OLLI Course: CROSSWORDS and YOU webadmin Sun, 10/17/2010 - 11:49

Course Description

topics xwd

About the Instructor


Course Topics

all about steve

  • Session 1. Course Description, Instructor, Topics and Resources
  • Why Do We Solve Puzzles?
  • History: Milestones (in crosswords) and Media (music, fiction, theater, film, TV, culture)
  • Practice: this course is approximately 2/3 presentation, 1/3 practice solving puzzles. If you've already taken this class (or would prefer to skip puzzle history, background and resources) and are looking for additional challenges, I encourage you to participate in one of my practice-only ("practicum") courses, where each session consists entirely of solving crossword puzzles as a group, and discussing the tricky clues and funny themes we find. e.g., CROSSWORDS: Practicum: Intermediate.

  • wordplay movieSession 6. WordPlay movie documentary (1:34); note: we'll start class 5 minutes early
  • (no Practice)

Course Resources

CROSSWORDS: Why Do We Solve Puzzles?

CROSSWORDS: Why Do We Solve Puzzles? webadmin Sat, 01/15/2011 - 16:51


  • zenHumans find meaning and inspiration in finding and solving problems and challenges.
  • [Refs]: "The Possibility of More: High School Senior Chases the 'Aha!' Moment"
  • [Refs]: "Finding God in a Crossword Puzzle"
  • [Refs]: "Crosswords and Consciousness"



CROSSWORDS: Fun; Humor; Distraction; Joy

CROSSWORDS: Fun; Humor; Distraction; Joy webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:06


  • crossword admirersPuzzles provide opportunities for fun, wordplay, focus & distraction.
  • [Refs]: No Joke: China's Broadcasting Authority Bans Puns And Wordplay""
  • [Refs]: "Rapid Thinking Makes People Happy"
  • [Refs]: "Whence the Joy in Crosswords?"



CROSSWORDS: Challenge; Creativity; Problem Solving

CROSSWORDS: Challenge; Creativity; Problem Solving webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:07


  • until solve NYTCrosswords present us with complex, multi-layered patterns.
  • They've been used as an "intelligence" test and recruiting tool by code-breaking agencies, e.g., Bletchley Park [UK], NSA.
  • A uniquely human pursuit (for now) -- AI programs can't cope with the ambiguity and exceptions.
  • [Refs]: "In Crosswords, It's Man Over Machine, for Now"
  • [Refs]: "Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving"



CROSSWORDS: Language Skills; Vocabulary

CROSSWORDS: Language Skills; Vocabulary webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:10


  • walking dictionaryWord puzzles can exercise your vocabulary -- in multiple languages.
  • Well-designed crosswords are more than a collection of words (esp. weird 'crosswordese'), and obvious clues -- they force us to think outside (and inside) the box.
  • [Refs]: "Crosswords improve vocabulary and increase trivia knowledge"
  • [Refs]: "The Benefits Of Bilingual Spanish-English Crosswords"



CROSSWORDS: General Knowledge; Trivia

CROSSWORDS: General Knowledge; Trivia webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:12


  • budget politicsA fun way to learn useful information about a variety of subject areas -- and maybe even obscure facts for trivia games.
  • [Refs]: "All I know I learned from crosswords"
  • [Refs]: "Crosswords improve vocabulary and increase trivia knowledge"



CROSSWORDS: General Health; Cognitive Fitness

CROSSWORDS: General Health; Cognitive Fitness webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:14


  • scientists activate brainLearning a skill, playing a game or solving a new kind of problem can improve mental flexibility and brain connections.
  • Crosswords appear to aid in concentration, and ability to recognize patterns.
  • Although doing crosswords cannot prevent dementia, practicing and challenging yourself appears to add to your "cognitive reserve", possibly delaying the onset of symptoms.
  • [Refs]: "Puzzles help 'boost earning power'"
  • [Refs]: "For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp"
  • [Refs]: "Can crossword puzzles prevent dementia?"



CROSSWORDS: Relationships

CROSSWORDS: Relationships webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:16


  • fights obviousSolving crosswords can be a social activity: a way to meet people, play together, etc. -- or to isolate.
  • [Refs]: "Couple reveal secret to 70 years of marriage"
  • [Refs]: "Crosswords Are Like Sex"
  • [Refs]: "Doing crosswords or sudoku 'helps couples get over arguments'"
  • [Refs:Marriage Proposals]: "For Alexandria couple, wedding proposal in a crossword puzzle just fit"



Marriage Proposals


CROSSWORDS: Fame webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:18


  • clintonSome seek fame by appearing in a crossword clue, publishing a crossword, winning a tournament -- or mentioning in an obituary that the deceased loved crosswords, especially doing them in ink.
  • Some already-famous people (e.g., politicians, celebrities) enjoy solving crosswords.
  • [Refs]: "The Acrosses and Downs of Crossword Celebrity"
  • [Refs]: "American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT)"
  • [Refs:Politicians]: "Pres. Bill Clinton pens NY Times' crossword puzzle"



  • The Shortz Factor introducing a new measure: 'crossword-famous' -- your name is better known by regular crossword-solvers than it is by the general population: 7. URI; 6. YMA; 5. OTT; 4. ESAI; 3. ERTE; 2. RAE; 1. ERLE; 1/27/2012
  • Word Wars a look at the obsessive world of competitive Scrabble; 2004
  • Celebrities


    CROSSWORDS: Reasons Not to...

    CROSSWORDS: Reasons Not to... webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:21


    • overdoingSolving crosswords can become time-consuming, frustrating, and/or addictive.
    • [Refs]: "21 Signs You're Addicted To Crossword Puzzles"
    • [Refs]: "50 Years of Crosswords: An Addict's Tale"



    Why Do You Solve Puzzles

    • -- or not?

    CROSSWORDS: History. Milestones and Media

    CROSSWORDS: History. Milestones and Media webadmin Sat, 01/15/2011 - 19:21


    • caveman thesaurusThere have been many word puzzles through the ages, some sharing aspects of our modern "crossword" (though none developed or distributed further)
    • 79: SATOR square [Roman Empire]
    • 1605: Newspapers [Germany]
    • 1890: Airoldi's "Per passare il tempo" [Italy]


    • paser stela1150 BC: 'Crossword Stela' of Paser, a 20th Dynasty Egyptian limestone stele, constructed by Paser, during the reign of Ramesses VI. It is constructed to be read horizontally, vertically and around its perimeter, therefore three times
    • 1st Millenium BC: In the Hebrew version of Psalm 119, each group of eight verses is an alphabetical acrostic (or abecedarius). "Subsections are named after the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, 'Aleph', 'Beth', etc. -- Acrostics prove that the texts in question were originally composed in writing, rather than having existed in oral tradition before being put into writing."
    • 169 BC: an acrostic poem by Quintus Ennius; the first letters of each line spelled out, 'Quae Q. Ennius fecit' (Q. Ennius wrote this).
    • < LXXIX (79): Sator Square in Pompeii (and elsewhere, and as "Rotas Square")
      Latin 4-way palindrome word square
      = "The sower [farmer], Arepo, guides the wheels [plough] with care."

      Romans used a chisel -- not ink !
      Christian significance
    word square
    • guttenberg paper jam140: Paper China. display device and strorage medium




    CROSSWORDS: 1900s

    CROSSWORDS: 1900s webadmin Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:54


    • blended squaresPeople's Home Journal blended squares



    • Wikipedia: 1900s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 1: 1900-1910 Theory of Relativity; Toaster Heating Element; Football's Forward Pass; Tanks; Vacuum Tube; Gas-Powered Mercedes; Nintendo (playing cards); A Trip to the Moon; Bakelite; Radio; FBI; Kodak Brownie; 10/8/2012
    • Paleofuture (predictions): 1900s

    CROSSWORDS: 1910s

    CROSSWORDS: 1910s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:23


    • jeopardy decade1913: Wynne's "FUN Word-Cross"
    • Besides New York World, other US newspapers begin to add cross words: Pittsburgh Press (1916), Boston Globe (1917)







    • section: Oreo
    • crossword stampWikipedia: 1910s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 2: 1910s Flip-Flop Circuit; Panama Canal; Golf in US; Fighter Planes; Prohibition; Erector Set; First Crossword Puzzle; Electric Household Refrigerator; Modern Assembly Line; Superconductivity; Nikon; Snap-On Wrench; 10/25/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1910s
    • 10 Lifehacks from 100 Years Ago How To: Make a Fire Extinguisher; Extract a Splinter;Preserve Eggs; Fell a Tree; Stop a Mad Dog; Keep Plants Watered While Away on Holiday; Light a Match in the Wind; Make a Chair to Cross a Stream; Rescue Someone from Electric Shock; Make a Water Filter -- from Gallaher's Cigarettes; 7/21/2013
    • What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years The Ladies' Home Journal; What the Future Looked Like 100 Years Ago -- and 5 Predictions That Came True; 2/24/2012


    CROSSWORDS: 1920s

    CROSSWORDS: 1920s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:27


    • menu"Crossword puzzles became a way of life in the 1920s...
    • "Another reason for the extraordinary success of crossword puzzles...
    • "The Pennsylvania Railroad...
    • "A New York man was arrested because...
    • dress"Pickpockets in hotel lobbies,...
    • Many "firsts" for crosswords in publications and culture. Much debate about fads and obsessions.
    • 1921: first dictionary
    • 1922: UK magazine: Pearson's
    • 1924: The Cross Word Puzzle Book -- 1st book by Simon & Schuster
    • UK newspaper Daily Express
    • crossword mamasong: "Crossword Mama You Puzzle Me (But Papa's Gonna Figure You Out)"
    • New York Herald-Tribune's National All Comers Cross Word Puzzle Tournament
    • crossword rules, e.g., rotational symmetry
    • 1925: musical revue: "Puzzles of 1925"
    • animated short Disney film: "Alice Solves the Puzzle"
    • mystery story: "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will"
    • 1926: cryptic crossword in UK
    • A Budapest man committed suicide,...


    • Margaret Farrar (later, at Simon&Schuster, then even later, 1st NYT editor) is hired by The New York World as a secretary, but soon finds herself assisting Arthur Wynne with proofreading puzzles. Her puzzles soon exceed Wynne's in popularity.


    • quickway dictionary"The latest craze to strike libraries is the crossword puzzle...
    • In the 1920s, as now, there were 2 schools of puzzle solution fans:...
    • Colonel H.W. Hill publishes the first "Quickway" Crossword Dictionary.


    • Pearson's [1st UK magazine w/ crossword]
    • Morning Oregonian and other newspapers published a comic strip...



    • simon and schusterSimon & Schuster found a company to publish The Cross Word Puzzle Book...
    • "The cross word solver becomes a collector,...
    • "All ages, both sexes, highbrows and lowbrows,...
    • "Some folks were driven over the edge by the craze...
    • crossword mamaCrossword Mama You Puzzle Me (But Papa's Gonna Figure You Out) (song) (audio: 2:32); Will Shortz on NPR On the Media: Life Squared (interview; excerpts; 4:07-4:40;9:20-12:54); MayasMix @ 13:24; lyrics:
      "You treat me like an orphan in a storm / Crossword books won't keep my tootsies warm.
      Crossword Mama, you puzzle me / But Papa's gonna figure you out.
      Washington, he crossed the Delaware / Columbus crossed the ocean blue
      If there's any more crossing to be done / Papa's gonna double-cross you..."
    • Cross-word puzzle blues (song) (audio; 2:37)
    • Rotational symmetry was one of many crossword conventions established by the Amateur Crossword Puzzle League of America
    • Daily Express [1st UK newspaper w/ crossword]
    • Ruth Franc Von Phul won the New York Herald-Tribune's National All Comers Cross Word Puzzle Tournament the age of 20; NYT obituary
    • The Crossword Puzzle: Where'd The Women Go? 8/21/2013
    • "[The crossword] has grown from the pastime of a few ingenious idlers...


    • puzzles of 1925 mamaPuzzles of 1925 (musical revue); crossword sanitarium scene: solvers who had lost their minds. "Since Ma's Gone Crazy Over Cross Word Puzzles" (lyrics):
      "The house has gone to ruin / Since all that Mother's doin' /
      Is putting letters in the little squares /
      We live on canned tomatoes / And old cold boiled potatoes
      No wonder when he comes home / Father swears"
    • I've Got the Crossword Puzzle Blues (song) by D. J. Michaud and Marguerite A. Bruce; performed by jazz clarinettist Bob Fuller; "I'm feeling awfully down, and cross. I spend all day solving, but I still don't have a clue"
    • Alice Solves the Puzzle animated short Disney film
    • cross-words between sweetie and meCross-Words (Between Sweetie and Me) (song; 3:48);
      "Sorrow has torn at my heart strings / I wonder who is to blame
      My sweetie never has time for me / She's deep in love with a game
      Crosswords have made me blue as can be, / Cross, crosswords between my sweetie and me,
      She's been puzzling, don't seem to care / Whether I'm near her or taking the air
      I'm jealous. How can I win sympathy? I'm hoping she'll soon need L-O-V-E.
      Every night in our little home / We sit together, but I'm all alone.
      She's so contrary / Her old dictionary and crosswords are sweeter than me."
    • even more songs: Cross word papa you sure' do puzzle me;
      Cross-word puzzle of love; Cross words; Crosspuzz;
      Crossword (The) puzzle glide; Do you do cross-word puzzles;
      globeI'm a cross word puzzle fan; My cross-word puzzle girl;
      They're doing cross word puzzles now; Your cross-words are making me blue
    • That Guiltiest Feeling cartoon; Clare Briggs; cross word craze, covering earth
    • Felix All Puzzled Felix the Cat cartoon directed by Otto Messmer; Flash: 2:50
    • The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will (story; Lord Peter Wimsey) by Dorothy L. Sayers
    • Puzzled by Crosswords (movie; comedy)
    • crossword magazine"Judging from the number of solvers in the subway...
    • Range of opinions about crossword longevity:...
    • "Fortunately, the question of whether the puzzles are beneficial or harmful...
    • andrew hines"A New York Telephone Co. employee shot his...
    • (at right) 100-year old Ambrose Hines solving a puzzle in 1925
    • Popular interest in the 1920s is shown by aids which were marketed to help puzzle-solvers...
    • saturday evening postThe main interest among fans in the 1920s was in the puzzle as an aid to language development...





    • fancy dress circa 1920The Roaring 20s crossword; NYT Learning Network
    • Saucy "Crosswords" Postcards by Donald McGill in 1920s
    • Roaring Twenties: Fads The Charleston; 1st Miss America Pageant; Flagpole Sitting; Mah-Jongg; Crossword Puzzlel Book-of-the-Month Club; Time; Reader's Digest
    • Wikipedia: 1920s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 3: 1920s R.U.R. (robots); IBM 80-Column Punch Card; Amphibious Warfare; Art Deco; Babe Ruth; Tri-motor Airplane; Leica I and the 35mm Standard; Polygraph; Scopes Monkey Trial; McKinsey and Company; Traffic Light; Mickey Mouse; 11/2/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1920s

    CROSSWORDS: 1930s

    CROSSWORDS: 1930s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:29


    • crisscross"Together with The Times of London, yours [NYT] is...
    • 1931: Dell Crossword Puzzle Magazine
    • 1938: Scrabble; Bletchley Park
    • 1939: Frank Lewis
    • "By the late 1930s, the crossword puzzle boom...


    • dictionarythe term "crossword" first appeared in a dictionary





    • Wikipedia: 1930s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 4: 1930s Radar; Works Progress Administration; Schrödinger's Cat; Pop Culture Characters; Nylon; Z1 computer by Zuse; Ballpoint Pen; Kodachrome; Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias; War of the Worlds; Electric Pinball; Volkswagen Beetle; 11/9/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1930s

    CROSSWORDS: 1940s

    CROSSWORDS: 1940s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:31


    • utahCrosswords were banned in Paris during the Second World War,...
    • 1942: NYT
    • 1944: D-Day


    • nyt wwii"We ought to proceed with the puzzle, especially...


    • "The Herald Tribune runs the best puzzle page in existence so far, but...
    • first NYTNYT inaugurates a puzzle page; 2/15/1942; "There will be two puzzles each Sunday --...
    • Sunday NYT later becomes popular stereotype of 'most difficult' puzzle
      -- even though NYT Fri & Sat are harder; it's like a hard Wed or easy Thu NYT crossword
    • The Quick 10: The New York Times Crossword Puzzle trivia about NYT crossword; 8/20/2009
    • History of the NYT Crossword: Wikipedia; Barry Haldiman
    • The New York Times Celebrates 75 Years of Crosswords a brief history;
      1913: The World's First Crossword Puzzle Sparks a Craze; 'The granddaddy of crossword puzzles';
      1924: The New York Times Refuses to Join in the Fun; 'The utterly futile finding of words';
      1941: Bombing of Pearl Harbor Leads to Changed Minds; 'We ought to proceed with the puzzle';
      1942: Margaret Farrar and the First New York Times Crossword; 'Profession and passion';
      1950: The Daily Crossword Begins;
      1969: Will Weng Becomes Second Crossword Editor; 'Good company on lazy Sunday mornings';
      1977: Eugene T. Maleska, the Third Crossword Editor; 'Exactitude with puckishness';
      1978: First American Crossword Puzzle Tournament;
      1993: Will Shortz Becomes Fourth Editor of the Crossword; 'A tradition of culture and quality';
      1996: First New York Times Crossword on the Web; 'Less blood, fewer erasures';
      1998: First (and Only) Marriage Proposal in the Crossword -- Although we still get requests;
      2006: Crossword Documentary 'Wordplay' Opens; 'Crowd-pleasing entertainment and suspense';
      2008: The Wordplay Crossword Blog Begins; 'The Simpsons' Meet the Puzzle Master;
      2016: The Puzzle Mania Section Is Published; the largest New York Times Crossword: 50x50; 2/14/2017
    • farrarMargaret Farrar: 1st NYT crossword editor, 1942-1968; "1st Lady of Crosswords" bio
    • Few Gnus Farrar interview; 6/13/1959
    • "Under Margaret Farrar's direction,...
    • woody comic"Egotism, n:...
    • "Men in their forties are like the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle:...



    • Brief Encounter (movie); Fred suggests retiring to the library by the fire to relax where he can also complete The Times' crossword puzzle. Laura responds: "You have the most peculiar ideas of relaxation."


    • What do I think of the Secretary of Commerce? HAW! crossword puzzles these days are making subtle editorial comments by having the initials of congressmen spell out words describing these individuals. For example, the initials of the Senator from Ohio spell the word "rat." (Robert A. Taft.); 8/17/1946



    • Wikipedia: 1940s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 5: 1940s Manhattan Project; George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four; Polaroid Camera; Computer Bug; First Videogame; Guided Missile; House Committee on Un-American Activities; Materials Rationing; Helicopter; Microwave; Jackie Robinson; Start of Silicon Valley; 11/15/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1940s

    CROSSWORDS: 1950s

    CROSSWORDS: 1950s webadmin Sun, 07/06/2014 - 14:29



    • nyt mondayNYT begins publishing daily crosswords (9/11/1950) [.puz], [.pdf]
    • "The capitulation of the N.Y. Times to the daily crossword puzzle is...


    • Crossword Quiz (Canadian TV game show)
    • Scrabble History; In the early 1950s, as legend has it,...


    • The 1950s crossword; NYT Learning Network
    • Wikipedia: 1950s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 6: 1950s Transistorized Computer; Sci-Fi Cinema, Rock&Roll; Spy Satellites; Hockey Mask; Hovercraft; Digital Photograph; Tennis for Two (videogame); DNA; Black Box; Fidel Castro; Catalyzed Plastics; ICEE Machine; 11/22/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1950s

    CROSSWORDS: 1960s

    CROSSWORDS: 1960s webadmin Sun, 07/06/2014 - 14:31


    • 1969: ARPAnet (precursor to Internet); Apollo moon landing




    • Lyricist Stephen Sondheim begins creating cryptic crosswords for New York Magazine, helping introduce Americans to British-style crosswords.



    • The 1960s crossword; NYT Learning Network
    • Wikipedia: 1960s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 7: 1960s 2001: A Space Odyssey; venture capital (Rock and Davis); Compact Disc; Douglas Engelbart's "Mother of All Demos"; Muhammad Ali; Nuclear Powered Carrier; Sketchpad (drawing program); Psychedelic Research; Spacewar (videogame); Concorde; Kennedy Assassination; Saigon Execution Photo; 12/06/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1960s

    CROSSWORDS: 1970s

    CROSSWORDS: 1970s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:36


    • sheet music1971: Crossword Puzzle (song)
    • 1976: Starting Here, Starting Now (musical): Crossword Puzzle (song)
    • 1978: American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT)


    • rendell one across two downOne Across, Two Down (novel) by Ruth Rendell;
      "There are only two things that interest Stanley: the crosswords and getting his hands on his mother-in-law's money"
    • Where Have All Our Heroes Gones (song) by Bill Anderson, album Where Have All Our Heroes Gone;
      lyrics: "And sometimes when it rained you'd sit beside me / And we'd race raindrops down the window pane
      You'd bring me coffee and we'd work crossword puzzles together / We don't do anything together now"
    • Crossword (song) (video; 2:18) by Jeff Cooper and the Stoned Wings, album Purple Haze / Tribute to Jimi Hendrix


    • danaCrossword Puzzle (song) by Dana (BBC Top of the Pops) from album All Kinds of Everything; MayasMix @ 18:35;
      lyrics: "Isn't life a little bit like a crossword puzzle? Giving you lots of trouble / I'm scratching my head to find the clues
      In the black and white that make up yesterday's news / And my crossword puzzle is keeping me in a muddle"




    • sheet musicCrossword Puzzle (song) (video; 4:51) from musical Starting Here, Starting Now; MayasMix @ 43:25; lyrics: "I am sitting here doing the Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle. Somehow the words won't come. I am staring at squares but my eyes never focus, and my mind's feeling strangely numb. It's a fact that a word..."; synopsis: "A woman holding a NY Times's reveals that ever since her Hecky left her, she has been unable to focus on the crossword puzzle. As she tries to answer some clues, she is continually distracted by thoughts of him. Slowly, it is understood that the reason Hecky left her was because, being the intelligent woman that she is, when they did the crossword together, she always got all of the answers before him. This led to much frustration and arguing and eventually Hecky couldn't handle it anymore. As she stumbles through each clue, she becomes more upset and less in control of her emotions."




    • sudoku take turnsHoward Garns creates the modern Sudoku puzzle for Dell Magazines under the name "Number Place" -- the first pen-and-paper puzzle to rival the crossword in popularity, though this spike in popularity would occur decades later under the name Sudoku.
    • Crossword (song) by Jethro Tull, album Stormwatch (iTunes; 3:38); MayasMix @ 00:00;
      lyrics: "Life is a clue in your crossword...Your life is a clue in the crossword."


    • Wikipedia: 1970s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 8: 1970s Apple II; Weapons-Grade Lasers; Pentagon Papers; Title IX; Computer Printers; Altair; Atari; Modern Sci-Fi ETs; Anti-Lock Braking System; Color Fine-Art Photography; Fractals; Nixon's nuclear "Project Independence"; 12/13/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1970s

    CROSSWORDS: 1980s

    CROSSWORDS: 1980s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:38


    • A is for Alibi1982: A is for Alibi (book)
    • 1984: Crossword Puzzle (song)



    • Cardiac Arrest (song) (video; 2:54) (wikipedia) by Madness, album 7; lyrics:
      "Ten more minutes till he gets there / The crossword's nearly done. / It's been so hard these days / Not nearly so much fun.
      Think of seven letters / Begin and end in 'C' / Like a big American car / But misspelt with a 'D'."




    • mandrell crossword puzzleCrossword Puzzle (song) (video; 3:38) by Barbara Mandrell, album Clean Cut; MayasMix @ 32:33;
      lyrics & .mp3: "What we've become is 1 Across, and also rhymes with rules / Two Down is what we tell that's opposite the truth / Three Across is what we do to each other's feelings / Four Across begins with 'A', and means disagreeing."



    • Tin Men movie; His unutterably unhappy wife (Nora) does crosswords, waiting until 3 AM for Tilley to come home, obtuse and uncomprehending of her need for escape and fulfillment.


    • Wikipedia: 1980s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future Part 9: 1980s Space Shuttle Columbia; IBM PC; Macintosh; MTV; Miracle on Ice; Leveraged Buyout; Nintendo NES; Sandra Day O'Conner; Stealth; Additive Manufacturing (early 3D printing); In-Car Stereos; Autofocus; 12/21/2012
    • Paleofuture: 1980s

    CROSSWORDS: 1990s

    CROSSWORDS: 1990s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:40


    • shortz1990: World Wide Web (proposed)
    • 1993: Will Shortz, 4th NYT crossword editor
    • 1996: Election ('quantum') Crossword; Across Lite format


    • landscape painted with teaWorld Wide Web proposed
    • Crossword Concerto (song) by Robert Wells, album Rhapsody in Rock II
    • Landscape Painted With Tea (book) by Milorad Pavic; "A failed architect's search for his father, an officer who vanished in Greece during World War II, becomes a labyrinthine puzzle, inextricably bound to the history of the ancient monastery on Mount Athos". It's organized as a crossword puzzle: "Readers may approach the book chronologically by reading only the 'Across' sections, or less chronologically and with more digressions by reading the 'Down' sections. Either strategy gradually reveals the story of a soul-searching architect who roams a labyrinth of meditation and memory." "In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text"
    • More Than Words (song) (video; 4:17) (wikipedia) by Extreme, album Pornograffitti;
      lyrics: "How easy it would be to show me how you feel; More than words is all you have to do to make it real"


    • 50 year anniversaryNothing Turned Out Right (song) by Demon, album Hold On To The Dream; lyrics: "So I walked in the sunshine / And suddenly it started to rain / So I reached for the crossword / But couldn't find where I'd left my brain / It's just one of those days / When nothing turns out right"





    • oliver's travelsCrossword Blues (song) (video; 6:07; lyrics: 4:10-) by Rob Tognoni, album Stones and Colours; MayasMix @ 89:50; lyrics: "lately I've been learnin' to do the crossword everyday / it's just one of those things I'm gonna need to while my lonely hours away"
    • Oliver's Travels TV; PBS; "When Oliver (Alan Bates) ... is laid off by his university, he resolves to visit Aristotle, a famous compiler of crossword puzzles. When Oliver discovers that Aristotle's home has been ransacked and Aristotle is nowhere to be found, ..."; Guardian article


    • animated election puzzleElection Day Puzzle: The clue to the middle answer across the grid was "Lead story in tomorrow's newspaper." The answer appeared to be CLINTON ELECTED. Because of intentional ambiguity in the crossing clues, however, the answer could also have been BOB DOLE ELECTED. Either answer fitted. For example, the crossing clue Black Halloween animal could have been either BAT or CAT, with the C for CLINTON or the B the start of BOB DOLE. "It was the most amazing crossword I've ever seen. As soon as it appeared, my telephone started ringing. Most people said 'How dare you presume that Clinton will win!' And the people who filled in BOB DOLE thought we'd made a whopper of a mistake!" ~Will Shortz; this is known as a quantum (or Schrödinger) crossword for simultaneously having 2 states
    • NYT adopts Across Lite application & .puz format




    • puzzle ladyA Clue for the Puzzle Lady (mystery, 1st in Puzzle Lady series) by Parnell Hall; synopsis: "Amateur sleuth Miss Cora Felton, an eccentric, nationally-syndicated crossword puzzle columnist whose craving for trouble has increased with age. When the body of an unknown teenager carrying a cryptic, crossword-like message is found in the local cemetery". Other books: Last Puzzle and Testament, Puzzled To Death, ...
    • The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project: Bring Old New York Times Crosswords into the Digital Age Litz-ing NYT puzzles: 1942-1994; solve those puzzles
    • Kill the Man (movie);
      "Guy: What are you doing in my parking lot?
      Bob Stein: Murder.
      Stanley Simon: Yeah, handsome guy too.
      Guy: The corpse just moved!
      Stanley Simon: They tend to do that sometimes. I once saw a man finish a crossword puzzle after being shot five times.
      Bob Stein: Sunday edition too."
    • murderThe Crossword Murder (mystery) by Nero Blanc from Crossword Mysteries (series)
    • Nobody Knows Anybody (Nadie Conoce a Nadie) (movie); "Simon (Eduardo Noriega), a crossword-puzzle writer, receives a cryptic message threatening him with death if certain words don't appear in his puzzles."
    • Your Dictionary (song) (video; 3:30) by XTC, album Apple Venus Volume 1;
      lyrics: "H-A-T-E -- is that how you spell love in your dictionary...There are no words for me inside your dictionary"
    • The Story of Us (movie); Ms. Pfeiffer's character designs crossword puzzles. Mr. Willis goes from skepticism that anyone can make a living at such an activity to examining, later in his marriage, his wife's puzzles for insights into their relationship and its decidedly murky prospects; he starts to see her crosswords as secret messages. Wikipedia; NYT


    • Wikipedia: 1990s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 10: 1990s Sony Playstation; GPS-Guided Munitions; Linux; MP3 Player; RQ-1 Predator Drone; Oklahoma City Bombing; Photoshop; The Internet (web); Dark Energy; Women's Soccer; Web Design; venture capitalist (John Doerr); 1/25/2013
    • Paleofuture: 1990s

    CROSSWORDS: 2000s

    CROSSWORDS: 2000s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:42


    • lisa2002: CrozzWord (Steve's Zaurus app)
    • 2006: Wordplay (movie)
    • 2008: Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words (Simpson's episode)


    • 50th birthdayMonday: Now ... and Then NYT (daily) Crossword 50th Anniv. [.puz, .pdf]
    • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; 1.4 (TV series);
      Catherine: "You're right, you know. I should be just like you. Alone in my hermetically-sealed condo watching Discovery on the big screen, working genius-level crossword puzzles, but no relationships. No chance any will slop over into a case."
      Grissom: "Technically, it's a townhouse. And the crosswords are advanced, not genius. But you're right. I'm deficient in a lot of ways. But I never screw up one of my cases with personal stuff."


    • zaurusSteve's CrozzWord application debuts on Zaurus
    • Marathon (movie); "Each year, single New Yorker Gretchen (Sara Paul) tries to complete as many crossword puzzles as possible during a 24-hour marathon session while riding the subway. By performing this strange ritual (a legacy from her mother), Gretchen seems to be railing against the meaningless cacophany of city life. Though seemingly senseless, Gretchen's annual gesture speaks volumes about imposing personal order on the random dice throw that is daily life."
    • A Star-Guarded Coronation (song) (video; 5:17) by Vintersorg, album Visions from the Spiral Generator; lyrics: "A star-guarded coronation / Over the crossword's profound and royal thrones"
    • Happy at Last (song) (video; 2:49) by Josh Joplin, album The Future That Was; MayasMix @ 47:43
      lyrics: "I'm not as smart as a Sunday Times crossword puzzle / Big words get me into trouble"
    • Hiccups (song) (video; 4:03) by Darren Hanlon, album Hiccups;
      lyrics: "Some day without trying you'll find something that's rare / Like an eight letter word on a triple word square
      A thousand ideas I try to tell crossword girl / How do I get one across when you're always too down?
      And if things get hard will you throw in the pen? / But if you are unsure you can pencil it in"



    • Crossword Puzzle Blues (song) by Steve Mardon, album Critic's Darling; lyrics: "All you offer me is cryptic clues...You came here on a Sunday, dressed in black and white / I'm just another fool / Livin' with the crossword puzzle blues (break out the White Out) / Livin' with the crossword puzzle blues (where's my thesaurus)"
    • Word Wars (movie) "In this character-driven documentary, filmmakers Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo follow four 'word nerds' through their fastidious preparations and smaller tournaments that lead to the national championship Scrabble tournament in San Diego in 2002. Our favorite contender: Joel Sherman, a true dork with acid reflux trouble (he constantly quaffs Maalox) and no other discernable job besides playing Scrabble."
    • Sideways movie; early on, the hero, Miles (Paul Giamatti), does the Times crossword puzzle while driving his Saab on the San Diego Freeway
    • These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach; book; renamed "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" in in 2012; Norman delights in filling in the crosswords in ink so no one can erase his answers and start afresh.


    • Wordplay (song) (video; 3:08) (wikipedia) by Jason Mraz, album Mr. A-Z;
      lyrics: "I am the wizard of ooh's and ah's and fa-la-la's / Yeah the Mister A to Z / They say I'm all about the wordplay"
    • Everyday (song) (video; 6:44) by Authority Zero, album Rhythm and Booze;
      lyrics: "These masses of confrontation beating me down / I'm picking at the pieces to put them all back into place
      A never ending crossword of questions collaborates / While asking myself, where are we going in time?"
    • Crossword (song) by Helen Slater, album Crossword; MayasMix @ 05:35
    • The Perfect Man movie; review: "What constitutes the perfect man according to this ill-conceived hokum is not someone with a burning inner soul, deep compassion or romance oozing from every pore. No, the clue that poor Jean's lifelong search for the ideal companion is finally over is based on the fact that the man in question fills in crosswords with pen."


    • wordplayWordPlay (movie): "WordPlay follows New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz, his fans and contributors, and champion solvers at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, exposing the madness and mirth behind this not-so-puzzling national obsession."
    • Every Word (song) (video; 2:41) by Gary Louris (from WordPlay); MayasMix @ 94:08; lyrics: "You know every word is made up of letters / Made up of letters / Made up of letters"
    • Bananagrams (game)
    • Simple Man (song) by John Corbett, album: John Corbett; lyrics: "Crossword's on the table, coffee in the cup / She finds another word for waiting as he pulls into the drive ? / And she's working on that crossword, fightin' back a smile / Find another word for sober, let him sit out there a while"
    • Mozartian Crossword (classical) (video; 8:08) by Jill Teml; MayasMix @ 11:50
    • Crossword (song) (video; 3:41) by Bleak, album Burns Inside;
      lyrics: "I couldn't solve her / God and our hearts cried / Together, as I let my air out / Like a crossword / Like a crossword / You are to me"



    • simpsons annotatedThe Simpsons: "Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words" (TV episode):
      "Lisa discovers that she has a talent for solving crossword puzzles, and she enters a crossword tournament. Lisa's feelings are hurt when she discovers that Homer bet against her in the championship match... Crossword puzzle creators Merl Reagle and Will Shortz guest star as themselves...One of the few successful moments Gil Gunderson has enjoyed is when he won a crossword contest, but only because he fooled Lisa by making her take his glasses, which he didn't actually need."
    • Lollapuzzoola a crossword-solving tournament with a more tongue-in-cheek, freeform style, launches in Jackson Heights, New York
    • Cross Words (movie): "On his 50th birthday, George, an arrogant, agoraphobic, crossword puzzle maker is mistaken for dead... and he must crash his own funeral to learn how to live."
    • Burn Notice (TV series); "In the world of intelligence, if an operative hands you a crossword puzzle, chances are, you just received a coded message." ~Michael Westen
    • Mon-Sun NYT Crosswords (songs; .mp3) by John Schnall; MayasMix @ 79:49



    • Wikipedia: 2000s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 11: 2000s iPhone; Human Genome; Instagram; Rise of the Drones; Hadoop (search server software); Connected Cars; Sep. 11th; Nintendo Wii; Apple (design); Doping (sports); Facebook; Social Media; 2/1/2013

    CROSSWORDS: 2010s

    CROSSWORDS: 2010s webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:44


    • 100th anniv2011: CROSSWORDS and YOU (this course)
    • 2013: 100th anniversary of Arthur Wynne's "word-cross", with many commemorative puzzles


    • rubiconiPad and mobile crossword apps
    • Rubicon (TV show): Episode 1: Will Travers, an intelligence analyst at the American Policy Institute (API), spots related crossword puzzle [Java] answers in multiple newspapers involving the government, suicides, conspiracies, ...
    • A Way With Words (song) (video; 5:49) by Amanda Yesnowitz and Brian Cimmet at ACPT 2010:
      article & lyrics: "I love words. I love words. I love glorious, uproarious, notorious words
      Wouldn't that be natural for someone like me -- A dame whose name goes literally from A to Z."
    • Monday's Crossword (song) by Drew Citron, album Drew Citron; MayasMix @ 68:50
    • Crossword (jazz) by Crossover Jazz Trio & Tino Tracanna, album 3 Words; MayasMix @ 03:20
    • Crossword (movie): "On a significant day in her life, a lonely woman who finds solace in the daily crossword finds that the answers to the clues are all around her. Is it magic, coincidence or something else entirely?"









    • Wikipedia: 2010s
    • The Decades That Invented the Future: Part 12: The Present and Beyond Discovery of Earth's Twin planet; Autonomous Cars; Wearable Technology; Growing the Visual Funnel (optics); Wide-Area Surveillance; AR (augmented reality), 3D printing; device convergence; Internet Memes; Kim Dotcom; Prosthetic Athletics; "Pluto Switch" (specialized hardware); Healthcare; 2/8/2013

    CROSSWORDS: Future

    CROSSWORDS: Future webadmin Sun, 07/06/2014 - 19:17


    • future present past xwordNew puzzle styles?
    • Digital vs. paper?
    • [Refs]: "Down but Not Out: The Uncertain Future of the Crossword Puzzle"
    • [Refs]: "Crosswords at a Crossroad: The Puzzle Turns 100. What Is the Clue to Its Survival?"



    CROSSWORDS: History: General References

    CROSSWORDS: History: General References webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 08:46




    CROSSWORDS: Practice

    CROSSWORDS: Practice webadmin Sun, 03/04/2012 - 13:11



    • crosswords hintsWe will solve and discuss one or more puzzles together (on screen) during each session (except the final movie session in the regular, non-practicum course).
    • These puzzles will be appropriate in difficulty for class ability & interest -- Examples below
    • We'll use a crossword application like:
    • Crosswords for iPad, ?; [slideshow] (above right)
    • Across Lite free; for Macintosh, Windows, iPad; [slideshow] (below right)
    • across lite downloadI generally do not run web-based puzzle apps, due to differing user interfaces, and insecure plugin platforms, e.g., Flash or Java.
    • Clues can be followed in any order. However, to minimize jumping around and group confusion, we'll generally work together on the same area of the puzzle, focus on the same clues, and fill-in a consensus answer -- or skip to nearby clues if we seem stuck.
    • The solving emphasis will be on learning and fun -- rather than on perfection and speed. The more experienced among us should refrain from answering for a few seconds to allow others to consider the clues.
    • We'll cover specific techniques and tips under Solving Strategies more systematically later.
    • I'll highlight interesting clues or themes. We might refer to blogs for further explanations, e.g., NYT WordPlay, WEB's NYT Crosswords
    • If you enjoy this kind of group practice, check the OLLI catalog for my Crossword Practicum: a Practice-only courses for Intermediate-level solvers -- and let me know that you're interested.


    In addition to the puzzle sites below, there are many more listed under CROSSWORDS: Sources: Web Sites.


    "More Difficult"

    "Most Difficult"

    Shortz's Favorites

    • 11 Remarkable Crosswords for New Solvers ready to conquer The New York Times Crossword? Here's a sampling -- hand-picked by Will Shortz -- to get you started; 2/14/2017
    • 5 examples from Will Shortz's Favorite Crossword Puzzles from The New York Times St. Martin's Griffin, 2002
    • dog doneJan. 28, 2002 (Monday) by Sarah Keller; [.puz]; Will Shortz says: "Here's proof that a crossword doesn't have to be hard to be exceptional. Besides the four basic theme answers in the longest spaces in the grid, look for four 'bonus' theme-related entries in shorter spots."
    • Oct. 31, 2000 (Tuesday) by Bill Zais; [.puz]; Will Shortz says: "This puzzle's clever theme is signaled by the highlighted letters in the middle of the grid. For the constructor to get all these multi-checked letters to work could not have been easy."
    • May 23, 2001 (Wednesday) by Alan Arbesfeld; [.puz]; Will Shortz says: "The secret of this puzzle's theme is revealed at 62- and 16-Across. The theme itself appears in the six longest Across answers. That's a lot of theme material, with a crackerjack construction besides."
    • crossword pencil guyMay 8, 1997 (Thursday) by David J. Kahn; [.puz]; Will Shortz says: "David Kahn never makes an ordinary puzzle, but this one is truly exceptional. Every theme answer (four horizontal and two vertical) interlocks with at least one other, and the answer at 7-Down gives a playful explanation of what these six have in common."
    • Sept. 29, 2000 (Friday) by Bob Klahn; [.puz]; Will Shortz says: "This themeless 68-word puzzle contains ten 15-letter answers spanning the grid, with 8-Down intersecting the nine going across. As typical with Bob Klahn, he spices up the puzzle with lively vocabulary, and the grid doesn't have a single unnecessary black square."

    CROSSWORDS: Terminology & Types

    CROSSWORDS: Terminology & Types webadmin Tue, 01/18/2011 - 18:27


    • taxesCrosswords vary widely
    • by difficulty, size and shape
    • by language
    • by style: free-form, themed, rebus, barred, cipher, diagramless, fill-in, etc.
    • There are different kinds of clues, grids, authors, publishers, formats.
    • There are many word puzzles / games besides crosswords.
    • Puzzle Mania! Will Shortz's Inside Look podcast: 11:25; special 12/18 16 pp. section: 50x50 NYT crossword (728 clues); Sudoku; Acrostics; Word games; Visual puzzles; 12/16/2016


    clockpuzzle, word puzzle
    "a problem or enigma that tests the ingenuity of the solver"
    "the study of all that puzzles" ~Will Shortz his self-designed major at Indiana Univ.
    "word puzzle that normally takes the form of a square or rectangular grid of white and shaded squares. Squares in which answers begin are usually numbered. The clues are then referred to by these numbers and a direction."
    french gridAfrikaans: blokkiesraaisel
    Dutch: kruiswoordraadsel
    French: mots croises (grilles)
    German: kreuzwortratsel
    Italian: cruciverba
    Latin: crucivocabulorum
    Portuguese: palavras cruzadas
    valentine crucigramaSpanish: crucigrama
    Swedish: korsord
    Turkish: bulmaca
    90+ languages via Google Translate: "crossword"; 51+ languages via Bing translator, incl. Klingon!
    How to Say Crossword in Different Languages
    Crosswords in other languages examples; 5/29/2013
    Wikipedia: crosswords in other languages, cryptics in other languages; crossword orthography


    cluelessstraight or quick
    usually simple definitions; maybe anagrams; rules/conventions;
    themes (category; quotes; puns; commemoration; rebus); indirect?
    e.g., UK cryptics. "clues are puzzles in themselves. A typical clue contains a definition at the beginning or end of the clue, and wordplay, which describes the word indicated by the definition, and which may not parse logically, but should be grammatical."
    double-clue lists
    choose between straight or cryptic clues
    Fill In The ___
    an answer that any player will get easily, e.g., 'Lincoln's nickname' in three letters


    black whitewhite cells
    or lights
    checked, keyed or crossed
    "A white cell that is part of two entries (both Across and Down);
    a white cell that is part of only one entry is called unchecked, unkeyed or uncrossed." (uncommon in US puzzles)
    3Dblack squares
    or darks, blanks, blocks, shaded squares
    entries or answers
    "horizontal and vertical lines of white cells into which answers are written"

    Grid Size, Shape, Style

    american gridAmerican-style (US) grid
    solid areas of white squares; every letter checked; symmetry (180-degree rotational)
    Wikipedia: New York Times (NYT)
    Why are crossword puzzles symmetric?
    crossword for morons 1 squaregrid sizes
    mini: 5x5, e.g., NYT
    weekday: usually 15x15
    weekend: 21x21, 23x23
    jumbo: 27x27
    foreign: rectangular
    custom shapes, e.g., maps, tree, heart, etc.
    british gridBritish-style (UK) grid
    lattice-like structure; more shaded and unchecked squares; symmetry (180-degree rotational)
    Wikipedia: Cryptic
    french gridFrance, Italy
    crosswords are smaller than English-language crosswords, and not necessarily square
    they need not be symmetric and two-letter words are allowed
    Italian crosswords are usually oblong and larger than French ones
    japanese gridJapan
    shaded cells may not share a side; the corner squares must be white
    one syllable (typically katakana) rather than one letter is entered into each white cell
    swedish gridSweden
    no clue numbers; shaded cells are often replaced by boxes with clues (arrows, photos)
    crisscrossfree-form crosswords (criss-cross or vocabulary puzzles)
    simple, non symmetric designs. Grids forming shapes other than squares are also occasionally used.
    barredbarred crosswords
    use bold lines between squares (instead of shaded squares) to separate answers
    essentially four small puzzles joined in the center by a few letters. Each quadrant needs to be solved separately. example
    circular designs
    circular crosswordanswers entered either radially or in concentric circles
    codewordcipher crosswords / codewords
    "clues for each white cell of the grid - an integer from 1 to 26 inclusive is printed in the corner of each. The objective, as any other crossword, is to determine the proper letter for each cell; in a cipher crossword, the 26 numbers serve as a cipher for those letters: cells that share matching numbers are filled with matching letters, and no two numbers stand for the same letter. All resultant entries must be valid words. Usually, at least one number's letter is given at the outset. English-language cipher crosswords are nearly always pangrammatic." example
    diagramlessdiagramless, skeleton
    "the grid offers overall dimensions, but the locations of most of the clue numbers and shaded squares are unspecified. A solver must deduce not only the answers to individual clues, but how to fit together partially built-up clumps of answers into larger clumps with properly-set shaded squares."
    crusadexfill-in, crusadex
    "a grid and the full list of words to be entered in that grid, but does not give explicit clues for where each word goes. The challenge is figuring out how to integrate the list of words together within the grid so that all intersections of words are valid."

    Difficulty, Themes

    already solved crosswords"commuter" crossword
    usually "quick and easy" clues Mon-Fri; often < NYT Mon
    increasing difficulty, e.g., NYT, LAT
    Mon, Tue: 'easiest'
    Wed: 'medium difficulty'
    Thu: 'more difficult'
    Fri, Sat: 'most difficult' -- usually themeless
    Sun: like 'hard Wed' or 'easy Thu' but larger (21x21)
    seven (Mon-Sun) songs inspired by NYT Crossword puzzle difficulty (.mp3)
    crosswordese mugcrosswordese
    "words frequently found in crossword puzzles but seldom found in everyday conversation", e.g., SERE, OLIO, OMOO, ULEE, ETUI, ANOA, YSER, ERN, ERNE, NENE; fewer in 'better' puzzles; more lists under Solving: Vocabulary
    e.g., NYT Fri & Sat; Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
    crossword in which several (usually longer) entries share some relationship, type of pun, or other element in common, e.g., category, quotation, rebus, commemorative event; hints to theme are often found in puzzle title, and in marked clues (e.g., *, ?, CAPS) or special clues (e.g., 'the theme is'; 'marked clues share'); List of theme categories and examples
    type of puzzle in which a square can be filled in with a sequence of letters, or a digit or picture/symbol
    we'll see examples during Solving: Discover the Theme
    alphabet soupholoalphabetic
    denoting a grid in which all of the letters of the alphabet appear. Sometimes "pangram" is used synonymously -- though this may be incorrect. "A holoalphabetic crossword without an ulterior purpose is like a can of Campbell's alphabet soup ('oh, let me see if they are all there'). What it is not is a 'pangram' -- an overused misnomer of crossword bloggers. A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet. A holoalphabetic crossword allows the construction of a pangram." ~NYT Crossword in Gothic
    acptAmerican Crossword Puzzle Tournament
    oldest/largest US crossword puzzle tournament; official ACPT site 2005 tournament featured in 2006 movie WordPlay
    World Puzzle Championship
    animated election puzzle"quantum" (or Schrödinger) crossword
    simultaneously has 2 states


    acronym for The New York Times, the newspaper that has, arguably more than any other, set the standards for American-style crosswords. Other respected crosswords: LAT = Los Angeles Times; WSJ = The Wall Street Journal; WP = The Washington Post
    offering reprint rights and granting permissions to other parties for republishing content. "The New York Times crossword puzzle is a daily puzzle found in The New York Times and online at the paper's website. It is also syndicated to over 300 other newspapers and journals." There is usually a time lag before 'current' NYT puzzle appears in other papers (Mail Tribune: Sun =+1 week); Oregonian: daily =+5 weeks); 6 weeks for some online sites; longer for printed puzzle books and calendars.
    crossword authors; US: "constructors"; non-US: "setters", "compilers"
    will shortzeditor
    responsible for selecting and editing crossword puzzles, e.g., moderate the clues so they match the desired degree of difficulty for that day of the week; this can involve significant changes to words or grid
    across lite.puz
    Across Lite file format created by Litsoft that contains the puzzle: title, author, grid, clues, guesses, solution, notes
    .puz files provided by some newspaper sites (NYT in 1996), opened by applications such as Across Lite, Crosswords, ...details: text format, binary format
    to convert a crossword puzzle into the Across Lite (.puz) format, so it can be solved on a computer (after "Litsoft")

    Other Word Puzzles

    alphabet soup diceWikipedia: Word board games; Word games; Word puzzles
    see also game shows under History
    acrostic; How Acrostic Puzzles Work; Quiz
    Alpha Omega unscramble each puzzle with only first and last letters as your guide
    crossnumbercross-figure, crossnumber: "numerical analogy of a crossword [or fill-in], in which the solutions to the clues are numbers instead of words. Clues are usually arithmetical expressions, but can also be general knowledge clues to which the answer is a number or year."
    crosswordoku; sample
    cryptogram; How Cryptograms Work; How Cryptoquotes Work
    Dabble Will Stretch Your Brain in New Ways combo Scrabble and crosswords; dabblegame.com; 4/15/2012
    jumble crosswordjumble; Jumble crosswords (Mail Tribune)
    kakuro: Cross-sums; kind of a combination of crossword and sudoku puzzles; How Kakuro Puzzles Work; Quiz
    NYT Op-Ed Puzzles
    palindrome; The Palindromist Magazine; palindromelist.net; thinks.com
    'Rise to Vote, Sir.' 'Now I Won!' World Palindrome Champion Crowned (at ACPT); 3/27/2012
    Puzzazz site
    Quiddler cross between Scrabble and the card game gin rummy; How Quiddler Works
    Can You Do The Regular Expression Crossword? from MIT Mystery Hunt; 2/12/2013
    scrabbleScrabble; How Scrabble Works; Scrabble variants
    He Showed Me His Tiles, So I Showed Him Mine 12/7/2017
    How 'Qi' And 'Za' Changed Scrabble 4/19/2018
    Tale Of How Woman Started Making Earrings Out Of Scrabble Tiles Even More Spellbinding Than Anticipated The Onion; 2/5/2016
    Dear Nigel Richards, Please Try Romanian Scrabble more words than French; 7/22/2015
    The French Scrabble champion who speaks no French Nigel Richards memorized French dictionary; 7/22/2015
    7 Incredible Things You Didn't Know About Professional Scrabble 6/17/2015
    Thousand of new words added to Scrabble dictionary lolz, shizzle, obvs, twerking, emoji, bezzy and ridic; quinzhee; onesie, devo, vape, and shootie; facetime, hashtag, and sexting; augh, blech, eew, grr, waah and yeesh; 5/21/2015
    Can New Words With Friends reignite your competitive pseudo-Scrabble addiction? 10/14/2014
    Who Owns Scrabble's Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company; players beg to differ; 9/30/2014
    W-I-N-N-E-R! Oregon man crowned Scrabble champ 8/13/2014
    What Makes Nigel Richards The Best Scrabble Player On Earth 8/8/2014
    Now You Can Use The Word 'Selfie' in Scrabble dictionary updated; 8/4/2014
    The Next Qi and Za Scrabble will let players pick its first new word in nine years; 3/13/2014
    National Scrabble Day: A Poem So You'll Know All 101 Two-Letter Words less relevant for crosswords where 3 letters is normal minimum; 4/13/2013
    How Words With Friends Beat Scrabble At Its Own Game 1/24/2012
    Str8ts logic-based number-placement puzzle
    txtperttxtpert: players decode numeric clues by referencing a telephone-style number pad. For example, the number 2 could be the letters A, B or C (letters found on the number 2 key). The clue for the word "CAT" would be the number 228 but those same numbers also spell out the word "BAT" or "ACT" (seen in USA Today; texting skills handy).
    You Should Play: W.E.L.D.E.R. kind of a cross between Boggle and Tetris; iOS; 8/24/2012
    word ladder


    on holdWikipedia: Crossword
    Word-Buff Glossary
    WordPuzzle Pro

    CROSSWORDS: Solving Strategies and Resources

    CROSSWORDS: Solving Strategies and Resources webadmin Mon, 01/17/2011 - 16:30


    • optimist crosswords in penLearn to recognize patterns, be creative and flexible; being born smart helps -- even though you can't change your parents
    • Multi-tasking and memorizing dictionaries are not necessary
    • Be confident -- maybe even use ink
    • How to Solve The New York Times Crossword excellent tutorial, examples; Deb Amlen; 11/2017



    CROSSWORDS: Choose Appropriate Difficulty

    CROSSWORDS: Choose Appropriate Difficulty webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:38


    • dog solvingChoose a level of difficulty appropriate for you
    • Balance challenge and frustration -- not too easy, not impossible
    • 'mini' (5x5) puzzle, e.g., NTYT; very easy
    • 'commuter' puzzle = same weekday difficulty, e.g., Mail Tribune, USA Today
    • NYT, LAT: Mon = 'easiest', ..., Sat = 'most difficult'; NYT Sun = ~'hard Wed / easy Thu'
    • "Saturday Stumper" (Newsday) even harder? or Cryptics for novices?
    • e.g., Monday-level clues: "Nabisco cookie,"" "Cookie with creme filling", "'Twist, Lick, Dunk' cookie"
    • e.g., Saturday-level clues: "Snack since 1912", "It has 12 flowers on each side", "Sandwich often given a twist"
    • You can make any puzzle easier, e.g., by asking a partner/friend or using tools (later)
    •    -- or harder, e.g., Crossword Golf (below)



    CROSSWORDS: Practice, Patience, Persistence, Perspective

    CROSSWORDS: Practice, Patience, Persistence, Perspective webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:41


    • burning tough crosswordsWith more practice, you'll get better over time.
    • When stuck, set a puzzle aside, take a break (or nap), and come back to it later.
    • When really stuck, search online using a clue, or use an app's "Reveal Word" feature -- to fill-in one answer. Now, can you make progress with crossings? Repeat as necessary



    CROSSWORDS: Clue/Puzzle Order

    CROSSWORDS: Clue/Puzzle Order webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:43


    • elevatorThere's no "right" sequence to read clues and solve a puzzle.
    • It's ok to skip ahead or change direction, or make multiple passes.
    • Fill 'easy' ("gimme") and FITB (Fill In The ___) answers first or if you get stuck.
    • After filling in a word, use those letters for crossing words (alternative between Across and Down).
    • You might have to undo/erase an answer that fits but doesn't work.
    • In more difficult puzzles, sometimes the answer may be entered in a different direction, e.g., backwards, upwards, or taking a turn.



    CROSSWORDS: Acquire Vocabulary, Knowledge

    CROSSWORDS: Acquire Vocabulary, Knowledge webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:46


    • C-A-TMore than one word might satisfy the definition, especially if ambiguous; use crossing entries to eliminate possibilities.
    • The answer may be a phrase, rather than a single word -- if so, plural or verb tense (present, past, infinitive, gerund) in clue might affect the phrase at (or before) its end
    • Language of the clue, e.g., Latin, Spanish, almost always indicates language of answer.
    • catatonic retiredRead a lot; learn vocabulary, (vowel-heavy) 'repeaters' (e.g., area, aria, oreo), and 'crosswordese' ("words frequently found in crossword puzzles but seldom found in everyday conversation" but usually rarer in 'better' puzzles) -- by osmosis or from lists
    • Also know what you (usually) will not find: profanity, sad or disturbing topics, or overly explicit answers -- the so-called "breakfast test"
    • Recognize letter sequences: tictactoe (O,X), 'alphabetic trio', Roman numerals, time zones, acronyms, author's or president's initials, compass dir., phone keypad, cable networks, etc.
    • [Refs]: "Ebola Invades 'The New York Times' Sunday Crossword"
    • [Refs]: "Cruciverbal Cheat Sheets"
    • [Refs: Crosswordese]: "Crosswordese 101 Summary"



    Vocabulary: OREO

    Vocabulary: Crosswordese

    CROSSWORDS: Decode Clues

    CROSSWORDS: Decode Clues webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:48



    Some Interesting Clues I've Collected

    An Annotated Example

    • NYT 1/23/2011 puzzle(blank): [.pdf]; solution: [.pdf] neat, [.pdf] handwritten
    • FITBFITB (Fill In The Blank): 32-A, 36-A, 79-A, 85-A (!), 97-A, 128-A, 2-D, 9-D, 11-D, 41-D, 87-D, 95-D*, 121-D
    • first name: 1-A, 39-A, 65-A, 67-A, 96-A, 101-A, 118-A, 8-D, 66-D ('familiarly'), 116-D
    • last name: 24-A, 89-A, 5-D, 9-D, 58-D
    • *-prefix (theme answers): 6-A, 12-A, 17-A, ...
    • abbrev. BLTplurals: 22-A, 47-D ('they'); 42-A&45-A (repetition); 61-A ('and the like'); 8-D ('and others'); 37-D ('array');
      28-D, 81-D, 86-D ('?'); 31-A, 46-A, 59-A, 71-A, 124-A, 1-D, 3-D, 16-D, 27-D, 33-D, 46-D, 60-D ('-s')
    • abbrev./acronym: 28-A ('briefly'), 100-A ('Vette); 105-A, 70-D, 85-D ('org.'); 10-D ('sch.'); 23-D ('Trig'); 33-D ('R.N.s'); 81-D ('letters'); 96-D ('acronym'); 112-D ('abbr.'); 82-A, 94-D (?)
    • cupsingular: ('when repeated'); prefix: 74-A, 114-A; tense: 50-A ('-ed'), 35-D ('took'), 99-D ('-ing')
    • adverb/adjective: 18-A, 126-A, 21-D, 51-D, 78-D, 79-D, 105-D
    • literal: 22-A(año), 42-A & 45-A ('N N N'); refs to other clues: 61-A
    • pop culture/music: 1-A, 24-A, 26-A, 29-A, 36-A, 39-A, 65-A, 67-A, 88-A, 96-A, 101-A, 122-A, 127-A, 8-D, 9-D, 13-D, 38-D, 40-D, 42-D, 54-D, 66-D, 73-D, 77-D, 92-D, 116-D, 117-D
    • literary (2 Shakespeare!): 32-A, 2-D, 5-D, 52-D; slang/current: 38-A, 85-A, 104-A, 7-D, 92-D, 109-D
    • geographical/historical/political: 12-A, 29-A, 89-A, 118-A, 9-D, 14-D, 68-D, 70-D, 87-D, 102-D
    • roman numeralsRoman numerals: 78-A
    • math/science: 12-A, 23-D, 58-D, 64-D, 87-D, 111-D
    • crosswordese: 62-A ('as is'?), 96-A ('Ara'), 28-D ('A-one')
    • languages: Spanish: 30-A, 63-A; French: 59-A, 103-A; Greek: 42-A; Latin: 86-D; (?): 93-A ('whence the word')
    • compass heading: 48-D
    • runpuns: 76-A ('carrying a toon')
    • ambiguity: 31-A ('winds'), 34-A ('touch'), 49-A ('slant'), 68-A ('hood'), 69-A ('shocker'), 90-A ('King'), 98-A ('Numbers'), 116-A ('don't get it'), 114-A ('opening'), 124-A ('homes'), 125-A ('house'), 1-D ('heads'), 6-D ('party'), 15-D ('in a way'), 12-D & 16-D ('pointer(s)'), 28-D ('tops'), 32-D ('prone'), 43-D ('hitch'), 47-D ('keys'), 57-D ('opening'), 81-D ('letters'), 106-D ('bit'), 115-D ('revealing'), 119-D ('straight')


    CROSSWORDS: Discover the Theme

    CROSSWORDS: Discover the Theme webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:50


    • ahaWikipedia: "Many American crossword puzzles contain a 'theme' consisting of a number of long entries (generally three to five in a standard 15x15-square 'weekday'-size puzzle) that share some relationship, type of pun, or other element in common. Examples:
    • category theme, where the theme elements are all members of the same set;
    • quote themes, featuring a famous quote broken up into parts to fit in the grid (and usually clued as 'Quote, part 1',...);
    • rebus themes, where multiple letters or even symbols occupy a single square in the puzzle (e.g., BERMUDA?);
    • pun-based themes (perhaps the most common), where all the answers are similar puns;
    • commemorative themes, based on a particular event or person (often published on an appropriate anniversary)."
    • cruciverb.com: List of theme categories and examples: Additions; Alliterations; Anagram / Scramble; Antonyms; Bookends; Category Members; Combined Types; Complete The Clue; Compounds; Containers; Definitions; Deletions; Designated Squares; Direction change; Double/Triple Letters; Feature Letter(s); Grid design; Holidays and Special Occasions; Homophones; Jokes / Riddles; Language / Accent; Mini theme; Pairs / Triplets / nTuplets; Palindromes; Positional; Proper Name Play; Punchlines; Puns; Quips and Quotes; Rebus; Redivision; Repetition; Reversals; Rhyme; Sequence; Shared Centers; Shared Initials; Shift; Spoonerisms; Stacked 15s; String / Chain; Substitutions; Switch; Synonyms; Tribute; 4Verse
    • Does puzzle have a Title?
    • Do long (esp. across) answers have 'marked' clues (?, *, CAPS), or contain circles in grid?
    • Specific clue 'explaining' the theme? (often later in clue list)
    • Author: puns (Reagle); age (literature, history, slang references); etc.
    • rebusAnswers not fitting (esp. on Thu or Sun): extra letters, or numbers; rebus?
    • Adding/removing a letter or letter sequence from/to all of the theme entries
    • Grid pattern; insets or circled letters
    • palindromeAnswer or some words reversed; palindrome; malapropism; spoonerism
    • Use crossing words to figure out 1 or 2 longer answers;
      if you recognize a pattern, test/apply your theme hypothesis on other likely theme answers
    • How to Solve The New York Times Crossword What Is A Theme? Why Is There A Theme? Where Is There A Theme? Rebus: mini; 11/2017



    • HSW 4: Figure Out the Theme; Wonder 3. Work out Crossword Themes
    • Yes, You Can Write More Than One Letter in a Square rebus; 6/1/2017
    • Become a Crossword Super Solver by Will Johnston Themes; [.pdf; p1]; 1/19/2010
    • examples below (earlier NYT Sun 1/23/2011, plus other recent puzzles I've solved) are organized by day of week (Fri and Sat usually don't have themes), and then by date
      • click on date/title link for solution (and even more clues & answers) and clue discussion -- if available
      • click on [.puz] link -- if available; $ indicates subscription required (e.g., NYT)
      • spoiler alert! click on [theme]= to reveal details about the theme (using cruciverb categories above); * suffix indicates non-constant addition/rebus.
        "various" for lists of puzzles; "theme" indicates I haven't yet filled it in...
      • spoiler alert! click on any "clue"= to reveal the answer ignore spaces & punctuation; except: older browsers
    • examples (below): Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri,Sat | Sun





    Friday, Saturday

    • Usually themeless (and very hard!)...
    • NYT; Fri, 9/29/2000; [.puz]; Will Shortz says (why 1 of 5 favorites): "This themeless 68-word puzzle contains ten 15-letter answers spanning the grid, with 8-Down intersecting the nine going across. As typical with Bob Klahn, he spices up the puzzle with lively vocabulary, and the grid doesn't have a single unnecessary black square."
    • NYT; Fri, 3/11/2005; from "Five Unforgettable Puzzles" (WordPlay DVD pamphlet); [.puz$]: at the time, set record for fewest (19) black squares


    CROSSWORDS: Use Tools: Search, Dictionaries

    CROSSWORDS: Use Tools: Search, Dictionaries webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:56





    Web Sites

    CROSSWORDS: Debrief via Blogs, Discuss in Forums

    CROSSWORDS: Debrief via Blogs, Discuss in Forums webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 15:58


    • shakespeareReading blogs and forum comments by expert solvers can provide insights about clues and themes, often including the entire solution, if you get really stuck
    • Available for newer, 'major' puzzles, e.g., NYT, LAT, Reagle
    • For other puzzles, search for "crossword", including one or more clues, with maybe title, date, author


    • 4 letter word for blog xwordAbout WordPlay (blog):...


    CROSSWORDS: References: General Solving, Cryptic, AI

    CROSSWORDS: References: General Solving, Cryptic, AI webadmin Fri, 03/09/2012 - 16:02


    Themeless, Cryptics

    Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    CROSSWORDS: Puzzle Sources

    CROSSWORDS: Puzzle Sources webadmin Sat, 01/15/2011 - 15:10



    • longest crossword booknewspapers, magazines, puzzle books
    • also, printing, .pdf from Applications, Web Sites [below]
    • + no training; familiar
    • + portable
    • + no batteries required
    • wall puzzle+ recyclable
    • - reading glasses, lamp, pen(cil) and/or eraser may be needed
    • - dead trees, delivery trucks


    Web Sites


    • nytweb browser with an interactive, embedded player and/or downloadable files
    • + largest number & widest variety of puzzles;
      many newspaper puzzles appear online, e.g., Mail Tribune (Universal); SF Chronicle#1 (LA Times);
      Oregonian #1 (Williams Square), #2 (NYT); Daily Tidings, SF Chronicle#2 (Tulsa World);
      these print puzzles may differ from those offered on newspaper's web site (if any)
    • + save or download puzzle for later?
    • + print, .pdf files?
    • - different user interfaces for sites & embedded players; less customizable
    • - advertising
    • - online connection
    • - if Flash or Java plugin used, security risk/updates or not avail. on all platforms, i.e., iOS
    • [section: Web Sites]




    • desktop and mobile apps to access and solve puzzles
    • crosswords ipad+ download, import, sync puzzles from variety of sources
    • + offline use, save progress
    • + consistent, customizable user interface (vs. multiple web sites)
    • + grid size/layout, font size?
    • + linked clues, e.g., see n-Across
    • + timers; social integration; fastest solvers?
    • + pen/pencil mode
    • + hints; dictionary/search integration?
    • across lite+ printing?
    • - something new to learn
    • - cost (for some; AL free)
    • [section: Applications]


    Which to Use?

    • steve ipadIt will depend, of course, on the number, variety and difficulty of puzzles that you'd like to solve, places where you do puzzles, convenience, features desired, comfort level with computers and web sites, etc.
    • Here's what I (Steve) am currently using ("Your mileage may vary")


    • [daily/weekly] Crosswords (iPad): Brendan Quiqley; Chron. of Higher Ed.; Crossword Nation; MacNamara's Band; LA Times*; Newsday; NYT ($); Reagle*; iPad stores 1000s of puzzles, large screen, portable, excellent battery life
    • [occasionally] authoring: Crossword Compiler (Windows app on Mac via Parallels Desktop (VM); formerly via CrossOver); export .puz; generate interactive & .pdf


    • save paper trees[monthly] download *LA Times [.puz] on iPad; save in Crosswords (app) which doesn't access them directly; or download to desktop and print with Across Lite
    • [monthly] download *Reagle (4 current puzzles) to Crosswords, and [.pdf], print
    • [occasionally] download and print CodeWords


    • [daily] Mail Tribune -- sometimes after first pass by spouse
    • crosswordmug.com[monthly] crosswordmug.com "Don't Just Do the Puzzle OVER a Cup of Coffee -- Do It ON Your Cup of Coffee"; $10.98 @ Shop N Kart; print clues & .pdf template (to avoid writing on/erasing mug...)
    • [weekly/monthly] Mail Tribune: Sun (NYT); magazines: AARP; The Week
    • [monthly] print puzzles (LAT, Reagle; Codewords; KenKen; Sudoku; Numbrix; ...) for gym bag, car and breakfast table

    References: Paper

    CROSSWORDS: Sources: Web Sites

    CROSSWORDS: Sources: Web Sites webadmin Thu, 01/20/2011 - 11:53


    • nytWhy do sites provide puzzles? joy of sharing; advertising/referrals: sell custom puzzles, services, books, tshirts; benefit for paper subscribers; current, premium or additional puzzles, etc.
    • If you are easily overwhelmed, you might want to start with these puzzle sites, selected from the longer table (below).
    • LA Times (LAT) (create free account)
    • NY Times (NYT) (some free; $)
    • Newsday
    • Reagle, Merl (4 recent; free)
    • Universal (same as Mail Tribune Mo-Sa)
    • Steve's puzzles
    • Washington Post


    Downloading Files

    • browsersThere are thousands of web sites where you can print, download or interactively play crosswords. The summary table below lists some of the 'better', 'major' (mostly US) crossword sites, along with several 'List' sites which catalog many more recommended sites. You can discover even more sites on your own by searching, e.g., Google "crossword"; however, it's best to add a particular topic or theme to limit the results, and of course, use safe browsing and computing practices when visiting any site.
    • If you want to download .pdf files for printing later, or .puz files for interactive use in a crossword application, here is a brief refresher on downloading files via your browser:
    1. file linkfind file to download from text description or file (link);
      e.g., NYT 'Classic', Reagle (Sun); LAT;
    2. with cursor, check suffix (.puz, .pdf) in status/location bar; e.g., in Firefox
    3. right-click (Macintosh: ctrl-click) the description (link)
      note: what happens after a (normal) left-click depends on the settings in your browser:
      will it use a browser plugin or helper app to open the file, save file to Downloads folder, or prompt you?
      If file displays in a browser window or tab, use your browser's File: Save As command.
    4. download puzin browser's popup menu, select "Save/Download" command
      • Firefox (example screenshot at right): Save Link As...
      • Safari: Download Linked File As...
      • Chrome: Save Link As...
      • Internet Explorer: Save Target As...
    5. choose location (folder) to save file
    6. open file in appropriate application (double click file, or right-click: Open With), e.g., .pdf with Adobe Acrobat; .puz with Across Lite
    7. solve and enjoy!

    Web Sources

    Source Formats Features
    • alphabetically by site name, newspaper, author/editor or [syndicate]
    • a site should work with any web browser/computer, subject to Format requirements
    • over time, sites may change puzzle providers or formats, restrict access (e.g., subscribers only), or disappear -- check site lists of Johnston and Hamel
    • JavaScript (JS): available in most browsers
    • Java, Flash: browser support required; unavailable on some platforms, i.e., iOS
    • .puz: download file to Open later in an application, e.g., Across Lite, Crosswords
    • .pdf: download; requires PDF viewer app, i.e., Adobe (Acrobat) Reader or Preview (macOS); interactive app may provide a printable version
    • .gif, .jpg, .png: graphics file; print from your browser or an image application
    • CW: available directly via Crosswords app
    • site list: listing of other puzzle sites
    • availability/location of commands (e.g., Check, Reveal), and keyboard navigation (next clue; toggle between Across and Down) will vary for each site/puzzle app; read instructions
    • many sites allow printing from browser and include solutions
    • many sites limit puzzle availability: 1 week - 1 month archive; print or online access lag
    • additional links may be provided for other formats and puzzles
    • many sites are free; a few premium(subscription) sites, e.g., NYT, Telegraph
    • some sites may not display well (or at all) on smaller devices -- see Applications
    about.com Java, .puz, .pdf Acrostics, Cryptic, Diagramless, Easy, Foreign Language,
    Kids, NYT (Easy: M,T,W), Newspaper, Standard
    American Crossword Puzzle Tournament site list # sites: online: 22; American: 13; Cryptic: 21;
    Crisscross: 9; Kids: 4; non-English: 31
    Try/time yourself on 8 tournament puzzles! 2006: free; 2008-2017: $20/year; Java required; Win/Mac
    Ashland Daily Tidings NA (not avail on paper's site?) paper: Mon-Sat: Tulsa World [United]?
    Boston Globe [Universal] Flash Sun: [.puz]; 2012 Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, eds.
    ChrisWords .puz, .pdf, CW Sun; Chris King
    Chronicle of Higher Education .puz, CW Fri; Patrick Berry, ed.
    Cruciverb list .puz (LAT, WashPost); sites; blogs
    Gaffney, Matt Java; .puz?; CW M-F
    Guardian (UK) JS Quick, Cryptic, Quiptic, Genius, ...
    Hamel, Ray site list # sites: Daily: 47; Weekly: 26; Monthly: 16
    non-English: 54; Other: 195 -- no longer updated
    Independent (UK) image; CW Concise; Cryptic
    Inkwell Java; CW Fri: [.puz]; 2012 Ben Tausig, ed.
    Johnston, Will site list # sites: US: 17; Cryptic: 14
    WJ: [.puz] themed; themeless; cryptic
    Jonesin' Java; CW Thu: [.puz] Matt Jones
    Joseph [King] JS, .pdf; CW Thomas Joseph
    Klahn, Bob [CrossSynergy] .puz, .gif, Java
    LA Times Flash, .puz; CW* [.puz] (via browse) (create free account);
    Rich Norris & Joyce Nichols Lewis, eds.
    paper: San Francisco Chronicle #1
    +Sun [Flash] same as Merl Reagle
    Mail Tribune image page reproduction;
    Mon-Sat: [Universal];
    Sun: [NYT]; JumbleCrosswords
    New York Times [NYT] JS, .puz; CW daily: "Premium" $7/mo; $40/yr (less for digital/paywall subscribers)
    Classic; Learning Network (~Wed)
    5 free puzzles; articles
    paper, e.g., (MT Sun: 1 week lag)
    about.com: ">Mo; Tu; We (archive; 2-6 year lag)
    The NYT brings its news -- and a mini crossword -- to Snapchat Discover 4/24/2017
    11 Remarkable Crosswords for New Solvers hand-picked samples by Will Shortz; 2/14/2017
    indexes: nytxword; xwordinfo$; by constructor
    1942-1993 from Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project
    paper: Mail Tribune (Sun; 1 week lag); Oregonian #2 (5 week lag)
    daily Seattle Times; (6 week lag; Java, .pdf; paywall?)
    Wordplay blog; Solving section: other blogs
    Newsday [Creator] Java; .pdf; CW Stanley Newman, ed.
    (Onion) AV Club .puz, .pdf; CW Wed: [.puz]; 2012 Ben Tausig, ed.
    Oregonian [King] JS, .pdf online: Joseph, Premier, Sheffer
    paper: #1 [Williams Square]; #2 [NYT]
    Piscop, Fred .puz same as MIstupid JS
    archives [.puz]: #1, #2
    Premier [King] JS, .pdf; CW Sun; Donna Stone
    Quigley, Brendan Emmett JS, .pdf, .puz; CW Bawdy Language
    Reagle, Merl JS; .pdf; CW* Sun: [.puz]; 2012; Phil. Inq.; unfortunately, Reagle died in 2015, so 'new' puzzles are from previous years
    refdesk.com site list # sites: 68
    San Francisco Chronicle [Universal] Flash paper: #1 (LA Times); #2: Tulsa World [United]
    Sheffer [King] JS, .pdf; CW Eugene Sheffer
    Telegraph (UK) CW Cryptic, Quick and others; $
    Tulsa World [United Feature? Univ?] Flash, .pdf paper: Ashland Daily Tidings; SF Chronicle #2
    (UK) Crossword Puzzles site list # sites: American: 8; Education: 5; Other: 7;
    Cryptic: 17; Themed: 4
    [Universal] (uclick) Flash paper: Mail Tribune Mon-Sat;
    other crosswords
    USA Today Flash Quick Cross (4x4)
    Wall Street Journal (WSJ): Fri, Sat Flash, Java, .pdf Fri: [.puz] Mike Shenk, ed.
    Washington Post [CrosSynergy] Flash, .pdf [.puz] (via browse)
    Post Puzzler Peter Gordon, ed.
    Steve's crosswords
    enneagram crucigram
    tour de fat empty
    tour de fat filling-in
    JS; .pdf; .puz

    Enneagram Crucigram; Dec 2012
    Imagine the form of the Enneagram projected onto a gridded crossword space:
    an "Enneagram Crucigram" (crossword in Spanish is "crucigrama")
    The result is a (roughly) circular, mostly symmetric crossword puzzle,
    with 9 Enneagram vertex points (gray squares),
    clockwise from top: 9, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8?
    Theme: a typical name for each Enneagram type begins/ends at (or near) its point;
    a corresponding bold "#" clue indicates its starting location.
    Other words, some from psychology and philosophy, fill out the structure.

    A Winning Combo; 3/20/2013
    a draft mashup / time capsule for the 100th-anniversary of the Crossword
    Wynne's diamond-shaped original (in center), includes notes for solvers of our era;
    my 4 corner puzzles describe the original puzzle (who, where, why, when, what),
    and use contemporary words/clues that would have been unknown to solvers of 1913.

    Internet Connection; Malware; Browsing (OLLI Course: Be Safer on the Internet)

    An OLLI Olio: Ooh La La; Nov 2011; OLLI at SOU

    Water, Water Somewhere?; Apr 2015; (Ashland Garden Club)

    Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) #1 (Ashland CERT)

    Tour de Fat; Sep 4, 2010
    For the Tour de Fat bicycle parade,
    Steve and daughter Kristina created a custom crossword
    puzzle costume -- divided into grid & clues (photos on left).
    Other riders would stop us in order to fill in an answer;
    warning: quite difficult if we were riding, or if someone were
    unfamiliar with New Belgium beers and the Ft. Collins area.

    Hikes & Gear (Lightweight Backpackers (BIG))

    CrozzWord samples [.puz]: Phones; Cell Networks; Caffeine; First; Handheld History

    Pilates (Pull-Lattes)

    CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls -- for Pharmaceuticals; MAGassoc.com)

    Nutrition: Fats [Java]


    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: A Winning Combo

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: A Winning Combo webadmin Wed, 12/11/2013 - 08:28

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: An OLLI Olio: Ooh La La

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: An OLLI Olio: Ooh La La webadmin Wed, 12/11/2013 - 09:28


    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: CERT1 webadmin Mon, 01/11/2016 - 13:21

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: CMC (Chemistry Manufacturing Controls)

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: CMC (Chemistry Manufacturing Controls) webadmin Wed, 12/11/2013 - 09:26

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: Pilates (Pull-Lattes)

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: Pilates (Pull-Lattes) webadmin Wed, 12/11/2013 - 09:31

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: Tour de Fat 2010

    CROSSWORDS: Weyer: Tour de Fat 2010 webadmin Wed, 12/11/2013 - 09:33

    CROSSWORDS: Sources: Applications

    CROSSWORDS: Sources: Applications webadmin Thu, 01/20/2011 - 11:51


    • tablet appAs mentioned earlier, desktop and mobile applications can automatically download puzzles from selected sites, optimize puzzle size/layout for different size displays, and provide a consistent (and often customizable) user interface, along with other features.
    • There are a large number of crossword apps (some free) that provide puzzles (some free, others via in-app purchases)
    • Several apps access a single puzzle source, e.g., Guardian, NYT, Penny Dell, Telegraph
    • We will focus on two, popular, well-maintained applications that are cross-platform and that can access puzzles from multiple sources:
    • Across Lite
    • Crosswords
    • Below is a table of a few applications for solving crosswords (apps for Authoring will be covered later).
    • This list is incomplete and likely out-of-date -- additions, corrections welcome.
    App Name Platform(s) Cost Formats Features Screen
    • alphabetically by app name, or app site
    • check vendors and app stores for latest versions, features and requirements
    • desktop/laptop:
      Mac (Macintosh),
      Win (Windows),
      Lnx (Linux)
    • tablet: iPad, ...
    • smartphone: iPhone, iPodT (iPod Touch), Palm, Blackberry, Android
      iOS: iPad, iPhone, iPodT
    • eval or free 'light' version available?
    • .puz (Across Lite) format
    • other file formats?
    • common: Check/Reveal, printing, etc.
    • read FAQs and review articles (via vendor or app sites).
    • image, gallery (slideshow) (for a few apps)
    Across Lite [Litsoft];
    [via NYT]
    Mac 10.3+
    Mac 9.x-10.2
    free .puz +check/reveal
    +customize ui
    across lite
    Gallery: Across Lite on Mac & iPad
    Demo: on Mac?
    iPad tour
    Solve Crosswords With Across Lite
    Across Trainer iPad $7 .puz ?
    American Crossword Tournament app list
    Black Ink Mac $25 .puz ?
    Boatload of Crosswords Win $20 100,000 puzzles
    play online
    CrossCraze Win $20 ?
    Crossword Twist Win, Mac, Lnx $10 Fill-In; Jigsaw; Cipher
    Crosswords Android GooglePlay
    iOS7 iTunes
    iOS4+: ? Light; Classic iTunes
    Mac 10.6+ iTunes
    Palm OS
    Web OS catalog
    Win 8/RT: ? Daily store
    .puz +download:
      US sites: 20
      'UK': 5; $: 4
      see *Web Sources
      free: limited

    +browser .puz
    +sync w/ desktop
    +customize ui
    +puzzle info
    Gallery: regular, Classic iPad
    Demo: on Mac?
    FAQ: regular, Classic
    You Should Play: Crosswords 8/10/2012
    Crossword Puzzle Fans, Toss Away That Eraser 7/11/2012
    CrozzWord Mac (8.x-10.x)
    Zaurus (Lnx)
    S-E P800
    iPaq PPC
    NA .puz
    -sites out of date
    +customize ui
    +cross refs
    +puzzle info
    mac crozzword
    Gallery: Zaurus, etc.?
    Demo: on Mac?
    DigWords Win, Mac $20 ?
    download.com: Win, Mac app list search: 'crossword',
    check Platform
    Hamel, Ray app list (=50) +authoring
    -few viewers
    -list up-to-date?
    iTunes Store:
    Games: Word
    (starting with "C")
    app list: iOS search: 'crossword'
    in iTunes app or
    on your device
    KrossWordz Mac $8 .puz ?
    New York Times Crossword iOS, Win free ? free: samples, mini-crosswords
    $: current, archive
    - NYT only
    Improvements Made to NYT Crossword iOS App 1/14/2015
    New York Times Crossword app gets its appeal across (and down) version 2.0; 5/31/2014
    (UK) Crossword Puzzles app list
    USA Today iPad free 2 weeks puzzles; +news
    Word Buff app list
    2 Across
    2 Across LE
    iPhone,iPodT $6

    Misc. Apps, Devices, References

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Across Lite

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Across Lite webadmin Mon, 04/04/2011 - 18:58



    1. Litsoft: download Mac,Win; free
    2. Mac; open a local .puz file
    3. Puzzles1: after opening fresh puzzle
    4. Puzzles2: after entering a few answers
    5. Help: separate, via web browser
    6. Help: user manual in web browser
    7. Check: letter, word, all
    8. Reveal: letter, word, all, incorrect only
    9. Preferences: Solving
      prefs: solving
    10. Preferences: Layout
      prefs: layout
    11. Preferences: Printing
      prefs: print
    12. Preferences: Tools
      prefs: tools
    13. Print: puzzle, solution; 2-page option for large puzzles
    14. Puzzles3: all done|
    15. iPad; App Store: Across Lite; free
      iPad app
    16. iPad; App Store: Across Crossword Trainer; $
      iPad app
    17. iPad; Library of puzzles
    18. Page layout; note: thumb keyboard border
    19. List layout
    20. Commands
    21. Settings
    22. Help

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crosswords Classic on iPad

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crosswords Classic on iPad webadmin Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:49



    1. iPad: App Store; Classic; $
      app store
    2. iPad: App Store; Light; free
      light version
    3. Mac: App Store; Crosswords; $
      app store
    4. Mac: App Store; Light; free
      light version
    5. Main: clue highlighting; touch or kbd to toggle Across/Down or select clue; resize font w/ gesture; icons for puzzles/settings/cmds
    6. Puzzles1: update; imported: (sync iTunes); bundles($); downloaded (internet: LAT)
    7. Puzzles2: add older puzzles: skipped update or new provider
    8. Settings1: providers (most free); more puz($); share times
    9. Settings2: skip; highlight; timer; display; kbd
    10. Providers1: Premium($): Quigley; NYT; Telegr. Cryptic&Quick
    11. Providers2: US-style: Chron. of Higher Ed.; I Swear; Ink Well; Jonesin'; Joseph; NYT Classic; Newsday; People; ...
    12. Providers3: Premier; Sheffer; Onion; Wash. Post Puzzler&TV
    13. Providers4: UK-style&Cryptic: Independent Concise&Cryptic; Manchester Eve. News
    14. Commands1: Check; Reveal; Peek; Search: OneAcross.com; Google; new: Reference.com; Wikipedia; Wiktionary
    15. Commands2: Clear; Hints; Puz Info; Print
    16. Info: Title; Author; Date; Diffic.; Source; % Compl.; Size; Time
    17. Safari: LA Times(requires login; free account); select a puzzle
    18. Safari: Open with? -- Crosswords or Across Lite

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crosswords on iPad

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crosswords on iPad webadmin Tue, 12/10/2013 - 15:54



    1. App Store
    2. Main: clue highlighting; touch or kbd to toggle Across/Down or select clue
    3. Main: 2-finger tap to adjust font/grid size
    4. Puzzles1: icon view of downloaded puzzles
    5. Puzzles2: list view of available puzzles; bundles($)
    6. Puzzles3: Active Sources (free): A-M
    7. Puzzles4: Active Sources: N-Z
    8. Puzzles5: Disabled Sources
    9. Puzzles6: Other: Older; Browse; Bundles
    10. Puzzles7: Bundles($)
    11. Puzzles8: Older puzzles (for Active Sources) -- such as skipped update or new provider
    12. Settings: Account(for posting/bragging times); Skip; Errors; Timer
    13. Commands1: Check; Reveal; Hints (OneAcross.com); Rebus (more than 1 char)
    14. Commands2: Check current clue; hold down for entire puzzle
    15. Commands3: Reveal current answer; hold down for entire puzzle
    16. Commands4: Hints: lookup clue and answer patterns
    17. Info: Title; Author; Date; Diffic.; Source; % Compl.; Size; Time
    18. Browse1: other .puz sites; select LA Times (& login; free account)
    19. Browse2: LA Times; 4 weeks avail; select a puzzle
    20. Browse3: play immediately or download another
    21. Browse4: Steve's .puz section

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. CrozzWord on Zaurus, Mac, etc.

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. CrozzWord on Zaurus, Mac, etc. webadmin Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:08



    1. Zaurus SL-5500: Linux handheld w/ Java, slideout kbd; 2001
    2. Puzzle: clue highlighting
    3. Categories: Local; Authors; Major Sites; Newspapers/Magazines; Themes: Arts, Business, Lang., Living, Misc., Place, Religion, Science
    4. Category: Author
    5. Category: Major Sites
    6. Category: Newspapers/Magazines
    7. Category: Newspapers/Magazines; Provider:NYT; "Hosts"(sources)
    8. Prefs: configuration, font, color, size
    9. Commands: Edit menu, Reveal : Letter
    10. Puzzle: letter shown (red corner)
    11. Puzzle: long clue, expanded cross-refs
    12. Help screen
    13. Info: Title, Author, Source, Size
    14. Mac OS 9
    15. Mac OS X
    16. Windows
    17. Sony Ericsson P800 (Symbian)
    18. iPaq PPC

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring webadmin Mon, 01/17/2011 - 17:02


    • cruciverbalistCrossword authors (aka "cruciverbalists") create puzzles using a variety of methods: paper, online sites, applications
    • paper: watch Merl Reagle in action in WordPlay
    • featured websites: custompuzzles, armoredpenguin, emogic
    • featured application: Crossword Compiler [slideshow]
    • [Refs]: "How Crossword Puzzles Are Made"
    • [Refs]: "Why are crossword puzzles symmetrical?"
    • [Refs]: "These Are The Longest Words In The English Language, And They're Insane"
    • [Refs]: "A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World"


    Simplified Authoring Process

    1. buildingchoose overall theme or list of words
    2. pick a grid size, shape and layout
    3. fill in main words / phrases
    4. fill in other words
    5. create clues
    6. add title, author, copyright
    7. publish in various formats, e.g., web (JavaScript or Java), .puz, .pdf


    • papergraph paper, pencil, dictionary & thesaurus
    • + great flexibility
    • - time consuming

    Web Sites


    • crossworddesktop apps to generate puzzles, e.g., Crossword Compiler
    • + grid generation, clue numbering
    • + dictionary for reference or auto-fill-in
    • + output in variety of formats: interactive / static web page, .puz, .pdf, .jpg, Word
    • + various platforms, i.e., Windows (Win), Macintosh (Mac), Linux (Lnx)
    • - learning curve
    • 2 types- cost
    • see Applications section: draft alphabetical list of selected desktop authoring applications
    • see References section: general articles about authoring, cruciverbalism

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring: Applications

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring: Applications webadmin Wed, 03/28/2012 - 13:07


    • crossword compilerMany crossword authoring applications / tools are available.
    • They vary by platform (Mac, Win), cost, puzzle formats and features.
    • Featured: Crossword Compiler
    App Name Platform(s) Cost Formats Features
    application: 'Word', 'Excel' var. free, $$ .doc, .pdf table
    + familiar; easily editable
    - time consuming
    American Crossword Tournament app list var. var.  
    CPT Crosswords Win $125  
    Crossdown Win $60 web, .pdf  
    CrossFire Win,Mac,Lnx $50 ? one of the major tools used (besides Crossword Compiler)
    Crossword Compiler Win $49+ web,.puz,.pdf,.rtf crossword compiler
    Gallery: on Mac
    Demo: on Mac?
    Example Puzzles (Steve)
    Crossword Construction Kit Win $25 web, .jpg tutorial
    Crossword Creator Pro Win $5 Word format  
    Crossword Editor Mac 10.5+ $25  
    Crossword Forge Win, Mac $50 web, .pdf  
    CrosswordMaster Mac $25 ?  
    Crossword Publisher Win $20+  
    Crossword Weaver Win $40+ web, .pdf  
    Crossword Wizard Win, Mac $29-49 -discontinued?
    download.com: Win, Mac app list var. var. search "crossword" for Platform
    Eclipse Win free web, .doc tutorial
    Hot Potatoes Win free tutorial
    Magnum Opus Win,Mac,Lnx free web, ? (formerly 'Crossword Express')
    Ray Hamel app list (=50) var. var. -list up-to-date?
    Super Crossword Creator Win, Mac $40+ tutorial
    Sympathy Crossword Construction Win $160 web, .rtf tutorial
    (UK) Crossword Puzzles app list var. var.  
    Word Buff app list var. var.  

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crossword Compiler (on Mac)

    CROSSWORDS: Gallery. Crossword Compiler (on Mac) webadmin Tue, 03/08/2011 - 11:53



    1. Main: initial screen
    2. New: type of puzzle? choose Freeform/Vocabulary
    3. New: size? choose 17x17
    4. New: which initial words to include?
    5. New: some words to auto-fit
    6. New: generated (24 words in ~0:30). Accept
    7. Fill: add areas for more interest?
    8. Fill: words auto added from dictionary. Accept
    9. Clues: review and edit (none yet)
    10. Clues: typing in a few
    11. Clues: lookup 'terminology' in WordWeb dict.
    12. Clues: lookup 'OLLI'
    13. Save puzzle 'olli_course'
    14. Export. which formats?
    15. New. American 15x15 puzzle
    16. Fill. all words from dictionary

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring: References

    CROSSWORDS: Authoring: References webadmin Wed, 03/28/2012 - 11:31






    CROSSWORDS: WordPlay

    CROSSWORDS: WordPlay webadmin Sun, 01/23/2011 - 14:17



    • wordplay"Discover a world that thinks inside the box. A wildly entertaining documentary about crossword puzzles, the people who make them and the people who love them." ~Internet Movie Database (IMDb); see also: Wikipedia, PBS: Independent Lens
    • "There's more palm-sweating suspense in one minute of this baby than in all of 'The Omen.'" ~Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
    • "What's an eight-letter word for a non-fiction feature that is witty, wise and wonderful? 'Wordplay'" ~Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
    • "If it's challenges you're after, forget cracking "The Da Vinci Code." Wordplay captures the exhilaration that comes from navigating the ins and outs of complex puzzles." ~Claudia Puig, USA Today
    • "As someone who has never completed a crossword puzzle, I was surprised how engaged I was by Wordplay." ~Lou Lumenick, New York Post
    • [comparing Wordplay with I.O.U.S.A.] "A movie about crossword puzzles is an easier sell than a movie about the national debt." ~Patrick Creadon, Director
    • clinton"Watching President Clinton solve the puzzle while he answered our questions during the interview was incredibly cool." ~Christine O'Malley, Producer
    • "And there's word-choice rules. You can't use -- usually -- bodily functions in puzzles, you know. 'Urine' would bail me out of a corner, I mean, a million times a year. Same with 'enema.' 'Enema' -- talk about great letters." ~Merl Reagle
    • shortz"Every time I see the film, my palms get itchy and I start to sweat. Of course I know the outcome and I've seen it five times, but it gets so exciting." ~Will Shortz
    • [driving by a Dunkin' Donuts shop] "Dunkin' Donuts... put the D at the end, you get Unkind Donuts... which I've had a few of, in my day." ~Merl Reagle
    • stewart[solving a puzzle] "Come on, Shortz! Bring it!" ~Jon Stewart
    • "I am a [NY] Times puzzle fan. I will solve, in a hotel, a USA Today, but I don't feel good about myself when I do it." ~Jon Stewart
    • burns"I don't smoke, I don't drink coffee, and I don't need to have a drink at the end of the day. What I do need is to solve the crossword, every day, in ink." ~Ken Burns
    • "I've always been intrigued by the letter 'Q'." ~Norman (Trip) Payne