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)

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.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Crosshare Community: Daily Mini and Featured Puzzles.
A Little Puzzling: the entertainment’s here (themeless) by steph. Online.
M & M Crosswords: Welcome, Croatia! by Martina Waluk. .pdf, online.
Olio Grids: Idle by Brian Callahan. .pdf, online.
Rossword Puzzles: Lord, Is It I? by Ross Trudeau. .puz, .pdf, online.

Crossword Club: Daily Crossword: January 8, 2023 by Ada Nicolle. .pdf, online.
The Hub Crossword: ($) Soccer Talk by Joon Pahk. Patreon subscription.
The Inkubator: ($) Viva Forever (Spice Up Your Life!) by Chandi Deitmer. Subscribe at link.
Premier Crosswordby Frank Longo. .pdf, online.
Sporcle: American Painters by purple_parrot. Online.

The Atlantic: by Hannah Slovut. .pdf, online.
Crosswords with Friends: Sunday Funday by Tracy Bennett. App Store | Google Play
Crosswords with Friends: Mini Puzzle by Jeff Chen. App Store | Google Play
Daily Beast: A Host of Hosts, Sun, Jan 8, 2023 by Matt Gaffney. .pdf, online.
Daily POP Crosswords: by Pam Amick Klawitter. App Store | Google Playonline.
Los Angeles Times: Down in Front by David Alfred Bywaters. Online, pdf. Free Cruciverb account for .puz.
Los Angeles Times Mini: by Elizabeth Gorski. Online.
Merl Reagle Archives: January 8, 2023 – Personality Breakdown by Merl Reagle. Online, .pdf.
The Modern Crossword: Themeless 4 by Rafael Musa. Online, .pdf.
New York Sun: ($) Tailor-Made by Jack McInturff. Reissues from 2003.
New York Times: ($) Do You Hear That? by Wyna Liu. Online, .pdf, app.
New York Times Mini: by Christina Iverson. Online, app.
Newsday: A CENTURY AGO: What Happened in 1923 by Stan Newman. Online, .pdfbackup online.
The Telegraph: Cross Atlantic by Steve Bartlett. Online.
Universal: Themeless Sunday 23 by Adrian Johnson and Rafael Musa. Online, pdf. .puz.
Universal Sunday: Word Gets Around by Morton J. Mendelson. .puz.
USA Today: Downrate by Zhouqin Burnikel. Online, .pdf, app.
Washington Post: Rhyme Time by Evan Birnholz. Online, .pdf. .puz.

1Across: Cut Corners by Ian VanderSchee. .pdf, online.
Puzzlesnacks: Patchwork by Eric Berlin. .pdf.

Everyman Cryptic: Everyman crossword No 3,977 .pdf, online.
The Globe and Mail: The Daily Cryptic Crossword. .pdf, online.
The Independent: Cryptic Crossword by Kairos. .pdf, online.
New York Times Variety: ($) Building Blocks by Will Shortz. .pdf, online.
New York Times Variety: ($) A Little Variety by Frank Longo, Patrick Berry, and Prasanna Seshadri. .pdf, online.
The New Yorker Cryptic: Cryptic by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. .pdf, online.

Other American-style crosswords:

Reviews and Discussion at Diary of a Crossword Fiend | Boatload Puzzles/AARP | Crosshare | CrosswordsBackwards | Cruciverbalista (en español) | Dictionaries6 | Easy Crossword | FreeDailyCrosswords | GameLab | Hard Crossword | r/crossword | | YourPuzzleSource | XWord-Muggles Meta Calendar

Other Cryptic/Variety crosswords:

A Frame Games | Links Library | Harper’s ($) | Lovatts | Magpie ($) | Mokelfish Links Library | MyCrossword | NPL | Panda Magazine ($) | Private Eye | PuzzleCrypt archives | Puzzling StackExchange | r/crosswords | Split Decisions | Sydney Morning Herald ($) | The Telegraph | The Times (UK) ($), includes The Listener