the Codeword is a new kind of word puzzle that not only tests your vocabulary,
but also your logical deduction skills. The puzzles are structured like a
classic crossword, with numbered boxes forming lines that cross one another
horizontally and vertically with unused spaces in black. But instead of solving
clues to fill in the grid, Codeword puzzles are based on a substitution cypher,
where a number stands for a letter.
The puzzles provide letters to start
out with—three for the easy puzzles, one for the advanced—and based on that you
try to determine what words those letters form, and thus what letters stand for
Solving the puzzles requires a broad
vocabulary and the ability to recognize patterns. Looking for double numbers
and recurring sequences that stand in for common suffixes like –ing or –ed
helps give you clues that can get you unstuck when no words spring to mind.
The process of solving the puzzle involves
two steps. Step one is actually figuring out which letters to substitute for
which numbers. That requires a little thought and some leaps of logic. Step two
is filling in all of the boxes for the letter you just figured out. This step
is time-consuming and can be a little frustrating when you inevitably miss a box
buried somewhere in the grid.
Solutions to each puzzle are provided
in the back of the book, as are a comprehensive list of every word that appears
(so you can confirm that, yes, adze is a word), in case you get stuck.
Crack the Codeword was developed by
Catherine Eagleson, an Australian librarian who also runs a website devoted to
crosswords, Sudoku, and codeword puzzles. That’s useful to know going in, since
some of the words that appear in this book are uncommon in America or spelled
in the Commonwealth style (such as arbour).
There are some puzzling (if you’ll forgive
the pun) formatting decisions in this first volume of Crack the Codeword. The
book is 8.5 x 11 inches, bucking the trend of smaller, more compact puzzle
books. With no clues to take up space, puzzles could be perfectly legible at
half their size, and solutions (which are also printed full-size) could be much
smaller. The solutions and vocabulary list comprise more of the book than do
the puzzles themselves.
But those problems, along with the
tedious hunt-and-peck of filling in the grid boxes, are easy enough to solve
when Crack the Codeword is inevitably adapted into a mobile app. At that point
it will be a great compromise for players who want the vocabulary building of
crosswords without the annoying clues, and the logic-testing challenge of Sudoku
without all the numbers.