|Puzzle Brother Bob Mackey with Zoe Wheeler on his left|
and Deb Amlen on his right.
Martha Stewart this morning devoted her Hallmark Channel program to a discussion of puzzles. Her entire audience was full of puzzle enthusiasts, including crossword freaks, KenKen lovers, Rubik's Cube manipulators, a puzzle team from Brown University, and even a Mah-Jongg club.
The program kicked off with Will Shortz describing KenKen, which is the Sudoku-like game involving logic and mathematics. Prior to the program, a sheet with three KenKen puzzles was distributed to the audience. The first two audience members were selected to play a round of KenKen, tournament style, against the national KenKen champion, teenage Molly Olonoff. One of the Brown coeds, Zoe Wheeler, and our own Bob Mackey were selected to participate. True to form Molly very easily breezed through the puzzle, and Bob and Zoe were the 2-3 finishers, but everyone got the same prizes - a comprehensive set of KenKen books.
Will next turned his attentions to crosswords, and gave some pointers on what to look for in the clues to help you become a better solver, using today's NYT puzzle by Ian Livengood (who was in the studio) as an example.
Other guests included Richard Gariott, who collects wooden mechanical puzzle boxes, Dr. Cynthia Green, a psychologist who talked about how doing puzzles can improve your memory skills, and Rose Guay, a jigsaw puzzle creator. Warm-up comedian Joey Kola (previously from "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", where we saw him in 2001) also executed a dot-to-dot puzzle of Martha.
All audience members received a tote bag full of puzzle books and related items, including crossword, Sudoku, KenKen, connect-the-dots and picture puzzles, Dr. Green's book "Brainpower Game Plan", Hasbro's Ji-Ga-Zo jigsaw puzzle and software, which allows you to create an endless variety of jigsaw puzzles based on your own designs, and a gift certificate for a custom-made 75-piece jigsaw puzzle (value approx. $150) from ELMS Puzzles.