It has been exactly hundred and three days since my friend M and I started doing the Mini New York Times Crossword together. That is literally the first thing I do everyday after waking up. I go to the NYT app, open the mini puzzle, solve it and send my time to M. M lives in Amsterdam and wakes up a little while later and sends me his time back as soon as he can and that is how we greet each other Good Morning every day. Once we compare our timings, we discuss the words that we found most difficult and also the clues that were great. M even notes some special words and clues down in his diary which I think is really adorable.
I decided to also look into the history of Crosswords and The Smithsonian Magazine has published an amazing piece where it talks about Arthur Wynne, who managed a puzzle supplement for New York World. He wanted to do something new and fun. Inspired by rudimentary word puzzle games he gave birth to the ‘Word-Cross’. An illustrator then accidentally changed ‘Word-Cross’ to ‘Crossword’ and the name stuck. Surprisingly enough, the NYT was one of the last metropolitan newspapers to offer the puzzle to readers and in an editorial piece they called it “a primitive sort of mental exercise”. And look at where they are now, with the NYT puzzle probably being the most popular crossword puzzle in the world.
The New Yorker also did a beautiful piece on ‘The Art and Politics of Crosswords’ where the author has beautifully described her addiction to the crossword puzzle and what she likes and dislikes about them:
In my ravenous puzzle consumption, I’ve inevitably developed tastes and preferences. I prefer vocabulary to trivia, I love visual jokes, and I live and die for twisty, punning clues that require their own decoding.
The video in the post above also talks about the term ‘Breakfast Puzzle’ which is essentially a sort of quality check for croosswords and in simple terms it means that a the crossword should not offend anyone solving it while eating breakfast. But the Crossword Constructor also mentions a valid point that as time passes, people have started becoming more comfortable with concepts and theories as compared to the time gone by, so what is good enough to think about during Breakfast also changes.
As an ending note, I decided to write this blogpost when today in the morning I saw a video on The New Yorker about Partner Crosswords, I realized that there might be many people who share this love of solving Crosswords together and I just wanted to thank M to initiate this tradition. It has truly been an amazing experience and I hope I have more wins on my hands than losses. Thank you for being my Crossword Companion. 🙂