• 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."