Or: More than You Ever Wanted to Know About Crosswords!
While most of you know about my passion for crosswords, especially the New York Times’ crossword, it occurs to me that I have never shared with any of you why exactly I love them as much as I do. So, before I talk about the puzzle I want to write, I would like to share with you some of the reasons why I love crosswords so much.
1. They feed my love for juicy vocabulary: The fact that crosswords involve language and require a sizeable vocabulary alone is enough to place them above those, in my opinion, inane Sudoku puzzles. Moreover, as opposed to other word puzzles, like the Jumble, a wider vocabulary is required. This is also what sets the Times apart from all other crosswords, as it pulls from a much more expansive and elevated vocabulary list than other puzzles do. Further, unlike Scrabble, which I also thoroughly enjoy, I don’t have to do them online to do them by myself. For whatever reason, I just don’t like word games as well online. Anyway, I throughly adore the way crosswords allow me to exercise my language muscles, use words and phrases that I enjoy but rarely use in conversation, and expand my vocabulary by introducing me to new words.
2. They involve trivia: As much as I love language, I love trivia almost as much. Crosswords also utilize a great deal of trivia and often require knowledge in a whole host of fields from art to science to history to religion. Again, not only do I get to use all of the trivia based knowledge stored in my mind, but I have also learned a great deal from working crosswords. More than once a clue has piqued my curiosity to the point that I researched information on the answer.
3. They challenge me: Between the vocabulary and trivia knowledge already discussed, I also love the way they require analytical and reasoning skills. I love difficult puzzles that really play on all these factors. The more challenging the better. They truly exercise my mind in a way that I find thoroughly enjoyable. Morever, I have my own personal rules to challenge myself. First, no googling! I decided almost two years ago that I was never going to look another answer up and that all answers were just going to come from my head. So far, so good. :) I also love challenging myself with time. I’m not world class at all in my time, but I am pretty darn fast, if I say so myself. :)
4. They are carefully constructed: Most people don’t realize that a good crossword often takes 100 or more hours to construct. There are a series of defined rules that a grid has to follow. The one that amazes me the most is that the grid itself has to be perfectly symmetircal both horizontally and vertically in terms of both the black squares and the theme answers. I am simply in awe at the craftsmanship and incatricies involved in crosswords and consider the best of them to be art in and of themselves.
5. They are creative: Despite all of the rules, crossowrds offer an incredible opportunity for creativity. There are countless ways to provide fun twists and patterns to the traditional set up. Further, the clues offer a wide variety of ways to make even the most mundane words a lot of fun to solve. I never fail to be astounded at all of the brilliant ideas that the world’s top constructors come up with to add a new wrinkle to my favorite daily ritual.