English is not my first language. In college (in the US), a roommate got me hooked on the New York Times crossword puzzle, and I picked up a lot of English vocabulary (along with a ton of trivia) from it.

I'd love to be able to repeat this trick somehow to increase my German vocabulary.

I have found a few crossword puzzle in German online, but they have all been pretty unsatisfying (not necessarily easy for me to solve, just uninteresting and poorly put together).

Does anyone know of a good, regular1 crossword(-like) feature in German?

1 I stress regularity here because I think the reason the crosswords in German that I've found have been uniformly unsatisfying is that they all seemed to be isolated/sporadic efforts. It takes practice to devise and edit crossword puzzles; it's a subtle skill.

  • 3
    "Regular" German crossword puzzles are so-called Schwedenrätsel (swedish-style crossword puzzles). Here, the questions/hints are written inside the puzzle and thus they are short and non-"think outside the box"-like. Anything more challenging or brain-teaser-y is really non-regular for German crossword puzzles. (Though, they exist, e.g. "Um die Ecke gedacht" by the ZEIT.)
    – Chris
    Sep 7 '14 at 20:57
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    Can you elaborate on what features you are searching for those (like me) who do not know the NYT crossword? I know several degrees of crossword quality existing in German up to such that require you to have such good language skills and knowledge of culture that they cannot be solved by most native speakers (e.g., Um die Ecke gedacht). However, I cannot tell where the NYT crossword is on this scale.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 7 '14 at 20:59
  • @Wrzlprmft: the NYT puzzle ranges in difficulty from medium (most educated people would be able to get at least half the clues) to hellish (few if any native speakers would be able to solve them without prior exposure to such puzzles). The difficulty level increases gradually from Monday to Saturday. (The Sunday puzzle is special: It is roughly at a Thursday-level of difficulty, but it is bigger.) At the beginning I could only nibble at the easier (Monday) ones. I still found them fun and full of interesting tidbits. I gradually worked my way up to the skull-busting Saturday ones.
    – kjo
    Sep 7 '14 at 21:49
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    The Austrian newspaper "Die Presse" has a crossword every Saturday (Das Spectrum Kreuzworträtsel) that may be close to what you are looking for. Not sure how it compares to the NYT, but at least it's not trivial. Unfortunately it's only in their print or epaper edition, but not on the website. Here's a sample: i62.tinypic.com/23l09zo.png
    – Ingmar
    Sep 8 '14 at 5:09
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    @Matthias: You are right, I misunderstood "regular". I read what Wiki says about "Deutsche Kreuzworträtsel". However, that's not what I experience when solving cross-words. In every magazine/newspaper that I know and that contain crossword puzzles, the swedish-style ones are by far the majority.
    – Chris
    Sep 8 '14 at 21:11

Beside the already mentioned "Um die Ecke gedacht" I'd like to recommend the crosswords in the "Süddeutsche Magazin". Looking at your description of the NYT crosswords I would give it a Thursday or Friday difficulty. They provide solutions for the crossword of the previous week with comments - might be useful to get acquainted with the style and help learning in general.

There are some more crosswords mentioned in Wikipedia, and googling for "Kreuzworträtsel" will lead you to several pages with regular online crosswords. I cannot comment on these, of course - you would need to try them unless someone else here can comment on them.

When I was doing crosswords regularly (i.e.: 25 years ago...) I also enjoyed the puzzle magazine "Troll". I am pleased to see it still exists, but I can say little about its present content. They have many variants of crosswords in it, and I would suppose they employ authors who create crosswords regularly. Probably there are also other magazines of this kind. Maybe you want to try some of them? From what I know I wouldn't expect their crosswords to have a high demand on language skills, but rather focus on the "encyclopedia style" (questions like "river in Germany" or "English author of the 19th century").

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