Trying Out Other Puzzle Types

Part of Easy Crosswords For Seniors For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you have had enough of crossword puzzles for one day and are looking for other fun ways to boost your brain power, consider the puzzle possibilities listed here. If your newspaper doesn’t carry these puzzles, look for puzzle books or Web sites that feature them. Some of the most popular puzzles include the following:

  • Cryptograms: A cryptogram is a sentence or phrase that’s encrypted, meaning each letter has been substituted with a different letter. To figure out what the sentence or phrase says, you have to figure out each substitution.

  • Word scramble: With this type of puzzle, you look at groups of letters placed in random order and rearrange them into words using every letter. Sometimes letters within the solutions are circled, and the circled letters answer a clue provided by the puzzle editor.

  • Cryptic crosswords: This type of puzzle is tough. The crossword grid doesn’t follow the same rules as a regular crossword. For example, you find lots of unchecked squares on a cryptic crossword. Unchecked squares are white squares that are used in an Across entry but not in a Down entry, or vice versa. Ramping up the difficulty level even more are the types of clues the puzzle constructor creates. No fill-in-the-blanks here; and no trivia either. Each clue is constructed based on wordplay, so you have to essentially solve a riddle or figure out a pun to find the solution. If you’re up for the challenge, look for a book of cryptic crosswords or search online for some examples to try. You can be sure that your synapses will break a sweat!

  • Sudoku: You can find books full of Sudoku puzzles everywhere — probably even in your grocery store checkout lane. Most newspapers publish them as well. The basic Sudoku puzzle is a 9 x 9 grid (it contains nine rows and nine columns) and is divided into nine 3 x 3 grids or boxes. To solve the puzzle, you write in the numbers 1 through 9 in each row, column, and 3 x 3 box. The puzzle constructor gets you started by filling in a handful of entries. Each puzzle has a unique solution; you can’t solve it in more than one way. Sound easy? It isn’t. But it’s definitely fun!

  • Word searches: When you need a break from the hard work these other puzzle types require, try a word search. You’ll still get your brain focused on the task at hand, but success is pretty much guaranteed.