Puzzle play

Puzzle game | News | pressrepublican.com

There really is no conundrum about this.

Word and number game aficionados get caught up in the challenge.

While Pam Robbins enjoys her breakfast, she reads the Press-Republican cover to cover, and then, she says, “the piece de resistance is the crossword puzzle and the mess.”

Pam, a retired nurse practitioner in her 60s, has been talking about these games in the newspaper for decades.

“Especially since I retired,” she says. “I look forward to them every day.”

A BIT TOO MUCH

The crossword has been in the newspaper longer than the Republican Press. A quick search revealed daily crosswords at least as far back as 1934, when the PR was the Plattsburgh Daily Press.

These puzzles didn’t just test word knowledge – they included a picture of a famous person in the middle of each puzzle whose name was the answer to “1 through”.

Anne Lindbergh played in the January 4 game that year; Chiang Kai-Shek had this honor on January 29.

Today’s PR puzzles do not use this feature, but readers can rely on the Sunday version (now in the Saturday-Sunday weekend edition) to prove more difficult than those of the week.

Pam likes the jigsaw puzzles Monday through Friday because they are “difficult enough but not enough to discourage me from doing them”.

Sunday’s game, however, she said, “is a bit too much.”

WHEN THE MOOD STRIKES

Carol Allen says her husband, Ron, is just “trying out” the Sunday puzzle.

Despite this, the Peruvian couple, both 80, adopted a new routine around the new arrival of this match on Saturday.

“We make a copy of the Sunday crossword on Saturday, and we each record it until Sunday morning and do it over coffee,” Carol said.

At least that’s when they start it.

“It takes me most of the day, and it takes Ron several days,” she said.

Kathy Leary, 63, reads the newspaper online, so she captures the daily crossword with a screenshot on her computer.

“I’m saving it as a pdf so it doesn’t print as a photo,” the Schuyler Falls wife explained.

Then, she prints the puzzles and attacks them when the urge arises.

“I have two or three on my table right now,” she said.

SATISFACTION

There’s just something about filling in all those little empty boxes – the satisfaction of a job well done.

This includes the Jumble and Sudoku games which are also published in the newspaper.

Many believe that the latter game is of Japanese origin, but it first appeared in French newspapers in the late 1800s.

Puzzle books began to carry it, then called Number Place, in the late 1970s. Its popularity really skyrocketed after a Japanese puzzle company started publishing it as Sudoku in the mid-1970s. 1980s.

Whatever the source, the game fascinates.

Julie McAllister, who lives in Plattsburgh, has been playing there for years.

“Sometimes if I’m busy I cut them up and put them in my wallet,” she said.

So, if she has a downtime, in a waiting room for example, it’s Sudoku time.

FIND THE PATTERN

The object of this game is to fill 81 squares in a grid with the numbers 1 to 9 in each column, row and nine sub-grids.

The grid comes with a few numbers already in place to start the player.

“You can’t repeat a number one way or the other, horizontally or vertically,” Julie suggested in a quick tutorial. “Once you get the key number things start to fall into place.”

Sudoku puzzles in public relations get harder and harder as the week goes on, she noted. “Sometimes you can do it in five minutes.”

Then again, she sometimes found herself suspending her efforts on some that offer more challenge.

“I get to a point, and I can’t see the pattern,” Julie said.

But after changing focus for a while, she said, “I’ll come back later and it’s right there.”

SCIENCE SAYS …

Kathy, who retired from her civilian job at Clinton Correctional in Dannemora ten years ago, has been playing crossword puzzles regularly for the past two or three years.

“I just guess – they always say keep a sharp mind.”

There are a few schools of thought on this.

In a 2014 article in Psychology Today, cognitive neuroscientist Sandra Bond Chapman Ph.D. said that while crosswords, jumbles, Sudoku, and other games “are fun and engaging, there is is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that brain training as it currently exists can dramatically improve an individual’s high-level cognitive abilities.

“What we do know is that brain games improve the specific function that is trained,” she said.

Solving a lot of word or number games can make a person really good at them, said Bond Chapman.

“But the effects do not spread to other untrained areas and do not elevate critical frontal lobe brain functions such as decision making, planning and judgment – functions that allow us to carry out our work. everyday life.”

AND SCIENCE SAYS THIS …

But don’t give up on these games just yet.

Ann Lukits, author of a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Puzzles Improve Verbal Skills, Reduce Risk of Dementia,” believes that solving crossword puzzles regularly can “improve memory and brain function in people. elderly ”… and“ improve mental functions. in patients with brain damage or premature dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association agrees, saying “a daily dose of crossword puzzles is an important way to keep the brain active and sharp, especially as we age.”

And Carol too.

Her mother, the late Dorothy Baker, was an avid crossword and Jumble puzzle player.

“She had a very sharp mind until she passed away at 93,” her daughter said.

Carol and Ron, both 80 years old, are historians for the city of Peru.

A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE

Julie, 79, is convinced that visual games and patterned games are good for seniors.

It’s a bit like learning to play the piano or any musical instrument for the youngest, “she said.” Learning to read notes is a different language – you use different mental skills. “

As for Sudoku, she said, “I think it keeps you sharper when it comes to combinations and patterns.”

This is something she knows well, as she is a longtime member of the Plattsburgh Duplicate Bridge Club.

“The bridge is meant to be a math game,” Julie said. “The average bridge player will never think in those terms, but he must remember the cards.”

She thinks Sudoku is a fun game for all ages, although she is well aware that kids today are captured by video games that she says only require “thumbs-tweaking.”

ALWAYS RELEVANT

So is there a place in the modern world for pencil and paper when it comes to games?

Kathy plays Solitaire on her cell phone every day; she also downloads games such as Candy Crush, but deletes apps when she feels she is running out of play time.

But she doesn’t consider the crosswords she extracts from the paper to be out of date.

“I have a couple of them on my table right now,” she said.

Email to Suzanne Moore:

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Twitter: @ éditeurSuzanne