It’s Follow-Up Friday: Apps and Alex edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’ve got two terrific announcements for you all!

First and foremost, we’ve updated our Apps and iBooks page to reflect the latest puzzles and platforms available! Crosswords, Classic Word Search, and Sudoku puzzles await you there, ready for your mobile devices! Enjoy!

And second, since we’ve been talking about trivia recently, it seems utterly apropos that I stumbled across this video on the Guinness Book of World Records website this week.

It’s host Alex Trebek accepting the certificate for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter (Same Program), officially documented by Guinness (hardly the show’s first world record, but easily its most impressive).

For the record (and the Record!), Alex zoomed into first place by hosting his 6,829th episode of Jeopardy!:

Thank you for checking out Follow-Up Friday! If there have been any posts or puzzle-centric stories featured here that you’d like us to follow up on, let us know! It could be the subject of next week’s Follow-Up Friday post!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Word Search Edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

Today, I’d like to update you on what’s going on in the world of PuzzleNation apps and puzzles!

I’m happy to announce that we’ve just launched our latest puzzle game for the iPad, Classic Word Search!

With all sorts of delightful themed word lists, this is the word search solving you know and love, made easy with the touch of a fingertip! Just drag your finger along the words in the grid to loop them, and watch as they’re crossed off the word list one by one!

Accompanied by trivia for each themed word list, the puzzles in Classic Word Search are suitable for all ages and just waiting to be solved!

Classic Word Search joins the terrific lineup of apps and puzzle iBooks from PuzzleNation and Penny/Dell Puzzles, and we’re so excited to add another world-class puzzle to our mobile library.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation Blog today. Stop in again soon for the latest puzzle news, app announcements, and all sorts of puzzly goodness!

It’s Follow-Up Friday!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

Today, I’ve got two short updates for you.

First, there’s a new page on the blog for information about our apps and iBooks. For pictures, links, and details on our crossword, sudoku, and word seek puzzles, click here!

And be sure to bookmark it, since new apps will be added to the page as they’re released!

Second, a PuzzleNationer requested an update on this year’s Cicada 3301 puzzle.

Back in January, I wrote about the mysterious Cicada 3301, an elaborate multilayered scavenger hunt across the Internet that involves cryptography, research, and some serious cleverness to unravel.

It first appeared in January of 2012, until a few diligent and dedicated solvers unraveled its secrets, and the puzzle was shut down. Then in January of 2013, a new Cicada 3301 puzzle emerged, similarly challenging and just as short-lived.

January 2014 was no different, as the latest Cicada 3301 puzzle appeared. Unfortunately, as far as we know, no one has yet cracked it.

But one of the code wizards who solved Cicada 3301’s 2012 puzzle has come forward to offer advice to aspiring Cicada solvers:

Make sure that you have a good understanding of every part of the previous Cicada 3301 puzzles. If there is a subject you are not already well acquainted with, take your time to read and learn more about it.

Try to solve as much as possible of the earlier puzzles by yourself rather than just reading through a write-up.

For parts you do read, make sure you understand each step completely and try to think about how you would have arrived at the same conclusions by yourself.

Last but not least, enjoy the ride.

Are there any stories or features from the PuzzleNation Blog you’d like an update on? Let us know and your suggestion could be the focus of our next Follow-Up Friday!

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

PuzzleNation & Penny/Dell apps, iBooks, and games!

Check out our ever-expanding library of puzzle games for your mobile devices!


Classic Sudoku

With four levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard, and expert), a touch-to-scroll feature for entering numbers, and a timed option for competitive scoring, Classic Sudoku is available for the iPad and ready for solvers of all skill levels.

Plus, with our Candidates feature, you can list possible solutions in a box without jeopardizing your score or your time!


Penny/Dell Crosswords App and Jumbo Crosswords App

Featuring 150 all-new crosswords, Penny/Dell Jumbo Crosswords has several difficulty levels and all the topnotch features in the original Penny/Dell Crossword app!

The original Penny/Dell Crossword App is available for iPad and iPhone. It features smart navigation to move you to partially filled-in entries and an alternate-clue option to help you solve!


Classic Word Search app and iBooks

The perfect word search experience is at your fingertips with Classic Word Search!

With all sorts of delightful themed word lists, this is the word search solving you know and love, made easy with the touch of a fingertip! Just drag your finger along the words in the grid to loop them, and watch as they’re crossed off the word list one by one!

Also available for Android tablets and Kindle Fire, Classic Word Search puzzles are appropriate for all ages and come complete with interesting trivia for each themed word list.

And don’t forget that Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 are all available as iBooks for the iPad’s eReader app! With plenty of puzzles to keep you busy, Classic Word Search is a terrific way to pass the time!

And stay tuned, fellow puzzle fiends. We look forward to adding new puzzles to our library soon!

PuzzleNation How-to: Sudoku!

Sudoku is one of the most popular paper puzzles in the history of puzzling, perhaps the only puzzle to rival crosswords in the hearts of solvers worldwide.

That being said, I frequently encounter people who have either never tried to solve Sudoku puzzles or had a dismal first showing that dissuaded them from trying again. And today, I’d like to reach out to the Sudoku disenfranchised out there with a PuzzleNation How-To.

How to solve Sudoku, to be specific!

[Brief historical tidbit: The Sudoku puzzle as we know it was created in 1979 for Dell Magazines by puzzler Howard Garns (though it was introduced under the name Number Place). Before its rebranding in the modern era, it was also known as To the Nines.]

The rules of Sudoku seem simple enough. It’s the solver’s job to place the numbers 1 through 9 in every row, column, and 3×3 square in a 9×9 grid.

[Additional brief historical tidbit: Each row and column add up to 45, making every Sudoku puzzle a variation on the classic Magic Square puzzle concept. Only Extreme Sudoku puzzles — puzzles where the numbers 1 through 9 also appear along the diagonals — qualify as true Magic Squares, grids where the sum of every row, column, and diagonal all add up to the same number. Magic Squares have been around for more than 2000 years, giving Sudoku an impressive puzzly pedigree.]

Sudoku puzzles come in all sorts of sizes and difficulty rankings — most of which are dependent on where numbers are set, how many are set, and what numbers are set — and the placement of set numbers often adheres to the same diagonal symmetry as black squares in crosswords.

Let’s look at a sample puzzle, shall we?

The best way to start a Sudoku puzzle is to scan for numbers that appear most frequently, since they’ll offer more hints pointing toward where to place other numbers.

For instance, we’ve got a 7 in the top left-hand 3×3 grid (on the top row) and a 7 in the top center grid (in the middle row), so let’s try placing a 7 in the top right-hand grid.

Since a number can only appear once in each row, column, and 3×3 grid, we can draw imaginary lines crossing out the open spaces in the top row, the middle row, and the rightmost column, leaving only one space remaining where the 7 could possibly go.

Let’s continue with 7s and see if we can place a 7 in the middle left-hand grid.

Between the 7s in the top row, the middle row, and the second column from the left, there’s only one open space for that 7.

With this new 7 in place, we can also determine the 7 in the bottom left-hand grid.

Our new 7 eliminates any spots in the leftmost column, and the given 7s in the second column and the middle row eliminate all possibilities but one.

With this new information, we can place the last 7 in the bottom right-hand grid.

Focusing on one number can deliver a lot of new information early on.

Now, after filling in a few more numbers, we can move into more of the deduction aspects of Sudoku solving.

Look at the middle grid on the left-hand side. There are only two numbers missing from this 3×3 square, the 5 and the 8. While we don’t have enough information to place them, this box can help us place numbers in the top and bottom left-hand squares.

The second column has four numbers missing — the 1, the 2, the 5, and the 8 — and we know the 5 and the 8 will be in that middle grid.

This means that there are only two options for the 1 and the 2, the top left-hand space and the bottom left-hand space.

And since there’s already a 1 in the top left-hand square and a 2 in the bottom left-hand square, it’s easy to place our numbers.

That sort of deduction can be extremely helpful when it comes to harder Sudoku puzzles. Here’s another example, a little farther into our solve.

In this case, we’re going to try to place a 3 in the center 3×3 square. We know from the placement of other 3s in the grid that the 3 cannot be in the bottom row or the middle row.

Unfortunately, we don’t know which of the open boxes in the top row will hold our 3.

But, thanks to this information, we can place the 3 in the middle grid on the right-hand side. Here’s the grid with the 3s we know for certain.

Since we know the center square’s 3 will occupy one of two places in that top row, we can also eliminate that row from the possibilities for the middle grid on the right-hand side.

We can now place the 3 in the remaining square, and move forward with our solve.

From this point onward, you’ll be able to fill the entire grid with ease, adding the first of many vanquished Sudoku puzzles to your solving experience.

I hope you found this PuzzleNation How-to helpful. All of the graphics came from our Classic Sudoku app, now available for the iPad!

(Although the black lines were for illustrative purposes only, you can place possible numbers in blue just as I did with our Candidates feature.)

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, cruise our boards on Pinterest, check out our Tumblr, download our puzzle apps and iBooks, play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!

Classic Sudoku is here!

A few weeks ago when we announced the Penny/Dell Jumbo Crosswords App, we also teased that a certain number-based puzzle would be getting the PuzzleNation App treatment very soon.

Today, I’m proud to announce that Classic Sudoku has just launched for the iPad!

With four levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard, and expert), a touch-to-scroll feature for entering numbers, and a timed option for competitive scoring, Classic Sudoku is ready for solvers of all skill levels.

Plus, with our Candidates feature, you can list possible solutions in a box without jeopardizing your score or your time!

Classic Sudoku joins the terrific lineup of Crossword apps and Classic Word Search iBooks from PuzzleNation and Penny/Dell Puzzles, and we’re so excited to add another world-class puzzle to our mobile library.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation Blog today. Stop in again soon for the latest puzzle news, app announcements, and all sorts of puzzly goodness!