On This day in 1913, the first ever modern crossword puzzle was published in the New York World. It was designed by an immigrant from Britain, Arthur Wynne. You can see it there on the left. It contains all the things we expect from a crossword puzzle — namely, clues and crisscrossed words.
Wynne named his invention a “Word-Cross Puzzle.” Apparently this changed a couple of weeks later when a typesetter screwed up and printed it as “Cross-Word.” The name stuck. I have to assume it is because “crossword” sounds better than “wordcross.” Just the same, “Sudoku” hardly trips off the tongue.
If I didn’t know me, I would assume that I would be into crossword puzzles. I’m not. It reminds me kind of like my experience with chess. I was horrible at the game until I reached a certain critical mass of information. I did this by analyzing grandmaster games until a switched flipped and I understood what was really going on in games.
When I look at crosswords, I’m stunned. It makes no sense at all to me. For example, I was looking at this one at 24-25 with the clue, “Found on the seashore.” I thought, “That’s crazy! What two letter word is found at the seashore?!” The answer is, “Sand.” So you see, I can’t even figure out the basic mechanics of the game.
But someday, I would like to become a crossword puzzle person. As it is, I think my Sudoku skills are slipping a bit. The last really hard one I tried, I did not manage to finish. I think that’s the first time that’s happened to me since I started doing them about eight years ago. But in my defense, I was probably drunk and didn’t spend that long on it. Given that I went through an obsessive Sudoku period, maybe I should avoid the crosswords altogether.