2011-08-18 / Local & State

New Tips For Crossword And Puzzle Lovers

Like baseball and pie-eating contests, crossword puzzles and word searches have long been a popular pastime across America. And recently, Sudoku has added to the fun.

Moreover, research has shown that puzzles can help you stay mentally fit. So they’re not only enjoyable, but good for you too.

If you’re looking to improve your puzzle skills, or simply seeking a new healthy addiction, here are some helpful tips to navigate the challenging world of puzzles:


First, read through all the clues, filling in what you’re sure of as you go. Often the fill-in-the-blanks clues are the easiest (e.g., “American as apple ___”). With time, you’ll also learn some of the more common repeating answers, such as “etui” for a lady’s handbag.

Next, go through and fill in any words ending in “s” or “ed,” based on the clues. So as not to worry about making mistakes, use an erasable pen, such as Pilot’s new FriXion Ball gel pen, which lets you clean up any errors and re-work your answers so they’re all in-sync without any messy eraser shavings. Be careful as you erase, as newspaper can be a little tricky.


Sudoku puzzles, which use numbers instead of words, have been shown to increase reasoning and logic. A number of other games that encourage logic and reasoning, like Battleship and BrainQuest, can help you “cross-train.” The trick to Sudoku mastery is to write down possible solutions instead of trying to keep them all in your head.

Jot down all possible numbers for a box in the corner of the box, then scan across rows and columns. For example, if 5 and 7 are likely possibilities for two boxes in a row, scan each column to see if either number has already been used. Don’t fret over making a mess with notes in each box – an erasable pen can let you clean up your work before showing your friends your impressive feats of logical reasoning.

Word searches

Word searches aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they’re still fun and challenging. Start by reviewing all the words on the search list, but then focus on finding only one word – if you find others along the way, that’s fine, but don’t try to find them all at once.

It’s often easier to see words that crossover one another if you use a highlighter instead of a pen to circle words. For example, FriXion Light erasable highlighters let you find words easily with their bright fluorescent ink, but erase your missteps just as effortlessly.

Start by searching for the first letter of each word and seeing if the second letter is adjacent. If you’re really stuck, look for unusual letters, such as “Q” or “X,” or unusual combinations, such as double letters like “tt” or “ll.”

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