A Roman Empire (#39)


Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 39!

New puzzle up, and I think it’s very “theme-aggressive”. Hopefully that makes more sense when you’re solving it. For the five theme answers, the 2 9- and the 16-letter entries were set, but finding two more that would be good theme entries would slightly harder, but I think the five answers here are great. Hope you enjoy it.

Lots of announcements, so let’s get rolling.

1) Lollapuzzoola 8 is August 8th. You should go to it if at all possible. Sadly, I can’t be there in person (School, am I right?), but I will be buying the At-Home Division. No matter what, you needs to get these puzzles.

2) Big thanks to constructor Andrew Ries over at Aries Puzzles for including me in his recent recap of indie puzzles. He also had a succinct tweet about the recap that went like this:


So, this was one of the most awesome tweets I’ve ever read. And I appreciate friend-of-the-show Neville Fogarty for favoriting it.

I especially enjoyed his line on the recap reading “Chris is a budding constructor whose skills have noticeably improved over the last few months”. While I agree I’ve gotten better over the last few months, I started to wonder if there was a tipping point for the website. In my best guess, I’m going to say that #24 was the beginning of the mass improvement. One major factor in this estimation comes from when Matt Gaffney included the URL to this blog in a puzzle the Friday before #24 was published. Since then, I’ve had better web traffic, and it means that I’m more on my A-game. So, I think I’ve done better as a constructor in the sense that more people are now watching mean, and I REALLY don’t want to screw up.

And hey, you get better when you go along. I’ve written four puzzle hunts (so far!) as a part of the USC Puzzle Hunt. When I was recently trying to list my favorites, almost all of them came from the 2014 and 2015 Hunts, as opposed to the 2012 and 2013 Hunts. While those early puzzle hunts have lots of great ideas and puzzles, the more recent ones are more refined and just better in general. I think the same thing can be said about my crossword writing. I made this blog so that I could get better at crossword writing. And I do indeed think I’m getting better.

Again, thanks Andrew for the kind praise!

3) Speaking of puzzle hunts, I got my coin for winning the MIT Mystery Hunt in the mail this week!


Thanks to teammate Rachel Groynom (known to you NPLers as Rock*) for shipping it to me.

4) In the puzzle recommendation section, I want to promote Jeff Chen’s AV Club puzzle “Wearing Thin” found here, and friend-of-the-show Erik Agard’s puzzle “Themeless 36” found here. Both of those were a ton of fun to solve.

Also, Patrick Berry’s recent puzzle “Middle of the Road” (found here) is apparently the greatest thing since crossed bread. I’m sure it is an amazing puzzle, but I don’t know for sure since I haven’t solved it. Unfortunately, two of my weakest puzzle areas are cryptics and logic, so this one hits me twice. However, those puzzle people who are good at those things have praised it as an all-time greatest. So, be sure to check it out, and I’ll let you know if I crack it.

5) Next week puzzle is #40 which means we’ll have a meta! And like I promised last time after the extremely hard award-nominated meta from last time, next week’s puzzle will play like a MGWCC Week 1. Then the week after, #41, will be a variety edition! I’ll be posting a meta suite in lieu of a crossword. The suite plays similar to a Panda Magazine edition, and was written for some co-workers of mine. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy.

6) As you Internet-savvy people know, Alexa.com is a website that ranks websites by amount of traffic and links, which can now be found in list form. Google is globally ranked #1. Youtube is #3. Alexa itself is #2,132.

Chriswords.com is [drumroll] #20,523,573! That seems….not high. So, since you know that we at Chris Words love to apply statistics to things, here’s some research to see which sites of the crossworld get the most hits. Focus on indie people and review sites. Links not included since you can find most on the right side of either mine or another crossword site.

WARNING: Long list of numbers that came from a website that generates numbers somehow. Websites used is the main page of that person’s enterprise. Do not judge any website with any other website on simply the Alexa score. Your own website might be listed below. Alexa can’t pick up on things like a blog on the New York Times site or a subsection of the University of Minnesota’s chemistry department. Some of these sites really just operate through email, and the homepage is just a front. All of the websites listed below are incredibly important to the crossword community, and we’d be in a poorer world if any of them weren’t around.

#138,974 = Rex Parker
#460,488 = Cruciverb
#482,573 = Crossword Fiend
#539,359 = Crossword Corner
#730,730 = Brendan Emmett Quigley
#1,384,515 = xwordinfo.com
#1,529,740 = Evan Birnholz
#1,819,650 = MGWCC
#1,965,442 = Andy Kravis
#2,363,853 = ACPT
#2,705,993 = AVXWord.com
#4,339,658 = The Indie 500
#4,760,480 = Erik Agard
#5,031,611 = Pete Muller
#5,072,472 = Across and Down
#5,442,167 = Tim Croce
#5,818,062 = Todd McClary
#5,846,536 = Trip Payne
#6,596,559 = Patrick Blindauer
#6,665,399 = Elizabeth Gorski
#6,871,168 = Tyler Hinman
#7,279,963 = Patrick Berry
#7.928,216 = Gaffney on Crosswords
#7,997,122 = Sam Ezersky
#10,347,250 = Matt Jones
#10,851,208 = Fireball Crosswords
#11,804,334 = Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project
#13,224,604 = Andrew Ries
#14,041,643 = Peter Broda
#14,924,529 = Neville Fogarty
#15,610,020 = Lollapuzzoola
#20,523,573 = Chris King
#23,961,442 = Dan Feyer’s “Not a Blog”

Looks like I need to contact my marketing team! I actually do have several things in mind to make my traffic a bit better than *cough* I’m currently doing. According to Alexa, “The rank declined 16,122,409 positions versus the previous 3 months”. So, here’s to gaining those back.

But seriously, I love this blog and making these puzzle so damn much,

That’s all from me today. Enjoy the puzzle!



4 thoughts on “A Roman Empire (#39)

  1. Interesting Alexa numbers — unexpected in many cases. Thanks for doing the legwork and posting the results. Thanks also for posting a close-up of the coin, which I didn’t get a chance to see in January. FWIW, Rachael usually expresses her NPL nom as Rock*

    If you want to know why “Middle of the Road” is highly praised I can give you the answers to the cryptic clues. You should be able to fill in the grid and find the final answer with that info. Send me an email if you’re interested.


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