Crossworld News and Notes, July 2023

Last time round we shared word of changes at The Atlantic, including the new feature “The Inferno,” a tall, narrow puzzle that gets more difficult from top to bottom. Editors Caleb Madison and Paolo Pasco held a Reddit AMA in which they discussed the new feature The Inferno and answered questions about their constructing and editing work.

We have little new information since last time to share on the crosswords associated with Apple News Plus, other than that folks who can access the iOS 17 beta can access puzzles now. We’re eager to see what we learn from announcements, once they come.

Patrick Berry has a new book, “Set Design,” a total of 50 puzzles (nine sets of mini puzzles, a meta puzzle, and a supersized Rows Garden). PDF only, $15. Suites like this are can’t-miss

Crosswordr is a new place to solve and share crosswords. A handful of constructors have listed puzzles on the site, which is still building out features but incorporates a level of curation and recommendation in putting puzzles in front of solvers. The team hopes to build out an ecosystem where (my words) the constructor-solver relationship is more robust than simply solving a puzzle, and the deeper connective tissue in the community is brought forward more. Learn more at the site, or touch base with the team on Reddit or in their Discord.

Elise Corbin has announced “Words on Fire,” a single-constructor charity pack supporting the March to End Fossil Fuels, featuring four new puzzles and two re-worked from Elise’s archive. Elise’s puzzles chase intricate, high-concept themes and are really on the forefront of creativity in the crossword space right now. Learn more about Words on Fire and solve some of her backlog at her site, Cruciverbology.

Two names familiar to puzzleheads, A.J. Jacobs and Greg Pliska will launch a short-form daily podcast called “The Puzzler,” named after Jacobs’ recent book. The podcast promises it “will challenge listeners and celebrity guests with original, audio-friendly puzzles that are complete with weird history, fun trivia and lots of laughs.”

The National Puzzlers’ League’s annual convention was held earlier this month in Montreal, and attracted a flurry of press attention. New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, who is also active in the NPL, appeared on the CBC podcast “The Current” (Will’s segment begins at about 22 minutes) and an accompanying article further speaks with Shortz, on crosswords, and on the NPL Convention.

Mike Selinker offers “Mindspaces,” a book of puzzles and essays on creativity and mental health. Currently in pay-what-you-want presale with proceeds going to charity, Mike’s Lone Shark Games is also offering the book as part of a humble bundle with other game and puzzle design books he’s previously offered. More information at Lone Shark Games.

Lemonade Disco has expanded! In addition to the every other month themed packs, they will now offer twice-monthly midi puzzles at gin + grapefruit. Submissions are open, and specs are available at the link.

The Verge published a bit of a P.R. piece with Jonathan Knight, Head of Games at the New York Times, focused on the changes to the Times’ Crossword app, which has now caught up to the “Games” terminology we’ve seen on the web for a bit now. Nothing super groundbreaking other than a tidbit that reveals the sheer magnitude of Wordle and confirming what we’ve assumed: Spelling Bee and the Mini far outstrip the full-size puzzle in solver attention.

Speaking of the Times, last time round we shared a new game, Connections, and word of a new feature: the Easy Mode newsletter, in which subscribers receive early access to that week’s Friday puzzle on Wednesday, but with easier clues, written by associate puzzle editor Christina Iverson. Victoria Coren Mitchell, host of the BBC’s “Only Connect” quiz show tweeted noting the similarity. After an (in retrospect, unsurprising) flurry of tabloid-y headlines overdramatizing her tweet, she devoted her weekly column at The Telegraph to further fleshing out her thoughts, with the headline: “Does it matter if The New York Times’s new puzzle is an Only Connect rip-off?”

As for the Easy Mode Newsletter, themeless constructor extraordinaire Robyn Weintraub chimed in on the feature this past week in her constructor notes at XWord Info on that Friday’s puzzle. Among a larger series of thoughtful reflections was this recommendation:

“But that’s the thing … it’s my grid getting reclued, and it just feels weird. I hope Easy Mode is wildly successful and has the desired result of introducing many new solvers to themeless puzzles. But I also hope the NYT takes the next step and begins offering ORIGINAL easy themeless puzzles rather than this questionable hybrid.”

Congratulations to Adam Doctoroff, winner of the Boswords 2023 Summer Tournament, and to second- and third-place finishers Tyler Hinman and Marie desJardins. Congrats also to Paolo Pasco, winner of the online division, Peter and Claire Rimkus, winners of the in-person pairs division, and Harold and Paul Ngyuen, winners of the online pairs division.

Looking ahead to Boswords’ Fall Themeless League, set for Monday nights in October and November, a partial constructor lineup has been announced: Catherine Cetta, Jill Denny & Jeff Chen, Sam Ezersky, May Huang, Tom Pepper, Ross Trudeau, Amie Walker, Grace Warrington & Greg Warrington. As has become normal procedure for the Boswords leagues, a final constructor selected from an open submission process, details of which should be available shortly.

The next tournament on the horizon is Lollapuzzoola, August 19 in New York City.  Registration is open now.

Further ahead, the 46th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is April 5-7, 2024.

Congratulations to everyone who has recently made crossword debuts!

New York Times: Kunal Nubar (6/23), Anthony Gisonda (6/27), Victor Sloan (6/28), Ben Tolkin (7/1), Alison Perch (7/6), Hanh Huynh (7/13), Jonathan Kaufman (7/14), Mary Crane (7/26)

Los Angeles Times: Alice Liang (7/5), Hanh Huynh (7/7), John Andrew Agpalo (7/9), Zachary Schiff (7/16)

USA Today: Jared Goudsmit (6/26), Catherine Cetta (7/11)

Oversized Crossworld News and Notes

It’s been a minute, but not for lack of news. We hope to be closer to our typical rhythm for the next one.

Boswords 2023 Summer Tournament will take place July 23 online and at the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Registration opens June 24. We’re looking forward to puzzles created by Kate Chin Park & John Lieb, Sam Donaldson, Katie Hale, Andy Kravis, Jennifer Lee & Victor Galson, and Caitlin Reid.

Lollapuzzoola 2023 is August 19 in New York City, and the theme of the day is “Sweet 16”. Registration is open now. The tournament is in-person only, but there is a non-competitive solve-at-home option as well.

We’re so happy for the release of Tough as Nails Crosswords from Stella Zawistowski, a spiral-bound book of 72 “highly polished puzzles.”

Juliana Tringali Golden announced her book “Pause for Puzzles: Easy Crosswords for Relaxation,” a collection of 56 easy 10×10 puzzes.

Peter Gordon’s A-to-Z Crosswords Kickstarter met its goal. Puzzles will be delivered to subscribers beginning June 25.

Perhaps the biggest news in new sources lately is the coming puzzle at Apple News Plus, announced recently as a part of iOS 17. Apple’s newsroom shares that the puzzle with be “in partnership with [Andrews McMeel Universal’s] The Puzzle Society.”

Some sneak peek images can be seen in this article, where with some squinting we can see bylines from Kelsey Dixon, Erik Agard, and Rafa Musa, all Universal/Puzzle Society mainstays. At least one media source has named Ross Trudeau as part of the editing team for the new puzzle.

The Atlantic has made some changes to their crossword recently. The regular Sunday puzzles have ceased, at least for now, with a new feature titled “Caleb’s Inferno” featuring a “devilishly tricky” challenge that gets more difficult from top to bottom through the grid. The Atlantic recent solicited survey responses around their puzzle products, and we hear they are building a new closed roster of contributors. We look forward to what’s in store.

Puzzler Pride 2023 is a showcase of crosswords, variety puzzles, word games, and more from LGBTQ+ authors from the puzzle community curated by Jamie Hargrove and David Millar.

The New York Times has added another game to their daily lineup: Connections is similar to the popular quiz show Only Connect. Puzzles by associate puzzles editor Wyna Liu.

The Times has also announced the Easy Mode newsletter, in which subscribers will receive early access to that week’s Friday puzzle on Wednesday, but with easier clues, written by associate puzzle editor Christina Iverson. Begins June 28.

Puzzle Boat 10 from Foggy Brume of P&A Puzzle Magazine launches October 21. Teams can sign up now.

Congratulations and welcome to the new editor of the USA Today puzzle, Amanda Rafkin. Amanda has been a part of the Andrews McMeel Universal crew for a while now and we look forward to her continued leadership.

Congratulations to the team at These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, who met their goal to raise more than $30,000 for abortion access. The puzzle pack was mentioned in the Mashable article “Abortion fund networks endure in fight against restricted access.”

The Bay Area Reporter ran a piece highlighting increasing LGBTQ+ representation in puzzles, with appearances from Rafa Musa, Amanda Rafkin, David Steinberg, and Anna Gundlach.

Juliana Pache of Black Crossword recently appeared on GMA3 to discuss her construction methods and efforts to increase diversity in crossword content. Black Crossword now has merch!

In an interview with The New York Review of Books, Anna Shechtman speaks (among other topics) about her coming book:

“My book The Riddles of The Sphinx, which comes out early next year, is partly about the history of the crossword puzzle as a form of women’s work. Crosswords were invented in 1913. For decades, they were written by and associated with women—with the New Woman (who was as inscrutable to patriarchy as the puzzle) and bored housewives (who had the time to “weave with language” and often had college degrees that they weren’t otherwise putting to work in the home). Now their production has been masculinized; the majority of crosswords are produced by men, and they’re associated with nerds, a male-coded stereotype.”

Roger Blitz, Financial Times crossword editor and Oliver Roeder, crossword constructor discuss “The American way of making crosswords” for the Financial Times.

A.J. Jacobs, author of “The Puzzler” shared his experience competing in a jigsaw puzzle competition on a story for The Moth Radio Hour.

T Campbell of Ubercross recently appeared on the podcast Butter No Parsnips

The folks behind Crossword Solver presented “What Types of People Do Newspapers Mention on Their Crosswords?,” a statistical analysis of trends within and between the crossword puzzles offered across the landscape.

Researchers from Stanford Intelligent and Interactive Autonomous Systems Group (ILIAD) are recruiting solvers to participate in their study on how people solve crosswords. Anyone can participate; sign up here.

Crucinova has come to an end. In an email to subscribers, Gavin tells us that previous puzzles will remain online on Crucinova’s site through at least the end of 2023.

This month we say goodbye to the Indie Puzzle Highlights by Will Nediger, who has posted his thoughtful roundups every month since January 2019. We are so grateful for Will’s commitment to this regular feature in which he often shared work from promising up-and-coming constructors alongside long-time constructors.

Autostraddle has also ceased its crossword, at least for the meantime.

We also bid farewell to invaluable Twitter resource Crossword Butler, lovingly maintained by Alex Boisvert since December 2015.

Creating Crossword Puzzles” is a course taught by Brooke Husic and Natan Last in cooperation with Atlas Obscura. The next offering of the course begins September 26 with four weekly sessions over Zoom. The content is intended for very new constructors and those who are interested in how crosswords are made. Reduced price tickets are available. Puzzles constructed by previous classes are available for solving from Atlas Obscura: “Cut Scene,” “Marvel, Extended Universe” and “Alpha and Omega.”

Constructor Matthew Stock has developed a page on resources for new constructors.

Congratulations to everyone who has recently made crossword debuts!

New York Times: Đặng Quang Thắng (5/22), Samuel Smalley (5/27), Daniel Jaret (6/6), Alice Liang (6/12), Jennifer Hoelzer (6/14), Jimmy Peniston (6/21), Michael Baker (6/22)

Los Angeles Times: Larry Snyder (6/3), Bart Gold (6/6), Natasha Erickson (6/9), Christopher Bolduc (6/17), Luke Schreiber (6/23), Jodi Davenport (6/28), Jasper Davidoff (6/29).

USA Today: Steve Marron (6/19)

Crossworld News and Notes: May

Congratulations to Erik Agard, winner of the 2023 Boswords Spring Themeless League, and to second- and third- place contestants Tyler Hinman and Will Nediger. League puzzle packs, videos, and full standings are available at Boswords summer tournament will take place July 23 online and at the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Lollapuzzoola 2023 is August 19 in New York City. Registration is open now.

Save the Date: the 46th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will take place April 5-7 in Stamford Connecticut.

We’re happy to commemorate Patti Varol’s first anniversary as editor at the Los Angeles Times crossword. We asked her to share a few words about her first year and goals for the future:

“In addition to being proud of the overall quality and consistency of the puzzles, I’m really happy about the gender balance I’ve brought to the venue. Since I took over, we’ve had full gender parity every month — if anything, it has been unbalanced in the direction of more women than men some months. We’ve also had a ton of debuts, and I love working with and mentoring new constructors — we average five debuts a month, so that means we’ve probably had in the neighborhood of 60 first-timers in the LAT since I took over, including 28 so far in 2023. There’s still work I need to do to improve cultural and ethnic diversity in the constructors and the content, of course, and that’s part of the commitment I’ve made to improving the puzzles overall.”

The latest entry in the New York Times series “60 Seconds with a Constructor” welcomes Christina Iverson as Associate Puzzle Editor.

Congratulations to everyone who has recently made crossword debuts!

New York Times: Sam Buttrey (4/6), Robin Yu (4/13), Clay Haddock (4/14), Mike Hobin (4/16), Katherine Baicker (4/17), Kiran Pandey (4/18), Catherine Cetta (5/8), Spencer Leach (5/13).

Los Angeles Times: Sean Ziebarth (4/4), Adam Arvidson (4/13), Juliet Corless (4/18), Garrett Chalfin (4/23), Stacey McCullough (4/30), Max Schlenker (5/4), Francie Jones (5/5), Margaret Hurley (5/17), Kelly Richardson (5/25), Andrew Anker (5/26), Rose Sloan (5/28);

USA Today: Jimmy Peniston (5/15).

Contest Crosswords Combating Cancer (CCCC) is a bundle of 16 contest-style (meta) crosswords organized by Will Pfadenhauer to help raise money for cancer-related organizations. The puzzles are easy-to-medium in difficulty (for both the grids and the metas). Make a donation of any amount to the cancer-related organization of your choice to get the puzzles. More details are available at

A-to-Z Crosswords 2023 is open for registration on Kickstarter. Puzzles are daily 9×11 pangrams written by Frank Longo and Peter Gordon. At $14 for the series that’s $0.16 per puzzle. The subscription begins in early June.

Puzzlesnacks Plus Volume 2 by Eric Berlin is available now. 20 variety puzzles, this time bigger and more challenging. $7.99

These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, Grids 4 Kids, and Puzzles for Democracy are still available — along with TPFA merch!

National Treasures is a free puzzle hunt available at The Puzzle Society. This series of ten word games and puzzles is presented in a detective story format rich with narrative.

We’re sad to see The Crosswords Club discontinued. The longtime puzzles-by-mail subscription added an electronic delivery in recent years and was for our money the highest-quality option for 21x puzzles out there. The June 2023 issue will be the last. We’re grateful to Patti Varol for her great editing work and Penny Publications for their support over the years.

Ross Trudeau announced on his site that he will stop posting puzzles weekly on Sundays, as he has done weekly since March 2020 (and biweekly for a bit prior to that). Two pull quotes we’ll highlight from his reflections:

“I suspect puzzles here will appear on the order of, oh, 1-2 a month, but who knows!”

“There’s a silver lining though. My motivation for letting this and other future Sundays pass with no new puzzle–I’ll keep sharing them irregularly–is that I have new and exciting puzzle projects on the horizon. I encourage you to continue to check back here for updates in the coming months.”

Ross isn’t the only one lately to use “new and exciting projects on the horizon” language, so we’re looking forward to new developments on the scene, whatever they might be.

Stella Zawistowski posted “Decrypting the Cryptic: Resources!” as a list of sources for those looking to get into solving cryptic crosswords.

Tracy Bennett, associate puzzle editor for the New York Times appeared on a recent episode of The, Art of Sway. She discussed gender in crosswords, the social appeal of Wordle, and her own solving strategies.

The Aesthetics of Crossword Puzzles” by Robbie Kubala published in the British Journal of Aesthetics in March explores the three sources of aesthetics in crossword puzzles: “the experience of one’s own agency, the visual appeal of grid art, and the literary pleasures of idiomatic language” using examples of puzzles and commentary from across the puzzle landscape.

The Labor of Play” by Ben Tausig for Public Books Magazine includes short interviews with puzzle and game writers Adrienne Raphel and Oliver Roeder.

Some ACPT 2023 retrospectives and media that we enjoyed:

Crossworld News & Notes: ACPT Sunday

Congratulations to Dan Feyer, winner of the 2023 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and to second- and third- place finishers Paolo Pasco and Tyler Hinman, as well as all other award winners. See full results here.

The biggest ACPT ever saw 775 in-person competitors !

Constructors were, in order of the tournament: Andrea Carla Michaels & Kevin Christian, Joel Fagliano, Mike Shenk, Christina Iverson, Sam Ezersky, Lynn Lempel, Robyn Weintraub, and Kameron Austin Collins.

Next up, we’ll see you in Boston for Boswords 2023! July 23 at The Roxbury Latin School with in-person and virtual options.

Since the last News & Notes, Robert Ryan (3/19), Madeline Kaplan (3/22), Trenton Lee Stewart (3/27), and Ben Zoon (3/29) made their NYT debuts. Congratulations to everyone!

Ingrid is a free crossword construction program by Ryan Fitzgerald that is now in open beta for anyone to try out. Its mechanics feel somewhat familiar to users experienced with Crossfire, but is lighter, faster, and cleaner, and supports grid features such as diagonal symmetry and barred grids. Some of us on the DCL team have been using it for a while, and we cannot recommend it enough. Closed beta users share some of their favorite features: versioning functionality, the ability to reject words for specific slots in a grid, the sortable panel for reviewing all entries, the cluing progress meter, and the ability to work on multiple puzzles at a time.

The team at The Puzzle Society grows (again!) with the addition of indie darlings and Universal regulars to their mix of authors for the Modern Crossword. New daily midi constructors include May Huang, Kelsey Dixon, Rafael Musa, Ada Nicolle, and Jared Goudsmit. The Saturday themed and Sunday themeless remain open to submissions.

These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion (TPFA3) is a pack of crossword puzzles created around the belief that everyone should have access to safe and affordable abortion care. Constructed by an all-star group of puzzlemakers and editors who are passionate about Reproductive Justice, TPFA3 contains sixteen original, brand-new puzzles centered around social and reproductive justice themes. At higher donation levels, solvers can receive packs from previous years, as well.

Puzzles for Democracy supports the work of Common Cause. This pack of 51 puzzles – one for each state plus D.C. – includes crosswords, word games, logic puzzles, and more.

Alex Boisvert is participating in the Malibu triathlon and supporting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He offers a pack of five variety puzzles and one crossword (puzzles by Alex and Kate Chin Park) for a donation of any amount to CHLA.

Adam Wagner of Anigrams has started a Patreon to subscription to support the daily game. Subscribers receive bonus Anigram challenges, occasional Q&As with Adam, the opportunity to submit Anigram puzzles, and eventually access to the full backlog. Adam also spoke at ACPT Friday night.

Paolo Pasco, in a recent Harvard alumni profile, says, “There’s this picture of crossword puzzles where you have to know stuff to finish them,” “… I realized you didn’t have to know everything. You just had to know some amount of words, and then let context take you the rest of the way.”

Hayley Gold’s and Will Nediger’s next monthly cryptic stream is set for 9pm ET on April 20. Hayley, Will and Al will be joined by special guests Bob Stigger, Nate Cardin, and Kieran Boyd.

Crossworld News & Notes: March Update

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!

Late February Crossworld News & Notes

The Inkubator has announced it will cease operations at the end of 2023 in an email to subscribers:

After much careful thought, the Inkubator team has made the decision that 2023 will be our last year as a subscription service. We’ve had a wonderful four years with your support, surpassing our original goal of spending two years publishing new and emerging women and nonbinary constructors.

The Inkubator will continue as a community of constructors, and we’re excited for future directions and collaborations. In the meantime, we’re extending our current deadline for submissions until February 15, and we have an excellent slate of puzzles lined up for the next few weeks. We look forward to solving together with all of you this year.

We have a close relationship with the Inkubator team and offer our gratitude for both a great run and their leadership in the community. It has moved the needle, without a doubt.

A lovely piece from Liz Maynes-Aminzade at The New Yorker, “Will Shortz’s Life in Crosswords,” covers Will’s long career in puzzles. From all of us at DCL, echoing the sentiments we’ve heard from across the crossword community, we’re happy for Will for coming out publicly and finding love at 70.

ACPT is only five weeks away! We look forward to seeing many of you there. For those who can’t attend, the Virtual Tournament sponsored by Amuse Labs is an affordable way to participate and compete from afar. It includes live streams of all the tournament puzzles as well as other in-person events.

Congratulations to Paolo Pasco, winner of the Boswords Winter Wondersolve, and to second and third place finishers Will Nediger and Tyler Hinman. Congrats also to Frisco and Chauffeur, who won the Blizzard pairs division, Brian Lipinski, winner of the Flurry individual division, and Kristy and Wendy Gardner, winners of the Flurry pairs division.

Congratulations to Matthew Luter, whose puzzle was chosen through the open submission process to join the Boswords Spring Themeless League. The League begins with the preseason puzzle this Monday, February 27. A new practice puzzle from Chandi Deitmer and John Lieb is available for free.

In even more Boswords news, the annual summer tournament is now set for Sunday, July 23, with both in-person and virtual options.

These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, the third annual TPFA pack organized by Rachel Fabi and co-edited by Rachel, Brooke Husic, and Claire Rimkus, is coming this spring in time for the 2023 NNAF Fund-a-Thon. We are excited about this year’s all-star constructor lineup and look forward to their puzzles.

We’re pleased to share that Grids for Kids has raised over $6,000 for youth charities so far, including The Trevor Project and No Kid Hungry. Written and edited by constructors who are also parents, it includes 17 standard crosswords with family-friendly themes, 2 cryptic puzzles, and 6 puzzles for younger solvers. Make a donation of at least $10 USD to receive the puzzles.

Since the last News & Notes, Nijah Morris (2/12), Kavin Pawittranon (2/12), Eric Rollfing (2/13), and Sean Ziebarth (2/15) made their NYT debuts. Congratulations to everyone!

On the February 10 episode, “Cut to Wabbit Season,” of the Crossnerds podcast with Brooke Husic and Rebecca Neipris, Brooke discusses the expansion of the Lil AVC X editing team, the importance of the constructor-editor relationship in cultivating a better solving experience, and (the lack of) gender diversity in The New York Times crossword.

Creating Crossword Puzzles” is a course taught by Brooke Husic and Natan Last in cooperation with Atlas Obscura. The next offering of the course begins March 28 with four weekly sessions over Zoom. The content is intended for very new constructors and those who are interested in how crosswords are made. Reduced price tickets are available. Puzzles constructed by previous classes are available for solving from Atlas Obscura: “Marvel, Extended Universe” and “Alpha and Omega.”

It’s been a while since we’ve mentioned Spread the Wordlist by Brooke Husic and Enrique Henestroza Anguiano, but now is a good time as the most recent quarterly update includes some structural changes to simplify the wordlist for constructors. It also surpassed 100,000 entries scored at 50+ for the first time. This is a fabulous free resource for new and veteran constructors alike, and we’re grateful to Brooke and Enrique for their continued work on it.

A Community of Crosswords” in the latest issue of Barnard Magazine comprises three short but delightful conversations with alums Rebecca Goldstein, Rebecca Gray, and Gustie Owens about their work in crosswords.

In the NYT Gameplay article “A Puzzle Maker Aims to Unite Black Communities in 25 Squares” by Deb Amlen, Juliana Pache speaks about her mission to inspire communities from across the Black diaspora to learn more about each other. Juliana publishes a free daily mini at Black Crossword, with plans to expand.

We may have mentioned it before, but it’s been a minute: Cross Your Heart by Laura Effinger-Dean is a free, open-source Android app for crossword solving, with lots of features such as downs-only mode, autocheck, pen/pencil toggle, scrambled puzzle support, and an undo button. Supports .puz files only.

The February issue of GAMES World of Puzzles features a Q&A with puzzlemaker Fred Piscop, who shares info about his new book, “The Healthy Brain Book of Word Puzzles.” The book includes Split Decisions (R) and plenty of other great puzzles.

We’ve added a few new sources to our daily list recently: Check out puzzles from Boston Magazine by Brendan Emmett Quigley, Barron’s, and The Hindu Cryptic. We’re also watching a handful of new-to-us college newspapers: Amherst, Rice, Columbia, Penn, and Michigan.

We’d like to remind everyone that the ability to download and print NYT variety and acrostic puzzles will be discontinued on February 26, and they’ll be removed from the archive beginning March 1—so solve, print, and save them while we still can.

We want to hear from you! If you have an idea about something you’d like to see us offer or have feedback about any of our features, please let us know.

Crossworld News & Notes: February

Available this weekend, Grids for Kids is a pack of 25 puzzles to raise money for kids’ charities. Written and edited by an all-star team of constructors who are parents, it includes 17 standard crosswords with family-friendly themes, 2 cryptic puzzles, and 6 puzzles for younger solvers. Try out the free sample puzzle, “Growth Chart” by Matt Forest and Sally Hoelscher. Make a donation of at least $10 USD to receive the puzzles. More details at

It’s getting to be tournament time again: not too late to register for the online Boswords Winter Wondersolve tomorrow, 5 February, from 1:30-4:00 Eastern. Registration and hotel availability remain open for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, CT, March 31-April 2.

As mentioned in our editorial last night addressing the New York Times’ decision to pull acrostics, cryptics, other variety puzzles, and their 20-plus year archives from online access, Alex Boisvert has started an acrostic subscription service on Patreon, promising two puzzles a month. A welcome post and a sample puzzle is available. Alex’s site, Crossword Nexus also offers a tool to help build acrostics and an online solver applet that can present most common puzzles directly in-browser.

Readers may or may not be familiar with T Campbell’s Ubercross projects: think massive grids with grid art. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re probably undershooting it. Over the course of this year, T is unveiling his latest project: Ubercross Abecedaria, a series of 26 Ubercross puzzles, one for each letter of the alphabet, that knit together into a single connected puzzle.

Due to their size, the Abecedaria tiles are .pdf only, but T is also releasing bite-sized puzzles for each letter. Alternating between the two, a new puzzle comes each Wednesday. We’re hoping to have more from T in his own words in a future edition of News & Notes.

Cryptic streamers Will Nediger, Al Saunders, and Hayley Gold’s next edition comes in two weeks, a “Post-Valentine’s Valentine episode full of LOVEly cryptics” on Friday, 17 February at 9:00 PM Eastern with setters Nathan Curtis, Saroota, and Joeadultman at

The New York Times announced the second cohort of the Diverse Crossword Constructor Fellowship. Congrats to Mary, Esha, Isabella, Alice, Manaal, and Gina!

Since the last News & Notes, Lindsay McBride (1/18), Robert S. Greenfield (1/20), Nancy Serrano-Wu (1/25), Quiara Vasquez (1/26), Rich Katz (1/29), and Elise Corbin (2/2) made their NYT debuts. Congratulations to everyone!

Quick hitting links: Another month, another post of puzzle recommendations from Will Nediger | 18 year old Garrett Chalfin has two New York Times puzzle bylines and this fun interview with Intelligencer | Juliana Pache’s new Black Crossword venture got some love in this interview | “The Arcane Pleasure of Cryptic Crosswords” | My Crossword Maker’s annual scholarship for undergraduate students is open now for submissions

We’ve built out our own site a bit recently: adding links to defunct and non-updating puzzles, a page pointing readers to blogs and places for general crossword discussion, and a calendar for events, podcasts, and Twitch streams (that is admittedly pretty thin). As always if there’s something you want to see on the the site or be included in our regular posts, we have a “Send Us Something” form here.

Crossworld News: Changes at the Times

Regular News & Notes tomorrow, but the banner news of the week is a shock announcement from the New York Times: online crossword subscribers will lose access to two weekly variety puzzles–cryptics and acrostics among them–at the end of this month, and the archives, which date back to the late 1990s, will be removed. Access for print subscribers will be unchanged.

The decision is difficult to understand from the outside. The Times will continue to publish these puzzles, just not online. It is disappointing, as the applet for Acrostic solving is the best anywhere and a game-changer for the format, which can be tedious and prone to frustrating transposition errors when solving on paper. And it plain means subscribers are getting less for our money now.

An edit to the bare-bones initial announcement cited technical challenges in supporting these puzzles, low engagement among online subscribers, and a promise that the move would free up capacity for “other offerings, ” while a stock email response from the Customer Care team claims “the complex nature of these puzzles … are best solved in a printed format” and offers 50% off the first year of a new Home Delivery subscription.

These reasons ring hollow for us. Low online engagement is no surprise, given how hard these puzzles are to find online if you don’t already know they’re there. They’ve never been available on the mobile apps. Prescriptive hogwash about the “best” way to solve flies in the face of former editor Will Weng’s famous “It’s your puzzle” line while evidencing such an unfamiliarity with the Acrostic format that it’s hard to believe it’s sincere. From a technical standpoint, Cryptics and Puns & Anagrams, at least, can be presented in the exact same format as the daily crossword.

For what it’s worth, it’s likely many solvers can access these puzzles through their local library systems without needing to resort to a print subscription. The archives are accessible until 26 February, so there’s a chance to download copies of past puzzles before they disappear.

That said, the Times is not the only place to find these puzzles. For Acrostics, the Wall Street Journal provides a monthly puzzle, Dave Murchie has been running biweekly at Monday Fills for years, and Alex Boisvert’s panoply of tools at Crossword Nexus includes an Acrostic Generator that has spurred a boom in the format among indie constructors. Indeed, Boisvert has spun up a Patreon subscription service in response to this news that will deliver semimonthly acrostics.

There are too many cryptic options to list, but the The New Yorker‘s are fresh, approachable and not going anywhere. Here at Daily Crossword Links, cryptics, acrostics, and other variety puzzles can be found in the last two sections of the daily email.

In the era of the Spelling Bee, Wordle, and breathless quarterly updates about subscriber numbers, it’s hard to think of a way that a subscription has improved for crossword solvers in recent years as longstanding features are dropped and promised “other offerings” don’t materialize in return. The crossword’s editorial team is top notch, but other outlets are closing the gap in quality and consistency, if not in mainstream recognition, as a boom in constructing interest is also leading to greater numbers of skilled editors.

The Times puzzle enjoys a massive subscriber base and public esteem. Anyone following this site must be aware of the “gold standard” Homeric epithet that follows the puzzle in media coverage. The Times itself engages in a certain amount of self-mythologizing on top of their external recognition, but seems unable to decide between using its massive pulpit to serve as a standard bearer for the art form and the community, or just claiming to be one while the cold numbers of clicks and subscriptions hold more sway. This week, it’s the latter.

A jam-packed Crossworld News and Notes

Boswords 2023 Winter Wondersolve takes place February 5 beginning at 1:00pm ET. Registration opens January 21. We are excited about the event’s roster of constructors: Rebecca Goldstein, Damon Gulczynski, Enrique Henestroza Anguiano, and Joanne Sullivan.

Boswords has also released the roster for the 2023 Spring Themeless League, to take place in March and April: Ashton Anderson & James Mulhern, Kate Hawkins, Jenna LaFleur, Adrian Johnson, Hemant Mehta, Rafael Musa, Carly Schuna, Nancy Serrano-Wu, and one constructor to be chosen from an open submission process.

We’re looking forward to the smaller (and free!) second annual St. Louis Crossword Puzzle Tournament on March 4 with puzzles by Shannon Rapp and Patrick Blindauer.

The 45th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, CT is March 31 – April 2. Registration and hotel reservations are open now.

We hear word of two charity packs coming soon for our solving pleasure. Grids For Kids is a pack of 25 family-friendly puzzles launching in February. Shortly to follow will be the third round of These Puzzles Fund Abortion in March.

Among the changes at Crucinova under new management is the addition of a free monthly midi by editor Quiara Vasquez. The first one, “Good Housekeeping” (which actually verges on full-sized) we found delightful. Quiara is eager to entertain new queries from constructors of all levels of experience. Submit your ideas by email.

Secret Snowflake is an indie project coordinated by Rose Sloan and David Glasser in which constructors were randomly matched with each other to create custom puzzles. Not all of the thirty puzzles were released publicly, but here are a some that were: Litter Boxes by Lyle Broughton, January Stumper by Ada Nicolle, Costume Party by jseakle, Season’s Greetings by Rose Sloan, A PUZZLE FOR @TlMBERWOLVES by Paolo Pasco , Secret Snowflake Themeless by Max, Secret Snowflake by Christopher Adams, and Santa Puzzle 2022 by Xylo. (If we missed any, please drop them in the comments!)

In books, “Will Must Send Regrets: 101 Rejected Crossword Puzzles and the Stories Behind Them” by Damon Gulczynski is a new take on puzzle books; the puzzles are all past submissions to the New York Times, rejected. With “constructor notes and loosely tangential anecdotes, the puzzles tell a humorous, two-decade tale of repeated but endearing failure.” I’ve already gotten a copy, and while I haven’t solved the puzzles, I’m already hoping this is the first of a genre in the crossword scene.

Have we mentioned Stella Zawistowski’s coming book? I thought we must have, but maybe not (apologies if we have!) Bearing the title of her themeless-focused blog, “Tough As Nails Crosswords” features 72 “extra-challenging” grids from Stella. Preorders are open now, for a release on 28 March – just in time for ACPT.

P&A Magazine Issue 98 titled “X” is out now.

Congratulations to Hoang-Kim Vu, who has joined the editing team at AVCX+.

Congratulations to Jeff Chen, who as joined the team at Andrews McMeel Universal and will be the editor of Universal Sunday Crossword. Along with this news, Universal has announced they are now accepting submissions with a wider range of features. As always, we recommend constructors consult Matthew Stock’s spec sheet sheet for the most up-to-date submission specifications.

Creating Crossword Puzzles” is a course taught by Brooke Husic and Natan Last in cooperation with Atlas Obscura. The next offering of the course begins March 28 with four weekly sessions over Zoom. The content is intended for very new constructors and those who are interested in how crosswords are made. Reduced price tickets are available. The last session’s co-constructed puzzle, “Marvel, Extended Universe” is solvable online.

Hayley Gold’s next monthly cryptic stream is set for 9pm eastern on Wed., Jan. 18th. Hayley, Will and Al will be joined by special guests from the cryptic outlet The Rackenfracker.

New York Times Associate puzzle editor and Wordle editor Tracy Bennett appeared on the TODAY show to discuss her work with Wordle.

We enjoyed reading “Yesterday and tomorrow in puzzles“, a 2022 round up in “Puzzle Buzz”, the newsletter from amuselabs. Some of our favorite outlets across the community, new and old, got nice callouts for their work.

We mentioned “Outside the Blocks: A Puzzle Podcast” from Emma Oxford and Will Pfadenhauer of Pandora’s Blocks Weekly Meta Crossword when they launched in 2022. The newest episode includes an interview with Mike Dirolf, aka “mike d” aka “The Crosshare Guy.” (Sneak peek: we get a definitive answer as to how “crosshare” is pronounced.)

And some updates from the inside: We are pleased to welcome Rich Iurilli to the DCL team! You can expect to see him contribute to some daily emails and News and Notes. We’ve also been continuing to add new features to the site: More Puzzles, a listing of sites that have been dormant long enough that we don’t keep an eye on them anymore but are still full of puzzling entertainment; the beginnings of a community calendar, and a bit About Us. We also want to hear from you – if you have an idea about something you’d like to see us offer or have feedback about any of our features, please let us know.

Crossworld News and Notes, January 2023

Registration for ACPT is open now. We’re excited to see you there March 31-April 2! Also coming up: Boswords Winter Wondersolve, February 5 and St. Louis Crossword Tournament, March 4.

T. Campbell’s annual The Year In Crosswords covers the good, the bad, and the ugly in all of Crossworld in 2022. This long issue is a full who’s who and what’s what, including Wordle and its variants, changes in publications, fundraisers, tournaments, indie projects, software, AI, books and media, and more.

Sam Ezersky was profiled in Virginia Magazine, where he discussed the popularity of Spelling Bee during the pandemic and offers some of his best puzzling tips. The article is accompanied by a free series of short word puzzles inspired by Spelling Bee.

Constructor and magician David Kwong recently appeared on the podcast “Ologies” with host Alie Ward. He discussed Anigrams, AVCX, Diary of a Crossword Fiend, Wordle, cryptics, crosswords and brain health, and much more.

Congratulations to the 2023 Lil AVC X roster: Darby Ratliff, Dob Olino, Eric Mao, Jimmy Peniston, Kelly Nguyen Dickson, Lila Goldenberg, meatdaddy69420, Nancy Serrano-Wu, Nijah Morris, and Pravan Chakravarthy! We are so excited for the puzzles to come from this year’s bunch of up-and-coming constructors.

Congratulations to Nate Cardin, who has joined the editorial team at AVCX Cryptic!

Since the last News & Notes, Gustie Owens (12/4), Anthony J. Caruso (12/12), Julietta Gervase (12/13), John Martz (12/25), Josh Goodman (12/28), Seth Bisen-Hersh (1/2), Laura Breiman (1/4), Tom Bachant (1/4) made their NYT debuts. Congratulations to everyone!

We have been enjoying the latest offering from Puzzle Society: The Modern Crossword. Monday through Friday puzzles are midis of increasing size, Saturdays are themed puzzles by open submission, and Sundays are themeless puzzles by members of the editing team and invited constructors. The themes and content hold up to the puzzle’s moniker: the interface allows for alternate clues if solvers get stuck, and some clues and answers are accompanied by a constructor’s note.

We are also loving the new crosswords from Xtra, a LGBTQ2S+ online magazine. Puzzles are published the first of each month and are constructed by Ada Nicolle, who promises a younger, more inclusive vibe for the Xtra puzzles in this companion article.

The second crossword book from The Browser, “Cryptic Crosswords for Beginners” by Uri Bram & Dan Feyer is available now. They say “we break down these delightful puzzles into simple building blocks and have you solving cryptic grids before you know it!”

Fireball Crosswords begin this week and Fireball Newsflash Crosswords begin January 20, both by Peter Gordon. Subscriptions open now.

Now is also the time to renew your subscription to The Inkubator. A subscription is $30 for 36 puzzles: three puzzles a month all year long. The fifth year will feature creative themes from C.C. Burnikel, Chandi Deitmer, and Rebecca Goldstein; debuts from Max Schlenker and Darby Ratliff; themelesses from Robyn Weintraub and Wyna Liu; and many more.

AVCX and The Inkubator are open for submission. The New York Times has also reopened after a break.