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5/22/2016 3:25:29 PM

Josh
Josh
Posts: 170
Hey Dell editors (and fellow forum participants):

I've taken to buying some of the older back issues that eBayers are selling from time to time. One of the more excited finds I got recently (outside of some early Math Puzzles & Logic Problems issues, including a clean copy of the first one I ever bought), was a set of Pencil Puzzles & Words Games from 1991-1994. While reading through the letters page (yes, I read the old issues too!), I saw a few things that jumped out at me.

If accurate, right about now is the 40th anniversary of the launch of Pencil Puzzles & Word Games, which lives on in its spiritual successor as Official Variety Puzzles. That title actually reaches 15 years old this year, if I recall correctly that it launched in 2001. I know it may be late to throw it out there for the exact anniversary, but is there any chance of a celebration or something fun around it this year? Perhaps, similar to other scenarios like this, a page or two of puzzles from the debut could be published, or something fun to that effect? It's a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

It's clear from previous efforts that there's a lot of respect for the history of Dell within the staff, underscored by the longevity of many of those working there; the readers here definitely share that, and I hope you have a chance to celebrate somehow. If not, let me share here (as I know we all have periodically) our thanks for what you do, and here's to another 40 years to come!

As an aside, I'm also reading some tension-filled letter pages from that era; boy were the conversations lively back then, and even though I know I bought many of these I don't remember that. I'm glad the letter pages have survived, and hope they continue to do so, just as I hope these forums are kept up for those of us who like to chat about the ups and downs of solving.

Thanks,

Josh

5/22/2016 10:56:43 PM

Bernadette1959
Bernadette1959
Posts: 245
Josh, I was purchasing these issues of Pencil Puzzles and Word Games as well! And if I remember correctly, just about every one featured a letter from someone griping about the number of Anacrostics included in each issue. LOL Someone was always whining about there being too many! smile

5/23/2016 7:21:37 AM

Amy Lowenstein
Amy Lowenstein
Posts: 1599
Ha! They now have whole BOOKS of Anacrostics that you can buy thru the mail or on line (not in a store).

--
Amy

5/23/2016 6:01:49 PM

Josh
Josh
Posts: 170
Bernadette1959 wrote:
Josh, I was purchasing these issues of Pencil Puzzles and Word Games as well! And if I remember correctly, just about every one featured a letter from someone griping about the number of Anacrostics included in each issue. LOL Someone was always whining about there being too many! smile



So actually, one of the things that made Pencil Puzzles & Word Games so appealing to me as a middle and high schooler was the utter lack of Anacrostics in it! They had so many Crossword/Variety magazines back then with it featured, and Official Pencil Puzzles carried the puzzle, that it was a refreshing oasis from them. Of course, all of their current variety-only titles have them. I do find the ratio on the high side; more than 10 percent of the variety puzzle pages go to that and that alone. (Math & Logic is the exception, of course.) It's by far the highest ratio of any puzzle, but I'm sure the solvership must call for it heavily for it to appear at that level across the board.

A lot of letters from that era begged for books of only Solicrosses... Dell of course came around to that request when they took Penny's lead on offering single-puzzle volumes by mail. (Actually, speaking of anniversaries, isn't this around the time 20 years ago when the companies also combined?)

One issue featured a survey they printed requesting solvers' most liked/disliked puzzles and they only got 37 responses back. I'm sure if a similar poll was advertised today, and placed on the website concurrently, the response rate would be at least a little higher. The funny part is most of the top and bottom choices were identical, really underscoring how difficult it is to please all the solvers. They definitely try!

Amy-in-PA wrote:
Ha! They now have whole BOOKS of Anacrostics that you can buy thru the mail or on line (not in a store).



They made an attempt in the 90s to launch an Anacrostics only magazine. It only survived a couple of issues, unfortunately, not unlike what happened when they printed a Cross Sums only title a decade or so ago. The Collectors Series volumes fill the niche nicely, IMO, even though the magazines offered a higher puzzle count for the price. ($3.99 for more than 200 Cross Sums vs. $5.25 for 100 or so.)

5/24/2016 12:03:41 PM

Bernadette1959
Bernadette1959
Posts: 245
Josh wrote:
So actually, one of the things that made Pencil Puzzles & Word Games so appealing to me as a middle and high schooler was the utter lack of Anacrostics in it!


Josh, are you absolutely certain about this? My memory is not what it used to be, but I purchased PP & WG pretty religiously in the early 1980s and I know I was solving a lot of Anacrostics at the time. Is it possible they later phased Anacrostics out of this publication? I used to have a couple of the PP & WG Vacation Specials from the 90s in my stack but got rid of them a couple of years ago.

My memory may be worse than I thought. LOL smile

5/26/2016 7:15:47 AM

Josh
Josh
Posts: 170
Bernadette1959 wrote:
Josh wrote:
So actually, one of the things that made Pencil Puzzles & Word Games so appealing to me as a middle and high schooler was the utter lack of Anacrostics in it!


Josh, are you absolutely certain about this? My memory is not what it used to be, but I purchased PP & WG pretty religiously in the early 1980s and I know I was solving a lot of Anacrostics at the time. Is it possible they later phased Anacrostics out of this publication? I used to have a couple of the PP & WG Vacation Specials from the 90s in my stack but got rid of them a couple of years ago.

My memory may be worse than I thought. LOL smile



I can't speak to the 80s, but they definitely weren't in the 90s. (I started solving in 1993, when I was 11, but some of the back issues I got in this batch were from 1991.)

The vacation specials might have had them (different title and a lot more pages to fill), but the flagship didn't in the '90s. Official Pencil Puzzles definitely did though.

5/26/2016 4:53:28 PM

Bernadette1959
Bernadette1959
Posts: 245
Well, I honestly don't know. Maybe one day someone from PD will read these posts and let us know for sure.

There have just been so many, many changes over the years to the Dell magazines as to the frequency of certain publications, name changes, and size and content changes. I guess it's no wonder I can't recall! smile
edited by Bernadette1959 on 5/26/2016

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