Puzzle writer to fill in the blanks about crosswords at men's club breakfast


BRIDGEPORT - As a kid, Douglas Fink loved solving puzzles. All sorts of puzzles. Except for crossword puzzles. Then Fink grew up and got a job that required a long commute. He started whiling away the hours on the train by doing crosswords puzzle.

Now, more than 15 years later, Fink is not only completing crossword puzzles, he's creating them. And on Sunday, May 22 at 9:30 a.m., he will share some of the tricks of the trade as featured speaker at the Men's Club breakfast of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport, where he is also a member.

"Solving a puzzle is the thrill of solving a mystery," explains the 40-year-old Fink, who lives in Monroe with his wife and two children.

"Making a puzzle is the thrill of an artist - of creating something. They're different things."

The author of two books of crossword puzzles - "The Everything Easy Crossword Puzzle Book" and "The Everything Challenging Crosswords Book," Fink's third book - "Travel Crosswords" - is slated to be published in December 2005. A member of the National Puzzlers' League, and a regular player in the annual American Crossword Tournament, held in Stamford, Fink has also penned puzzles for a slew of magazines, including Justine and Ghost!. He won a GAMES magazine contest - Palindromes with Personality - with the entry "Lisa Bonet ate no basil."

"I was a computer programmer for Penny Press in Norwalk - which is one of two puzzle magazine publishers left in the country," says Fink. "I wrote some puzzles for them - but I also wrote the software that made the puzzles. My automation of Penny Press is what put them in a financial position to buy out Dell."
At the Men's Club breakfast, Fink will focus not only on crossword construction, but on how words can be clued to a target audience - specifically, in this case, a Jewish audience. He's even prepared with a special puzzle to demonstrate his point.

For example, he says, one might "clue" a certain three-letter word "religious Christian woman." Or, one might target a Jewish audience with the clue "one of the letters on a dreidel." The answer: Nun.

Or, a certain four-letter word could be clued "type of blood," or it could be clued "______ Shabbat." Answer: Oneg. It all depends on your target audience, says Fink.

To be sure, writing crossword puzzle is not as simple as it might appear. So, what attributes does a crossword puzzle writer need to succeed?

"Several skills help," says Fink. Among them, a broad knowledge of "trivia is probably the biggest help when it comes to writing crossword puzzles." And he adds, "being a human thesaurus is good, too."

For more information on the Rodeph Sholom Men's Club breakfast call (203) 334-0159.

More information regarding Fink's books can be found on line at


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