Feature Article

Dell Crossword Puzzles

by Melissa Minners



            I was sitting there the other day, contemplating completing the crossword puzzle in the local newspaper when it hit me – how many other people find these puzzles amusing?  How many people don’t just complete the puzzles in the newspaper, but actually go out and buy puzzle books containing crosswords, word searches, etc.?  My own fascination with these puzzles began long ago and my favorite puzzle books are DELL!

            I remember receiving my dad’s unfinished puzzle books when I was very young – around 6 or 7 years old.  My dad would usually complete most of the puzzles, but there were a few that failed to capture his attention and I would make my best effort to complete those.  As I grew older, my family began to notice my interest in Dell crosswords was growing.  This prompted them to buy the monthly magazines at the local Woolworth whenever we could.  Dell also published huge annual books and we sent away for those.  These books kept me occupied through many a rainy day.

            Why are Dell puzzle books better than others?  The clues are more precise for one thing.  Plus, Dell crossword puzzle books offer a huge variety of puzzles to solve.  Here’s an idea of what one could find in any common Dell crossword puzzle book: 

Crossword Puzzles: They come in all shapes and sizes.  There are different difficulty levels – easy, medium, hard, expert and challenger.  There are also different styles including standard, diagramless, Bible, cryptic, cube, movie / TV, and more.

Anacrostics: In order to complete these puzzles, you must first answer a set of clues.  Each letter of the answers contains a corresponding letter and number.  You match this letter / number combination to the one on the grid below.  Filling the letters into the grid in the proper order reveals a quote, the author of the quote, and the work from which the quote was taken.

Bowl-A-Score Challenger: This one is difficult for any puzzle lover, but nonetheless, addictive.  There are ten frames, just as in bowling.  In each frame, there are 10 letters arranged like pins.  The object in each frame is to form a 10-letter word for 20 points, and 2 smaller words, or “spares”, for 10 points apiece.

Cross Sums: To complete these puzzles, you must have adequate math skills.  You are given a grid of black and blank squares.  The black squares contain numbers.  You must fill in the blank squares under or directly to the right of each of the number squares with digits that, when added up, will equal the number in the black square.  Sounds confusing, right?  It’s easier to understand when the puzzle is sitting right there in front of you, but make no mistake, this is not an easy puzzle to solve.  What makes these puzzles so hard is that there is an “across” and a “down”.  You may want to use a digit in the “across” sum and discover that it is the entirely wrong digit for the “down” sum.  It’s enough to give you a real headache if you aren’t very good with figures.

Skill-o-gram: This is a drawing puzzle and one that I had much success with as a child.  You are given a box with a destination number and a seemingly unintelligible shape inside.  Below is a grid.  You use the destination number to match the boxes with a location in the grid and copy the shapes from the boxes into their corresponding locations.  When you have successfully plotted and drawn all of the boxes, you will come up with an image.  I remember the joy that would come from completing each puzzle.  The completed projects made me look like an accomplished artist.  Some of these came out so well that they were proudly mounted on my mother’s refrigerator.

Kriss Kross: These puzzles supply you with a list of words of different sizes.  The object is to place all of the words in the corresponding diagram.  Sounds easier than it actually is.

Laddergrams: You are given a series of definitions.  You fill the answers into a three column table.  Each column has a number of rows.  The word in the second column of a row will contain one less letter than the word in the first column of that row.  That letter is placed in a space provided before the first column.  The third column will contain a word which is one less letter than the word in the second column of that row.  That letter is placed in the space located after the third column.  When completed, the letters before the first column and after the third column will spell out related words.

Cryptoquizzes: Each quiz is a list of related words.  In order to discover this list, you must break the code.  Each cryptoquiz uses a different code, creating a new challenge with each quiz.

Figgerits: You are given a list of definitions.  You fill the answer into the dashes provided.  Under the dashes are numbers.  Below the definitions section is a set of dashes attached to each other as the “solution”.  By filling in the “solution” dashes with letters in the corresponding definition section dashes, you reveal a saying.

Quotation Puzzles: You are given a grid.  Below each column of the grid is a set of letters.  By placing these letters properly in the grid columns above, you will reveal a quotation.

Logic Problems: You are given a set of clues (usually about 6 or 7).  Using these clues, you are expected to fill in a chart with logical surmises as to who has done what during a particular event, what their full names are, their age, and so on.  Complicated stuff.  If you have never solved a logic problem before, this puzzle is not for you.

Word Searches: Find a list of words in a jumble of letters and circle them.

Cryptograms: These puzzles have same solving concept as the cryptoquizzes, but instead of a list of related words, you are solving whole quotations.  Each quotation contains a different code.

Solicross: Quite like the game Scrabble without all of the double and triple word spaces.  You are given a grid and a series of letters.  The object is to use the letters drawn from the letter list (these must be used in order) to create words that you place in the grid as you would in a Scrabble game.  Each box in the grid contains a score.  Each word score is tallied and placed in the corresponding box.  This goes on for about 15 rounds.  Then you tally up your final score.  No one I know has gotten a perfect score, or even the suggested score.

Word Mines: How many 4 and 5 letter words can you form from the word provided? 

Also Included: Mazes, quizzes, and other word puzzles.

            The variety of puzzles and skill levels make Dell crossword puzzle books enjoyable for people of every age.  They last quite a while and are ageless.  When I find that I have trouble solving a particular puzzle, I put the magazine down, sometimes not returning to it for months.  I then pull it out and look at it through fresh eyes.  The prices of the books vary depending on the variety of puzzles you are looking for, but no matter what magazine you select, you know you are getting good value for your money when you by a puzzle book from Dell.




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