Strain your brain with games

Games . . . games . . . games.
I love games, all kinds of games.
I love bridge, pinochle, and Rook, Mahjong, Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, Uno, Mexican Train dominoes, and solitaire. And sometimes, I solve crossword puzzles.
Although I prefer playing games with people partners, it’s also fun to play games with the computer.
I just enjoy games.
That’s why I was attracted to Timothy Parker’s book, “Brain Games for Dummies.”
Parker is eminently qualified to write a book about “brain games.” He is the Crossword Puzzle Editor of USA Today and Guinness World Records calls him the “World’s Most Syndicated Puzzle Compiler.”
In this book, Parker has compiled 300 puzzles in seven categories–logic puzzles, riddles, cryptograms, word scrambles, word searches, Sudoku, and crosswords puzzles (his love for crossword puzzles shows because 100 of the 300 puzzles are crosswords).
In each category, the puzzles are ranked by level of difficulty–easy, tricky, tough, and treacherous.
Now, I usually see myself as a pretty good game player. I know the rules in bridge and always win with the computer. And I’m not afraid to take risks in racehorse pinochle or Rook.
So I couldn’t wait to get started playing the games in this book.
The first group was logic puzzles. And Parker encourages us to begin with easy ones—“even if you don’t find them very challenging.”
So I did! These were the two “easy” puzzles:
1. How many times can a mathematician subtract ten from 100?
2. Decipher this clue: YYYMEN.
My husband knew the answer to the first one immediately. And after some thinking, I figured out the second one.
Then it was time to check the answers in the back of the book. One answer was dead wrong and the other one was “iffy.”
But I was sure I would do much better in the word games because, after all, I’m a word person.
Instructions for the “word scrambles” are to unscramble the capitalized word in quotations. But these puzzles were hard!
Finally, I figured out one answer in the “tricky” section.
Puzzle 59: Simple thing to do with a “STIPEND”? The clue was _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
By that time, I knew this book could be helpful to me.
In Chapter 1, “Puzzling for Your Health,” Parker says that working puzzles and doing other mentally-stimulating activities may have profound long-term effects on memory and other cognitive ability.
He says that “lack of stimulation is a serious factor in mental decline.”
In addition to the games in this book, Parker suggests some activities that can improve your intellect. Constructing toy models (like model cars or airplanes), assembling jigsaw puzzles, and strategizing with Scrabble.
Playing chess also is very helpful. And I can attest to that!
In the first year of our marriage, my husband was in a chess group that played on a regular basis. After each game, he was poor company as he played the game again in his head.
And one time in the dead of the night, he sat up in bed and said, “That’s it! That’s what I should have done!”
So in order to keep your mind sharp and stimulate your brain, games are the way to go. Why not play some today!
(Answers: 1. only once; 2. three wise men; 59. spend it)
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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