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Refusing To Follow Every Other Newspaper, It Was 18 Years Until The New York Times Published It’s First Crossword Puzzle

December 21 commemorates the birth of a challenging word game enjoyed by millions around the world.  It’s Crossword Puzzle Day!

The first crossword puzzles were published in England in children’s books and other publications. They were simple word games derived from the word squares where letters were arranged in a square so that the words read the same across and down.

The object of a crossword puzzle is to fill in the white spaces of a grid with the correct words from the hints provided alongside the grid. The black spaces separate individual words. The clues to more challenging puzzles are more like riddles, making the game more complex.

Many tout the benefits of crossword puzzles. Not only are they fun, but challenging crossword puzzles may help delay the effects of dementia or sharpen the brain for problem-solving. They can also increase vocabulary and even relieve the mind from the stress of the day by focusing on something other than worldly problems.

Faith Based Events

Journalist Arthur Wynne from Liverpool is credited as the inventor of word game we know today.  He created what is considered the first known published crossword puzzle.  The puzzle appeared in the December 21, 1913, edition of the New York World newspaper.

The first crossword puzzle was diamond-shaped and was initially called “word-cross.” It was a huge success with the newspaper’s readers. The name was soon changed to “crossword” after a typesetting error. Soon other newspapers were running the puzzles. Initially, the only major American daily to refuse to use the puzzle was the New York Times. The crossword finally found its way into the paper’s Sunday edition eighteen years after the puzzle’s introduction. It has since become a staple of the newspaper and just the word “crossword” seems to be synonymous with the New York Times.

Almost one hundred years later, Wynne’s invention proves to be more than a fad. Books of crossword puzzles can be found in stores. Puzzle applications can be downloaded onto cell phones. Perhaps more importantly to Wynne though would be the fact that the puzzle still dominates the “Fun” section of most major newspapers.


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