Puzzle #8: Loose Chronology

[Across Lite] [PDF] [Solution] ⏰🤔

Omg omg omg we interrupt this regularly-scheduled Rossword Puzzle for a shameless plug. You *didn’t hear it from me*, but tomorrow’s New York Times puzzle is totally worth solving. Not because I had a hand in it (I did), but because it’s a NYT debut for this stellar human. Amanda reached out to me some months ago for some construction tips, and as of this writing she’s sold several crosswords to outlets like Inkubator, the WSJ, and the NY Times. And she’s my new puzz bestie. 💕

Anyway, a bit about this week’s Rossworld Puzzle below… *SPOILER ALERT*

Drip tock

This puzzle’s revealer, DO YOU HAVE THE TIME, is one of those 16-letter revealers that you giddily count out hoping (HOPINNNGGG) it’ll fit in a standard 15×15 grid. When it doesn’t, you know that whatever you come up with is going a) to the NYT, which allows constructors to go 16-wide, b) onto the scrap heap, or c) onto your blog. And… here we are.

There aren’t any super long down “bonus” answers because the middle themer requires black box placement that chops up the sides pretty thoroughly. But when the first themer came to mind, I knew there was a decent puzz here.

Solve it quick, nerds… tempus fugit!

Puzzle #7: Silent Night

[AcrossLite] [PDF] [Solution] 🤫 🛌 😴

This week’s puzzle is a day late, but I have a good excuse. My close friend Alex got married, and as his best man it was my solemn duty to … make him a happy couple-themed crossword puzzle. But because Alex is an engineer, he decided to render the puzzle a bit more elaborately than I expected:

(This whole concept was actually Jessie’s idea.)


Today’s puzzle ISN’T the Alex/Lauren themed puzzle. But it’s one that I really like. Do you know how many wordz in the Engliszh language have szilent z’s? NOT THAT MANY. And they’re basically all loanwords.

Sweet dreams, nerds.

Puzzle #6: Them’s Fightin’ Words!

[PDF] [AcrossLite] [Solution] Fight me. 👊🏽💥

Crossword puzzles tournaments ARE A THING. Yesterday I competed in my second Lollapuzzoola, an annual event here in N.Y.C., and came THIS CLOSE to my ULTIMATE GOAL … of cracking the top-100.

I don’t know who this Michael Berman is … but … I hate them

If you’re reading this, you should go to this or any of the major puzzle tournaments (ACPT, Boswords, Indie 500) next year. It *does not matter* if you solve crosswords quickly. Go to meet your tribe, puzzhead. They’re deeply nerdy, deeply wonderful people.

So, in the spirit of friendly competition, this week’s puzzle wants to knock you on your ass and take your lunch money. You gonna let it? Are ya? PUNK!?

Puzzle #5: Men Can Be Such Babies

[PDF] [Across Lite] [Solution] 🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏼‍♂️ 🐣

If anyone out there wants to crunch some data on the gender distribution of people referenced in crossword puzzles (both answers and clues), I think there’s quite a few retweets in that research for you. As a general rule, most mainstream puzzles skew heavily towards representing men. I was certainly guilty of unconsciously overloading my crosswords with bros until this fact was pointed out to me.

I’m ambivalent about posting this puzzle, because *SPOILER ALERT* it relies on all-male theme answers to poke a little bit of fun at the male ego. But in the end, I think it’s an entertaining enough idea to share the puzzle here.

Oh, and just as a reminder, most mainstream puzzle outlets still publish a significant majority of male constructors. (The Inkubator, by the way, is really moving the needle along these lines, and deserves your puzzle $’s.) The fastest way to get more women into crossword grids and clues? Empower women constructors to bring their perspective, creativity, and experience to bear in mainstream outlets.

Puzzle #4: Final Warning

[PDF] [AcrossLite] [Solution] ☠️ ☠️ ☠️

Yesterday, at an old friend‘s bachelor party in Minneapolis, I left my phone (and all my IDs and cards) in a cab, and couldn’t recover any of it. It’s just a happy coincidence that the puzzle I’d decided to post today dovetails so neatly with the nightmarish project of trying to sort out the dependencies of how to replace all that stuff a few states from home. (White privilege, by the way, is clearing TSA in ~20 minutes with naught but a shrug and a smile.)

This is a 69-word puzzle, which is even lower than the maximum word count for NYT themeless crosswords. In a nutshell, that means that it’s a wide-open grid with relatively few black boxes. Oftentimes, low word-count puzzles can be more challenging to find that all-important toe hold that gets a solver started. But I intended this puzzle to be somewhat breezy. I’ll be curious to know if it solves that way in the end.