Course Description

About the Instructor

Course Topics

  • topics xwdSession 1. Course Description, Instructor, Topics/Syllabus and Resources
  • Why Do We Solve Puzzles?
  • History: Milestones (in crosswords) and Media (music, fiction, theater, film, TV, culture)
  • Practice: this course is approximately 2/3 presentation, 1/3 practice solving puzzles. If you've already taken this class (or would prefer to skip puzzle history, background and resources) and are looking for additional challenges, I encourage you to participate in one of my practice-only ("practicum") courses, where each session consists entirely of solving crossword puzzles as a group, and discussing the tricky clues and funny themes we find. e.g., CROSSWORDS: Practicum: Intermediate.

Course Resources

  • curriculum menuThese web pages will be used for course presentation & resources -- the following link (URL) is in the course catalog, and will be emailed to registered students:
  • This online version allows you to preview the course before registering, and to explore items that we skim/skip, or that you miss, or want to refer to later -- there are many more article references, quotes, jokes, cartoons, puzzles and web sites than we will have time to cover in class. This format also allows me to update the course with new or revised items on an ongoing basis, plus provide a more mobile-friendly version.
  • zen gpsThere are several options for navigating these pages:
    • top of screen
      • left: dropdown menu: select "OLLI Courses" -- click/tap a second time on items w/ subsections
      • right: Search box; specific words yield best (fewest) results
    • bottom of screen
      • left; '<': previous section
      • center; 'up': up a level
      • right; '>': next section
      • left (on section pages): select from table of contents
  • conversation how are youFor most topics, I generally refer to Wikipedia and New York Times (NYT) -- as good starting points (though certainly not the only ones) for exploration. Some sites may limit article access by imposing a monthly quota, or requiring a login or subscription. File formats will usually be indicated as [.pdf], [.puz], etc. Note: any images, puzzles or other media provided on this site are for instructional/personal use and should not be redistributed. Photo galleries -- on this page, and under Sources:Applications and Authoring -- should display properly in most modern web browsers (users of older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) may experience problems and see a warning message).
  • Since these course web pages are dynamic (and lengthy), there are no paper handouts. However, for those who want an offline version (which is less formatted, less interactive and infrequently updated) for computer, tablet, eReader, or printer, you can download .pdf files (below) for the major sections of this course:
Section Archive [.pdf] # Pages Size (MBytes) Last Updated
Course Description, Instructor, Topics and Resources 07 0.5 1-Aug-2014
Why Do We Solve Puzzles? 22 1.2 1-Aug--2014
History: Milestones and Media 40 2.2 1-Aug-2014
Practice 03 0.2 1-Aug-2014
Terminology and Types 11 0.8 1-Aug-2014
Solving Strategies 45 1.9 8-Jul-2014
Puzzle Sources: Web Sites and Applications 64 3.7 8-Jul-2014
Authoring: Web Sites and Applications 21 1.0 1-Aug-2014
WordPlay 03 0.2 1-Aug-2014