Code-Cracker is compiled by Simon Shuker, and is a hugely popular and addictive puzzle enjoyed in newspapers throughout the world. The puzzles provide a sometimes tough but enjoyable challenge with great solver satisfaction.
Code-Cracker first appeared in New Zealand papers in the mid-nineties, and its following among local puzzle solvers grew quickly. It is now well-established as one of the most popular features in many New Zealand newspapers, and its presence in the majority of New Zealand's daily papers, (including the New Zealand Herald; Dominion Post; The Press and the Otago Daily Times) makes it the most widely published word-puzzle in the country.
In the UK, the puzzle is known as Codeword, and appears seven times a week in the Daily Mail. In the hugely competitive UK newspaper puzzle world where the life-span of any puzzle averages only about four years, Codeword is well into its second decade as one of the Daily Mail's most popular puzzles. Simon Shuker's Code-Cracker is also enjoyed in other locations around the world, from Belfast to Bangalore; from Natal to Nairobi.
In the UK, other dailies quickly became aware of the popularity of the Daily Mail's Codeword and began to introduce their own versions of the puzzle. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: when the broadsheet The Daily Telegraph introduced their version of the puzzle, they unsubtly titled it Codewords.
Imitators on this side of the world have been even less subtle, with puzzles appearing under the titles Codecracker, Code-Crackers and even New Zealand's Code-Cracker, all on the coat-tails of Simon Shuker's Code-Cracker, the original Code-Cracker.
Simon Shuker's Code-Cracker puzzles are individually handcrafted, and are written in much a similar way as they are solved. Simon incorporates a definite "word trail" through every one of his puzzles, an important feature of his Code-Cracker. By beginning with a unique starter word (or interlocked group of starter words) and then limiting the number of new letters found at each step, the solution is revealed at a controlled rate and the challenge level is maintained.
Puzzles that are computer produced quickly "blow out" with the solver simply filling in letters for numbers, a much less satisfying solving experience, as fans of Simon's puzzle will attest.
New Zealand Made
As the Code-Cracker books are written, published, printed, bound and distributed in New Zealand by independent New Zealand firms, we can definitely say that unlike many other puzzle books that may bear the picture of a kiwi, Code-Cracker books are truly New Zealand Made.
Click the play button below to hear a Newstalk-ZB interview from December 2011 where Justin DuFresne talks to Simon about the puzzles.