Crossword – More than 100 Years of History

Published 11:29 am Monday, April 25, 2022

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About 108 years ago, on December 21, 1913, the editor Arthur Wyne came up with something very special for the Christmas edition of the American newspaper “New York World”: A diamond-shaped structure reminiscent of a Christmas tree pendant, to which he assigned 31 search terms. He called it “Word-Cross Puzzle”. This was the birth of the modern crossword puzzle, and it took off at breakneck speed. The crossword has brought the puzzle to a large audience.
For the Christmas issue on December 21, 1913, Arthur Wynne was to come up with something very special. The Briton was an editor at the US newspaper “New York World” and responsible for equipping the Sunday supplement with new puzzles. For Christmas, his bosses wanted something that also visually matched the season. And so, after much pondering, Wynne designed a diamond-shaped structure reminiscent of a Christmas tree pendant, which he called the “Word-Cross Puzzle”. It was to be the birth of the modern crossword puzzle.
The 41-year-old arranged 31 search terms in his diamond, which was empty on the inside. Sometimes the answers had to be entered horizontally, sometimes vertically. Wynne had based it on older editions of grid puzzles.
You can also play the WESER-KURIER crossword puzzle online.
His crossword is actually an improvement on the so-called “Magic Squares” by Victor Orville, who was in prison in Cape Town around the turn of the century and invented the grid puzzles out of boredom. “Wynne introduced a variant that allows for a great deal of variety and is still used in principle today,” says puzzle expert Johannes Susen from Brühl near Cologne. It is therefore “absolutely justified” to call Wynne the inventor of the crossword puzzle. Susen has been designing puzzles full-time for 30 years and organizes the German Crossword Championship once a year. However, Arthur Wynne failed to patent his word cross-puzzle – later renamed cross-word puzzle. And so he didn’t earn a cent from the invention.
In fact, however, the crossword puzzle found rapid sales. Soon enough, readers began sending their own crossword puzzles to the newspaper . “All ages, men and women, genteel or not, poring over these charts everywhere. The crossword mania continues with  the NY Times, La Times, Daily Themed Crosswords and more… up to this date, and it is not showing any sign of decline.

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