In addition to newspaper puzzles and books of puzzles, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament began annual events in 1978 in Stamford. In 2008, it has moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. "Five or six years ago, the movie came out," Reagle said, referring to the crosswording documentary "Wordplay." "There was a spike in people who wanted to play, 699 at one point. They needed bigger digs." The next tournament is in March.
Reagle's book is one of two books by prominent puzzlers coming out to mark the 100th anniversary. The other is "The Curious History of the Crossword: 100 Puzzles from Then and Now" by Ben Tausig (Race Point Publishing, $17.99). It includes 100 historical and contemporary puzzles and discusses the evolution of grid shapes and other highlights in the history of the puzzles.
Reagle's book contains 50 puzzles, eight of which have interesting stories behind them. "The stories are about how they got printed, some controversy, other things," Reagle said.
The book also has interesting tidbits from crossword puzzle history, including an interview with Kay Cutler, Arthur Wynne's daughter, who lives not far from Reagle, in Clearwater, Fla. It was illustrated by "Zits" creator Jim Borgman. "I met him at the Tucson Festival of Books. I had no idea he was a puzzle fan, let alone a fan of mine," he said.
Reagle loves going out into the community and watching people do his crossword puzzles. "I go into restaurants on Sunday mornings and watch couple solve. Usually, one of them is the solver and they tell the jokes to the other one who doesn't like puzzles," he said. "If they laugh, it's a real-world joke. It's not just crossword humor. People thought for years that was an oxymoron."