Like the Symmetry of a Sliced Pizza (Radial)
The puzzle above is from 2004, but I just found it last night. Oh goody! An unsolved crossword and/or acrostic puzzle! About food! It’s like finding fifty bucks in your coat pocket. Now I know what you are going to say. You are going to say that I can in fact go out at any time and buy a book of crossword puzzles for way less than fifty bucks, and you are so right, but somehow, it’s not the same. The puzzle has to be raw. It can be two years old, but it can’t be cooked.
I enjoy crossword puzzles, and I have to admit I enjoyed that crossword puzzle movie. I just loved the bit where we get to see puzzle composer Merl Reagle write a crossword puzzle freehand. That is so cool! I could watch a full length movie of nothing but people writing puzzles. I wish we could have seen more about puzzle composing and especially more about the extraordinary Margaret Farrar, who invented the puzzle. How did she know to make them symmetrical?
I was surprised by the low-technology of the tournament process. When you finish a puzzle, you raise your hand, and someone walks over and picks it up. Then you wait while the puzzles are scored by hand. It was also a bit of a surprise that the crossword puzzle solvers, with the exception of one who is a professional baseball player, were somehow less articulate and verbal than I might have guessed. They were nothing like the kids in the movie Spellbound.
I also liked Spellbound, but it is a very different movie, just as spelling and puzzle-solving are very different pursuits. Crossword puzzles are things that people actually do all the time in real life, while spelling viva voce must be completely alien to almost anyone’s experience. Maybe sometimes someone will ask you "How do you spell 'blah blah blah'?"and you'll say "B, L, A, H, space, B, L, A, H, space, B, L, A, H," but not too often, and you can scribble it on the back of an envelope or something.
I will just mention another movie that ought to have been as engaging as these two but was not. Shortly after Spellbound, there was a movie about children in
Read about Merl Reagle’s life in puzzles.