Why to spend time on puzzles?

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Toby
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Location: New York City

Why to spend time on puzzles?

#1

Post by Toby » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:27 pm

I thought it might be fun to discuss with fellow addicts why we spend so much time on these puzzles. For me, it is something I can solve, unlike the problems of the world.

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Meg
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#2

Post by Meg » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:48 pm

I think there may be a release of endorphins in the brain. For me, metas and cryptics are a way to challenge my brain to see something another way. I think it’s like expanding my brain, and it feels really good to see the answer.

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Tom Shea
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Location: Freedonia, NH/VT/HI/Sydney/Earth

#3

Post by Tom Shea » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:29 pm

Agree with Toby about solving.

I like the fact that I can get interrupted, go do something else, and I can start right back where I was or go to a different rabbit hole. I am one who still needs to print out the puzzle to do it in ink. The WSJ Friday one is the only one that I pay attention to the deadline, but I do subscribe to several others. Three rows garden subscriptions. I refuse to have Mr. Gaffney torture me other than on the WSJ site.
Rufus T. Firefly

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bunella
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Location: Lebanon, Pa.

#4

Post by bunella » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:01 am

I'm probably one of the oldest in the group and it does help keeping the brain cells from rotting. Also being retired and
taking care of an ailing hubby, I sometimes have extra time and this keeps me from thinking about "stuff".

P.S. If my picture shows, it's an old one.

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FrankieHeck
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#5

Post by FrankieHeck » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:04 am

I've only been doing metas for about a month, but I can see myself getting hooked. I like that it's a hobby I could jump right into. No supplies or equipment needed, no intense background research, no driving, no sunscreen, no physical exertion, no special clothes. Doing regular crosswords was keeping me happy for the past year, but as I got better, I was spending more time waiting for the next puzzle than working on one. The metas I can print out and carry around for a few days, pulling them out every now and then to take another look. Last Thursday, the WSJ meta went to a bar with me. (We went out with my dad to celebrate his 85th birthday. When I got home and looked at the picture of my dad and me, I could clearly see the WSJ meta reflected in our big round "fishbowls" of beer!)

Also, I feel so dang brilliant if/when I solve one.

And last but not least, I would LOVE to win a mug one day. Years ago...23 years ago?...when I was staying home with my infant son, CNN a lot would give away a mug once a day to someone who could answer three questions about the news they had been talking about for the past few hours. I won one, and it was my prized possession for the longest time. Would love to win a meta mug to join it!

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Randy
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#6

Post by Randy » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:05 pm

A nightmare for me is to be stuck in a long line or a long flight and not have a book to read or puzzle to work. The puzzles are completely engrossing and make these times bearable for me.

I started doing puzzles in mid-life and remember the first time I solved the NY Times puzzle without having to google anything. I wish they gave out awards for that - I'd have had it framed. I think there is something to that endorphin theory.

The NY Times and the LA Times puzzles are posted in the Atlanta paper on Sundays so I did those for some years. I was taking the paper edition of the WSJ when its puzzle started. From the beginning I thought it was more fun than the other puzzles because the answers depend more on puns and cleverness than on knowledge of obscure ancient currencies.

The jury is still out on the metas. Most of them look impossibly difficult to me. I solved only one or two when they first started.
For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?
- Mr Bennet

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BarbaraK
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#7

Post by BarbaraK » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:10 pm

Randy wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:05 pm
...From the beginning I thought it was more fun than the other puzzles because the answers depend more on puns and cleverness than on knowledge of obscure ancient currencies.
This!! I like challenging puzzles, but only if the difficulty is because of cleverness, not obscurity.

Laura M
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#8

Post by Laura M » Mon Aug 26, 2019 2:50 pm

I second everything that everybody else said. Basically this is what my brain craves:
- My job is in hardware verification, and my favorite part of that is debugging to find why a test failed. It's really satisfying to figure out exactly why something is going wrong, and fix it.
- In another thread about books, I talked about how I love a mystery with a conclusion that ties everything together nicely.
- Especially metas, but even just regular crosswords, it just feels good when everything fits and makes sense.
I guess it's pretty easy to figure out what makes me tick... At least, as far as addictions go, crosswords are pretty healthy!

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BrianMac
Site Admin
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#9

Post by BrianMac » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:58 am

Here's another interesting take, from the New York Times:

Keeping Anxiety at Bay by ‘Hitting the Squares’

I can relate! 🤪

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Bob cruise director
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Location: any golf course that will take my money

#10

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:56 am

bunella wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:01 am
I'm probably one of the oldest in the group and it does help keeping the brain cells from rotting. Also being retired and
taking care of an ailing hubby, I sometimes have extra time and this keeps me from thinking about "stuff".

P.S. If my picture shows, it's an old one.
Bunny
I just caught up with this. From an informal survey several months ago, the average male in this group is about 65 and the average female is about 55. I think we have muggles in their 80's.

So where do you stand as you threw down the gauntlet on age?

And sorry about your ailing spouse but we are glad to have you part of the group. (if only you would share the popcorn more)
Bob
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

GlennG
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Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:48 am

#11

Post by GlennG » Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:36 pm

Mainly, I like the crosswords (and trying to get into other stuff like cryptics - got almost a "hate" relationship with metas though as they make no sense to me) and it offers something like video games does to me - a chance to be challenged without a huge penalty or cost upon my life. Besides it gives me a little self-esteem as I've never been able to get anywhere in my life. At least being able to solve a puzzle gives me some feeling that I can do something right, as opposed to everything else I do that either drains me or reminds me that I fall short in some way. Still have trouble with some crosswords (namely Saturday Newsday and Croce and the occasional Sat NYT), and that gets frustrating that I can't see what to do to solve them (or get better). But it's a handy distraction from thinking about all the crap in my life that's gone wrong, and going wrong.

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MajordomoTom
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#12

Post by MajordomoTom » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:10 pm

bringing down the average a little, "only" 56 years young.
"Lots of planets have a North", the Ninth Doctor.

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OGuyDave
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Location: Naples

#13

Post by OGuyDave » Mon Jan 27, 2020 4:28 pm

MajordomoTom wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:10 pm
bringing down the average a little, "only" 56 years young.
And... Bringing the average right back to the stated value. 74 years young.

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Al Sisti
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Location: Whitesboro NY

#14

Post by Al Sisti » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:53 pm

68 here.

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bhamren
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Location: West Liberty Ohio

#15

Post by bhamren » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:05 pm

I am 61 now and have always liked puzzles. I think I like Kakuro and Kenken best after all these years, but now I kind of like Killer Sudoku also. I don't usually do regular sudoku except the one that comes in my Sunday paper. When we go to Florida for some beach time I always bring with one of the "Variety" puzzles with loads of different kinds and always do the Kakuro first.

My love of crosswords goes back to my father. I remember that we received Games magazine when it first came out in the 1970's. My dad even tried to enter some contests and went through an official dictionary and color coded certain words based on some score. He would always be in some "tie-breaker" that forced continued entry fees and finally he realized it was somewhat rigged. When I was a freshman in high school in North Branch Minnesota, my Life Science teacher took me aside after class and said that he does the same crosswords that my dad did every day, but that my dad did them in pen and he did them in pencil!

I also like Jeopardy! and got called to a second test a few years ago. That year they said that they had a record number of people take the online test and of those they called in about 2500 - 3000 for second round testing, and of those about 400 actually make it on the show. I did not make it on the show and I notice now that I am not as quick as I was at one time. Jeopardy! is for the young.

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oldjudge
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Location: Pasadena, CA

#16

Post by oldjudge » Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:13 am

69 here. I have been a very competitive person since I was a kid. When I was younger I played a lot of sports and kept playing some into my fifties. However, as my level of play declined I lost interest. For me, metas provide competition, albeit with myself, and an opportunity to learn. I know a lot about a few things, but have tremendous gaps in my knowledge base. These puzzles have helped me start to fill some of the gaps directly and enjoyably, and have prodded me to explore some areas more deeply. I haven’t tried them yet (I will) but I bet I would like cryptics too.
And BTW, for those who might wonder, my handle “oldjudge” has nothing to do with being a judge. It relates to a set of baseball cards, issued in packs of Old Judge cigarettes between late-1886 and early-1890, that I have collected and written about for the last thirty years.

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