I can’t remember the first time I was introduced to a crossword puzzle by my mother and the reason for that is, I was definitely very young in age. I am sure it was a way to introduce words and spellings to me and must be sometime when I was 4 or 5. You get the simplest of all crosswords possible for kids at that age. Crossword puzzles have a wide range in terms of difficulty and complexity.
So what is a crossword puzzle?
It is simply a puzzle that consists of words placed usually in a combination of horizontal and vertical positions, cross crossing each other and you need to populate the boxes- each containing a letter to complete a word. Clues are provided for each word which needs to be solved for.
So you will have clues that are ‘Across’ , implying the words are placed horizontally and you will have a set of clues that are ‘Down’ implying the words are placed vertically. The horizontal and vertical words naturally crisscross each other, hence the name ‘crosswords’.
Different levels of crossword puzzles exist and are defined as Easy/Quick or Cryptic depending on the nature and complexity of the clues provided.
Crosswords & Newspapers
For many years now, newspapers across the world have been publishing crossword puzzles and some of them have achieved iconic status like the ‘New York Times Crossword puzzle’ or ‘The LA Times Crossword Puzzles’ etc. Sunday Express, a noted UK newspaper is said to be the first newspaper to have published a crossword puzzle in its pages back in 1924.
I am sure almost all of us have seen many people poured into their newspaper and chewing a pencil or pen in numerous coffee shops, trying to crack the daily or weekly crossword! Another place you will see many folks racking their brains over a crossword are at airport lounges.
It is a fun puzzle and it is never too late to start. All you need is a thinking mind around words and you can keep a dictionary or thesaurus handy to solve them too.
Crosswords are sometimes topic based. For example you may have crosswords on movies or books or famous politicians etc. One can actually create crosswords on any topic.
It is a great tool for those who love language and words and for those who want to increase their familiarity with the same. Introducing crossword puzzles to children at a young age can help them get going in their thinking abilities as well as definitions, vocabulary and spelling of the language the crosswords maybe in.
It is also a fun family activity to participate in. If you have a crossword on a paper, ideally use a pencil and keep an eraser handy for rework. One person takes responsibility of writing possible answers on the puzzle, another can take on the work of looking up words in the dictionary or thesaurus, and everybody thinks! It is fun. The announcer of clues usually goes “ 32 Down, “a romantic flower” , 4 letters, ending in E”
One will find certain differences in the formats of crossword puzzles around the world. The British and American versions are shown below.
British & American Crossword Formats
Crosswords are created the world over in many languages and are extremely popular. They usually are of a set standard in terms of the number of boxes. For example, 15X15 boxes or squares or 21X21 etc. You can try making your own crosswords for family nights using an excel sheet too! It is not a tough task, for sure.
Make your Excel Crossword for your kid
Have you ever tried working your way through a crossword puzzle?
Many colleges and graduate schools even have Crossword societies that publish periodic puzzles in the college newsletters and have prizes for complete and accurate submissions as well as early bird prizes.
Nowadays with the popularity of the internet, one can find crossword puzzles to play on the web too! You can also find many sites featuring free crossword puzzles which you can download and print to take a shot at!
Else, walk over to the nearest book store or a Barnes & Noble and pick up the puzzle book based on your level of competence with the game.
Are you game for this?