This nine-letter word can alternately frustrate and enrapture, is capable of taking up an entire Sunday, and typically includes “oleo.”
OK, the headline gives away the answer: It’s the crossword, and it turns 100 on Saturday. Back in December 1913, New York World editor Arthur Wynne came up with a new puzzle — then dubbed the “word-cross” — and it’s been a newspaper staple ever since.
We don’t expect you to throw a puzzle party for the occasion (though we wouldn’t judge), but we do have some low-key suggestions for celebrating the confounding hobby.
1. Do a crossword puzzle. We’ll get the obvious choice out of the way, but what might not be obvious is which puzzle to do, because all crosswords are certainly not created equal. If you’re a master, it’s time to tackle the Saturday New York Times puzzle, the most challenging of the week. If you’re a newbie, what’s taken you so long? You’ve had a whole century to do crosswords! Start simple with USA Today or the Monday Times crossword, your gateway drug to the progressively harder weekday NYT puzzles. Anything edited by New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz is worthy of your time.
2. Watch Wordplay. The 2006 documentary follows some of the best puzzlers in the country as they compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. We’ll even make this easy: You can watch the doc for free now on Hulu. The film also features famous puzzle enthusiasts like Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart. Check out the trailer:
3. Read Crossworld: One Man’s Journey Into America’s Crossword Obsession. Marc Romano, a writer and amateur puzzler, decided to put his serviceable skills to the test by entering the 2004 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and documenting his experience. His 2006 book almost makes you believe you could compete too.
4. Do today’s Google Doodle puzzle. To celebrate the anniversary, Google whipped up its very own puzzle, which includes clues about Wynne’s first-ever crossword. Back then, Wynne might have used this clue: “The number 1 followed by 100 zeros.” The answer? “Googol,” the number that gave the search engine its name.