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Making Wordsearch Difficult

We recently had a request for some hard wordsearch, which is a fairly unusual thing. Unlike many other puzzle types like sudoku, for instance, people rarely request a difficulty level with wordsearch. Indeed, go and look at any wordsearch publication in the shops, whether it be a magazine or a book, and you can almost guarantee you won't see any mention of difficulty.

So how do you make a wordsearch puzzle difficult? Here are some ideas we came up with:

- Increase the number of diagonals and backward-placed words. People tend to find words written forward, and either horizontally or vertically placed, easiest to find. Therefore by increasing the number of words backwards and diagonally placed, you can make them trickier to find in the grid.

- Increase the grid size, but keep the number of words the same. This makes finding the needles (the words) in the haystack (the grid) harder because there are more random letters to work through in order to find the words.

- Create the letters that fill the grid around the words exclusively from the letters in the words in the grid, and reflect their relative ratios. This will give you more false leads. You can even deliberately place partial instances of the words you need to find in the grid to give false leads: for instance place 'FALS' a couple of times if one of the words to find is 'FALSE', in addition to placing the word itself, of course. If there are no Zs or Qs in the words to find, then don't place any elsewhere in the grid.

- To make things even harder, you can move away from word puzzles and go to number search. Here there are only 10 characters in the grid instead of the 26 letters, so there will be much more noise to filter out that looks relevant but turns out not to be a word. To make things trickier still, you can move to symbols to make a truly hard word search: these puzzles are then a test of memory as well as pattern-matching skills, as symbols don't mean much to us unlike words, so you need to remember the pattern as well as then finding it.

If you want to see how much harder these puzzles are to solve than normal wordsearch, take a look at our Symbol Wordsearch Book.

Do you have any other ideas on how to make wordsearch puzzles harder? Then please do feel free to share and we'll publish your comments below.
Date written: 08 Oct 2014

Category: wordsearch | Keywords: wordsearch | puzzle difficulty

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