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And you were expecting what...the Jumble?

CrossworDS, the newest Touch Generations game to hit the DS, is exactly what it claims to be: a

package of crossword puzzles. But wait, there's more! You'll also get a bunch of anagram and word

search puzzles! And they all work exactly as you'd expect on the DS.

Each type of game has several difficulty settings, although you only have access to Easy and Medium

at first. The bulk of the game is made up of crosswords, and there are over one thousand distinct

puzzles to enjoy. The crosswords begin easily enough with a 4x4 open grid, but they quickly ramp up

to complex New York Times-style puzzle layouts.

There are fewer anagrams and word searches, but it will still take forever to complete them all.

Word search is a simple matter of drawing a line over the recognized word; Anagrams gives you a

bunch of letter tiles, and your job is to drag them into the blank spaces to create as many words as

you can - no writing necessary.

CrossworDS can be played by left and right-handers, and you can highlight the clue for a particular

region of the grid by tapping "across" or "down." Fill in blanks with the stylus by writing the letter.

The game politely auto-scrolls to the next blank if you're filling in a particular word.

Crossword puzzles are timed, but it's of little consequence beyond using clues, which penalizes you

in terms of added time. You can get hints in the form of a new clue, a free letter, or the filling in of

the entire word. There's also an option to correct wrong letters: If you fill in a letter that's not

correct, the game will show the letter in red, and you can erase it and try again.

It’s important to note that the game engine may have problems with the handwriting of some

players. My wife, who never plays video games but loves crosswords and therefore this DS cart,

doesn't have any problems in the writing-recognition area, but I found that I had to employ a few

strategies to get constant recognition of my handwriting. These tactics included using capital

letters, writing certain letters from the top down (a huge help with letters like E, K, and G), and

trying to take up as much of each square’s empty spaces as I could. You may still have trouble with

the letter K (which the game almost always recognizes as X), but again, this is an issue that you’ll

learn to work around.

CrossworDS is a classic travel game. It's very fun thanks to its simplicity, it's graphically clean and

simple, and there’s plenty of puzzles to keep you busy. It’s simple, relaxing, and it exercises your

brain. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong.

Report from the Crosswords Los Angeles Tournament

Last weekend, the very first Crosswords Los Angeles Tournament was held at Loyola

Marymount University. Sounds like everybody had an awesome time (as you would expect).

Our undercover spy, Andrea Carla Michaels, was on the ground and brings us the following

report of the event:

OK, I waited a bit to write up what happened in Los Angeles because I confused it

with Las Vegas, and I thought what happens in Lalaland stays in Lalaland. But if Rex says write, I

write! But I also wanted to wait till there would be fewer spoilers and you could relate to the puzzles we

had to solve. And you could sympathize with writing DUMB as a post, instead of DEAF, etc.

SO I flew down to L.A., mostly to see my grandmother (Maidie will be 97 end of next month but I can't

be there on Memorial Day, so I just told her that it was almost June, we celebrated and no one was the


Drove to non-UCAL-Loyola Marymount. Gave myself an extra hour to get lost, hit traffic, schmooze

beforehand … and glad I did. Got there extremely early, but not before Swedish-sounding Doug

Peterson. He personified what these "competitions" are like in that they don't feel like competitions …

and I don't think I'm just saying that because my name is not Eric and I don't have a chance to win!

Doug warmly greeted me. (He finished JUST outside the finals and even set them up. The hardest

working solver there … I think he shared his thoughts on Amy's blog and is Brian and Ryan's special

correspondent if you want to check out his take.)

Throughout the day, I also got to meet fellow constructors whom I

only knew by byline: John Farmer, Susan Gelfand (who was a volunteer), Alan Olschwang, Alex

Boisvert (gorgeous, like a cross between Topher Grace for you young folks and Ron Livingston, the

guy that broke up with Carrie on a post-it and who was in "Office Space") and Todd Gross who just got

his first puzzle accepted for the L.A. Times. There was also a super-cute childhood friend of Peter Not-

for-me Gordon. (I honestly don't know if there were other crossword blog commenters there, but I've

just noticed on the results page actor Dennis Boutsikaris, whose father reads Rex religiously and has

written to me privately. I wish I had realized that and would have sought him out.)

There was a huge showing of NPLers (National Puzzle Leaguers, not known as Nipples, but really,

these bad acronyms have GOT to stop!). They all knew each other from many puzzle gatherings,

northern tournaments, etc. and made quite the plea to join. One of their group, John Suarez, led a

huge, fun, group game while folks were waiting for the final results.

Here's the thing … Elissa Grossman was amazing. Funny, smart,

self-deprecating and she managed to keep things running PLUS gave us lunch! These mini-tourneys

are great. The three or four I've taken part in have all been for fantastic charities involving literacy,

libraries, kids, etc. Somehow she managed to only charge $25 (that went to a terrific cause) and yet

every competitor got a Dell book, an unpublished puzzle by Merl Reagle, who had tried to do one of

these tourneys in the early '80s (!), laminated name tags, mechanical pencils, and did I mention, a free

Because Elissa is a professor at the business school, the room

was donated … so it was in a tiered lecture room, and memories of college came flooding back. It was

freaky to feel so much older than the professor. I've gotten used to be older than cops and even

doctors, but business school professors … damn!

We got off to a late start since folks signed up at the last moment. All told, there were about 100 folks,

50 in the regular division, 25 in the "Experts" (which was really just anyone who had ever done one of

these things), and lots of volunteers. But Elissa kept us apprised, and if she ever decides to become a

stand-up, she'll do well. Her students must love her!

The rest of the setup was like the Brooklyn tournament. The puzzles were

from this week's New York Times. I bummed halfway through when I realized the first was by Joe

Krozel, whose wavelength I've never been on. PLUS I made the rookie error of not checking crosses,

and put -INE for "Chlor- suffix" instead of -IDE … making NECI instead of DECI. ☹

The drag is ONE error costs about 200 points once you've subtracted the 150-point bonus for a perfect

puzzle, the 20 points less for two wrong words, AND the 25-point penalty for getting something wrong.

OUCH! And this was my only error in the entire tournament!

When I'd finish a puzzle, I'd wonder where my row had gone (she put the "Experts" in the last row,

making it easier for volunteers to grab our puzzles more easily) but when I'd go out into the hall, there

would only be about 10 folks who had finished before me. All named Eric. And yet in the end, that

ONE LETTER (damn JoeK) cost me even the top 20.

However, Elissa managed to have prizes for the first 25 folks, so I actually won a book of easy puzzles

called "Mocha Mondays" which I had two puzzles IN, yet had no idea had been published, as we are

not given residuals nor even a copy of the book when our puzzles are reprinted! But that's another


After three rounds and free lunch — did I mention that? (Five different choices! Plus fruit and cookies

… Really, how DID she do it?) — there were two more puzzles. It was a little freaky that the puzzles

went Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then another Wednesday. I was hoping for a

Friday, because then I could maybe make up what I lacked in speed with solving toughies.

The problem (for me) with these competitions is that the first

puzzles can be solved by everyone there, so the speed demons are almost uncatchable. I'd like to see

a competition of all Wednesday through Saturday puzzles, so speed isn't the main factor. A major

determining one, but not the main. That way, I also think we'd see more women. Maybe all named


After five rounds, there actually was a newcomer Jordan Chodorow who was ahead of the Erics. (For

those of you who don't know, Eric Maddy and Eric Levasseur have won all the West Coast tourneys.

Both are NPLers and quite amicable guys who seem to be friends. Eric Maddy even won the Sudoku

tournament in Morgan Hill as well, so he ain't to be messed with.)

As for the finale, Tyler was there to do the play-by-play, along with this cool,

funny, nice guy named Michael Colton who writes for "Sit Down and Shut up" which is on … after …

the … SIMPSONS!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately, he had a dinner party he was giving, has a one year old, was

getting it all together, so when the tourney ran late, he had to split. He was also in the top ten at that

point. Swedish-sounding Doug ran up to me and asked if I could fill in. I was thrilled, and contrary to

popular belief, I had neither poisoned Michael, nor broken his leg.

Young Tyler was quite amusing, despite operating on four hours' sleep and with somewhat of a

hangover. I have renewed respect for Merl (was it ever lacking?) as the play-by-play happens so fast

you can barely say anything about what they are solving … much less be clever and entertaining. I

can't say anything about the final, unfortunately, as it hasn't been published yet, but it was a toughie by

Elizabeth Gorski. Perfectly constructed, but with an exceedingly difficult twist, which may or may not

have involved rebuses, more than that I cannot say, but it wasn't a puzzle suited for a final,

necessarily. (See! That's why I've been procrastinating writing anything about the tournament!)

Two friends of mine, Paul Clay and Eric (!) Seale, had driven all the

way down from Santa Barbara to hang with me and give it a try (Paul doesn't even do puzzles, but

Eric, true to his name, is totally into it and would like to construct). And although Paul finished dead

last (ok, ahead of a woman who left after two puzzles!) he personified what the day was like: upbeat,
super friendly, fresh, and challenging. He knew no one save me, and yet found everyone super-

welcoming and had a blast. I felt very proud to be part of this community.

You can see the results and check out who was there, at
Posted by PuzzleGirl at 5:39 PM

Labels: Andrea Carla Michaels, Tournament


*David* said...

Sounds like great fun, unfortunately Saturdays are a no go for me. Maybe we'll get a
Sunday tournament going one of these days.
April 30, 2009 9:44 AM

Alex said...

April 30, 2009 10:47 AM

chefbea said...

What a great write up!!!

April 30, 2009 1:44 PM

mac said...

Andrea, you make it sound as good as the Brooklyn event. It's all about being in the
same space with people who like puzzles as well.
I liked your Paul Klee picture!
Were all those Erics blond?
April 30, 2009 8:18 PM
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L.A. Times Crossword Links

• (L.A. Times puzzle in Across Lite)

• L.A. Times Daily Crossword (applet)

• L.A. Times Sunday Calendar Puzzle (applet)

Other Crossword Blogs

• Diary of a Crossword Fiend

• Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle

• Brendan Emmett Quigley

• Patrick Blindauer

• Tyler Hinman

• Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords

• L.A. Times Crossword Corner

Where to Find Other Puzzles

• Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers

• Ephraim's Puzzle Pointers

• Brendan Emmett Quigley (New M/Th)

• Fireball Crosswords (ed. Peter Gordon)

• Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest

• "The Week" Crossword

• Triple Play Puzzles: Puzzles by Trip Payne

If You Download a Lot of Puzzles, You Need This

• Alex Boisvert's Crossword Butler

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 THURSDAY, April 30, 2009 — Dan Naddor

 Report from the Crosswords Los Angeles Tournament

 WEDNESDAY, April 29, 2009 — Doug Peterson

 TUESDAY, April 28, 2009 — Joy C. Frank

 MONDAY, April 27, 2009 — Pancho Harrison

 SUNDAY, April 26, 2009 (calendar puzzle) — Sylvia ...

 SUNDAY, April 26, 2009 (syndicated puzzle) — Norm ...

 SATURDAY, April 25, 2009 — Barry C. Silk

 FRIDAY, April 24, 2009 — Robert H. Wolfe

 THURSDAY, April 23, 2009 — Dan Naddor

 WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2009 — Mike Peluso

 TUESDAY, April 21, 2009 — Gail Grabowski

 MONDAY, April 20, 2009 — David W. Cromer

 SUNDAY, April 19, 2009 (calendar puzzle) — Sylvia ...

 SUNDAY, April 19, 2009 (syndicated puzzle) — Dan N...

 SATURDAY, April 18, 2009 — Scott Atkinson

 FRIDAY, April 17, 2009 — Daniel A. Finan

 THURSDAY, April 16, 2009 — Don Gagliardo

 WEDNESDAY, April 15, 2009 — Dan Naddor

 TUESDAY, April 14, 2009 — Billie Truitt

 MONDAY, April 13, 2009 — Fred Jackson III

 SUNDAY, April 12, 2009 (calendar puzzle) — Sylvia ...

 SUNDAY, April 12, 2009 (syndicated puzzle) — Jack ...

 SATURDAY, April 11, 2009 — Bruce Venzke and Stella...

 FRIDAY, April 10, 2009 — Nora Pearlstone

 THURSDAY, April 9, 2009 — Donna S. Levin

 WEDNESDAY, April 8, 2009 — Patrick Jordan

 TUESDAY, April 7, 2009 — Don Gagliardo

 MONDAY, April 6, 2009 — Elizabeth A. Long

 SUNDAY, April 5, 2009 (Calendar Puzzle) — Sylvia B...

 SUNDAY, April 5, 2009 (syndicated crossword) — Wil...

 SATURDAY, April 4, 2009 – Robert A. Doll

 FRIDAY, April 3, 2009 — Jack McInturff

 THURSDAY, April 2, 2009 — Dan Naddor

 WEDNESDAY, April 1, 2009 — Pancho Harrison

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