Each morning Monday through Saturday – Sunday is my day of rest – I relish working on the crossword puzzle in the Tampa Bay Times.
Research shows that people who are more into words are more likely to solve crossword puzzles while people who are more into logic are more likely to solve Sudoku. There is also the fact that crossword lovers enjoy a mystery, so the solving is a lot of fun.
Although word games and wordplay go back to ancient times, the crossword puzzle is fairly recent. The first known published crossword puzzle was created by Arthur Wynne, a journalist from Liverpool, England. His puzzle, in a diamond shape and containing no black squares, appeared in The New York World on December 21, 1913.
During the early 1920’s other newspapers picked up the newly discovered pastime and within a decade crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers. It was in this period crosswords began to assume their familiar form.
Crossword solving involves several useful skills including vocabulary, reasoning, spelling, making inferences, evaluating choices, and drawing conclusions.
In recent years, there are reports that crossword puzzle solving can stave off effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Among these was an excellent, comprehensive article in the journal Clinical Correlations (2014) that reviewed 11 different research studies on this topic.
After reviewing each scientific study, the author’s bottom line is: “Leisure activities such as crossword puzzles, card games, and reading provide an avenue to stimulate the mind, thus delaying the onset of dementia.”
As for me, I do crossword puzzles because they are relaxing – a mental equivalent of taking a long walk and they are satisfying – love the “aha” moment that comes after I figure out a word.
The New York Times Supersized Book of Sunday Crosswords: 500 Puzzles, by Will Shortz
Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #15, by John M. Samson (Editor)
New Comprehensive A-Z Crossword Dictionary, by Edy G. Schaffer
The Curious History of the Crossword: 100 Puzzles from Then and Now, by Ben Tausig