The Random House Puzzlemaker's Handbook
by Mel Rosen & Stan Kurzban
Date reviewed: 8/13/04
This is an incredibly useful book, both for people who like to solve crosswords and for those who'd like to try making them.
The Random House Puzzlemaker's Handbook is comprised of three parts. The first part is all about the history of cruciverbalism, or crossword puzzles: from the very first one created by Arthur Wynne in 1913, to the introduction of cryptic and humorous crosswords and acrostics in the 1930s, to the changing trends in puzzles and clues in the early '90s. We meet the luminaries of wordplay from Lewis Carroll to Will Shortz.
In part two, we get to the meat of the book: how to solve conventional, cryptic, humorous, and diagramless puzzles, as well as acrostics. We get tips on where to begin, how to test hypotheses, and how to pick up on subtleties in definitions. For cryptics, we are shown most of the different types of clues and how to decipher them. For acrostics, we are given different strategies for how to work back and forth between the clues and the quotation.
The third part of the book is for the adventurous few who'd like to compose their own crosswords. Not only is there a thorough primer on composition for each of the different types, there is also advice on how to market your puzzles to the major outlets such as Dell or GAMES magazine.
At the time of this writing, used copies of this book are selling for $150 on Amazon. I got it new from a bookstore a few years ago for $5. Maybe you can find a price somewhere in between!
Buy The Random House Puzzlemaker's Handbook on Amazon.com!
Other books by Mel Rosen on Amazon.com