The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Do you like doing crossword puzzles? Enough to shell out 40 bucks for a year's worth? If so, head on over to the New York Times and get your high-octane crossword fix. Not only will you get some super-tough puzzles, but you can also:

"Play Against the Clock," "Play With a Friend," and "Challenge Matches." The idea is that crossword aficionados can invite friends to collaborate or compete in solving the same puzzle at the same time. There's also a daily competition to see who can be among the first 10 to complete the puzzle online; winners' names are published in the daily rankings.

Now that's competitiveness. No doubt the 40,000 existing subscribers to this service will think so, too.

When I was in college, and immediately after graduation, I used to do the crossword puzzle daily, and maybe a couple on Sundays. I eventually got tired of them, in no small part because the answers were often the same day after day. More than that, though, was that the payoff was often far from satisfying: Either it would be too easy, and thus I'd feel no sense of achievement, or it'd be way too hard, and I'd get frustrated over a stupid little puzzle. So I bagged it.

I always considered the crossword to be part of the newspaper package, though, and would never seek out any additional crossword fixes. I never then, nor would I now, buy a book of crossword puzzles. Similarly, I don't think I'm enough of an enthusiast to pay for something like this.

However, the last couple of mornings, I have done the crossword in an attempt to get a mental jumpstart on the day. I think it's actually worked, too.