Letter: Cross with puzzles

If you like to solve crossword puzzles like I do, you are very well aware that Tuesday’s puzzle is slightly more difficult than Monday’s, and Wednesday’s slightly more difficult than Tuesday’s, and so on through the week ending with the most difficult (and the largest) puzzle on Sunday.

In addition to being the most difficult and the largest, Sunday’s puzzle can also, at times, be considered the strangest puzzle of the week because some puzzle constructors (can you think of a more apropos designation?) seem to take a fiendish delight in using offbeat, non-standard, “theme” puzzles to show off their inventiveness (their terminology) or their weird mental make-up (my terminology).

Until you have managed to replace your rational thinking with the constructor’s kookie mind set for that particular puzzle, you will find yourself beating your head against the wall in a vain attempt to understand what in the Hell he (or she) is so damn proud of.

These “theme” puzzles require a detailed and close study of the clue definitions where the constructor has taken a perverse pleasure in showing off his/her clever inventiveness and calculated misdirection by utilizing word manipulations, punny analogies, anything that he/she can think of to fool the solver.

Constructors have a deepseated need to succeed in pulling a fast one over the solver, an innate imperative to obfuscate, fool, misdirect, even bamboozle. Strange, because they are supposedly smarter than we mere plebeians!

Crossword constructors are the exact opposite breed from lexicographers, those who compile our dictionaries. Lexicographers excel in precise, succinct definitions while puzzle constructors excel in the art of artifice while deliberately abusing our intelligence.


I actually met a crossword constructor once at a party in Brentwood. He was tall, spare, quiet and bookish looking. He seemed very normal. Great camouflage!

To add insult to injury, I think that he was much smarter than I am.

Ray Singer

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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