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Interview: Susan Chamberlain, master of the cryptoquip

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FQ: At what age did you begin doing Cryptoquips?

SC: I was much too old. Given that they are a sleep aid for me, I bemoan my many decades of relying on warm milk, ambien, doing breathing exercises, reading boring stuff, etc. to help me sleep. 

FQ: Which Cryptoquip master has had the most influence on your cryptoquipping style?  

SC: Probably my friend, Peggy, who about 10 years ago was the person who introduced me to them at her cabin in Vermont. Since then I’ve been on my own.

FQ: What have been some highlights of your career as a Cryptoquipist thus far?

SC: Solving it with only 1 letter that matches. That had to evolve though — at first when I saw that situation I would just say “that’s mean of them” and quit. Then back to drinking warm milk which is kind of yucky when you think about it, because you either get re-energized getting up to brush your teeth or sleep with the taste of milk — both unappealing. But no more — I keep going. On occasion, if I’m falling asleep in the middle of it, I will finish it the next day.

FQ: What is your record time for completing a Cryptoquip?  

SC: I guess I better start timing them. I worry though that that may mess up my sleeping strategy.

FQ: Do you recommend eating while cryptoquipping?

SC: Never. I don’t eat in bed. This is my routine: I go to bed, first read the comics, then start the Cryptoquip. I take my time, trying not to get impatient. The first pleasure is completing it; the second is waking my husband up, if necessary, to read him the pun and listen to his groan and his verdict — most often it’s, “that’s really terrible,”  but once in a while I hit the jackpot with “that’s not bad.” Then I’m ready to sleep.

 

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Susan Chamberlain lives in Piedmont CA with her husband John Chalik, the one who groans at puns. Together, they bear the formal title of The Foremost, Finest, Fun-est, Fabulous-est, and Fiendishly-Alliterative-est Friends of Formosa Quartet.