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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PuzzleNation Product Review: The Walk-By Scrabble Board

Hammacher Schlemmer is perhaps best known for its library of high-end products, from massage chairs and high-tech toys to outlandishly marvelous devices like a jetpack that propels you into the air on columns of water.

But they’re also home of some unexpectedly delightful puzzle products, like the latest edition to my cubicle space, the Walk-By Scrabble Board.

Lightweight, durable, and easy to mount around the home or office, the Walk-By Scrabble Board is designed for puzzlers who don’t mind taking some time between moves to accomplish other tasks.

The magnetic letters adhere well to both the board and the player tags that conceal your tiles from others, and the dry-erase board scoreboard doesn’t stain easily. It’s perfect for repeated, regular play.

But the Walk-By Scrabble Board has another terrific facet: the casual nature of its layout infuses your gameplay. There isn’t the tension and gravitas of having several players watch you as you make your move, feeling seconds tick away as you scramble to anagram in your head. 

You can play at your leisure, offering a similar playing experience to electronic versions of the game like Words with Friends and Lexulous, but without sacrificing the more social, familial spirit of playing a game with your family. 

That combination of the best of the electronic and board game versions makes for a much more congenial playing experience overall.

As you can see, it’s a hit here at the PuzzleNation office.

Well-made and affordable, the Walk-By Scrabble Board is a great way to reignite the puzzly spirit of your household in a fun, casual way.

[This product and many others will be featured in our Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, going live on PuzzleNation Blog next Wednesday!]

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