Monday's theme referenced Wheel of Fortune, recounting the sad tale of a recent contestant who absentmindedly added the word “and” while answering a puzzle and was sheepishly given a verdict of “incorrect” by host Pat Sajak. Sounds harsh, but slippery slope there—if you let an extra “and” slide by, then you’ve got to let an extra “a” or “the” go by at some point, and then, eventually, absolute game show chaos. Nobody wants that!
Given the similarities between crossword puzzles and Wheel gameplay, it probably won’t shock you to discover that Sajak is a big crossword fan. He even created his own crossword puzzle variant a while back, which even us seen-it-all puzzle veterans had to admit was a pretty clever idea.
As you can see from this book he wrote of them, Pat Sajak’s Code Letter Crosswords contained several squares within the grid that all had a star (or other symbol) on them. Once you figured out what letter was in one of the stars, you could fill that same letter in all of the star squares in the grid. It was a cheap thrill to get the Code Letter early on and flutter around the grid filling in that same R (or whatever it was) in a dozen different squares without even looking at the clues.
Code Letter Crosswords didn’t really take off, but crossword people now know that Sajak is the real deal up there on the screen! He’s got some serious puzzle cred. Oh, and we like his name, too: Lots of ways to clue PAT, but SAJAK, with its high-value J, is a frequent puzzle visitor—as is VANNA, of course, since there’s only one famous person by that name.
What’s your favorite Pat Sajak (or Vanna White) story? Tweet it to #beastxword and maybe he’ll use it on the show! (Probably not)
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