By Hudu, Brillig, Treesong, and Sibyl

Errata When you join the League, you may choose a nom de plume, or “nom” for short. Though it’s not required, most of our members do so, and we address each other by noms in correspondence and conversation. The tradition of adopting noms in puzzle clubs is a very old one, predating even the League itself. Practically, noms serve as the best of all possible nicknames, for each of us can choose our own and even change it to another at any time. Symbolically, noms allow all puzzlers to meet as equals, free of the titles and social distinctions that the outside world may demand. An eighteen-year-old student can address a fifty-year-old neurosurgeon without wondering if it’s “First Name” or “Dr. Last Name.” Our noms are the only introduction needed to NPL members all over the world.

Members have settled on their noms in countless ways. When making new acquaintances in the League, a good conversation starter is to ask the meaning of their noms. Some members simply choose a favorite nickname. Others adopt the names of literary or historical characters. Some noms are words that have personal significance. Some involve anagrams or reversals, and several are derived by methods of breathtaking complexity. And a few members have excited curiosity by politely declining to explain their noms at all.

When you choose a nom, inform the treasurer, who will verify that the nom doesn’t duplicate an existing one. The treasurer will forward your nom selection to the editor, who will announce it in The Enigma, with a description or explanation if you provide one.

Always use real names on envelopes when you write the editor or correspond with other members. Don’t count on letter carriers’ realizing that the Ms. Walker in Apt. 4 is also Plum Pudding.


Membership in the National Puzzlers’ League includes a subscription to The Enigma, whose masthead gives membership rates and information on how to join.

When you join, you will receive the three most recent Enigma issues at one time-you will be able to compare puzzles in the two-month-old issue with their published answers in the current one. Most beginners have found this a helpful way to learn the basics of solving. All three issues count against your first year’s subscription.

New members also receive this Guide to The Enigma and the most recent directory of members.

If you have a real interest in puzzling and can't afford NPL membership dues, you may apply to the treasurer for a reduced rate or a full “scholarship.” Students and others on fixed incomes occasionally make use of this opportunity; some members are able to reimburse the League later on. (Some members have earmarked their donations for these scholarships.) Some indication of your continuing interest-Enigma puzzles, solution lists, even a letter to the treasurer-is requested during the year.


The official NPL Guide binder is sent to you at the start of your second year of membership. (They aren’t sent with the first year because many new members don’t renew, and there’s a limited supply of binders.) During your first year, you can send the treasurer an early renewal; or you can send $3 to cover the cost of the binder. In either case, the treasurer will arrange for you to receive the official binder. Meanwhile, any binder (or a larger plastic sandwich bag) will do.


The mailing label on your Enigma envelope shows the date of the last issue of your current subscription. The message “PLEASE RENEW” or “RENEW NOW” will appear on the mailing label of the last three issues in your subscription. To avoid missing an issue, be sure to renew no later than the day you receive the last issue of your current subscription. (Early and multiyear renewals are encouraged and appreciated.)

 Back Issues

Recent back issues are available from the editor; see the masthead for rates. We have originals or photocopies of most issues back to the 1950s and scattered earlier copies; these are in the keeping of the historian.

 NPL on the Internet

Errata The NPL’s Web site at contains a wealth of information for members, including an online version of this Guide, samples of puzzles from current issues of The Enigma, descriptions of all the puzzle types currently being composed, information on the annual convention, and members’ stories of how they joined and chose their noms. Some areas of the site are restricted to members only and are password-protected. To get access, write to with your nom and the password you would like, and he will set them up. You can also get an NPL e-mail alias (typically, This is a forwarding address directing mail to your existing e-mail account; may be more easily remembered than awalker9873@ will certainly make it easier for fellow Krewe to remember how to reach you. To obtain your NPL e-mail alias, write to with your nom and e-mail address.

In addition, some members subscribe to the NPL e-mail list, where they can post messages for other subscribers to see. To subscribe, send an e-mail message with your nom and e-mail address to (Messages to the list itself are sent to If you wish to receive only announcements from board members, send a message with the same information to


The minisample is a four-page sampler of easy puzzles from The Enigma. It’s a good introduction to our puzzles, and you’re welcome to give copies to friends who might enjoy the NPL. You can also include it with notices of local meetings or articles about the NPL for newspapers or other puzzle publications. Minisamples are free and available on our Web site or from the editor: just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope and say how many you want. Or keep one copy and make duplicates on your own. [As a PDF / Webmaster]

Prospective joiners who have never seen an Enigma or minisample may confuse us with a contest organization or expect to find crossword puzzles. Or they may not realize that our members contribute puzzles to The Enigma without pay. To avoid disappointment or misunderstanding, please give friends the minisample to show them our puzzles. Articles about the NPL should give the editor’s address and tell readers to send a SASE for information or direct readers to our Web site.


The League publishes an annual directory of all members. It lists noms, names, and addresses along with other information if you request it: telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, office phone numbers, vacation addresses-even ham-radio call signals can be listed.

Additional copies of the directory are available from the editor for the price of a back issue; see The Enigma’s masthead.

 Changes in Directory and Mailing Information

Send directory information changes as soon as possible to the treasurer, whose address is on The Enigma’s masthead. Your mailing label includes your nom, name, and address. If you don’t want your nom on your mailing label, make that request to the treasurer. Mailing labels are printed about three weeks before each issue is sent; address changes received after a printing may not go into effect until the following issue.

This page was last updated on Thursday, June 18, 2015. /webmaster