It’s Follow-Up Friday: Trebek Raps edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to quickly revisit two of my most recent blog posts.

In last week’s Follow-Up Friday post, we celebrated the 144th birthday of creator of the crossword Arthur Wynne, and I set up a little puzzly challenge for my fellow PuzzleNationers: How many words of four or more letters can you make from the letters in ARTHUR WYNNE’s name?

Here are the 110 words I came up with:

Anew, Ante, Aren’t, Artery, Arty, Aunt, Awry, Earn, Earth, Earthy, Entry, Errant, Hare, Hart, Hate, Hater, Haunt, Hear, Heart, Hearty, Heat, Henna, Hewn, Hunt, Hunter, Hurray, Hurry, Hurt, Hyena, Nary, Nature, Near, Neat, Neath, Nehru, Newt, Rant, Ranter, Rare, Rate, Rater, Rather, Rawer, Rear, Rent, Reran, Rerun, Retry, Return, Rune, Runner, Runny, Runt, Runty, Runway, Tanner, Tannery, Tare, Tarry, Tawny, Tear, Teary, Tern, Ternary, Terra, Than, Thane, Thaw, Then, They, Threw, Thru, Thruway, Tray, Trey, True, Truer, Tuna, Tune, Tuner, Turn, Unearth, Unwary, Wane, Want, Ware, Warn, Warren, Wart, Wary, Water, Watery, Wean, Wear, Weary, Went, What, Wheat, When, Whet, Whey, Wrath, Wreath, Wren, Wryer, Yarn, Yawn, Yeah, Year, Yearn.

I’m sure I missed some, so let me know what words you came up with!


[Image courtesy of hlntv.com.]

In yesterday’s post, I discussed some of the newer trivia-based game shows on TV these days. I didn’t really discuss Jeopardy!, easily the most popular trivia game show of all-time, simply because I didn’t have anything new to say on the topic at the moment.

Well, lo and behold, last night I stumbled across a video clip from Monday night’s episode that I simply have to share with the PuzzleNation audience.

In this brief clip, host Alex Trebek gives us a rare glimpse into a rap career that never was — and channels William Shatner’s peculiar rhythmic cadence — as he sings a bit of the theme song from the beloved NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Enjoy:

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Three ways to TV trivia!

Trivia-based game shows seem to be having a bit of a resurgence these days, between ABC’s 500 Questions, Fox’s BOOM!, and GSN’s The Chase.

Unlike Jeopardy!, television’s longest-running trivia-based game show, which relies mostly on the questions themselves to generate interest, this new class of game shows adds all sorts of gimmicky flair to dress up the trivia, be it pursuit by other players (500 Questions) or an in-house trivia master (The Chase) or the threat of being covered in something slimy (BOOM!).

I thought I’d take a look at each of these shows from the standpoint of a self-confessed trivia fiend.

[Image courtesy of reviewjournal.com.]

In BOOM!, the splatter appeal of shows like Double Dare is mixed with the multiple choice style of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, hoping to ratchet up the tension with a wrong answer resulting in some serious messes.

You’ve got multiple answers to a question, and all but one of them are correct. (For instance, you’ll be given the titles of four movies, and then told 3 out of the 4 have been inspired by books.) Each of those answers is color-coded to a wire on the bomb, and the contestant must cut each wire they think is correct in the time allotted in order to defuse the bomb.

[Image courtesy of fresnobee.com.]

If you cut all the right wires, the money for that question goes into your bank. If you get a wrong answer, the bomb “explodes” and you get splattered (there has been pesto, alfredo sauce, maple syrup, and yellow mustard), your team loses the money for that question, and you’re eliminated.

When every team member is splattered, you’re done. If any member of your team survives the six trivia bombs, you go after the Mega Money bomb, which if defused will multiply your banked money by a factor of 4. A perfect run will yield $500,000 for the team.

The show debuted last week on FOX.

[Image courtesy of abc.go.com.]

In 500 Questions, a contestant tackles ten rounds of 50 questions each. Three consecutive wrong answers will knock a contestant out of the competition (correct answers can erase one or two wrong answers).

Along the way, a challenger dogs the contestant at every turn, hoping to knock the contestant out by choosing tough categories if the contestant has acquired two wrongs in a row. The challenger only has one 50-question round to eliminate the contestant; if the challenger fails, a new challenger emerges for the next round.

[Image courtesy of usmagazine.com.]

For every board of 50 questions completed, the contestant is guaranteed the money earned in that round. However, any wrong answers acquired will follow the contestant into the next round.

It’s worth noting that these rules may only apply during the first 200 questions. Since no one has ever completed the fourth round, there could be alternate rules or new wrinkles awaiting contestants and challengers in round five and above.

The show ran for seven straight weeknights, and it’s unknown at this point if it will return.

[Host Brooke Burns and trivia pro The Beast.
Image courtesy of The Blog is Right.]

In The Chase (which is based on a British game show of the same name), a team of contestants pits their trivia wits against the chaser — known as The Beast — who is waiting to capitalize on any mistakes they make. In the early rounds, each contestant faces off against The Beast one-on-one, answering a certain number of questions in a row in order to lock in their prize money and continue in the game.

Any mistakes made by the contestant create opportunities for The Beast to catch them, preventing them from banking any prize money. If the contestant stays ahead of The Beast by answering more questions correctly, the prize money gets banked and the contestant moves on to the Final Chase.

[Image courtesy of variety.com.]

In the Final Chase, whichever contestants survived their individual chase rounds work together to answer as many questions as possible in two minutes. They move a space ahead on the gameboard for every correct answer. The goal here is to build as big a lead as they can before The Beast takes his turn.

The Beast then answers a different set of questions, with each correct answer bringing him one space closer to catching the contestants. If he answers a question wrong, the Chase is paused and the contestants get a shot at answering that question. A correct answer increases their lead by one space; an incorrect answer simply continues the game.

If the contestants can outpace the Beast, they win, splitting the banked money equally; if the Beast catches them, they go home with nothing.

The show’s fourth season on GSN resumes on July 16.

Now, I must admit, 500 Questions didn’t appeal to me because I don’t enjoy feeling obligated to watch something every single night. I understand it’s meant to be a special event and all that, but oversaturation, even in the short term, tends to leave me disinterested. (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? committed the same mistake by airing far too frequently for my tastes, and I quickly abandoned the show.)

I quite enjoy The Chase, but less as a viewer and more as a competitor, since I like to test myself against The Beast. Although I tend to do well, he has bested me more than once. He is a worthy foe.

Although only one episode of BOOM! has aired so far, I find myself watching it less for the trivia — which is very common sense and common knowledge, thus far — and more for whether the contestant botches the question and gets splattered. Whether that remains enough to keep me tuning in week after week… only time will tell.

Are you watching any of these newer trivia game shows, fellow PuzzleNationers, or do you stick with the classics? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

HUGE App Announcement! (Plus Fred!)

Hello puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! We’re doing things a little differently today!

You see, we’ve released an exciting new update for the Penny Dell Crosswords App, and I’ve invited PuzzleNation‘s Director of Digital Games Fred Galpern to discuss what the latest version of the app brings to the table.

Fred, welcome to PuzzleNation Blog! Before we get to the big announcement, I’d like our fellow PuzzleNationers to get to know you a bit. What’s your background in puzzles and games?

Thanks, Glenn. I’m excited to share more about the new app update. My background is varied. I studied illustration at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and have studied digital art & graphic design on my own ever since.

A few years after graduating, a close friend invited me to interview at the video game company where she worked. This was the start of a fun and engaging career mixing technology and art.

Prior to PuzzleNation, I worked on several video games including System Shock 2, Thief, Zoo Tycoon and Scratch: The Ultimate DJ. I also spent some time working on really fun game hardware such as the Drum Rocker and the iCade iOS controller series.

When I joined PuzzleNation, my exposure to traditional print puzzles was limited to the occasional newspaper or magazine. This opportunity to bring those classic print experiences to digital solvers has been a thrilling ride!

And when you’re not leading our crackerjack team of app designers and puzzlers, how do you spend your free time?

I get the “crackerjack” joke but it’s really true! The PuzzleNation team is very small and we’re only successful because each person is an expert in their field. Without this team we’d be nowhere.

Most of my free time is spent with my family. Fortunately, we’re all proud geeks. We enjoy the usual mix of films, TV, and reading but recently, we’ve become deeply engrossed with board games.

Not the usual fare, though — our love is the modern flood of games that mix strategy, skills and just a little luck. Our favorites are Ascension, Star Realms, Legendary, Dice Masters, Machi Koro, Sushi Go!, Splendor, Coup…and so on.

I also love to draw, play guitar & ukulele, and hope to get back to a regular running routine in the near future.

Okay, I think everyone is primed and ready for this big announcement! Let’s talk about what’s new with the Penny Dell Crosswords App!

This update is very exciting. As some of your readers know, the Penny Dell Crosswords app is consistently one of the top apps in the App Store. We receive thousands of reader comments telling us that they love the puzzles but wish there were more free ones.

We struggled with the best way to give our solvers free puzzles, and it wasn’t easy. What your readers may not know is each puzzle is created by the expert puzzle editors at Penny Press & Dell Magazines. Those folks deserve a fair wage, and so the challenge is to find a balance between giving solvers what they want and keeping our team employed.

That’s a long explanation for this announcement…

FREE DAILY CROSSWORD PUZZLES!

That’s right, every day there is a new, free crossword puzzle available in the Penny Dell Crosswords app. To cover editorial costs, each puzzle starts with a short ad. These ads are commonplace in free-to-play apps, especially competing crossword apps.

We think our puzzles and ad-supported free puzzle experience are the best available, and look forward to feedback from our app users.

Is that weekdays or every single day?

Every single day!

Now, can solvers stockpile these free puzzles for a rainy day?

Users can take as long as they like to solve a free daily puzzle. Once a solver completes their current puzzle, they simply tap to get today’s free puzzle! It’s fun and a bit challenging to complete a puzzle every day. If they need more time on a particular puzzle they simply continue solving. The current puzzle will remain on their device until they request a new puzzle.

Also, if solvers dislike the ads before the free puzzles, they can choose from over 1,000 puzzles in our Puzzle Store.

Fred, thanks for taking the time out to share such awesome news with the PuzzleNation audience. I can’t wait to check out these new puzzles! Any parting thoughts for your fellow PuzzleNationers?

Happy solving!


Download the latest version of the Penny Dell Crosswords App by clicking here, and check out all things PuzzleNation by clicking here for our homepage!

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It’s Follow-Up Friday: For the Wynne edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of Arthur Wynne.

[Image courtesy of express.co.uk.]

In 1913, Arthur Wynne created the first modern crossword puzzle — which he called a Word-Cross puzzle — and over a hundred years later, we are still enjoying the ever-increasing variety of puzzles and clues spawned by that “fun”-filled grid. (Click here for more details on that groundbreaking puzzle.)

Wynne was born on June 22, 1871 in Liverpool, England, but moved to the states in the early 1890s, spending time in Pittsburgh and New York City before creating his Word-Cross puzzle for the New York World. (We can also credit Wynne with the use of symmetrical black squares in crossword grids.)

So, in honor of Mr. Wynne’s 144th birthday, I’ve got a little word creation puzzle for you! How many words of four or more letters can you make from the letters in ARTHUR WYNNE’s name?

I came up with 110! Can you match or top my wordcount? Let me know!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

The Perils of Puzzling: Alternate solutions!

[Thinking hard. Image courtesy of popsci.com]

The science, fantasy, and science fiction website io9 has a marvelous weekly feature run by Robbie Gonzalez, wherein they tackle brain teasers and riddles both new and old. I’ve explored several of them here on PuzzleNation Blog, most notably the 100 Men in Hats puzzle, which expanded on the Men in Hats puzzle concept from one of our earliest posts.

But one of their latest riddles provided a valuable example of how crucial test-solving and crowd-sourcing can be to a puzzle’s success.

The idea was simple enough: look at the numbers below, and determine what number should take the place of the question mark. The only guideline? The answer was NOT six.

I posted this riddle on our Facebook page on Monday and shared it with fellow editors at the PuzzleNation office, and got all sorts of answers in return.

One solver came up with 5 as the answer, positing that the vertical numbers formed fractions. So, with 1/2 and then 3/4 as the next number, the pattern would be adding 1/4. Adding 1/4 to 3/4 equals 1, and 5/5 equals 1.

There were other solutions that also yielded 5 as an answer, like doing what my friend called a zigzag equation, adding 1 from the top to 4 from the bottom to get 5 on the top as the answer, and then reversing it by adding 2 from the bottom to 3 from the top, getting 5 on the bottom as the missing answer.

A second solver came up with 3 as the answer, adding the top row to equal 9, and then trying to do the same with the bottom row.

Another solver saw them as two separate patterns, where going from 1 to 3 involved adding 2 and going from 2 to 4 involved multiplying by two. Therefore, by this method, the answer is 8. (Yet another solver did the same, except they squared the numbers along the bottom row, leading to 16 as the answer.)

As you can see, there were all sorts of mathematical solutions. When you’re told to ignore the most obvious solution, your mind can create some truly innovative ways of reimagining the information available.

[A head full of numbers. Image courtesy of equip.org]

Several solvers thought outside the box and came up with R, relating the numbers by their positions on a gearshift knob instead of mathematically.

As it turns out, this was the solution the puzzle’s creator initially intended, only realizing later that the puzzle had many possible solutions.

In his own words: The riddle was too open-ended. Whether you interpreted it as a mathematical puzzle, or an automotive design puzzle, it was poorly posed, and that’s on me. Puzzle-posing is an art in and of itself, and it’s easy to mess up. For a solution to be satisfying, the person posing the puzzle needs to provide enough information that the puzzle is unambiguously solvable, but not so much that it gives too much away.

[A proposed layout that points more directly toward the creator’s intended solution.]

Now, as a puzzler myself, I can absolutely empathize with Mr. Gonzalez here. There are plenty of times I’ve created a puzzle or a brain teaser and assumed that everyone would follow the same path I envisioned, considering the solution if not obvious, then at least reproduceable.

But solvers can always surprise you by finding alternate routes to the answer or utilizing a different way of thinking that ends with a second, but still valid solution.

So after a few stumbles and missteps of my own in the past that were similar to the one in today’s puzzle, I now make sure to have another set of eyes on my brain teasers, either during the creation process or as a test-solver afterward.

A second set of eyes can be absolutely invaluable in helping you spot possible alternate solutions.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!