208. Dead Tree Version

February 2, 2014

The work of Randall Rosenthal is pretty darn amazing. The photo shown below (click to enlarge) isn’t a stack of real newspapers. It’s a sculpture carved from a single piece of wood, then painted in exacting detail.

I got an added surprise when I realized the crossword lying atop the pile is one of mine, appearing in The New York Times on December, 18, 2011. CLICK HERE for an article showing how Rosenthal works, and to see more of his sculptures.

And CLICK HERE to see another Rosenthal sculpture that features Randy Ross’s October 2, 2005 NYT crossword (thanks to Jeff Chen for identifying the puzzle).

205. Up, Up and (when I catch my breath) Away

December 20, 2013

Free. An original 15×15 crossword puzzle of mediumish difficulty.

If you like it, consider it a Christmas or belated Hanukkah gift, even though the theme has nothing to do with either holiday.
geezerbowIf you don’t like it, demand a refund!

Click to download:
PDF  • PDF solution
Solve online (super smooth)
Across Lite

193. Ambigram Crossword

April 11, 2013

settheoryBLAST FROM THE PAST DEPT.: This recent talk of ambigrams dredged up memories of a crossword I put together for Scientific American in 2006. It was written before I dabbled in ambigrams, so I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but that’s what it is.

Sciam‘s website still has it up [CLICK HERE]. Since the crossword appeared on two pages, the grid (“blank puzzle” is how its described) and clues are on separate PDFs.

TIP: Download the PDFs (using the arrow icon in the upper right) rather than printing directly from the site. When I printed directly, the image didn’t rotate and ended up getting cropped.

190. Crossword Clue of the Day: April 1

March 31, 2013

Female buffoon? (6 letters): [ A S S E S S ]

• Click the clue to see a (completely unhelpful) visual hint.
• Highlight the bracketed space with your cursor to reveal the answer.

189. Crossword Clue of the Day: March 31

March 31, 2013

Nor’s partner (6 letters): [ E A S T E R ]

Click the clue to see a visual hint.
Highlight the bracketed space with your cursor to reveal the answer.

185. The ACPT in 11 Objects

March 13, 2013

11objects1. Contestant sticker. 2. Marriott pen. 3. The contestants’ most-dreaded pen (used by the judges to mark incorrect answers). 4. No, wait, this is the contestants’ most-dreaded pen (used to mark correct answers when only a few letters have been entered in the grid). 5. Name tag. 6. Marriott room key. 7. Ophira Eisenberg, from NPR’s Ask Me Another, was in the house (and unofficial best-shod attendee). 8. Dr. Fill returned. 9. Freebie pencil from The New York Times. 10. Freebie pencil sharpener from crosswordtracker.com. 11. And wherever you turned, a circle of people were yelling out answers to Peter Gordon’s Celebrity: Get a Clue iPhone app. (Do you know who Uggie is?)

182. pArtiCiPaTe

February 19, 2013

The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) is fast approaching and promises to be another epic event with games, guest speakers, wine and cheese, a talent competition, puzzling camaraderie, stuff to buy, and some of the year’s best puzzles. It takes place March 8-10 in beautiful downtown Brooklyn. ALL THE INFO IS HERE.

puzzle2The tournament crosswords vary from easy, breezy puzzles (#1, 4, and usually 6) to the infamous puzzle #5 that ferrets out the top contenders.

If you’d like to try a sample, here’s puzzle #2 I wrote for last year’s tournament. It’s tricky, but not a real killer. One thing to remember is that all of the tournament puzzles have titles and subtitles, which can sometimes be very helpful. This one is called “Boustrophedon.”

Download a pdf: PUZZLE #2
Download the answer pdf: ANSWER

172. Old Times

November 8, 2012

1. David Steinberg had his first crossword puzzle published in The New York Times at the age of 14. Now almost 16 years old, one of his hobbies is directing The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, digging up decades of old Times puzzles and converting them into electronic files. The growing collection of completed files can be found on xwordinfo.com (solve using Across Lite).

2. Anydate.com, an outfit that packages vintage New York Times stuff, offered to send me a free copy of their crossword collection in exchange for a link to their site. But I already owned that package, so they sent me their front-page presidential inaugurations historic collection instead.

I did my duty by including a link to their site, but I’m going a bit above and beyond here since I really love these old papers. Beyond the articles, it’s kinda fascinating to see how the design and price of the paper has changed through the years, as well as all the quirky ads and graphics.

169. P.S.

October 25, 2012

If you’re not familiar with PuzzleSocial on Facebook, you might want to check it out. Four top-quality crosswords by America’s best constructors are offered there every day — at no charge!

Three of my puzzles have run there in recent weeks (of the fun and easy variety). But, as an added challenge, I’m not going to tell you how to find them once you’re there. Perhaps it will help you discover all the other good crosswords to be had.

134. Puzzle Number FIVE

March 23, 2011

Like to experience the dastardliness of puzzle No. 5 at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament? Here’s the one I wrote in 2009, resulting in a “crash and burn” for the vast majority of the field (within the 30-minute time limit). Puzzle No. 5 is not a way to make friends.

Click here to download a PDF
Answer PDF

An interesting tidbit behind this puzzle is that Will Shortz called me the week before the tournament, saying he needed a replacement for the No. 5 he had in hand (not one I’d written). Luckily, I had some ideas around that I could fashion into a 17×17 and picked out a solid one, erring on the side of surefire rather than taking a chance on something wild.

When I e-mailed Will the finished puzzle two days later, one of the theme entries wasn’t working for him. I replaced it, reconstructed and reclued half the puzzle and sent the revision over the next day. After a bit of clue editing and some test solving over the weekend, a nasty No. 5 was ready to foist on the suspecting masses.

If you’d like to try all of this year’s puzzles, there are two ways available. And the price is a bargain at only $20, either way:

Solve by MAIL (previous years are also available)

The cool part is that your puzzles will be scored so you can see how you stack up against the actual competitors.

Also, if you’d like to submit your contact info to get updates on next year’s tournament, CLICK HERE.

Don Christensen photo

129. S•pellet

October 22, 2010

Spellet is now available.

111. Rejected New Yorker Cover

January 10, 2009

Someone recently asked me about my rejected 2003 cover for The New Yorker, so I figured I’d put it up here. Everything you need to solve the crossword is in the illustration.nyerreject1

106. Christmas Crossword

December 1, 2008

I realize it’s still 25 days until Christmas, but stores have been playing Christmas music for a month already, so I figure it’s time to offer up this all-new Yuletide crossword.

PDF download

Across Lite download (look for “Xmas ’08″ in the right column)

96. Crossweird

June 9, 2008

A new post… about an old crossword puzzle. It appeared four years ago in the Los Angeles Times (June 8, 2004). It’s probably the most peculiar theme I’ve had for a puzzle, and one which has elements that might not all be entirely apparent at first. Download a pdf HERE or click on this LINK to download it in Across Lite from my website. I’ll include a few notes about the puzzle after the cut… Read the rest of this entry »

78. Super Bowl Puzzles

February 15, 2008

An Across Lite version of my Sports Illustrated Super Bowl crossword can be found here: SUPER BOWL. It’s an easy 13×13 puzzle that appeared the week prior to the event.

This additional trivia challenge can be solved when you look at the answer grid (link below) and unscramble the letters in the tan squares (WARNING! The 2-word answer is directly below the crossword answer grid — scroll down carefully):

What team with a winning Super Bowl record has been outscored by its opponents 148-107?

The crossword answer and two other, tougher Super Bowl puzzles (an acrostic and word search) can be found here: S.I. PUZZLES


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