Subject: #11: Using reference works: fair or foul?
Crosswords and Other Words (C-WOW) by Barry Tunick ___________________________________ Hi Before I tell you how I feel about using reference works to solve puzzles, how do *you* feel about it? Do you feel it's kind of cheating, like looking at the answers in the back of the book? Would you rather leave a puzzle (gulp!) unfinished rather than go to a dictionary? Or do you feel that all's fair in love, war and crosswords, and that if God didn't want us to use references he would've had Noah Webster become a blacksmith? If you're in the second group, I'm with you. References were made to be referred to, and in doing so you might learn some things. One of these things is how to use reference works--a valuable skill in itself that could help in other areas of your life. The other things are unpredictable, as your eye might come across an interesting word that could lead your mind onto new paths. Does the name Margaret Farrar ring a bell? The first famous crossword editor from the '20s through the '80s, she developed many of the rules and conventions we follow today. She said "Solvers may learn something in the process of looking something up." If it was good enough for Margaret, it's good enough for me. And besides, we constructors use reference works when we make up the puzzles, so why shouldn't the solvers have the same advantage? Next time I'll tell about the references I use, listing a few of the most important. I'll also provide some suggestions about a basic reference library that could help solvers. See you then? Oh, here's one more response to the "when did you start to solve?" query: "I watched my parents solve (my dad would pick up my mom's unfinished puzzle, complain about & correct her errors & finish)," writes Larry Wasser. "I started in earnest when i was in college - had the NYT delivered & worked on the puzzle before breakfast. I've been hooked since."
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