The Boswords Crossword Tournament Returns This Weekend!

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Yes, fellow puzzlers, it’s tournament time again!

This Sunday, July 25th, from 1 PM to 6 PM Eastern, the Boswords Crossword Tournament returns! The fifth edition of this event will be contested online for the second year in a row, so it’s the perfect opportunity to test your puzzly skills.

If you haven’t signed up yet, registration closes tomorrow at 5 PM Eastern.

With two divisions to choose from — Individual and Pairs — puzzlers of all ages and experience levels are welcome to enjoy some challenging and clever crosswords in a day of puzzly fun and camaraderie.

Tournament organizers Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb (along with talented puzzle editor Brad Wilber) have gathered a diabolical Ocean’s Eleven-style crew of terrific constructors for this year’s puzzles. The five themed puzzles in regular competition (as well as the championship themeless final) will be constructed by Malaika Handa, Andrew Kingsley, Chandi Deitmer, Wyna Liu, Hoang-Kim Vu, Rob Gonsalves, and Jennifer Lim!

Boswords is asking for $25 for adults, $35 for pairs, and $5 for students to (virtually) attend and compete, which is a real bargain! (Also, for anyone with financial difficulties, there is a discounted rate available.)

If you want to solve the puzzles at your leisure and outside of the competitive setting, it’ll only cost you $10 for the puzzle packet, which you’ll receive Monday by email.

To check out the full details of this year’s event, click here! (And for our rundown of last year’s tournament puzzles, click here!)

Will you be attending the Boswords tournament, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.


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Two Crossword Anniversaries This Week!

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Crossword history isn’t exactly a field of study that dates back to ancient times — I mean, we only celebrated the centennial of the crossword back in 2013 — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge amount of historical crossword material out there to be commemorated.

In fact, this week marks two fairly meaningful crossword anniversaries, one to be celebrated today, the other tomorrow.

The first crossword anniversary to observe is the 150th birthday of Arthur Wynne.

[Image courtesy of express.co.uk.]

In 1913, Arthur Wynne created the first modern crossword puzzle — which he called a Word-Cross puzzle — and over a hundred years later, we are still enjoying the ever-increasing variety of puzzles and clues spawned by that “fun”-filled grid.

Wynne was born on June 22, 1871 in Liverpool, England, but moved to the states in the early 1890s, spending time in Pittsburgh and New York City before creating his Word-Cross puzzle for the New York Sunday World.

Of course, the crossword as we know it — with its square grid and the black-and-white square patterning — are due not to Mr. Wynne, but to his former associate, future first New York Times crossword editor Margaret Farrar.

But, speaking of figures who helped elevate crosswords to greater prominence, that brings us to our second anniversary.

Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of the release of the influential crossword documentary Wordplay.

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Wordplay introduced several famous names in crossword tournament circles, like Ellen Ripstein, Trip Payne, Tyler Hinman, Jon Delfin, and Al Sanders, as well as highlighting many celebrity crossword solvers like Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, and more. The documentary also chronicled the 2005 edition of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, bringing national attention to the tournament (and inspiring a Simpsons episode about crosswords).

Wordplay sparked a 40% increase in attendance the year after it aired, and the growing interest in the yearly event caused the tournament to actually change locations to a larger venue in New York City for 7 years!

(It has since returned to the Stamford Marriott, its traditional setting, despite actually topping the biggest NYC attendance in 2019, and again virtually in 2021.)

But the impact Wordplay had on the tournament itself, and interest in crosswords in general, cannot be overstated.

And this week, we celebrate both crossword anniversaries, one marking the genesis of crosswords, and the other marking how far crosswords had come, and how much farther they could go in the future.

It’s a pretty cool confluence of dates, to be sure.


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It’s International Tabletop Day!

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It’s International Tabletop Day!

Whether you play board games, role-playing games, card games, dice games, puzzles, or logic games, this is the holiday for you, family, and friends to come together and enjoy games.

So, to celebrate, we’ve got a grab-bag of different ideas for you today. Want to learn more about games through video playthroughs? We’ve got you covered. Want to solve a Mix and Match puzzle all about games? We’ve got you covered. Want to play something similar to Monopoly that’s not Monopoly? We’ve got you covered.

Please enjoy this somewhat chaotic sampling of board game-themed goodness in honor of Tabletop Day!


monopoly

Monopoly is the most famous board game in history. We really can’t discuss the topic of board games without mentioning Monopoly.

But Monopoly has its issues. It takes a long time to play, and if you fall behind, it’s incredibly difficult to catch up. Plus, if you get eliminated, it’s not fun to watch other people keep going.

So what do you do if you like some of the game mechanics in Monopoly but not the total package? Easy! Use our handy-dandy guide to find other games that do part (or ALL) of Monopoly better than Monopoly!

Maybe you enjoy buying property and building it up with enhancements and making money with it. That’s great. You should check out Lords of Vegas.

It’s a casino-building game set in the early days of Las Vegas. It’s got play money, dice, all sorts of strategy, plus a gambling mechanic where you can make up for monetary shortfalls. It’s a brilliant game and so so much fun.

Maybe it’s collecting valuable cards, negotiating and trading with other players that you enjoy most about Monopoly. Terrific! You should try Sheriff of Nottingham.

In Sheriff of Nottingham, players collect cards with different goods to take to market — apples, chickens, bread, and cheese — as well as cards of contraband items (like spices, mead, and weapons). Each turn, one player is the Sheriff, trying to stop the other players from sneaking contraband into the market. So you can bluff, or bribe, or try to sneak goods past the Sheriff, or just play it straight with regular goods.

The game allows for trading, cutting deals, being sneaky, and bonuses for being the person with the most of certain goods (apples, for instance) at the market. It’s so much fun, and allows for lots of fun interaction throughout the game, since nobody is ever eliminated.

Do you like completing colored sets of items? Outmaneuvering other players? Claiming valuable property that other players want? Pretty much everything involved in Monopoly is also part of Ticket to Ride.

In Ticket to Ride, players collect cards and play train cards on a map in order to complete different train routes to earn points. Not only can you score by completing those routes under your banner, but you gain bonus points if you can connect distant locations through your railways.

It covers a lot of the strategy and craftiness that made Monopoly famous, but in a sleeker, quicker package.

Oh, and if you want a totally off-the-walls Monopoly-inspired game, there’s always The Doom That Came to Atlantic City.

In this game, you crush houses to claim properties, play Chants (instead of Chance) cards, and basically try to be the best doomsday cultist at the table, summoning your monstrous god to end the world before the other players can.

It’s delightfully tongue-in-cheek, great fun, and a hilarious inversion of a lot of classic Monopoly tropes. I highly recommend it.


Oh, were you looking for some great video content? We’ve got you covered!

If you’re looking for great recommendations and playthroughs of games that your family will love — like Sushi Go, Codenames, Tak, or Takenoko — Girls’ Game Shelf is one of my favorite YouTube channels. The hosts (Kiki and AnnaMaria) are brilliant and insightful, the players are hilarious, and the game choices are topnotch.

It’s been a few months since they’ve uploaded, but there’s a load of terrific content already waiting for you there. Check out Girls’ Game Shelf!

And for slightly less-family friendly — but still fantastic — fare, No Rolls Barred‘s game playthroughs are uproariously funny. Whether they’re bickering over Telestrations, betraying and misleading each other in epic-length games of Blood on the Clocktower, or simply pitching insane products with Snake Oil, their videos are incredibly entertaining.

Plus the channel has top ten lists of games by genre or play-style, skits, and glimpses of game history. They recently passed 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, and their content keeps getting better. Check them out!


Yes, it’s a puzzle on International Tabletop Day. Hey, we’re PuzzleNation, we’ve got to include some puzzly fun, don’t we?

Today, we’ve got a Mix and Match puzzle for you. Can you anagram these phrases into the names of characters from famous board games, and then match them up with their board game?


How are you celebrating International Tabletop Day? Let us know in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Puzzly Suggestions for Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day is a little more than a week away, but there’s still plenty of time to whip up a puzzly treat for the special someone in your life!

And naturally we’ve got a few suggestions…

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Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect metaphor for relationships, as they require separate pieces working together to complete the picture.

There are necklaces and other pieces of jigsaw-themed jewelry, as well as do-it-yourself jigsaw patterns you can utilize. You could depict anything from a favorite photo to a specific Valentine’s message in the completed image.

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Now, you can always start with something simple, like a subscription to a puzzle service like The Crosswords ClubThe American Values Club Crossword, or The Inkubator. New puzzles every week or every month are a great gift. (Especially the Valentine’s Deluxe Sets for the Penny Dell Crosswords app! *wink*)

If they’re more into mechanical puzzles, our friends at Tavern Puzzles offer several brain teasers that incorporate a heart shape.

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But if you’re looking for something more personalized, why not make a crossword for them yourself?

(Yes, you can also commission a top puzzler to do one for you, but you’d usually want to get the ball rolling on something like that well before Valentine’s Day.)

Now, to be fair, crosswords can be tough and time-intensive to make, so if that feels a little daunting, why not try a Framework puzzle or a crisscross instead? They incorporate the same crossing style, but don’t require you to use every letter.

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It allows you to maintain a terrific word list all about you and your significant other without all the effort of filling in every square crossword-style.

Or you could write the object of your affection a coded love letter! All throughout history, people have employed different tricks and techniques to keep their private messages away from prying eyes, and you could do the same!

Whether it’s a simple letter-shifting cipher or something more complex, make sure your message is worth reading. =)

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[Image courtesy of ibookbinding.com.]

Plus you could learn a bit of letterlocking to add some flair — and a sense of puzzly secrecy and personalization — to your message. It involves a mix of precise folds, interlocking pieces of paper, and sealing wax in order to create a distinctive design or pattern.

Even if you don’t go the encryption route, the unique presentation of a letter-locked message makes a simple card or a heartfelt note feel more precious.

[Image courtesy of YouTube.]

Have you considered a puzzle bouquet? You could grab some newspaper crosswords and origami them into flower shapes for a fun puzzle-fueled spin on a holiday classic.

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Or you could gather flower-themed puzzles and spell out messages in the grids.

Rows Garden immediately comes to mind, as do Daisy and Flower Power, which you can find in Penny Press magazines!

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Or you could hide jigsaw pieces around the house that, when put together, spell out a Valentine’s message or a picture of the two of you.

Put your own spin on the idea. A little bit of effort can go a long way, plus it doesn’t cost anything.

With a little more effort, you could whip up a scavenger hunt! You could leave clues around leading to a gift, or a romantic dinner, or some other grand finale. Maybe offer a rose with each clue. (You can do this without leaving the house, like a reverse escape room!)

Show off how much you know about him or her. You could make each clue (or destination, safety allowing) about your relationship or about your partner, allowing you to show off how well you know them… where you first met, favorite meals, favorite movie…

If you don’t want to leave things around where anyone could nab them, keep a few small tokens on you, giving one for each destination reached or clue solved. Heck, you could enlist a friend to text clues to your special someone once they’ve reached a particular destination!

Or for something less formal, you could make a game of your romantic wanderings and play Valentine’s Day Bingo.

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[I found this blank template on Makoodle.com.]

Maybe go for a walk or take a drive with your loved one, and see if they can get bingo by observing different things. A couple holding hands as they walk, a Valentine’s Day proposal, outrageously priced flowers…

You could even channel-surf and see if you can get bingo from all the Valentine’s Day programming.

The possibilities are endless when you put your mind to it.


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Happy (Inter)National Puzzle Day!

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It’s National Puzzle Day, also known as International Puzzle Day, depending on where you are and whether your puzzly activities extend across borders.

Maybe your puzzly Zoom group spans several countries. Maybe you and a friend are using remote-controlled robots to play Jenga. Maybe you’ve gotten hooked on Polish crosswords you’re solving through Google Translate. These are some of most common international ways to enjoy puzzling, of course. I’m sure you have plenty of additional suggestions.

But whether your Puzzle Day is National or International, we have some fun puzzly events and information to share with our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers.

The first is that tomorrow marks the latest virtual puzzle event being hosted by the ever-inventive Boswords crew. After the wild success that was the Fall Themeless League, they’re hosting a one-day puzzle event on Sunday, the Winter Wondersolve.

Participants will have four puzzles awaiting them — three themed crosswords and a themeless — designed by top-notch constructors, and it’s only $20 to compete live! (If you just want to solve the puzzles outside the tournament, that’s only $10!)

Considering how terrific both the 2020 Boswords tournament and the Fall Themeless League were, I’m expecting a great day of puzzling from the Winter Wondersolve.

Speaking of puzzly events, the long-awaited fourth installment in the Crossword Mysteries series is debuting on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Sunday, February 14th at 8 PM Eastern.

And what would be more perfect for Valentine’s Day than a crossword-themed murder mystery about an elevator accident entitled Terminal Descent?

Exactly.

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Of course, the easiest way to celebrate your (Inter)National Puzzle Day is to solve with us! Whether you enjoy crosswords, Sudoku, word seeks, or story-driven puzzling, we’ve got you covered with the click of a button!

Names like Normal Mailer, Mike Mussina, Beverly Sills, Neil Patrick Harris, and many more are proud puzzle fans, so I thought I’d whip up a quick little puzzle about famous crosswords solvers.

Below is a list of eight names.

As you can see, there are letters missing from each name. Coincidentally, those missing letters spell out the phrase CELEBRITY CROSSWORD ENTHUSIASTS.

Can you place the letters in the correct spots to reveal this octet of puzzle-solving celebs?

Good luck and happy solving!


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Answer to our Thanksgiving Logic Puzzle!

Last week, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a social distance-themed logic puzzle in honor of this time of year and the peculiar circumstances of 2020.

So let’s take a look at how to untangle this puzzle and sort things out so everyone enjoys the holiday, shall we?


First, a quick reminder about the puzzle, so the clues are fresh in our minds (and you have one last chance to solve it before we walk you through the solution).

On a curious Thanksgiving in 2020, five housemates were social distancing, each engaged in different activities throughout the day. (One was streaming Hulu.)

Each housemate (including Brian) wore a different outfit — one was wearing a tank top and shorts — and was doing their activity at a different time that day (1 PM, 2 PM, 2:30 PM, 3 PM, or 3:30 PM).

From the information provided, can you determine what time each housemate did which activity, as well as what outfit they were wearing?

1. The person doing Zoom trivia did so earlier than Alex but later than the one who wore a t-shirt and jeans.

2. Luke’s activity was earlier in the day than Denise’s, but later than that of the person who wore a Christmas sweater and pants.

3. Alex (who was wearing a Pokemon onesie) had her activity earlier than the person texting Grandma but later than Denise.

4. The person playing Among Us did so later than the person Facetiming their Mom, but earlier than the one wearing pajamas (who did their activity earlier than Adam).


Okay, first things first, let’s organize the information we have.

  • There are five housemates: Adam, Alex, Brian, Denise, Luke.
  • There are five activities: Facetiming Mom, playing Among Us, streaming Hulu, texting Grandma, doing Zoom trivia.
  • There are five outfits: Christmas sweater/pants, Pajamas, Pokemon onesie, Tanktop/shorts, T-shirt/jeans.

Since many of the clues reference who or what happened earlier or later than other events, it makes sense to use the times as our anchor points, so our starting grid should look like this:

turkey logic 1

And we can immediately mark down who did the activity at 1 PM. In clue 1, the person doing Zoom trivia did their activity earlier than Alex, so Alex wasn’t the person at 1 PM. Clue 2 tells us that both Luke and Denise had someone doing activities before them, so it couldn’t be them at 1 PM. And Clue 4 tells us that the person in pajamas did their activity before Adam, so he couldn’t be the 1 PM person either. That leaves Brian as the 1 PM person.

That information tells us more as well. Alex can’t be the 2 PM person, because Clue 1 says both the Zoom trivia person and the person in t-shirt and jeans did activities before Alex. Denise can’t be the 2 PM person, because Clue 2 says both Luke and the person in the Christmas sweater did activities before Denise. And Adam can’t be the 2 PM person because Clue 4 says that both the person playing Among Us and the person wearing pajamas did activities before Adam. So Luke must be the 2 PM person.

Not only that, but since Luke did his activity after the person in a Christmas sweater and pants, that makes the sweater/pants Brian’s outfit.

We can fill in one person based on time as well. Clue 3 tells us that Alex’s activity was after Denise’s, so Alex can’t be the 2:30 PM person. And Clue 4 tells us that Adam’s activity happened after the person Facetiming Mom, the person playing Among Us, and the person in their pajamas, so Adam can’t be the 2:30 PM person. That leaves Denise as the 2:30 PM person.

So now our chart looks like this:

turkey logic 2

Let’s look at the outfits now. We know from Clue 3 that Alex is wearing the Pokemon onesie, but we’re not sure where to place Alex yet. But we can place the pajamas based on what we know.

In Clue 4, we’re told that the person wearing pajamas has their activity after the person Facetiming Mom and the person playing Among Us, and before Adam. So Adam is out. Alex and Brian are also out, because we know what they’re wearing. And Luke can’t be the person in pajamas, because his activity is second (2 PM) and at least two activities have to be done before the person wearing pajamas. That leaves Denise as the person in pajamas.

That leaves only two outfits unaccounted for: the tanktop/shorts and the t-shirt/jeans. But we can eliminate those as well. In Clue 1 we’re told that the person in t-shirt and jeans does their activity before both the person doing Zoom trivia and Alex. But Adam can’t be that person, because Adam’s activity happens after the person Facetiming Mom, the person playing Among Us, and the person wearing PJs. So Adam is wearing a tanktop and shorts, and Luke is wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

Let’s look at our chart now:

turkey logic 3

As you can see, I’ve added notes below for person/outfit combos we know that we can’t yet place.

But the information above does tell us something else.

Clue 4 tells us that the person playing Among Us did so later than the person Facetiming Mom, but earlier than the person wearing pajamas. And we know the person wearing pajamas is Denise. So that means Luke is playing Among Us and Brian is Facetiming Mom.

This information also tells us what Alex is doing. Clue 1 tells us Alex is not doing Zoom trivia, and Clue 3 tells us that Alex is not texting Grandma. And since she can’t be playing Among Us or Facetiming Mom, the only remaining option is streaming Hulu.

This same process of elimination can tell us who did the last two activities. We know Denise isn’t playing Among Us, Facetiming Mom, or streaming Hulu. But Clue 3 tells us she wasn’t texting Grandma either, so she must have been doing Zoom trivia.

Which means Adam was the one texting Grandma.

And since Clue 3 tells us that Alex’s activity happened before the person texting Grandma, we can complete our grid:

turkey logic 4

How did you do? Did you manage to unravel this holiday puzzler? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!


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