Friday, March 11, 2011

Puzzle Week: Puzzazz

Just as DVDs augment the movie-watching experience — good luck pausing, adding subtitles or enjoying commentary tracks in a movie theater — so is a Seattle startup company using emerging technology to improve the experience of solving puzzles.

It's called Puzzazz, and the name says it all: puzzles with pizzazz.

Software engineer and longtime puzzlemaker Roy Leban founded Puzzazz on the theory that, like so much else, puzzle delivery and enjoyment will be an increasingly electronic rather than paper-based phenomenon. He's a true puzzle lover whose first priority is to provide high-quality puzzles, using technology to make the experience that much better.

For example, Puzzazz is pioneering the publication of puzzle books for devices like the Amazon Kindle. E-books offer numerous advantages over traditional books: electronic puzzles can be wiped clean and re-solved where paper puzzles can't; built-in tools can enrich the solving experience for logic puzzles like sudoku; hinting and error correction are more fluid; solvers don't have to draw the unusual symbols that some puzzles require; and the books themselves are more portable.

Puzzazz is a puzzle publisher, not a gamemaker, as this article from TechFlash makes clear. Its thoughtful incorporation of technology may be an early glimpse of where textbooks and other traditional print media are headed.

The company also generates content for non-Kindle people like me. posts a new word puzzle every day, which they also distribute by email and RSS feed.

I particularly like their "logic crosswords," small crossword puzzles in which you have to figure out not only the answers, but where they fit into the grid.

For example here's a 4x4:

The following clues define eight 4-letter words. Figure them out and fit them into the square below.

Computer music protocol
It's not quite teal
Joke of sorts
Kennedy's Secretary of State
Like (with to)
National milk org.

And a "5&3":

The following clues define four 3-letter words and four 5-letter words. Each of the 3-letter words fits into the middle of one of the 5-letter words. Figure out the words and fit them into the square below.

Explorer John or Sebastian
He played with Joe, Waite, Lefty, and Babe
Louis-Philippe I was the last one
R2, for one
Type system for some donations
You might be under one or on one

Both puzzles reprinted with permission of Puzzazz.

There are a couple of 4x8 logic crosswords in the March Puzzazz newsletter. They're harder than these. Can you finish them?

1 comment:

Elaine said...


I'm too busy with my new addiction, 'Guess My Word,' thanks to you. Friday I was on Joon's wavelength.