Who's Who In The World Of
Word Games

The Interview Room

One of the most enjoyable things about building this site is that I get to meet all kinds of fascinating word buffs, including...

Champions from the world of competitive word games and puzzles.
Inventors of some of our favorite word games and puzzles.
Creators of nifty helper-tools for word gamers and puzzle solvers.
Hosts of wonderful websites, blogs, and online game communities.
Authors of authoritative books about the subculture of word games.
Academics probing the inner secrets of players, solvers, and words.
Hobbyists who take their passion right to the edge... and beyond.

What started out as an occasional email seeking some advice from someone more knowledgeable than myself, usually ended up in a lengthy exchange as I found myself drawn in to the fascinating worlds of these word-buffs. Pretty soon, I decided it was much more interesting to conduct full length interviews, rather than asking ad hoc questions, and this page is the result.

The interview list below is sorted alphabetically by surname, with each name being accompanied by a picture and a brief description to help you decide if the interview might be worth a closer look.

As you browse the list, you might even find an interview you would never have thought to look for, but which sounds like it might make a good read. I hope so!


Creator of viral animation 'Crossword Inker'

Michael A. Charles created an animation called Crossword Inker, which is now hailed as one of the most brilliant satirical pieces on the world of crosswords of all time.

If you haven't seen it before, you can watch the animation on the interview page. If you have seen it before, you might want to learn more about the fascinating character behind its creation.

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American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Champion

Dan Feyer is a champion crossword solver. In 2010 he defeated five-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament winner, Tyler Hinman, after less than three years of crossword solving!

In this interview, Dan not only tells the story of his life 'inside the grid', but also gives beginners a terrific list of crossword solving tips.

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Co-author of 'How to Win at Scrabble'

Andrew Fisher is a champion Scrabble player, having won national titles in both the UK and Australia, as well as representing both nations at the World Scrabble Championships several times.

Andrew is also the co-author of How to Win at Scrabble, which in my opinion is the best book on Scrabble strategy you'll find. I interviewed Andrew on a whole range of topics, and extracted some excellent tips for beginners.

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Scrabble Author & Dictionary Compiler

Darryl Francis is a highly published Wordplay fanatic and ex tv Countdown champion. He has also written a significant number of expert books about Scrabble.

Most importantly for this interview, Darryl is the main face behind the official Scrabble dictionary used by Mattel, for games played outside of North America.

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Champion crossword solver

Tyler Hinman is the fastest crossword solver in the land, having won the prestigious American Crossword Puzzle Tournament five consecutive times (2005-2009). He is also a very successful crossword constructor.

In this interview, Tyler provides detailed answers to all sorts of questions about the world of crossword solving and constructing. He also gives his top 5 solving tips.

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Author of the 'English Language Word Builder'

Bob Jackman is a world-class Scrabble player, having won the Australian national titles twice, and represented his country at the World Scrabble Championships many times.

Bob is also quite possibly the most dedicated compiler of Scrabble lists in the world, having devoted over a decade to the task of organizing tens of thousands of words into his English Language Word Builder. Read the story behind this invaluable addition to the Scrabbler's arsenal.

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Creator of Crossword Compiler

Antony Lewis is one of those faceless 'behind-the-scenes' characters who nonetheless plays a pivotal role in the crossword industry. Antony is the creator of the most widely used and respected crossword making program in the world. It's called Crossword Compiler, and you're unlikely to see a major crossword puzzle that hasn't at least been tweaked by it. Most surprisingly though, is what this guy does for a living.

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Creator of Cruciverb.com

Kevin McCann hosts Cruciverb.com, the hub of a community of crossword constructors that offers all the resources you'll need to make a crossword puzzle that is good enough to be published in a major newspaper.

Here you can get advice from the most respected crossword constructors in the industry, and also take advantage of a very impressive crossword database.

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Crossword Champion & Scrabble Master

Trip Payne deserves the title of Word-Buff more than anyone I have met so far. There just doesn't seem to be an angle on word games and puzzles he hasn't explored and mastered. A professional puzzle maker, multiple American crossword-solving champion and master Scrabble player, he has also won adult spelling bees, word game shows, and even starred in a hit movie.

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Acclaimed American Crossword Constructor

Merl Reagle is one of the most widely respected and recognized people in the world of American crossword puzzles. Renowned for his brilliant and funny themes, Merl has appeared in the hit documentary film Wordplay, been interviewed on Oprah, and has even starred in The Simpsons.

As you'll find out in our interview, he also loves to chat...

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Multiple Adult Spelling Bee Champion

Adult Spelling Bee Champion - David Riddle
David Riddle is living proof that spelling bees do not have to be for kids. Within a few years of discovering the world of adult spelling bees, in his early fifties, David won just about every major title in existence.

In this interview, David talks about the highly competitive, but often hilarious, adult spelling bee circuit. In addition to some great tips, you'll get to meet what is quite possibly the most difficult word to spell in the English language.

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Creator of Zyzzyva word-study software

Michael Thelen developed a word-study tool to help improve his Scrabble playing. Not only did he succeed in zipping up the Scrabble rating charts, but on the way his word-study tool took on a life of its own, becoming the most widely used word-learning software in the world of Scrabble. And he doesn't even charge for it!

Naturally, I ask him why.

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Scrabble Champion and Author

Joel Wapnick is the holder of many of the most prestigious Scrabble titles in existence. He has made the finals of the World Scrabble Championship on three occasions, one of which he won, and has won both the US and Canadian National Scrabble Championships.

He has also written a terrific little Scrabble book called How to Play Scrabble Like a Champion.

Read More

More Interviews on the Way!

And don't forget, if you like reading about people, books, and handy resources from the world of Scrabble, Crosswords, and other word games, feel free to pop your name and email address in the box below.

I'll put you on the Word Buff Stuff! mailing list, and when something interesting comes along, you'll be the first to know...

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