In response to “Adrienne Raphel ’10 on Crosswords and the People Who Love Them” (PAWcast, posted online April 2): I’m familiar with some of the history of crosswords — in fact, the “World” was the answer to a recent clue I came across about where they started in the U.S. — but this was an intriguing look not only at their history but their evolution. I’ve been doing crosswords pretty religiously for over 50 years, and while I’ve sensed some of the changes in the New York Times puzzles, Adrienne offered some real insights about those.
My brothers and I picked up our love for crosswords and other word games from my father, Ted ’42 *48, who used to do the daily puzzle in 10 minutes on his commute to NYC. He was an amazing solver, and actually sold a few puzzles to the New York Herald Tribune in the ’50s. Construction is an incredibly difficult exercise — as Adrienne says, one letter can destroy a whole section of grid. I’ve completed a couple — more for my own amusement than anything — but the results were less than spectacular. I did submit one to Will Shortz years ago, and got a polite but firm rejection.
I salute Adrienne for her research and her modesty about her own skill. Champion competitive solvers, as I’ve read about them, may be seen as word nerds but can be as sure about their own abilities as Bobby Fischer was about chess.