Trivia Teaser

Which word means 'to force metal through dies'?




By Jessie

I recently settled back with a big bowl of popcorn to watch the film Wordplay (2006) – a feature that every YouPlayer should see! It chronicles the people behind the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held since 1978 in Stamford – most notably, the puzzle editor for The New York Times, Will Shortz.

Shortz sold his first crossword at the tender age of 14 and is the only person in the world to hold a college degree in ‘Enigmatology’ (the study of puzzles). He has devoted his life to puzzles, having authored or edited more than 100 books on the subject. As further proof of his ‘Puzzle Master’ status, he even created the riddles for The Riddler, Jim Carrey’s character in the 1995 film Batman Forever!

Wordplay gives a fascinating insight into the world of competitive crossworders, who converge each year to battle it out for the top position in a nail-biting finals round. Since the inception of the tournament, a talented group has emerged including five players profiled in the movie. Each tells a personal story about their shared passion such as Tyler Hinman, the youngest ever first-division competitor, and Ellen Ripstein, whose emotional tournament win in 2001 (after 14 years of qualifying for the finals) was followed closely by the press.

The most engaging aspect of the film for me was watching how quickly these puzzle virtuosos could actually solve a crossword. Filmed in real-time, within just a couple of minutes, the (difficult) grids were correctly completed!

Wordplay also features avid celebrity puzzlers, with compelling interviews by former political opponents Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, the pitcher Mike Mussina, band mates the Indigo Girls and enigmatic comedian Jon Stewart (who even proposed to his girlfriend through a specially compiled crossword).

Feeling like a complete amateur in comparison, I paid very close attention to the advice given by these experts. Across the board, they all recommended lots of practice solving quality puzzles, so I’ve set myself a personal challenge to keep playing until I can solve the YouPlay Classic Crossword in under five minutes!

I highly recommend Wordplay to anyone who likes solving puzzles; read more about the film and contestants at the official site.

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