The Week In Crosswords

“Drop the crossword puzzle and go outside, you old nerds, before your brains fall out through your ears,” said the Wall Street Journal and Daily Mail. All right, I’m paraphrasing, but only slightly. Many news outlets ran with a study published in the latest Neurology which indicated that exercise had clear benefits for brain health after retirement, whereas such mental activities as crosswords had none. The study contradicts other relatively recent studies, and without direct access to all the scientific literature involved, I cannot say whether Alan J. Gow’s methodology was better than those of his predecessors.

The better reports on the study avoid making it an either-or choice. What everyone agrees upon is that physical, mental and social activity form a balanced diet, not only for the brain but for a fulfilling life.

Okay, this is not the first interview you’ve likely read of Will Shortz, nor is it even the first to appear in this young weekly feature. But it does have an interesting new angle, focusing on his formidable collection of crossword memorabilia (and his attitude about retirement).

The news blackout Shortz engineered for last week’s Sunday NYT contest puzzle seems to have been total– no bloggers I could find posted answers to it before the 10/23 6 pm deadline. After the previous week’s early giveaway of last Thursday’s Tetris-themed NYT, it’s nice to know that some secrets can still be kept. A full tally of contest winners is here.

Solve your problems like a crossword puzzle, answer the easiest first, then you will have a clue how to solve the difficult. (Spiritual Truths)

The snarky fusion of crosswords and old-fashioned role-playing games, Crossword Dungeon, is available for iOS. So is the fairly self-explanatory Crossword Dictionary.

About T Campbell

T Campbell is a crossword constructor and comics scriptwriter. Among his cruciverbal accomplishments are the Ubercross C-Spot (the largest puzzle to follow New York Times standard rules), Crossworlds, a collection of 50 science-fiction-themed puzzles, and the forthcoming On Crosswords: Callin' Out Them Squares.
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5 Responses to The Week In Crosswords

  1. Huda says:

    I agree that avoiding an either/or choice is more reasonable.

    I think that a lot also depends on what is lacking in your life to begin with. If you’re already very physically active, then adding a more intellectual activity will matter more. If you’re already very intellectually active but physically sedentary, then exercise will matter a great deal. I think what is often overlooked are the social and emotional aspects. So, in general, leading a rich, fulfilling life is really the goal, including being good towards others, not just towards oneself. And the least appreciated of all considerations: Having Fun!

  2. Tuning Spork says:

    What everyone agrees upon is that physical, mental and social activity form a balanced diet, not only for the brain but for a fulfilling life.

    And that, there, is that.

  3. Sparky says:

    I believe the people who come up with these conclusions think a crossword just involves reading a clue and popping in a word. They don’t seem to know the involved, upside down, punny, backwards thinking involved in winkling out an answer in a NYT, BEQ, pick you favorite constructor, type of puzzle. They must get their samples from airline magazines. Balance is all.

    In addition, T. Campbell. I really like this feature. Thank you.

    • T Campbell says:

      Thanks, Sparky! And it’s a good point: what KIND of crosswords the tested people were doing is relevant to the result. It could be worse than airline magazines: it could be the kind of crossword we all did in second grade, the one where unchecked letters greatly outnumber the crossed letters, and if you don’t know all the words you’re pretty screwed.

  4. Ruth says:

    If there are folks out there forcing themselves to do crosswords because they’re “good for you” but actually don’t enjoy it, then they should quit. I do them because they’re fun, stimulating, enlightening to ME, but if it adds any benefit to my aging brain that’s just a bonus. It’s not broccoli, people.

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