The Jumble

A new feature of our morning is Nate, concentrating at the kitchen table, working diligently on the daily Jumble. Nothing sums up Nate’s life better than a “word jumble,” mixed up letters waiting to be deciphered, sometimes easily, sometimes with great difficulty, sometimes not at all.

Nate works on his own until he needs us. “I’m having trouble with this word!” he shouts. He pronounces “word” as “woard.” Karen or I will come in to lend a hand. Often, Nate finds a correct answer, but his vocabulary isn’t large enough for him to be sure.

“Is ‘fervor’ a woard?”

“Yes, it is,” I say, and give him a quick definition he can file away.

The trickiest part is the joke question at the end. Nate gathers his circled letters and tries to make out the answer. It’s problematic. The key to those is in the humor and there’s much punning going on. He doesn’t get that kind of wordplay, so he always needs help. I’ve set him on the wrong path a few times, for instance, assuming the three-letter part of an answer was “bug.” Turned out “bugging him” was right, and Nate got it after “bug” became the apparent clue.

I’ve also tried to give him some hints. I always found that putting the letters in a circle made it easier to come up with different combinations. I’ll show him and explain, but—

“I’m having trouble with this woard!”

Oops, gotta go.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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