History of the Crossword Puzzle Part 3

About the history of the crossword puzzle games found in newspapers, differences between American and English puzzles, future of crossword puzzles.

The Crossword Puzzle

The interests of the modern fan have grown much more diverse than his fellow enthusiast's were in the 1920s. Variations on the puzzle include abstruse definitions, Double-Crostics, puns and anagrams, and theme puzzles (such as music or sports), the latter difficult and a challenge to one's knowledge of the given theme.

Over 30 general-circulation crossword puzzle magazines appear on the newsstands today. The main publishers are Harle, Charlton, and Dell. A few of these magazines, such as All-Star Fill-Ins by Harle, have a circulation of over half a million.

A study of newer puzzles shows a current trend to the "Hide-a-Word" or identify-type of puzzle. Definitions are not required in this type, only spotting the words in the letter diagram. The speciality magazines feature more varieties of puzzles than the daily newspapers, which usually cling to symmetrical patterns with blacked-out squares. There are cryptograms and many patterns not using numbers in the magazines.

Among the themes for puzzles in a recent issue of Top-Notch Fill-in Puzzles are "Vice and Virtue" (Clues: odium, strife, greed) and "Economically Speaking" (Clues: income, system, value).

Reference aids for the modern fan who approaches his puzzles as a treasure trove to be unlocked include 2 crossword puzzle dictionaries: Andrew Swanfeldt's Crossword Puzzle Dictionary (2nd ed., Crowell), has 568 pages and 53,000 entries with 200,000 equivalents; Frank Eaton Newton's The Perma Crossword Puzzle and Word Game Dictionary (Perma-books), has 191 pages and places its emphasis on difficult words. The Simon & Schuster Series 100 of its Crossword Puzzle Book, edited by Margaret Petherbridge Farrar, contains material of historical interest to fans.

Sophisticated fans like New York magazine's "The World's Most Challenging Crossword," which requires wit and reasoning rather than dictionary work.

There is one national club, The National Puzzler's League (2301 Tower Drive, Austin, Tex. 78703), founded in 1883. This is for hobbyists interested in word puzzles; its monthly publication, The Enigma, is edited by Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Petroski.

The magazine, Top-Notch Fill-In Puzzles, a Harle Publication, lists a number of contests which might interest puzzle fans. These include the Aries Puzzle Contests (P. O. Box C-710, Scottsdale, Ariz. 85252), and Aquarius Contests (7551 Melrose Ave. Dept. 9097, Los Angeles, Calif. 90046). See current issues of this magazine for entry blanks.

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