Did National Game and Puzzle Week slip by unnoticed this year? I’m proud to say we did our part, starting our annual jigsaw puzzle marathon on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a tradition at our house to try and complete as many challenging puzzles as possible before that “other” big holiday rolls around.
We live in the desert so I find it interesting that most of our puzzles are winter scenes filled with snow in all its glorious forms from flakes to drifts. The reason behind this? Growing up where snow was a habit, a hindrance, or a hazard to be endured, winter blew in before all the leaves were off the trees and didn’t end until April Fool’s Day. Yes, we do miss the snow when we see those idyllic “Christmas Card” pictures of pine trees laden with the fluffy stuff. Who wouldn’t? But truth be told, we miss the snow from about December 15th right up until January 2nd. Then we are happy our precipitation comes in the form of rain and the only snow we see is in our puzzle boxes.
The first jigsaw puzzle was promoted by a Brit, John Spilsbury. John was a map maker who wanted to interest children in geography. He glued one of his maps to a chunk of wood, cut it in pieces, and voila – the puzzle was born. His creations, first appearing in 1760, were known as “dissections” which might have taken some of the fun out of puzzling.
Actually the crossword puzzle is the most popular word game around the globe. Another Brit, a Liverpudlian, (gotta love that name) Arthur Wynne published the first crossword puzzle in 1913. The New York Times and Puzzle Master Will Shortz wouldn’t be the same without Master Wynne’s contribution. Poor Arthur died penniless despite of the success of his creation.
And what about the big Monopoly scandal? Seems a Mister Charles Darrow was out of work and casting about for a way to make a buck. He modified a version of a game created by Elizabeth Magie that she called “The Landlord’s Game.” Mister Darrow changed the name to Monopoly. Controversy arose when Mistress Magie claimed her idea was stolen by Mister Darrow. Her game had two sets of rules: one for the anti-monopolist and one for the monopolist. Her altruistic intention was to teach the player which route to wealth was morally superior. However, Mister Darrow’s version had one set of rules: go for the throat. Big surprise: his version won the purchasing public’s favor. He made millions from his version; she didn’t get enough to pay the patent fees.
But whichever game you play, you can’t do it alone. This makes for brain
stimulation, healthy competition, and happy moms during the holidays.