Today’s Google Doodle honors British crossword inventor Arthur Wynne, as this weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the first crossword puzzle, which was published in the Dec. 21, 1913, edition of New York World. As crossword constructor Merl Reagle explained the design in The Washington Post:
he drew a diamond-shaped grid with numbered squares and numbered clues. It contained 32 words, and his simple instruction read: ‘Fill in the small squares with words which agree with the following definitions.’
Reagle designed a custom puzzle for today’s Google Doodle, which “is save-able as you go, the team notes, so you can leave the screen and return,” The Washington Post reports. And fun fact: he created it at the last minute after another crossword creator published a homage to Wynne that was too similar, according to the newspaper.
To honor the anniversary, NPR has also published a version of the original puzzle grid with updated clues and words with the cheeky headline “100 Years of Solvitude.” And in an interview with The Atlantic published this morning, New York Times crossword puzzle writer Deb Amlen talks about how the game “brings people together” and the way technology has transformed the way people play: “I think that some people, who are called speed solvers and who like to time themselves to see how fast they can solve, like solving on a computer, because most of them can type faster than they can write.”
There is also a documentary called Wordplay (2006) about renowned New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz that focused on the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and featured celebrities such as Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton. Here’s the trailer, in case you consider renting it this weekend:
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