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The Puzzmo Manifesto

In which I praise a new online puzzle platform.

Most Sunday mornings, my wife grabs a pencil, The New York Times Magazine, and settles in on the couch to do the Sunday crossword puzzle. She is super-fast and good at crosswords. I am much slower and less good, but I do enjoy a good puzzle.

When I think about what I want to be when I grow up, a better crossword player is in my top 15 list. It’s a few spots above competent dog owner and just below someone who sells their car and uses mass-trainsit all the time. I’ve got my priorities straight, y’all.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an invite to the new puzzle platform, Puzzmo. I was intrigued that, even with a special early invite link, you still had to solve a puzzle (in my case, a round of Really Bad Chess) in order to enter the site. Once I did so (I’m really bad at Really Bad Chess), I was surprised to learn that I had to wait for a login code to arrive via the U.S.P.S. When it arrived, I had to complete another puzzle to determine my log-in code.

This rigamarole may have bothered me in the past, but for some reason, it drew me in. Once I got in the site and found “The Puzzmo Manifesto,” I was hooked.

I love me a good manifesto. This particular manifesto spoke directly to my wannabe cruciverbalist heart.

Anyone can be great at games. Games are about challenge, but they should always invite you in.

Yes! All too often I’ve gotten discouraged by a classic NYT crossword (usually a Friday or Saturday edition) and felt completely stuck. This isn’t inviting me in. It is keeping me out.

Becoming literate in games means understanding the language of experience, the power of systems, and knowing how to step back and see the big picture.

This is what compelled me to purchase a lifetime subscription to Puzzmo. I stumbled upon a puzzle platform with a lofty mission and a vision of inclusion. It seemed like a platform to which I could belong.

The Puzzmo team talk a good game. I can tell you that they play one, too. Every day, there’s a handful of games that include puzzle games that are familiar, yet tweaked to live up to the values espoused in the manifesto.

For example, they’ve taken the classic crossword format and made it more inclusive by adding hints. If you’re a high-level player (like my wife), you never have to use them. But, if you get stuck on a clue (like I often do), you are presented with a hint, offering another way to get at the answer. This gives you a little help while preserving the feeling of figuring it out.

Here’s my puzzle plan: - Play Puzzmo with regularity. - Say “yes” when these puzzle games invite me in. - Embrace curiosity. - Step back and see the big picture.

Perhaps this will propel me toward my goal of becoming a better cruciverbalist. Then I can work on moving to a city with a robust public transit system and get rid of my car.