I've been doing a lot of puzzles as of late. It doesn't matter where I get my hands on them, be it in the newspaper or online; you give me a little conundrum like the one pictured above and I'll slip into a cryptological trance unti I've either completed it or given up on it.
This week's post is on the short side, not because the subject at hand has ironically distracted me from thinking at length about it, but because I don't believe I have much to say beyond a few neat things.
- First off, I don't think there's any better source for puzzles than the Ottawa Citizen. First and foremost, its crossword--my go-to puzzle--is just the right size and level of difficulty. It's also the only regularly distributed paper in Ottawa that features the Canadian CyberQuote (a short substitution code that encrypts a quip from a Canadian figure) on a daily basis. I love being able to complete the latter puzzle because 1.) I feel really smart, even if the feeling is fleeting and superficial, and 2.) I feel like I'm training to be a newspaper's go-to guy in case there's another Zodiac killer.
- I know quite a few people who feel put off by Sudoku, but I'm thinking they look at the numbers and assume that they all have to add up or something, when really it's a simple case of process of elimination. You could replace the numbers with letters, runes, or even nonsensical symbols as it would still work, provided every symbol within one set was unlike every other. I find I barely have to expend any mental energy while playing it, which is great if I want to absorb another source of information at the same time (say, a podcast).
- On the other hand, KenKen, my latest puzzle obsession (and pictured at the top of this post), is what I imagine a lot of people think Sudoku is, though the mathematical operations involved include not only addition but subtraction, multiplication and division as well. I feel a particular sense of accomplishment completing each one of these. You can find an almost infinite number of these, some tailored to your specifications, at the official website.
- To get a little analytical, I realized that my (relative) ease completing some puzzles and difficulty finishing others sheds a little light on my thought processes. Those that involve interpolation, process of elimination and 1:1 substitution--logic puzzles, essentially--make the most sense to me, while those that require lateral thinking (i.e. thinking outside of the box), like a pictogram, regularly go right over my head. I guess I'm even more left-brained than I thought.
- If you don't have ready access to the Citizen or don't care for physical media, the New York Times' website offers a free one month trial for its crossword section--with archives going as far back as 1996!--and the actual subscription fee is only $7 a month, which is great if you're a crossword addict like yours truly.
Wow, that was almost certainly the most self-indulgent thing I've written in a while. Ah well, guess you gotta' deal. Now if you'll excuse me I have some KenKen to attend to.