Trivia Teaser

Which one of these is NOT a French dish?

Coq au vin

A Call Out to Y'all...


By Jessie

We all know that in essence the Internet can be a communications wasteland, reducing vibrant, creative individuals to nameless, faceless automatons. And perhaps for the various scammers, spammers and inventors of dubious memes this abstract status is valid and correct. But not for YouPlay members! No sirree – not on my watch. So I’ve decided your time in the sun starts now!

Each month I’ll be publishing an interview with a YouPlay member, and celebrating the real people behind the avatars which make up our rich family of puzzle addicts. And if YOU want to be featured, simply email your full name, YP user name and a brief (under 150 words) bio to . Tell me what makes you get out of bed in the morning? What are your passions? Your greatest achievement? Your most longed for wish? (It doesn’t have to be YP related.)

Without further ado, I bring you an interview we handily prepared earlier. During my recent sojourn, the lovely Angelica caught up with a truly dedicated YouPlayer who has completed all – yes ALL - of the crosswords on the site. Every single archived one of them!

Shaggy: I found the Lovatts YouPlay site one day after I bought a laptop. I had severely damaged my back and was ordered to lie down and not move for two months.  I was in a lot of pain, and the laptop was some help as a distraction. Then I found the Lovatts YouPlay site, and simply got hooked on it. I was admitted to hospital three or four times over the next twelve months, and the thing I missed the most was the combination of my crossword puzzles andmy coffee every morning as they woke me up at 5:00am to take my blood pressure.


My back is still damaged 3 years later, and I am still in a lot of pain, but I have learned that distraction is a great painkiller - rather than taking pills. So doing the puzzles has become the distraction I need each morning when I wake up - while I wait for my muscles to 'un-seize' in the morning.

I've been lucky enough to win a couple of things from the website, and I fear that being a writer/journalist by trade will give people the impression that I have some sort of unfair advantage over others in competitions - particularly crosswords. However, I find that the competitions on the website aren't weighted in anybody's direction - and I wouldn't say that accountants, for example, have an advantage in Sudoku. I learned to do Sudoku on your site, after my mum started laughing at me for not knowing how to do them! Mum enjoys the books, and the two times I have won Sudoku books on the site I have posted them to mum. She really likes them.

I guess the reason I've done so many puzzles on your website is that I do find with a back injury, I am most comfortable and pain free either standing up or lying down. If I'm lying down, the laptop is never far away, and it's only one click to access the YouPlay website after all. On weekends, and sometimes after work, I'll grab the laptop and do crosswords for a bit of distraction from pain.

As you have an obvious love for crosswords and puzzles, where did this originally stem from?

I like words. I'm a wordsmith of sorts, working as a writer. When I was in kindergarten I remember having a fascination for words, and deciding I would be a writer one day. And now I am. I went to university and got my bachelor of arts in professional writing, and a graduate diploma in communications. That might seem like an unfair advantage in solving crossword puzzles, but not when you have the variety and vocabulary challenges that Lovatts puzzles present.

Doing puzzles was always something I enjoyed, but I probably learned to enjoy them a lot more when I lived in a country that had no English language television or radio as a child, and puzzles were one way of filling the hours that would normally have been spent in front of the 'box'.  My mother taught me how to play Scrabble, chess, gin rummy, Mahjong and checkers while we were stationed in Islamabad for two years.

A: Do you share your love of puzzles with any other family members or friends?

S: My mother is hooked on Lovatts Sudoku, but not online - she prefers the books. I like to lie in bed in the morning with my coffee and my laptop, before work, and do the crosswords. The range of words and clues gets my brain going in the morning before having to go to work and write all day. It's like doing stretches before a race, or limbering up before doing ballet.

A: Apart from puzzle solving, what other interests do you have?

S: I really enjoy going to the Art Galleries in Australia, the Victorian National Gallery is my favourite, followed closely by the Australian National Gallery. This might be controversial still - but my favourite picture is Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles - but only after anything by Rembrandt. I did play the guitar and the five-string banjo - but had to give that up recently due to a back injury. I love to travel, both in Australia and overseas, my last big trip was to Scotland and England, and America. I'm planning to return to Scotland and England, and go to Ireland for the first time in the next few years.

A: What are you reading at the moment?

S: I'm a total dag!  I cannot get over JK Rowling's achievements with the Harry Potter series. She is the JRR Tolkien of our times, and I am a complete and unashamed addict to both the books and the films. Currently I'm reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!

A: What’s your strongest subject in our trivia games?

S: It would be easier to say what's my weakest subject - which is definitely SPORT!  I'm not too bad on history or politics, but I fail every time there's a question about the Australian cricket team, such as "Who is the captain of the Australian cricket team?" and I provoke terrible outrage on the part of anybody who sees me get it wrong - because I generally haven't got a clue!

A: Do you have any pets?

S: I have one cat - who hates me puzzling on the laptop because it's HER lap, and the laptop should NOT be on HER lap.

A: What’s your best puzzling tip?

S: Doing puzzles keeps your brain active and alert.  This is more and more important as we get older, or when we're battling a chronic condition.  Start your addiction to puzzles now, and you'll keep it up when you need it the most.

A: You mentioned that crosswords are your favourite and that you do them diligently each day – how much time would you spend on average a day.

S: I like to do the crosswords every day while I have my coffee in the morning before going to work. It probably takes me about half an hour to do the crosswords, including the giant, which is just enough time to have a double shot espresso coffee.

A: Do you allocate a specific time each day to visit YouPlay and complete the new daily ‘offerings’?

S: I usually get my coffee and do the new puzzles before work - as above. But if I wake up late for some reason, I do the puzzles when I get home from work, as a way to wind down and relax.

A: Do you complete crosswords in magazines as well, or mostly online?

S: Since I discovered the online Lovatts website, I haven't done any crosswords in magazines or books. I used to, but it's a lot easier to erase a mistake on the website.  I also find it easier to type than write with a pen, as I can type without looking at my fingers and long since lost the ability to write nicely.

A: I note that you also enjoy General Knowledge, Cryptic, Classic, Quick and Elevenses – how do you find the difficulty levels? And do you resort to dictionaries and other reference books etc for assistance?

S: I like the difficulty levels of the crosswords. It expands my vocabulary - which is important if you're a writer. I haven't yet resorted to dictionaries or other reference books, or other people for assistance. I like the challenge of solving the puzzle without help.

A: Do friends/family help you with your puzzle solving?

S: I generally do the crosswords early in the morning before work, I would deem it exceptionally unwise to wake anybody else up before they've had their tea or coffee for help with a crossword puzzle! So no - friends and family don't really help me with puzzle solving at all.


5 Responses to

A Call Out to Y'all...

June 18, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Lovely idea these sort of interviews,Jessie. I find Shaggy a very interesting person to read about. And I do admire you (Shaggy) for being able to complete all the puzzles without recourse to dictionaries or encyclopedias. I certainly cannot complete all of them without some help occasionally. I also cannot do Sudoku type puzzles. More than two numbers next to each other, and my brain seizes up.

Shaggy said:
June 18, 2010 at 5:27 PM

I'd love to know more about other YouPlay members too - please write to Christine and tell her we need more archived crosswords so I'm not the only one - I'm sure there's more of you out there that has finished all the crosswords!

June 19, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Great idea about the interviews Jessie. I found Lovatts crossword books some twenty years ago and since I have my computer I can't wait for my daily dose. I am trying very hard to do the cryptics as they have always defeated me. I don't try the Sudoku anymore I find them annoying as I can't get them out. I still buy the books, and work my way through them as I watch the tele or have a quiet sit down.

maggiemay said:
July 07, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Arcticprincess, I used to have the same problems with sudoku' too stressed out. Thought I had it, right down to the last square. However, I suggest you go to and look at her tutorial for Sudoku. Brilliant. I now breeze through them. Now my favourite game. Good luck.

blazer5 said:
July 13, 2010 at 5:59 PM

the english language is so amazing to use in crosswords, espec. cryptic - lovely to see shaggy's story - it's funny to guess what people are behind their avatars - hello to all