Jacob Cohen is Menlo Park puzzle maker with a philanthropic bent

by Linda Hubbard on June 17, 2021

Menlo Park teen Jacob Cohen has been interested in puzzles for almost his whole life. It started when he did the New York Times crossword puzzle with his family.  Since last July he’s been posting three logic or word puzzles every Friday online at Puzzles for Progress and sending them to people who sign up to receive them by email.

Of course, he first needed to learn how to create puzzles. His interest peaked when the Times held a competition for kids to submit their own mini crossword puzzle. As he explains on his website: “I didn’t participate. After all, I couldn’t make a crossword. But when the mini aired, I became curious. Could I make a mini?

“It turned out that I could! Of course, my first crossword wasn’t very good, but my second was a bit better, and my third was a bit better than that. Soon, I branched out into other puzzle types–KenKens, Spelling Bees, Capsules, Spirals–even some original types that I invented, like Overwrite and Enclosures. I poured a lot of time into making puzzles. They called to me.”

He now has an archive of over 100 puzzles, all available at Puzzles for Progress.

His puzzle making has always had a philanthropic aspect, raising money for Nothing for Nets. “It’s not in the news much, but every few minutes, a human being dies from malaria,” he explains. “However, not only is malaria preventable, but it only costs around $5 to purchase and ship a malaria net to a community in need. Nothing but Nets allows you to do this.”

With the arrival of summer and no school, he’s turning his attention to putting a book together. “My plan is to take the 30 to 40 best Puzzles for Progress puzzles so far, with a handful of new ones thrown in” he says. “I’m hoping to time this with the Puzzles for Progress one-year anniversary on July 7th, with copies available to buy. All profits to Nothing But Nets, of course.”

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2021

One Comment

Cindy McLeod June 23, 2021 at 9:18 pm

I can’t wait to purchase my book of puzzles. I am happy to see you are engaged in creative mind activities for yourself and others and am impressed that your activism is alive, still.

I miss you. You always inspired me to think more creatively and deeply.

Cindy McLeod

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