Meta: I Could Count on Two Hands (#35)


Welcome back everyone. We at Chris Words keep on chugging, and now we made it to another cycle. And since this puzzle ends with a 0 or 5, it’s time for a meta puzzle!

For this seventh meta crossword, we’re coming to you mid-contest from Ana and Bob, who are playing against each other. Ana’s puzzle begins with the 1-Across clue “Hallmark buy”, and Bob’s puzzle begins with the 1-Across clue “Quail and deer”. The rest of the clues are listed alphabetically, so the clue that corresponds to a certain puzzle is yours to figure out. The answer to this meta puzzle are the answers to the questions “Who won?” and “How much did they win by?”. Be specific with your answers. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow(at) with your answer. I’ll accept answers all the way to noon ET on Saturday.

And, the winner of this contest will receive an awesome prize! The winner of this contest will not only have their name in a future section of this site, but they will also win a free T-shirt! As you may know, I operate the USC Puzzle Hunt, and for 3 years now, we have made shirts for the event. Since I still have shirts left over, you have the chance to get one! And, since the theme for the 2015 USC Puzzle Hunt was “Back to the Future”, you get this awesome shirt with a spinning license plate!


Shirts look like this, but are more highlighter yellow. Safe for trick-or-treating.


1) “The X-Word Files” is coming back for a second installment. It’ll be posted July 5th, where I’ll be taking the week off, but you’ll get a new installment with a fantastic interview. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.

2) I updated this site a little bit this week, with one of those updates being the email subscription. On the column on the right side, all the way at the bottom, you should see a place where you can subscribe via email. Make sure you subscribe and subscribe often.

3) As I pointed out on the “About Me” page of this blog, Chris Words has a rhythm to it. Every post ending with 3 or 8 is a themeless, every post ending with 5 or 0 is a meta, and the rest are themed. I strive to keep that sequence steady because I like knowing what I’m going to each week. It makes me think of good themed puzzles, and allows me to make meta puzzles which is fun. I make themeless puzzles mostly as an obligation to the indie crosswords. But, I wanted to see how do other constructors balance their themed-themeless-meta ratios. So, I created a metric that shows how often a constructor writes a themed, themeless, or meta puzzle.

On what is now and forever be called the King Index, I keep a balanced 60-20-20 index. 60% of my puzzles will be themed, 20% will be themeless, and 20% will be meta. And, as of now, that ratio will not waver. So, I decided to apply the King Index to other indie sites. Below are my findings. These numbers are accurate as of June 21st, 2015.


To find this data, I had to comb through the websites of the constructors above. Some of the numbers above might not be the obviously posted on their site, since Erik had a “Themeless Eight and Half”, Neville had five bonus puzzles plus a guest puzzle and the Indie 500 warmup, etc. Hopefully you can determine the Excel calculations I used to get that last column.

The table above does not list does not include some other prominent indie constructors, and here’s why:

-Both Matt Gaffney (just his and Pete Muller would have a King Index of 0-0-100.
-Tim Croce features a lot of variety puzzles, many of which are not crossword puzzles, in the sense of the word. While a couple of the constructors in the table above have also done things like this, the vast majority of puzzles on their site are crosswords in the usual sense. With better research and tweaking, I could probably make a better index to accommodate variety puzzles.
-Peter Broda unfortunately doesn’t easily number his puzzles, and I didn’t have all the time to go data mining. Next time.
-BEQ’s current puzzle is numbered 755. That would be something figuring out his King Index. It could be assumed that since many of his early puzzles were only themed, he has basically done a themeless-themed pattern since then, and has offered a few contest puzzles, we could estimate it around 51-47-2. That seems about right.
-Others for other reasons.

This metric is really just indicator to see how much the constructor likes to write meta puzzles and themeless puzzles. Those two genres of crosswords are the most different to write, and it is interesting to see just how much those constructors like writing those types. Sam Ezersky has mentioned before that he loves writing themeless (or freestyle) puzzles because he gets more creative potential, and that is certainly reflected here, with more than a third of his puzzles being themeless.

Well, looking at these statistics, it appears that I share my King Index closest with Erik Agard, so that’s exciting. Maybe in a future blog post I’ll have more constructors and more data, but for now, this is the data.

4) Big thanks to friend-of-the-show Neville Fogarty for making this week’s puzzle possible! This meta puzzle involves making sure that you, the solver, don’t find out half of the answers quickly, so I needed to put a lock on the Across Lite solution. Since I can’t seem to figure out how to do that on my Mac, Neville was able to do that task for me. So, he certainly did make this puzzle possible. Thanks again Neville!

5) It’s been a tough week for South Carolina. Keep us in mind, as we always need it.

Long post, hope you enjoyed reading it. Until next week! Be sure to email me your answer!



7 thoughts on “Meta: I Could Count on Two Hands (#35)

  1. Interesting data. But:

    “Sam Ezersky has mentioned before that he loves writing themeless (or freestyle) puzzles because he gets more creative potential, and that is certainly reflected here. He had the highest middle number of the King Index out of all those calculated.”

    Did you mean me? Looks like I have the highest themeless percentage in the table.

    I also throw off the data a little more because, of my 52, I have a couple of varieties and Something Different puzzles. The latter could be interpreted as either themed or themeless, depending on which answers you consider important.


    • I’m an idiot, and misread the indices. I was trying to make a point about our friend Mr. Ezersky, and accidentally misread the data.

      I included the Something Different puzzles as themed because in a sense, they are themed. I really just used the tag Themeless on puzzles that the constructor themselves deemed Themeless with its own number.

      And puzzles like the Checkered Flag one I just put into themed because it made it easier for me than deciding otherwise. I’ll just say that the theme was “checkered flag”. 😀


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