Does it take pain to make pleasure?

There’s clearly something interesting to be found in the play that is solving a crossword. Most of the experience – for me at least – involves staring at the grid and feeling like I’m an idiot. Why can’t I see the answers to any more of the clues? I’m never going to be able to solve the whole thing. It’s hopeless. I think I’ve done just about as much of this as I can.

And then… every do often… Oh yes! – a moment of delight as you see how a clue works. In a sense, crosswords are one of the most playful of all the puzzles. They’re all about misdirection. You read a clue and think it’s about one thing – the capital of Utah – but find that it’s about another thing altogether. Like a joke with 50-odd punchlines, the joy comes from being willingly deceived.

The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is, you know there is a solution – Stephen Sondheim

What do I learn from solving a crossword? That from frustration, and hard work, comes a sense of achievement. Moving from a feeling of stupidity to one of understanding is satisfying. And seeing the way someone else thinks – and how they’re able to trick you – is, like watching a master comedian, fun and funny all at once!

Ease of play: 3/10 (difficulty varies!)

Resemblance to play: 5/10

Aggression: Low

Speed: Slow

Enjoyability: Low (mostly painful!)

Potential frequency of play: High (each one is a new challenge)

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