I started doing daily Sudoku in Boston, because of long T (train) rides to and from my first job there. Mostly, I focused on the crosswords, because of two local papers, both of which were left on seats. Often, one on the way out, if I didn't nap, the other on the way home. The free paper as well, which had the sudoku. Took me a while to start it, and I often screwed it up, several times a day, in pen, because I have difficulty seeing numbers. They flip around somewhere between cornea and brain, or maybe on the way back out through the pen in my hand. Considering this therapy for my mild dyscalculia, I plugged away at them, until I could solve as many as I scrubbed. Now, I can do most of them.
When I got home from grade school, my mother would play a game of Scrabble with me until it was time to get my father from work. She made me do the scoring, very frustrating at first, I got better with practice, learning vocabulary along with addition. So, I figured any practice with numerals would be good. I think it has helped, besides, I've come to enjoy sudoku. And I've gotten pretty good with crosswords as well. Not up to competitive* level. And not up to the acrostics and British versions, those just baffle me, no idea how to begin. Still, I have gotten a few fellow nurses going on the simple ones in the newspaper, often they make me finish them and correct their mistakes. This takes a whole new level of skill, I've found. Gradually, they get better, and I don't get to do the ones in the paper at work.
D and I got a crossword collection for our last trip, and have been doing them together since the only ones we had were in the Army Times. You might be surprized that the AT ones were not the best, and we found odd errors.
These days, we are working our way through a Will Shorts collection (of 200, increasing in difficulty) often as our evening ritual before bed. As they get trickier, we use wikipedia to teach ourselves words we don't know more and more. Which also harkens back to our early conversations late at night, when all we had was Brewer's and a dictionary to answer our ponderings.
I've been asked if this isn't cheating. Well, if we were in a competition, it would be. Crosswords are puzzles, self education, collaborative solving. We gather whatever resources to figure them out, if we don't know an answer, we discover it. I don't really understand how one can cheat, unless one simply copies the letters from an answer key, then tells everyone they solved it. We gather hints and look things up, unless we are utterly baffled, we avoid the sites specifically for answering crossword clues. And it's not like we are boasting to anyone about how perfectly we do them. We enjoy the process, and often stop to talk. We joke about "crossword- words" and we make mistakes.
Like with perse. We had the clue and all the letters, and could not figure it out. Perse took us both quite a while. Per se. Oh. Well. Yes, indeed.
*Wordplay is a very fun documentary. Really. I know, a documentary about crossword compilers doesn't even sound good on paper. But it's funny and very entertaining.