Welcome to the very first edition of Word-Buff Stuff!

In this newsletter I provide you with puzzles, tips, and some general chit-chat from the world of words and word games.

As a subscriber, you're going to have access to quite a bit of cool stuff from Word-Buff's Members-Only Area. To access it, though, you'll need to remember this password...


If you're a true word-buff, I'm sure it won't take you too long to work out an easy way to remember it ;-)

Now, here's what you'll find inside each issue...

Crossword Diamond

A quickish, but still challenging, Word-Buff-style crossword puzzle. Basically, that means American-style, but without all the pop-culture trivia. So you don't need to know the name of President Nixon's dog. Why? Because Word-Buff is about Words!

Scrabble Word Finder

A Scrabble puzzle that will hone your anagramming skills and improve your Scrabble scores.

Wordsearch Spelling Bee

A wordsearch puzzle that will test your ability to spell commonly misspelled words, along with some that are not quite so common.

Word-Buff's Corner

This is my favorite part of the newsletter. It's basically a short piece about things like...

  • How to master word games and puzzles
  • Neat word games, tools, or books I've stumbled across lately
  • Interviews with people from the word game underworld

Or... anything else that tickles my fancy on the day, really ;-)

From the Editor's Couch...

This is just where I give you a quick update about Word-Buff, this newsletter, and anything else I think you might like to know about. I put this bit at the end so that I don't annoy you with my tendency to ramble sometimes ;-)

NOTE... If you can't see the puzzle pictures further down in this newsletter, or if you see weird characters all over the place, it may be that your email is set up to only read plain text. If that's you, just pop over to the Members-Only Area of Word-Buff, where you can view the newsletter as a webpage.

Right! Let's get started on those puzzles...

Crossword Diamond

The Crossword Diamond is a standard American-style crossword puzzle. I've made sure that all of the answers are common English words and phrases, so the real fun will be in a few of the more playful clues. I've also avoided general trivia.


2. Kitchen pest
4. "Encore!"
6. Like Mayan pyramids
8. Grasped
9. "Cut it out!"
11. Volcanic flow
12. Bound
13. Bungle, with "up"
15. Clue
16. Short
18. Police operation
19. Blue

1. Become unhinged
2. Ancient
3. Inclines
4. Country albums
5. Having left
6. Evening hour
7. "Nothing ___!"
8. ___ and cheese
10. Darling
14. Adjusts, as a clock
15. Back
17. Sun ___

When you're done, pop on over to the Members-Only Area, to check your answer.

Scrabble Word Finder

Take a look at the following Scrabble board, together with the rack below it, and find the highest-scoring move possible.

Remember, I'm not asking about the best strategic move here - just the highest-scoring move.

Note that even though the game is played to the Official International Scrabble Dictionary, I have constructed the puzzle so that the answer, along with all words formed in the answer, belong to the Official North American Scrabble Dictionary (which means they are also valid in the international dictionary).

Sorry if this sounds a bit confusing, but it's the best way I've found so far of creating a puzzle that satisfies both audiences. Please let me know if you can think of a better one ;-)

When you're done, pop on over to the Members-Only Area, to check your answer.

Wordsearch Spelling Bee

Below is a list of ten word-pronunciations. Find the correctly spelled words in the wordsearch grid provided...


As with most of my spelling stuff, the authority I use for spelling and pronunciation is the Merriam Webster.

When you're done, pop on over to the Members-Only Area, to check your answer.

Word-Buff's Corner

The Substitution Test

If you're constructing a crossword, whether it's for your class, a small newsletter, or the New York Times, the substitution test is a quick rule to help decide whether your clues are grammatically acceptable.

So what exactly is the substitution test?

Take the answer to your clue, and think of a valid sentence containing that answer. Now simply substitute the exact clue for the answer in that sentence and see if it reads properly. If it doesn't, then your clue fails the substitution test, and you should rework it.

It might seem obvious at first, but it really isn't, and many puzzles get rejected from newspapers because they fail it.

Here's an example...

Clue = 'Goes back to original place' Answer = RETURNS

Sound reasonable enough? Let's check.

Here's a sample sentence containing the answer...

Each day he RETURNS home

Now do the substitution test...

Each day he goes back to original place home

What do you think? Terrible huh? It sounded ok at first, but it's a big fat fail!

Let's try again. This time we'll change the clue to...

Clue = 'Goes back'

Substitution then gives...

Each day he goes back home

Much better don't you think?

It's not necessarily a great clue yet, but passing the substitution test is a critical prerequisite to becoming a great clue.

Even if you're not aiming for a newspaper quality crossword, your clues still need to pass this test for the puzzle to be fair and satisfying to the solver. And speaking of the solver...

Crossword solvers should use this construction rule to their own advantage. Before entering an answer in pen, check first to see if your answer passes the substitution test. If not, think about using a pencil ;-)

From the Editor's Couch...

Phew, it's finally out there! The very first edition of Word-Buff Stuff!

I'm sorry to those of you who signed up a while ago and have had to wait this long to hear from me. I've been so busy getting Word-Buff off the ground, that it's taken me a while to get to the fun stuff.

And speaking of Word-Buff, here are a few things coming soon. I thought you'd like to be the first to know...

  • An About Me page. You see, I'm a bit of a private person, and I don't really like writing about myself. I don't even have a Facebook page! But more and more, I'm getting requests from visitors to tell them who the 'I' and 'Me' are in my pages. I have to admit, I virtually always look at the About Me pages of sites I visit. So I've decided to do one, and I hope to have it up in the next few weeks.

  • I've set up a new page called The Word-Buff Blog. There's not much there yet, but you'll be able to subscribe to it, or just visit it when you're a bit bored, to get a quick overview of the additions and changes I've made to Word-Buff recently.

  • I'm about to interview a couple of celebrity word-buffs on my site. Well, ok, I'm not talking about Brad Pitt or Paris Hilton. But in our little neck of the woods, I think you'll find they make interesting reading all the same.

Finally... to get the most out of this newsletter, make sure you take a squiz at your Members-Only Area over at Word-Buff. Why?

Because that's where you'll find...

  • The answers to this issue's puzzles
  • Access to previous newsletters (when there are some...)
  • Links to cool freebies
  • A place for you to voice your opinions

And speaking of that last one. I really hope you've enjoyed this first issue of Word-Buff Stuff!, and that you'll take the time to help me make Issue #2 even better.

You'll be hearing from me again soon. Until then...


Derek, aka Word-Buff

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