The movie Wordplay, directed by Patrick Creadon (IFC Films, available on DVD), takes us into the arcana of crossword fanatics, who call themselves puzzle heads. Once a year they come from all over the U.S. to sit at long tables in a room at the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut, to participate in the Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament—the brainchild of Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor at the New York Times. It’s a bookish crowd who return to the competition year after year, and they are pretty good at predicting who is going to win the top prize. We also get to meet regular solvers of the New York Times crossword, some of whom are famous (Bill Clinton and John Stewart of the Daily Show), two of whom are famous and once found themselves in the puzzle (the Indigo Girls) and a few of the people who create the Times puzzle. In the puzzle-head world of Wordplay, competition is friendly, newcomers are welcome and people laugh at themselves. It is a joy to enter this nerdy utopia, and the experience of watching Merl Reagle, one of the most proficient creators, sit down with a pencil, an eraser and an empty grid to design a puzzle that is a beautiful combination of symmetry and word play, made my heart beat faster.