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Crossword Solvers Tend To Be Good At Scrabble

People who are good at solving crosswords also tend to be good at playing scrabble, which is interesting, as they are very different games. So why is this?

Well, the most likely reason is that they both involve words and a good vocabulary. Obviously to solve crossword puzzles, and particularly cryptic puzzles, you need to have a very good vocabulary. To excel at scrabble you need to have a superb vocabulary, and particular knowledge of the very scrabble-esque words that only appear in that world, for instance the myriad 2, 3 and 4 letter words that aren't used in the real world but are essential for that game.

As well as a good vocabulary being important for both games, scrabble is very much anagrams + knowledge of words + some scrabble tactics. Clearly there is some crossover with anagrams, as many crosswords include one or two anagrams (quick crosswords), whilst cryptic crosswords often have up to around 50% of the clues having some element of an anagram in them, so there is crossover there too.

Although the puzzles are also sufficiently different it can be seen that they do have these notable similarities. Indeed, people who like word puzzles are quite likely to also be good at word puzzles (people don't usually like things that they are not good at, in terms of participation).

It would be interesting to know if there is more crossover between cryptic crossword solvers and scrabblers than there is with those who simply do quick and possibly general knowledge crosswords, or if no such correlation exists.

Whether crossword or scrabble champions are "smarter" is a matter of opinion, and probably aficionados of each will come down on their own side! Certainly a scrabbler will generally have a 'better' vocabulary, in terms of knowing obscure words using weird letter combinations, whilst a crossword solver you would expect to have a better general knowledge, particularly a cryptic or general knowledge puzzle solver.

Do you play both puzzles - if so which do you enjoy more and why; does getting better at one puzzle help you also get better at the other, or do you see them as very separate? Please do share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Date written: 29 Apr 2015

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