The CollectorSunday, June 30, 2002
Like most Americans I first came upon Paint by Numbers in GAMES magazine. Actually I paid little attention to them at first, having a lot of puzzles that I was already familiar with available. I'm a particular fan of cryptic crosswords, cross sums, word arithmetic, logic problems and many others.
Finally one evening with nothing else I particularly wanted to do, I took out an old issue of GAMES to look for some puzzles I hadn't done and decided to try one of them. I was hooked. The next week or two were spent going through back issues of GAMES - I keep all my old copies - and working all available PBNs.
At first for multiple groups I used the sliding block method to locate squares that could be filled on multiple group lines. After a while, I developed what I called A Strong Technique for Multiple Groups which I contributed to one of the forums on this site.
One of my biggest thrills came when GAMES published their whole book of PBNs. My collection on my computer presently numbers about 13,000 puzzles - all of which may not be unique, but most of which have been worked, so you see I am a complete addict.
I have worked the puzzles when standing in a queue. A couple of years ago I played FDR in a local production of ANNIE and as I was only in Act 2, I worked puzzles during the first act. I got other members of the cast and crew working them too. The following year when I played Mr. Brownlow in OLIVER, I brought in my laptop and worked puzzles between my scenes.
As a long-time math and computer teacher, I always used puzzles of all kinds to introduce concepts, and supplement and enrich my teaching. I also taught a computer familiarization (read beginning) class for high school students, in which we spent at least one day a week on problem solving skills. And as a computer programming teacher, what are programs, but real life puzzles? I am presently semi-retired and I still substitute teach.
Let me conclude with a nonpuzzle related item. I wrote a verse once for the county SCRABBLE (c) tournament for which I served for many years as the head judge. The first five years of the tournament, four of the students I worked with won first prize in the 7th-8th grade division. Anyway I couldn't find it so I am including this verse from my yet uncompleted An Abecedarian of Verses which I hope you will enjoy. It's somewhat appropriate as Conceptis has publishers in most of these countries. (It was obviously written in pre-Euro days.)
It Makes the World Go 'Round