Some of you will play the puzzle above just because it’s there, others (perhaps) for the nerdy thrill of matching wits with that devilishly handsome guy from “Jeopardy!” But hold on—could brain games actually be good for you? The truth is, I can’t promise that my head-scratcher will boost your memory or make you smarter. Despite what you may have heard, scientists have yet to confirm any widespread, lasting cognitive benefits of engaging with puzzles, at least none that beat reading a book. The only brain change I can promise is the sudden flood of happy feelings (thank the endorphins) that comes from finding a solution—if you’re successful, that is.
Print out your own version of the puzzle here.
This puzzle is all about gameplay. The grid hides nine different games, each represented by three neighboring images that serve as clues. For example, the three squares in the upper-left corner show MATCH, ACE and LOVE, all terms from tennis. One down, eight more to go! Cross out images as you play; they’ll be used just once.
When you’ve named all nine games, you’ll have nine leftover images. With the first letter of each, spell out the answer to this riddle: What kind of play requires sharpness and speed, with or without its first letter?
Below are answers, so consider this your warning!
ACE + LOVE + MATCH = TENNIS
MUSTARD + REVOLVER + BALLROOM = CLUE
EAGLE + BOGEY + IRON = GOLF
FLUSH + RAKE + FULL HOUSE = POKER
STRIKE + TURKEY + SPARE = BOWLING
CHECK + FORK + QUEEN = CHESS
POCKET + STRIPES + ENGLISH = POOL
BOARDWALK + JAIL + MEDITERRANEAN = MONOPOLY
ANIMAL + VEGETABLE + MINERAL = 20 QUESTIONS
The remaining nine squares (S, W, O, R, D, P, L, A, Y) spell out SWORDPLAY—or, if you remove the first letter, WORDPLAY.