PEWAUKEE, Wis. – For some people, just being able to complete the Sunday paper’s crossword puzzle is challenge enough. But Paul Guttormsson has taken that challenge a step further by designing crossword puzzles for newspapers. Guttormsson, legal counsel for the Wisconsin Credit Union League has been involved with crossword puzzles “on and off for years.” The challenge, he says, is to try to see how long it takes him to complete one. “Some of the simpler ones I get done in 10 minutes, but others I can wind up slaving away working at for hours,” said Guttotmsson. What’s his secret to completing crossword puzzles? “You have to get the hang of it, the clues are built into the clues,” he explains. For example, he says, there are certain words you only see in crossword puzzles such as “eft” which means a small salamander. When he turned 40, Guttormsson tried his hand at being a “cruciverbalist” which is defined as someone who designs crossword puzzles. “A friend of mine made of list of things he wanted to do when he turned 40 and one of them was publishing a crossword puzzle. So I decided to try my hand at it too,” he says. So far, Guttormsson has had two of his puzzles published in weekday editions of the Los Angeles Times, and another was accepted by the New York Times. He hopes that one will be published by the end of the year. Not surprisingly, it takes Guttormsson a little longer to design a crossword puzzle than it does to complete one. His first designed puzzle took him a couple of weeks to complete. But now he uses specialized software that helps him design the puzzle grid. That’s helped Guttormsson shorten his design time down to four to seven days. For anyone else interested in designing or just completing crossword puzzles, there’s a cruciverbalist Web site they can visit – “It’s all a lot of fun,” says Guttormsson, “that’s why I’ve always done it.” -

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