I enjoy doing most kinds of puzzles. My favorites are logic puzzles (the type that usually come with a grid in the Penny Press Logic Puzzles magazine), kakuro, and crosswords. My local newspaper carries kakuro only on Sundays and doesn’t have logic puzzles at all, so I’m often fighting temptation to buy a logic puzzle or kakuro books when I see one in a store. I remind myself that I already have access to more puzzles than I have time to do – all for free on the Internet.
Like many games sites that provide limited free downloads alongside paid subscriptions or extended games, Yahoo! offers a great free daily crossword in its Games section. It’s not too hard or too easy, and it gives me the opportunity to fill in just the one letter or word I’m stuck on without having to risk seeing adjacent words I still think I can figure out (which often happens when I peek in the answers section of a puzzle book). Plus I can see my mistakes immediately and can set a timer to compete against myself. Yahoo’s site also offers free daily jigsaw puzzles, sudoko, and other free puzzles/games. Its Word Roundup game is a bit like a traditional word find, but it gives categories (“three flying insects”) rather than exact words (“bee,” “moth,” “fly”). The sudoko puzzle allows users to see all possibilities and make notations; it also prevents wrong answers from being placed in squares. One downside to the Yahoo! Games site is the loud and annoying video advertisements, which slow down the puzzles’ loading.
Kakuro, being less popular than crosswords or sudoko, was harder for me to find online. Dummies.com (as in the “for Dummies” books) offers free daily kakuro and sudoko, but you have to print out the puzzles, and the cost of the ink and paper for my printer would cost nearly as much as pre-printed puzzle books. Plus printing is a bit of a hassle, especially when I only have a few minutes to spend on a puzzle. I was thrilled when I found the daily kakuro puzzle at kakuro.com. I don’t have to print it out, it automatically shows all number possibilities, and I can make notations of possibilities in individual squares just as I would do on paper.
When the Sunday paper’s cryptogram isn’t enough to keep my deciphering skills current for the week, I can go to cryptograms.org for free cryptograms, each accompanied by statistics that include an average solve time, so I can measure my own skills against those of the typical cryptogram fan. Doing cryptograms online has the advantage of automatically filling in all the matching letters in the puzzle, so I don’t miss any, as I sometimes do on paper.
Though jumbles aren’t my favorite type of puzzle, those who enjoy them will find the daily jumble with an associated cartoon riddle at Jumble.com. (It is identical to the one that appears in many newspapers nationwide.) Online, it is a timed game that gives bonus points for a quick solution.
Sadly, I have yet to find an online version of my beloved logic puzzles. I have found a few sites that offer a limited number of logic puzzles (such as crpuzzles.com, which also has semi-rare acrostic puzzles), and ArcaMax’s daily games newsletter occasionally has a logic puzzle as its brain teaser, another free way to keep my mind sharp. (Subscribe to this newsletter, which has a few worthy puzzles among its ads, at arcamax.com.) However, with these options I have to provide my own paper to figure out the puzzles – no online grids. If any readers know of a place that offers free logic puzzles with grids to fill in online, please let me know.
I admit that when I do puzzles online, I miss the tactile aspect of the experience. I never could get into online jigsaws because, for me, the joy of doing a jigsaw puzzle comes from physically turning around a puzzle piece in my hand. The popping sound my computer makes when I put together an online jigsaw puzzle is a poor substitute for the satisfaction of feeling a puzzle piece fit snugly into its place on my coffee table. Likewise, I still enjoy the feel of pencil on paper when I do word puzzles. Though I like to do virtual puzzles online, I’m not yet ready to give up their offline counterparts, even when I have to spend money to buy them.
Image courtesy of rkimpeljr