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welcome to the world of crossword puzzles

From the perspective of the arts, Electricka insists, crossword puzzles are exercises in the language arts; therefore they are the province of The Muse Of Language Arts, who presents these pages in conjunction with Electricka and her cohort muses. Together, they explore the world of crossword puzzle games and gamers.


ETAF has been approached by Electricka's muses, who have asked us to publish the following two statements:


a personal message from the muse of language arts

To achieve high standards of quality, Electricka has relinquished control over this feature and ceded responsibility for handling crossword puzzle topics to me, The Muse Of Language Arts. Truth is, plain and simple, she wasn't up to the task herself.

I want it known that the exploration of the world of crossword puzzles you are about to undertake comes to you by my good graces and from my pen alone.



a personal message from Electricka, muse of the worldWide web©

I, Electricka, Muse of the WorldWide Web©, freely admit that I asked The Muse Of Language Arts to help with this feature. I did it because crosswords are language games and she's a specialist in the language arts. Makes sense, doesn't it?

I may have ceded crossword puzzles to The Muse Of Language Arts, but I want it known to all that for now and forever forward I exercise editorial control over everything found on these pages.

Furthermore, I am in full control of the world of gaming (which includes the world of crosswords), crossword puzzle tournaments, and Electricka's arts crossword puzzles themselves. If you don't believe me, visit my other features:

  • Explore arts tournaments, including crossword puzzle tournaments, at Electricka's page called Tournaments & Contests: click here.

  • Explore the world of arts games and gaming at Electricka's page called the World Of Arts Games And Gaming: click here.

  • Solve arts puzzles, including crossword puzzles, at Electricka's page called Welcome To Arts Puzzles: click here.

about this feature—A Game That's An art

What could persuade Electricka to relinquish control over this feature to a cohort muse? Why is the world of crossword puzzles under the purview of a muse whose subject is linguistics?

The world of crossword puzzles is a sub-world of the world of games. The re are many other sub-worlds in the world of games, but the world of crossword puzzles is one that is especially relevant to the arts. Why? Because crosswords is a game that borders on being an art.

Which side of the border between art and non-art crossword puzzles belong on, The Muse leaves up to others to debate.


about the world of crossword puzzlespast, present, and future

Citizens of the World Of Crossword Puzzles consist principally of four kinds of people—those who play (solve) crossword puzzles and those who construct, edit, and publish them. Constructors, editors, and publishers exist to produce puzzles, which they distribute to solvers, who consume them.

There's a considerable amount of crossover between producers and consumers; that is, constructors, editors, and some publishers are also solvers. theyget into the game because they enjoy it. A competent constructor will always carefully edit his own material before submitting it to other editors or publishers; and some constructors edit and publish their own material.

So far, none of this should surprise you; it's a run-of-the-mill subject, isn't it? But there's considerably more to this world and this game than meets the eye.

The World Of Crossword Puzzles can be explored from these points of view:

  • Scope
  • History
  • The game itself
  • Tournament play
  • The future


for and about solvers

A player is a person or thing, such as a computer, that plays crossword puzzles. Players are also called solvers because they try to find or work out the answer to or explanation for puzzle clues (sometimes called questions). The Muse prefers to call players solvers because solving a puzzle is the player's immediate goal.

At the pages called For And About Solvers, The Muse offers information and help to solvers.

  • Explore the solver's world at The Muse Of Language Arts' feature called For And About Solvers: click here.

Solve a Crossword puzzle now

Electricka and her muses offer you a number of arts-related crossword puzzles to solve online at your computer. Some have been constructed by visitors to Electricka's web site, others by ETAF Staff. All are original. Electricka also offers you a collection other kinds of art-related puzzles and different kinds of games to play online.

  • Electricka's arts puzzles are located at her page called Welcome To Arts Puzzles: click here
  • You'll find a selection of other kinds of games to play and other diversions by visiting Electricka's page called Arts Games And Other Diversions: click here.

Happy solving!

Publish your original arts-related puzzle or quiz

Electricka hopes that everyone interested in games, from art devotees to neophytes, will create an original arts-related puzzle or quiz; she encourages them to submit their games for publication in these pages.

To encourage visitors to publish their original arts-related puzzles and quizzes, Electricka has declared the Arts Puzzles feature and the Arts Quizzes feature ByLine features. Electricka suggests that you explore the guidelines for these features now.

  • Submit your arts-related puzzle now at the page called Guidelines For ByLine Contributors—Arts Puzzles: click here.
  • Submit your arts-related quiz now at the page called Guidelines For ByLine Contributors—Arts Quizzes: click here.

For more information about this and other ByLine features, visit the ByLine page at this web site:

  • Click the words About ByLines in the ByLine image at the right side of this page or click here.

for and about constructors, editors, and publishers

A constructor is a person or thing (such as a computer) who designs and builds crossword puzzles. An editor is a person who edits the work of constructors and makes them ready for publication. A publisher is a person or agency responsible for preparing, distributing, or selling edited puzzles.

At the pages called For And About Constructors, Editors, and Publishers, The Muse offers solvers information aimed at helping them understand the role of each of these groups and the impact they have on the puzzle and the solver.

  • Explore constructors and editors at The Muse Of Language Arts' feature called For And About Constructors, Editors, and Publishers: click here.

crossword personalities

Although crossword puzzles are played by many, only a relatively few have had a major identifiable impact on their evolution; only a few have shaped crossword puzzle design or construction, the way the game is played, or the sub-cultural community at large.

Certain kinds of personalities seem to be professionally attracted to the field or to seek notoriety as amateurs. Many have flourished and performed brilliantly in multiple roles, as constructors, editors, or publishers; all have been solvers.

  • Explore the backgrounds of individuals who are or have been brilliant solvers as well as constructors, editors, and publishers. Visit The Muse Of Language Arts' feature called For And About Constructors, Editors, And Publishers. Look for the section called Prominent Personalities: click here.

the american crossword puzzle tournament

Perhaps the most prominent and interesting of all crossword puzzle tournaments in the U.S. is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, founded in 1978. It has met every year since then, plenty if time to develop into a subculture of the world of crossword puzzles in its own right.

  • Explore crossword puzzle competition at Electricka's feature on arts-games tournaments; visit page called The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament: click here.

wordplay, the movie

Wordplay is the title of a movie about crossword puzzles which documents the 2005 competition of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (see above, this page). It is one of only a few movies about crosswords and the only documentary known to The Muse that offers a vivid peek into the almost mystically intense subculture that is the world of the crossword puzzle tournament.

  • Explore the world of crossword puzzle tournaments as documented in a film about the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (see above). See a review of the movie Wordplay at The Muse Of Film's page called Movie Reviews - Wordplay: click here.

the World of gaming

The World Of Crossword Puzzles is a macrocosm of the World Of Gaming. The World of Gaming encompasses the world of all games, not just crosswords.

What is a game? A game is an amusement or pastime, a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators. Crosswords is an example of a game.

The World of crossword puzzles is large but the world of games as a whole is much, much larger; it's gigantic. At the feature called the World Of Arts Games And Gaming, Electricka explores this larger world. There, for the benefit of all game enthusiasts everywhere, Electricka peeks through the window that looks out on the world of arts-related games and gaming.

  • Visit Electricka's feature called the World Of Arts Games And Gaming: click here.

ETAF Recommends

the world and culture of crossword puzzles

There's no shortage of books of crossword puzzles you can work but there's a paucity of books about the world of crossword puzzles. Here are a few noteworthy selections:

  • The Crossword Obsession : The History and Lore of the World's Most Popular Pastime, by Coral Amende. As the title states, this book includes a history of the development of the crossword puzzle and a description of its underworld. Filled with one interview after another, many leaving the reader wondering about what was said or why and asking himself, where's the beef? On the other hand, interviews are filled with homey advice. As a consequence of the interview approach, it rambles, is discursive, and it wanders from topic to topic, but you get to know a little bit about a lot of people. Lots of crossword puzzles to work at the back, but that's why you buy a book of crossword puzzles, not a book about crossword puzzles. No index but a glossary. Lots of different kinds of lists and references, resources, and other attachments including suggested reading, acronyms, anagrams, biographies, web sites, contests and tournaments, forums, constructor web sites, dictionaries and thesauri, foreign languages, lyrics, merchandise, online puzzles, organizations, software, and more. Despite of (or because of) its pros and cons, this book will introduce you to many names and ideas (albeit disconnected ones) and will get you started.
  • Gridlock: Crossword Puzzles and the Mad Geniuses Who Create them, Matt Gaffney.
  • Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession, Marc Romano.
  • Cruciverbalism: A Crossword Fanatic's Guide to Life in the Grid, written by Stanley Newman, a prominent constructor with inside connections, with writing assistance from Mark Lasswell. Intelligently written and full of pertinent facts. Detailed and readable blow-by-blow style. Partly-first-hand historic account of the evolution of the crossword, including the story of how it got its name. Explains construction rules and how they came to be. Insights on the proper role of style in construction. Covers prominent personalities well. Lots of suggestions for improving play. Index. Worth a look.

Puzzles and solving aids

Besides books on the subject of puzzles, you can find a large selection of crossword puzzle books on paper containing puzzles you can work, printed crossword puzzle dictionaries, posters, and hand-held electronic devices. Things change quickly in this market and there's a great variety of different kinds of items to choose from. If you're seeking such crossword paraphernalia, your best bet is to search the Internet:

Hand-held electronic devices come in three flavors: 1) dictionaries containing words commonly appearing in puzzles, 2) game players that store and present puzzles you can play on their screen, and 3) solvers that find missing letters in an answer word.

constructing and solving Software

Crossword puzzle software for your desktop computer comes in three flavors: 1) constructors that help you create puzzles, 2) game players that store and present puzzles you can play, and 3) solvers that help you solve problems. A given program can offer more than one flavor; for example, a program that helps you construct may also let you play the puzzles you have constructed.

For software construction, ETAF suggests that you investigate a program called Crossword Compiler to see if it meets your needs. Investigate Crossword Compiler at the Crossword Compiler web site. At the same web site you'll find a crossword dictionary, grid filler, word lists in multiple languages, and links to other crossword puzzle web sites.

  • Explore Crossword Compiler at the Crossword Compiler web site: click here.

For help with solving crosswords, ETAF suggests that you investigate a program called Crossword Maestro by Genius 2000.

  • Explore Crossword Maestro at the Genius 2000 web site: click here.

Wordplay, the movie

Some who have seen the move in theaters have reported live interaction going on while the movie is underway, with members of the audience calling out answers to puzzle clues before they're worked out on the screen and the like. If this kind of falderal and the big screen turn you on, by all means see the movie in a theaterif you can find it on the circuit. Otherwise, the DVD is a better way to spend your time. It's packed with entertaining and informative extras such as a commentary, interviews with winners and filmmakers, and other bonus goodies.

There's nothing like a companion book to illuminate a movie and vice versa. If The Muse's review of the movie Wordplay interests you or if you see the movie Wordplay itself and get turned on by it, you may want to try exploring the movie's companion book called, Wordplay: The Official Companion Book by Will Shortz.

This book is the companion to the movie. With it you can think inside the box! Solve puzzles from the hit movie, learn to construct your own crosswords, and much more.




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