Crossword Tournaments Galore!

Crossword fans, be aware! There are TWO crossword tournaments looming in the near future!

The first is a newcomer to the crossword scene, the BosWords Tournament! Sunday, August 6, marks the inaugural event, and registration is officially open!

The format is simple. Three divisions — Expert, Amateur, and Pairs (allowing you to team up to solve) — pit their puzzly minds against clever clues and crafty constructors.

Competitors will complete four themed puzzles made by constructors Laura Braunstein, Andrew Kingsley, John Lieb, Joon Pahk, and Brendan Emmett Quigley, and then the top three solvers will take on a championship themeless by David Quarfoot.

And it’s super affordable! BosWords is asking for $20 for adults and $10 for students. That’s a steal!

You can check out their Facebook page for full details!

[Lollapuzzoola organizer and puzzle constructor Patrick Blindauer,
either counting people down or throwing puzzly gang signs.]

And, of course, it wouldn’t be summer without Lollapuzzoola! And Saturday, August 19, marks the tenth edition of the tournament!

The marvelous indie offspring of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, Lollapuzzoola is a favorite of both solvers and top constructors, all of whom descend upon New York City to enjoy what can only be described as “the best tournament held in New York on a Saturday in August.” (At least, that’s what they say on their website.)

The format is similar to BosWords. Competitors are placed in one of three divisions: Express (solvers with tournament experience), Local (other solvers), and Pairs.

But if you can’t make it to NYC that weekend, worry not! There’s an At-Home Division that will allow you to participate as if you were there! You’ll get your puzzles by email the day after the actual tournament for a very reasonable $15 fee!

It’s one of the highlights of the puzzle world each year, and I’m definitely looking forward to tackling the puzzles! They’re a diabolical treat each and every year! (For a full rundown of the event, check out this interview with Local Division winner and friend of the blog Patti Varol!)

Are you planning on attending BosWords, Lollapuzzoola, or solving from home? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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A Quantum Leap Forward in Crosswords!

It’s fair to say that the 1996 Election Day crossword, pictured above, is one of the most famous puzzles in crossword history. The puzzle “predicted” the outcome of the election quite cleverly by allowing for either CLINTON ELECTED or BOB DOLE ELECTED to read out, depending on how the solver answered seven down clues.

(You can click the image to see a larger version of the grid and clues.)

Reportedly, Will Shortz called it the most amazing puzzle he’d ever seen.

Well, that puzzle may have been topped.

But first, a bit of backstory.

These rare crosswords are called Quantum puzzles or Schrodinger puzzles. These names reference the famous thought experiment involving a very unlucky cat in a box that could be alive or dead, and an observer wouldn’t know which until he opened the box. Meaning that both answers are correct at the same time; the cat is both alive and dead.

[This great t-shirt melds the Schrodinger’s Cat concept with a classic joke.]

Similarly, these puzzles have more than one answer, and each answer is equally correct.

And on Thursday, December 4, constructors Kacey Walker and David Quarfoot combined some considerable Scrabble skills and a dynamite crossword grid to create the most impressive Schrodinger puzzle to date.

You see, clues 26-Across, 36-Across, and 44-Across all feature seven letters, like a rack in Scrabble. And it’s up to the solver to find the anagram of each rack that fits the grid.

For example, 26-Across reads “Play in 7-Across with the rack DEIORRW”. (The answer to 7-Across is SCRABBLE, giving the solver a strong idea of where to go next.)

Quite amazingly, Walker and Quarfoot have designed the puzzle so that each of those clues has three possible correct answers — for 26-Across: ROWDIER, WORDIER, and WORRIED all fit the down clues — meaning there are a staggering 27 possible correct solutions!

This is just one of those 27 solutions:

[You can check out all of the possible solutions, as well as the clues, on XWordInfo here.]

This is David Quarfoot’s 41st NYT published puzzle and Kacey Walker’s first! Talk about setting the bar as high as you can.

This is also one of the flat-out coolest puzzle constructions I’ve ever seen. My thanks to Deb Amlen for doing such a great write-up on the puzzle and for pointing it my way.

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