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War of the words: A crossword puzzle tournament rookie tests himself against the best

For a crossword puzzle addict, this is nirvana.

I’m in the lobby of the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, which resembles nothing so much as a combined Star Trek/Mensa convention. Wandering the halls is a grizzled middle-aged man clad in crossword-themed regalia. Plunked down in lounge chairs are throngs of crossword aficionados, deep into today’s brain-twisting New York Times puzzle.

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Scrabble elicits wonders of words

SPRINGFIELD — If I think of it in mid-swallow, a scene from the 1978 film “Foul Play,” can still make me shoot milk out my nose.

While solving a mystery, co-stars Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn are on a fire escape peering in at two elderly women playing Scrabble. On the board, the smiling old ladies have plunked down the mother of all hyphenated bad words.

I fear this memory may have put me in an odd frame of mind for the first Altrusa Club Scrabble tournament.

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Wordgasm, the steamy CDs.

An explosive new vocabulary builder

For every tactic tried by energetic educators, some subjects just aren’t fun to learn. Vocabulary words seem to be one of them.

Yet it’s hard to imagine that something called Wordgasm could be tedious. Or that this “steamy program” – that’s how the vocabulary-building CD set is billed on its box – would fail to keep you alert. Apparently, hearing poems about hunks you lusted after in high school can help you grasp the meaning of words like lachrymose and invidiousness.

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Being gifted has its burdens too

Every fortnight, Israelis with IQs in the top two percent of the general population meet at cafés and households around the country to discuss matters of common interest.

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Boxers and Brains

Barrera’s law degree is just another of boxing’s quirks

Boxers are more rounded than we suspect. Some have kept pet snakes – some have even been friends with Rasputin

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Your quincunx or mine?

One of the many pleasures of English is the imaginative, poetic use of its collective nouns. A crowd of people. A charm of hummingbirds. A herd of elephants. A flange of baboons. A nitpicking of Southern Baptists.

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Schools raise the bar to retain higher learners

The loss of gifted and talented students to programs elsewhere has prompted districts to shore up and expand curriculums and courses to keep the kids — and state funding.

Strapped for money, school districts are adding or expanding programs for gifted and talented students, who have begun deserting traditional public schools and taking their state funding with them.

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Are you going to live to 150? – Its not just about living longer but living well.

In the last 150 years, life expectancy has doubled from 40 to 80, and according to Aubrey de Grey the Cambridge gerontologist, the first person who will live to be 1000 is already alive and 150 is eminently achievable.

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Intelligence vs ability

Orla is struggling in maths again. ‘I’m just not clever enough to do this, Miss’. For some reason the fact that she has been hailed a ‘literary genius’ since the age of seven on the basis of her creative word play and devouring Philip Pullman novels since the age of eight doesn’t seem to factor in this negative self-perception. And Sally. Well, what can we say about Sally?

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The Outsiders

His name was William James Sidis, and his IQ was estimated at between 250 and 300 [8, p. 283]. At eighteen months he could read The New York Times, at two he taught himself Latin, at three he learned Greek. By the time he was an adult he could speak more than forty languages and dialects. He gained entrance to Harvard at eleven, and gave a lecture on four-dimensional bodies to the Harvard Mathematical Club his first year.

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