The Orcas have returned! An homage to the year in puzzles posted on Diary of a Crossword Fiend, the 2022 awards went to: Hanh Huynh for Best Easy Crossword, Kate Chin Park & Chandi Deitmer for Best Freestyle Crossword, David Steinberg for Best Sunday-Sized Crossword, Francis Heaney for Best Gimmick Crossword, Bryant White for Best Clue, and Brooke Husic for Constructor of the Year. Congratulations to everyone!
Team Orca is recruiting new members for 2023. Want your voice heard? Apply here.
These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, the third annual TPFA pack organized by Rachel Fabi and co-edited by Rachel, Brooke Husic, and Claire Rimkus, is here!
We’re also happy to share news of Puzzles for Democracy, a fundraiser for Common Cause organized by Eric Berlin with puzzles from a great line up of constructors too long to list here.
Puzzles from the second annual St. Louis Crossword Puzzle Tournament by Patrick Blindauer, Shannon Rapp, and Christopher Adams are now available as a pack for only $4.99. Congratulations to co-champions Derek Allen and Zach Nahlik.
The Puzzle Society continues to increase its breadth of puzzles and word games. A recent addition called Squared Away consists of a pair of mini grids with a mismatched clue list in which the solver determines which clues go with which grid. The puzzle style was created by Amanda Rafkin and the daily offerings are written by Taylor Johnson and Matthew Stock.
Since the last News & Notes, Gia Bosko (2/28), Malaika Handa (3/2), Miranda Kany (3/8), Michael B. Berg (3/15), and Carter Cobb (3/17) made their NYT debuts and Nancy Serrano-Wu (2/28), Tom Pepper (3/1), and Bruce Haight (3/13) made their USAT debuts. Congratulations to everyone!
We appreciated this thread of musings from Erik Agard on the responsibility of constructors and editors to bring purposefulness into crosswords.
As a piece of the same conversation, we recommend this essay from meatdaddy, “Language as an Object, but Make it Themeless” on the “junk-drawer-ification” of some culturally significant words that have become common crossword fill:
What are we, as constructors, saying when we put these in grids at an orthographic level and don’t take the effort to flesh out the clues to provide culturally-sensitive context at a semantic level? What are we, as solvers, saying when we throw these into puzzles without fully reading the curt clues or understanding these words in a larger, cultural context?
Black Crossword by Juliana Pache continues to collect praises, this time in Huffpost’s “Black Crossword Is Celebrating The Culture In A Simple And Impactful Way”
We recently discovered this article from late last year from The Daily Princetonian, “On diversity in crosswords: Sitting down with New York Times constructor Yacob Yanos ’15” which also touches on the impact that Kameron Austin Collins’ 2015 XWordInfo essay has had on the crossword community.
A new piece from Deb Amlen for Wordplay, “How to Change Up Your Gameplay With New Twists” encourages solvers to break out of the comfort level and up their skills with tips for games from the NYT’s offerings.
Our next edition will be Sunday, 2 April, from ACPT weekend in Stamford, CT. Hopefully we’ll see you there!