PuzzleNation wordplay = Now radiant puzzle ploy

[Alternate anagrams include “Puzzle patron, now daily” and “Plow into any rad puzzle.”]

Anagrams are a cornerstone of modern pen-and-paper puzzling.

They make frequent appearances in cryptic (or British-style) crossword clues, and many puzzles and puzzle games — from Anagram Magic Square and Text Twist to Secret Word and Bananagrams — rely heavily on anagrams as an integral part of the solve.

I’ve written about them several times in the past, but for the uninitiated, an anagram is a reordering of the letters in a word to form a new word or phrase. PEALS anagrams into LEAPS, PALES, LAPSE, SEPAL, and PLEAS.

As the old joke goes, “stifle” is an anagram of itself.

But the best anagrams rearrange the letters in a word into something related to that word. Fans of The Simpsons may recall that Alec Guinness anagrams into “genuine class.”

There are numerous examples of great anagrams all over the Internet. Here are a few classics:

  • The eyes = they see
  • Clint Eastwood = Old West action
  • Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one
  • Dormitory = Dirty room
  • A decimal point = I’m a dot in place
  • A gentleman = Elegant man

One of the best online anagram programs out there is hosted by wordsmith.org, and at the top of their page, they remind us that “internet anagram server” anagrams into “I, rearrangement servant.”

You can find some unexpected surprises when you play with anagrams. Did you know that William Shakespeare anagrams into both “I am a weakish speller” and “I’ll make a wise phrase”?

There are entire forums online dedicated to terrific anagrams, some fiendishly clever, others impressively insightful. (Of course, sometimes crafty punctuation makes all the difference.)

Madame Curie becomes “Me? Radium Ace.”

Monty Python’s Flying Circus becomes “Strongly psychotic, I’m funny.”

The possibilities seem endless when you delve into longer phrases. I’m going to close out this tribute to anagrams with two of the most amazing ones I’ve encountered during my time as a puzzler.

The first involves the iconic line as humanity took its first steps onto the surface of the Moon:

Neil Armstrong: That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind

anagrams into…

Thin man ran; makes (a) large stride, left planet, pins flag on moon! On to Mars!

[I’ve included both what Neil said and what was broadcast back to Earth. Hence, the A in parentheses in both versions.]

The second takes one of Shakespeare’s best known lines and offers some engagingly meta commentary on the play itself:

To be or not to be, that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…

anagrams into…

In one of the Bard’s best-thought-of-tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.

So whether you’re playing Scrabble or tackling David L. Hoyt‘s Jumble, anagramming is a worthwhile tool that belongs in every puzzler’s skillset.

Do you have any favorite anagrams, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let me know! I’d love to see them!

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Picture this…

There are all kinds of puzzles. That’s one of the best things about being a puzzle fan: the fact that there are so many varieties of puzzle out there waiting to challenge you. From word searches and crosswords to Sudoku and cryptograms, from brain teasers and sliding-tile puzzles to pattern puzzles and rebuses, the possibilities are endless.

One of the most engaging (and surprisingly challenging, I’ve found) fall under what I’d call picture puzzles.

Picture puzzles demand keen visualization skills, since they often involve manipulating shapes in your head. You might be asked to deduce what letter is on the hidden side of a six-sided die, or how to divide farmland with only three lines and separate every sheep from each other. It’s visual trickery and topnotch puzzle-solving wrapped up in one.

And one of my favorite Picture puzzle wizards is Sam Loyd.

I was introduced to Mr. Loyd’s puzzles in Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd — a collection assembled by puzzle aficionado Martin Gardner — a book I stumbled upon in the library one day while strolling the shelves.

The collection offers math puzzles and brain teasers, deduction problems and tracing games, but the ones that most intrigued me were his Picture puzzles.

Now, adding pictures to puzzles is hardly a new idea. David L. Hoyt’s Jumble puzzle features one, and plenty of Matching / Spot the Difference puzzles — like the Match-Up and The Shadow puzzles offered by our pals at Penny/Dell Puzzles — rely heavily on art. But there’s a marvelous charm to Loyd’s drawings, creating a scene and telling a small story as he offers one brain teaser after another.

I’ll post a few of my favorites, so you can get a sense of not only his artistic stylings, but the extreme cleverness involved in creating these puzzles.

Each of these puzzles requires a keen ability to visualize shapes in your head, as well as some serious craftiness to conquer the challenge Loyd sets before you.  Have you figured them out?

I’ll post the solution to the first one and leave the others for you to puzzle out.

[I didn’t line it up perfectly, but you get the idea.]

Loyd is part of a marvelous tradition of inventiveness and creativity that has helped contribute to the rich and vibrant puzzle world we enjoy today.

[To check out more of Sam Loyd’s puzzles, you can visit this website dedicated to his puzzly legacy (including several puzzles for sale!), a treasure trove of Picture puzzle fun.]

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 Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!

5 Questions with Puzzle Creator (and Jumble Master) David L. Hoyt

Welcome to the tenth edition of PuzzleNation Blog’s interview feature, 5 Questions!

We’re reaching out to puzzle constructors, video game writers and designers, writers, filmmakers, and puzzle enthusiasts from all walks of life, talking to people who make puzzles and people who enjoy them in the hopes of exploring the puzzle community as a whole.

And I’m excited to have David L. Hoyt as our latest 5 Questions interviewee!

Even if you don’t know David’s name, you’ve probably solved one of his puzzles. Whether it’s the illustrated Jumble puzzle syndicated in newspapers across America or one of his numerous puzzles and games, David Hoyt is a puzzle-creation dynamo. Seamlessly transitioning from print to electronic media, David also has a number of apps and websites featuring his work, cultivating terrific relationships with Pat Sajak and USA Today among many other brands.

And it’s worth mentioning that in addition to being the most syndicated man in puzzles, he’s also my mother’s favorite puzzler (leaving me a distant second). *laughs*

David was gracious enough to take some time out to talk to us, so without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

5 Questions for David L. Hoyt

1.) You’ve been recognized nationally and internationally as a leading name in puzzles for decades now. What, in your estimation, separates a great puzzle from an average one?

I specialize in very fast-playing daily puzzles so my answer may be a different from other puzzle creators. When it comes to fast-playing daily puzzles, I feel that a great puzzle is one that gives the solver a chance to feel smart and to feel that he or she has just barely beaten me. The puzzle needs to give to player a fair chance to “win.”

It can’t be too easy, nor can it be too hard. It’s a balancing act. You want the solver to come back to play on a daily basis, so a great fast-playing daily puzzle will need to give the solver enough satisfaction and entertainment to get the solver back the next day.

(Here’s a brief video profiling David’s ongoing puzzle projects.)

2.) The internationally syndicated Jumble puzzle is probably the most well-known in your ever-expanding stable of puzzles. How many do you make in a year, and what does the creative process entail?

I create the classic daily Jumble in partnership with cartoonist Jeff Knurek. I took over the reins from Mike Argirion three years ago. It’s in about 650 newspapers. It’s a seven-days-a-week puzzle. I also create Jumble Crosswords, TV Jumble and a few other Jumble-branded puzzles so the answer to how many I make is lots and lots!

I really love making the classic Jumble. Coming up with the “punny” answer is so fun for me. I have found that I come up with the best ones when I’m running so quite often I’ll go for a run in downtown Chicago and just look around and listen for ideas. I love seeing how far I can run and how many Jumble ideas I can come up with during the run. The city of Chicago is my assistant when it comes to new puzzle ideas.

3.) The hundredth anniversary of the crossword is fast approaching. Given your familiarity with puzzles, what does the hundredth anniversary mean to you? Do you think puzzles as we know them will still be around a hundred years from now?

I’m very excited about the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle! I feel very confident that puzzles as we know them will be around 100 years from now. I see enough young people playing puzzles on the trains, subways and buses here in Chicago that it makes me think that puzzles will be around for as long as humans are around.

4.) What’s next for David L. Hoyt?

I have two things going on right now that have me super excited and that are laying the groundwork for a very busy 2014. I have a new hit game (app) called Just 2 Words and we are working on a series of new versions of this game for 2014.

Also, I am working with teachers and students to get the Word Winder Giant Game into schools, libraries, etc. I love working with teachers and students. It looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in schools in 2014 which I’m really looking forward to.

5.) If you could give the readers, writers, and puzzle fans in the audience one piece of advice, what would it be?

I feel that an important key to success is to pay very close attention to the things that don’t work out the way you expect them to. I feel there’s much more to learn from things that don’t work out as expected compared to what you can learn from the things that do work out as expected.

It’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to have bad ideas. That’s just a part of being human. They key is to not let your human nature mask what really happened. There’s so much that can be learned from the non-successes that can lay a very strong foundation for success over the long-term.

Many thanks to David for his time. You can check out his library of puzzles and games on his website, and keep your eyes peeled for his Word Winder game, as I suspect it’ll be finding its way into school curricula very soon!

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, cruise our boards on Pinterest, check out our Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!