Consider Dr Ferdinand Maack, a 19th-century German Certain flats crossword who decided that chess was a insufficiently difficult and b insufficiently like warfare, so added a third dimension and devised "Raumschach", not unlike the tri-dimensional chess they play on the USS Enterprise. And consider that the same Star Trek game was parodied in the cartoon Futurama, where you can see Professor Farnsworth and Leela playing three-dimensional Scrabble, and that back in the real world, many enthusiasts have patented efforts at a 3D word-based board game.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, then, to learn that our world contains 3D crosswords. Or that the man who devises them is registered blind - I mean, sure. Eric Westbrook describes his puzzles as resembling blocks of flats.
As Certain flats crossword stand in one of the apartments, a word may be spelled out going away from you, to your side, or down through the space vertically below.
They are surprisingly easy to get used to. But why does Eric - whose day job is teaching - do it?
Because he's as much of a visionary as Dr Maack. Eric constructs each grid and fills it with words, then hands over the cluing to charitable setters including the Guardian's ArachneLavatch, Pasquale, and Rufus as well as Everyman.
Araucaria has written an introduction to the 3D crossword website as well as clues, Enigmatist has provided enigmatic support as well as clues and, Eric says, "we may have had the privilege of Taupi's Certain flats crossword crossword - he sent the final revisions to his puzzle the night before he died.
So far so familiar, but what I want to ask is: Being registered blind, pencil and paper are not very Certain flats crossword. So then you just have to take down the 3D house brick by brick and build it up differently. What makes these puzzles harder for setters, though, makes them easier for solvers: Eric Certain flats crossword the following as "an impossible clue", written by Enigmatist and Jane Teather Embracing this topsy-turvy world, and being nosy, I ask if blindness helps the process of construction.
It helps not to have distractions so that you can really focus and concentrate. It also encourages you to use your mind in imaginative ways. It's surprising what you can do if you really want to do it.
There seems to be no end to what the brain can remember. The building analogy applies here too. You know it inside out.
I walk around three-dimensional grids until I know them inside out and all the letters are in their places. It's not quick - but it's certainly easier than doing a school timetable.
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Blind solvers are catered for with various alternatives to the physical calendar: Where do you put the answers? Blind or sighted, solving the puzzles can feel like wandering around a real building or playing a multi-platform computer game.
You can get pleasurably stuck in the basement, then help yourself up to another level using the elevator of a down clue. When you return to a mainstream two-dimensional crossword, that experience too has an abstract, giddying feel. From lines to flat surfaces to blocks and back again, the obvious question is: Eric Certain flats crossword his experiments in "polydimensional crosswords, which you don't see how could you?
The 'grid' is formed of any number of inter-relating word lists.
Relationships between checking letters are dealt with electronically. But what if they did not correspond one-to-one, but did so by some other pre-determined set of relationships?
Then it all works. But not on paper. My mind starts to imagine a line Certain flats crossword cubes, where answers can be read across the corresponding position in each cube as well as away, across and down within each block. But why stop at a line of cubes?