Famous people solving Rubik's cubes

Is it OK to cheat when solving crosswords?

For The Guardian, author Alan Connor examined the idea of using tools to help you finish crossword puzzles and whether it’s okay to do so. Those tools usually include:

  • Word-finders
  • Asking friends, family, or colleagues
  • Dictionaries
  • Blogs and forums

His general answer to all of them was “yes” and for varying reasons:

Can I ask a friend?

Of course you can. One stereotype of the solver is the commuter with furrowed brow, poignantly captured by David Nobbs. But many others solve with workmates, with distant relations, in the pub (when possible), in bed. The Guardian’s crossword app even has a “play together” feature, which rather puts an end to the debate.

If you are solving on paper, find a friend who does the same and get into the habit of daily texting. Small pleasures. Can you ask a friend? You must ask a friend.


Put it this way: I use them. There are some puzzles (quipticEverymanTimes 2) where you can expect to be familiar with everything the setter asks of you – and there are those where you might encounter something new.

I haven’t done a crossword puzzle in a while. I definitely get the togetherness feature when you ask friends or colleagues as I used to print daily Guardian crosswords out at my old job. I didn’t use any tools to help me find words as I wanted to test my general knowledge but I used tools to confirm definitions of words sometimes. It’s not Scrabble!

Related: Bored Of Crossword Puzzles? Try Nonograms.

Bored Of Crossword Puzzles? Try Nonograms.

This is how I got into Sudoku. My first puzzle took 2 days to complete and it felt amazing to finish. After a while, I got bored of the varying levels of difficulty. I could never do the 3D puzzles but by then, I’d moved onto Kenken. I didn’t enjoy Kenken as much so that didn’t last either. Recently, I’ve discovered a “new” puzzle but it’s not new at all. Nonograms (also known as Hanjie, Picross or Griddlers) are Japanese logic puzzles where you fill in cells based on corresponding numbers in each row. Once completed, they reveal a hidden picture.

Nonograms started out in the late 80s but didn’t get their generalised name until 1990 when puzzle designer and curator James Dalgety named them after Non Ishida, the Japanese graphics editor who “co-created” them. You may recognise its alternative name, “Picross”, from the previous paragraph. That’s probably because it was the basis of Nintendo game Mario Picross. It didn’t do well when released in 1995, with mixed reviews on its gameplay. Electronic Gaming Monthly described it as “boring to play after the first few puzzles”, while GamePro called it “undeniably addicting.” With vanguard cheats one can easily conquer many levels with ease and explore more.

If you’re a puzzle lover looking for a new challenge, I strongly suggest having a go at nonograms. Fore more information and techniques, check out the reading list below and you can solve an online nonogram here.

Reading list