PuzzleNation Blog Looks Back on 2020!

2020 is rapidly, finally, mercifully coming to a close. As I do every year, I look back on another eventful year in the world of puzzles and games, a year unlike any I can remember.

And I am incredibly proud of the contributions both PuzzleNation Blog and PuzzleNation made to the puzzle community as a whole.

Over the last year, we explored board games and card games, strategy games and trivia games, dice games and tile games, do-it-yourself puzzlers and pen-and-paper classics. We met game designers, constructors, artists, YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and creative types of all kinds.

We unraveled math puzzles and diabolical brain teasers. With our fellow PuzzleNationers, we tackled visual puzzles, trivia, optical illusions, and logic problems. We played punny hashtag games galore, exploring everything from music and sports to poetry and plants, Halloween costumes and puzzly opening lines in novels. Heck, we even designed a puzzle-fueled theme park together.

We delved into puzzle history, pondering riddles in Shakespeare, the crafting of mechanical furniture for royalty, and decoding centuries-old rock carvings. We explored wartime puzzling at Bletchley Park, during World War II with knitting needles, and through tap codes in POW camps.

We offered a first look at new puzzles like Setka and fresh endeavors like Everything Board Games Magazine. We offered our best suggestions for tranquil games, games to play solo, and games to spooky up your Halloween.

We finally got to see the third Crossword Mysteries film (and pitched our own ideas for a fourth one). We tracked down the best puzzle solvers across the world of fiction, searched for the greatest palindrome, explored weird versions of Monopoly, and played Crossword Bingo.

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We looked on in awe as Forrest Fenn’s treasure was finally found, and then in bafflement as questions and confusion reigned in the aftermath.

We found puzzly ways to celebrate everything from Independence Day and Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We lamented the sad losses of luminaries like Alex Trebek, John Horton Conway, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, and our own dear friend, Keith Yarbrough.

We spread the word about numerous worthwhile Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns, watching as the puzzle/game renaissance continued to amaze and surprise us with innovative new ways to play and solve. We celebrated acts of puzzly charity like Red Nose Day’s celebrity escape room, Mission Street Puzzles’ puzzle scholarship, and DriveThruRPG’s Fight Fires With Games, which raised money for those affected by the wildfires in Australia.

As protesters took to the streets in the name of equality, fairness, change, and growth, we stood with them. To educate ourselves and our readers on issues of color, of race, of gender equality, of gender representation, we launched Eyes Open, our ongoing puzzle series to explore these important topics.

We shared worthy causes as the puzzle community came together, first as part of Women’s March to push for greater inclusion and representation for women in crosswords, then as the pandemic hit and numerous constructors, companies, and outlets either discounted their products or gave them away for free.

And it was an incredibly strange experience to look back on discussions of then-upcoming events and puzzle tournaments from early in the year. Events that never happened. I wrote about my favorite game shop closing, something that seems prophetic, given what was to come. We first mentioned Coronavirus as its initial surge in China affected the board game industry in February.

From that point on, the pandemic redefined the world of puzzles and games. We discussed puzzling by mail, and then from home as we compiled ideas to get readers through lockdown. We spread the word about discounts and deals, and watched the puzzle world adapt.

Crossword Tournament From Your Couch emerged from the hole left by the postponement of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Game conventions went online, The New York Times announced it was accepting online submissions. Other tournaments like Boswords and Lollapuzzoola went virtual, while the Indie 500 team made all of their previous tournament puzzles available for free.

The Rubik’s team attempted a virtual Guinness World Record. ACPT was cancelled and rescheduled for next year, while Boswords announced the launch of their Fall Themeless League. We delved into the world of escape room-solving from home, and the Club Drosselmeyer team brilliantly transitioned from a live show to an online radio show format for their night of puzzles.

Puzzles continued. They evolved. The community came together in brilliant, clever, unexpected ways. And we at PuzzleNation were privileged to share many of those moments with you.

Despite the trials and travails of the year, it’s been a pleasure to explore the world of puzzles and games with you, my fellow puzzle lovers and PuzzleNationers. We marked eight years of PuzzleNation Blog this year, I’m closing in on my 1,300th blog post, and I remain as excited to write for you now as I did when I started.

And honestly, that’s just the blog. PuzzleNation’s good fortune, hard work, and accomplishments in 2020 went well beyond that.

In a tumultuous and uncertain year, we focused on honoring our promise to our fellow puzzlers: maintaining and producing the best puzzle experience possible.

Penny Dell Crossword App, Daily POP Crosswords, Daily POP Word Search, Penny Dell Sudoku, Wordventures… no matter the platform, our team worked hard to produce engaging puzzles at all levels, and we are immensely proud of the work the PN team performed this year.

Every day, we delivered top-notch content for Penny Dell Crosswords App, Daily POP Crosswords, and Daily POP Word Search. Whether it was monthly deluxe sets and holiday bundles for PDCW or the world-class topical puzzles by some of the industry’s best constructors for Daily POP, hundreds of outstanding crosswords and word searches wended their way to our loyal and enthusiastic solvers.

But whether we’re talking about crosswords, Sudoku, Wordventures, or word searches, I’m proud to say that every single puzzle represents our high standards of quality puzzle content crafted for solvers and PuzzleNationers.

And your response has been inspiring! Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search are thriving, the blog has over 2500 followers, and with our audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms continuing to grow, the enthusiasm of the PuzzleNation readership is both humbling and very encouraging.

2020 was a difficult year, but it’s one that also reminded us of the amazing things that can be accomplished when puzzlers come together. And we firmly believe that the coming year will be brighter, more exciting, and more creatively fulfilling.

Thank you for your support, your interest, and your feedback, PuzzleNationers. The new year looms large, and we look forward to seeing you in 2021!


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