Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old Dogs, New Tricks

One of the things that I wanted to do when I retired was to take a crack at Crossword Puzzles. I did make a brief, abortive stab but found the exercise too frustrating. When Sudokus came along, I did a lot better, which caused me to think that people would naturally tend toward one type of puzzle more than the other. My feeling was that some people are logical problem solvers (ie Sudoku), while others tend to have more associative brains (ie Crosswords).

While I still feel that way, I recently decided to give crosswords another whirl after seeing how D2 attacked them when we were visiting in Vancouver. Now, D3 is the real puzzle person in the family, but while she was doing something else, D2 picked up a puzzle, and Cuppa and I tried to help. What I saw D2 doing was to quickly move on to another clue when we were stuck. She didn't spend a lot of time labouring over one clue. We either got it or moved on.

I thought, "Hmmm, maybe that's the secret. Maybe I'll try again." So, I did try it, and it went a lot better. Then, I decided to draw Cuppa into the scheme and asked for her help. It turns out that she helped a lot, for she is quicker to find the associative leaps that are troublesome for my linear and logical brain. Meanwhile, I seem to be able to contribute from the store of trivia that is somehow locked within my cranium. I guess that I'm saying that between the two of us, we manage to put together one brain that can do these dastardly puzzles.

This is often our new bedtime ritual. We do a puzzle; she goes to sleep, and I come here to post about it. Here's tonight's solution.



We've been doing puzzles from the newspaper, but we've recently discontinued our subscription, so we'll have to look for a decent book at the bookstore. I picked up a Dell puzzle book at the grocery store the other day, but they seem too easy. Can you beat that? After a few weeks of trying crosswords, we're getting picky.

We'd still drive D3 nuts though. As an expert, she never cheats. Neither do we exactly, but after having gone wrong a few times in the past, we do like to confirm our answers when in doubt. Most of the time, I am able to flip to the solution and focus on the right spot without seeing the surrounding answers, so it works pretty well for us novices. And we're already checking less than we were.

I guess it is possible for old dogs to learn new tricks ... even if they do bend the strict rules just a tad. At least we're exercising our brains, which is rather the point.

7 comments:

Mara said...

In the Netherlands there are two types of crosswords: the ones where you just need to find the word asked and the ones which are only cryptic questions. I am able to do both (though not at the highest level), but prefer the cryptic ones. Must be the crooked lines in my brain...

Queenmothermamaw said...

A/C you're not confused just full of fun. Now you got it with the crossword puzzle. No not spend any time on one word. If you do not know it immediately go on to a short one and build around it. Also, some puzzles will have a theme, some do not, if it has a title that will be the theme. Sometimes that helps,sometimes not. Also go to LA Crosswords.com and you can get a puzzle anytime. You can copy it or work it on the computer. I understand Sudoku, I know it is logic but too slow for me. Maybe I gave up too soon. Sorry comment so long.
QMM

simplycol said...

I have never been able to master the art of crossword puzzles... probably because I rank as one of the world's worst spellers. But sudoku ... ah, those I can do. :-)

Barry said...

My wife is the crossword puzzler in the family.

I've never developed a taste for them. Or, more honestly, the ability to complete them.

And now I read completing crosswords is the key to staving off dementia in old age.

I'm doomed.

Donna said...

I Love spelling (but you can't tell!!) My Dad worked the crossword puzzles Forever!!! It was one of his favorite things to do...not me...I'm too figity...
BUT, I'm not yet retired so that may be the problem...by the time I get home and get the chores done, that's it...
By the way! You took off the music thing and it only takes a few Seconds to load your blog again!
Happy night!hughugs

Heather Plett said...

I've never been particularly good at either. I think it's a matter of not having enough patience. There's quite a tradition of doing crossword puzzles in the coffee room at work, and since I'm a writer, people assume I'll be good at it, but I'm really not.

Bachelor said...

AC,
Looks like you two are into it. I don't do well with crossword puzzles. I'm afraid I'd make the solution page my home page for sure. You are correct.. brain exercise. I had a great aunt that was very good at it. A niece of mine Willow who has a blog "Life at Willow Manor" is great at scrabble. What are you getting for Christmas anyway? Hope you're feeling better and that you're over your cold.
Later, The Bach