In the wake of puzzly public events like the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament being cancelled, as well as the shutdown of various school districts, workplaces, and businesses in order to limit exposure to the Coronavirus, it’s completely understandable that some puzzle fans may be feeling disappointed or even isolated from their fellow puzzlers.
But fear not! There are all sorts of options available to solvers looking to enjoy a puzzly experience from home, either on their own or with friends.
If you’re looking for crosswords, all you need is your computer. The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, and many other outlets offer online puzzle-solving, either by subscription or through watching ads before solving.
If you have access to a printer, you can print those puzzles out for the true pencil-and-paper solving experience.
And it’s not just newspapers. Many constructors — Brendan Emmett Quigley comes to mind — offer their own free puzzles semi-regularly (though you’re welcome to tip as a thank you). There is a world of puzzles out there on the Internet awaiting solvers.
But you don’t even have to go to a computer anymore. There are loads of terrific puzzles available right on your phone. Forgive us for tooting our own horn, but Daily POP Crosswords is a great puzzle app with a free puzzle every day and additional puzzle packets available for purchase or through our in-app coin system. (We also offer Word Seeks, Sudoku, and a marvelous story-driven puzzle mystery, Wordventures, if you’re looking for something different.)
Oh, and speaking of something different, if you’re looking to delve into more elaborate puzzles, there are some fantastic puzzle services by mail that offer all sorts of challenges.
Wish You Were Here by the Enigma Emporium conceals an entire mystery within a handful of postcards, challenging you to mine them for every scrap of information as you uncover a series of coded messages. It’s spycraft in an envelope, very clever stuff.
The Cryptogram Puzzle Post out of the UK offers something unique, mixing puzzles and encryption with bits of mystery and supernatural narratives to create standalone chapters in an ongoing story. So you can pick one season or an entire year, depending on how deep you want to go!
And for multi-month affairs, there are outlets like Hunt a Killer and The Mysterious Package Company, which create vast, immersive puzzle experiences by mail. (Though according to friends’ recommendations, Hunt a Killer works better without the month wait between installments.)
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of ways you can puzzle from home, whether you prefer to solve online, by email, on the phone, or by mail!
That’s all well and good, you might be saying, but what about the social aspect? Well, there are options there as well, even from the comforts of your home.
Some puzzlers actually livestream their puzzle-solving online through avenues like Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube. The New York Times periodically does this as well, often with celebrity guest solvers!
You can keep your eyes peeled on Facebook and Twitter for constructors and solvers who do so. It often adds a fun, communal element to puzzle-solving (especially if they struggle with the same tricky clues that you do). Some pub trivia outlets are also moving online to allow for participating from home!
But if you don’t want to wait for someone to livestream their solving, you can do it yourself! Between Facetime and similar apps on smartphones and all the online avenues for audio and video-chatting (Skype, Google Hangouts, Discord, etc.), you could pair up with a friend and tag-team a crossword puzzle or other puzzly challenge!
It’s like co-working, except with puzzles. Co-solving!
In times like this, where uncertainty abounds and our comfortable routines have been upended, puzzles can offer a wonderful refuge from all the stresses of the world. And with technology on our side, we can even keep the communal joys of puzzling in our lives.
Happy puzzling, friends.
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