Puzzle Me This: Why Are Puzzles More Popular Than Ever?

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As the world around us has become more chaotic, puzzles have provided a moment of respite. The 9 x 9 grid of a Sudoku, the verticals and horizontals of a crossword, the comforting circle of the New York Times’ Spelling Bee all offer solvers a beginning and an end; they are places where problems have solutions. We talk to puzzle constructors, puzzle solvers, and puzzle lovers about why puzzles of all kinds – from jigsaws to anagrams to Wordle – have been such a joy lately. And we’ll have a special puzzle for you to solve, too.


Sam Ezersky, digital puzzles editor, New York Times

Sarah Scannell, communications assistant, Citizen Film. Scannell has gone viral on TikTok with her videos about her attempts to solve Cain's Jawbone, a complex murder mystery.

Paolo Pasco, student, Harvard University. He has constructed puzzles for the New York Times and The Atlantic, among other publications.

Erin Rhode, software engineer. Rhode directed the MIT Mystery Hunt in 2014.