a
“sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words, the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern.”

More than a century after its invention, the crossword is still going strong. But there’s a lot of new competition. As smartphones and computer tablets have proliferated, so have the number of puzzles and games made for them. Taking a quick look at the iTunes App Store, I found 3,200 puzzle apps, plus another 1,000 word games — and that was just the ones starting with the letter “A”! And then there’s the plethora of video games, each offering the kind of action-packed graphics a crossword can only dream of.

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