Puzzle Predictions for the Indie 500 2016


Hey everyone! No puzzle this week, but I should be back next week with a new one. It’s finals week here at USC, so please bear with me during all of this.

But, as tradition dictates, I get to predict the puzzles we’ll see at this year’s prom-themed Indie 500 tournament. Yes, some of my favorite people have gotten back together to write more puzzles, and as a certified clairvoyant, I’ll tell you how it’s going down.

The puzzles listed below would make this tournament the most “out there” tournament in the history of puzzling. Would it be good? Would it be bad? That’s for the online bloggers to decide.

In their website order:

1. Andy Kravis & Neville Fogarty – Wow, what a tag team for the ages! Two titans of the indie industry coming together to construct a puzzle for the tournament. And honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a phenomenal puzzle. But, if I know Andy and Neville, they’re going to put a familiar twist on solving new puzzles. So, their puzzle will be a standard puzzle, solved on an iPad. Using GWU’s extensive library, these organizers were able to reserve enough iPads to enhance the solving experiences. The iPads will be placed face down, and you’ll have to use your thumbs in order to type with this one. There’s too much of this “solving Puzzle 1 in under 2 minutes” nonsense. Have you tried typing answers into Puzzazz or the Times app? Yeah. This isn’t your grandma’s crossword tournament.

2. Erik Agard & Joanne Sullivan – There is no question about how much Erik loves the work of Matt Gaffney. Matt’s puzzles have been direct influences on much of the Glutton for Pun output, and this time, Erik gets to return the favor directly. This round’s puzzle will feature a Week 4 meta. Yep, having a complete solve is only going to get you half way there. In order to get a complete solve, you’re going to have to crack the meta right there with the clock ticking. And it will be a Week 4, and you don’t even get to punch things into Google. It’s going to be challenging and it’s going to be fun. Be ready.

3. Peter Broda & Lena Webb – This is a great combo. Peter has an eye for technical knowhow, and Lena has an affinity for mini crosswords. For those of you who don’t know, Lena has featured a series of typically 5×5 crosswords called L’il High Five on her website. Simple enough. But with Lena as a co-constructor at the Indie 502, I think these puzzles might make their tournament debut. This round will consist of a sprint of 5×5 crosswords. Every contestant gets 5 pages of High Fives, 6 on a page. With 5 minutes on the clock, you have to solve as many of the 30 puzzles as you can in the time allotted. No credit for incomplete ones, just the ones that are finished. No need to worry how awkward 12- and 13-letter answers look in a grid. When they’re all five letters long, we’ll have to see how good everyone’s short game is! (Editors note: Please do this.)

4. Angela Olson Halstead & Kameron Austin Collins – Angela’s/Kameron’s slant for this year is that they want to make sure you relax at this year’s tournament, but want you to have fun as well. So, their puzzle will be a photocopied puzzle from The New York Times’ “Day at the Beach” Crossword Puzzle Omnibus, probably constructed by David J. Kahn. Angela, Kameron, and subsequently David are some of the best crossworders in the business, and they know this puzzle will be an ocean breeze! This doubly-handpicked puzzle will feature both an easy vibe, straightforward cluing, and a darker edge on the paper since that’s where the crease was in the book.

5. Sam Trabucco – The second winner of the annual $500 to the indie constructor with the most crackerjack theme to surprise these solvers. As I’m checking the calendar, it appears that 2016 will celebrate the 90th anniversary of one of the greatest books in American lit, The Sun Also Rises. Keen crossworders will note that the name of this novel is 15 letters, which also holds true for its author and two other novels written by the author. So, Sam’s puzzle will feature three of the four theme answers THE SUN ALSO RISES / ERNEST HEMINGWAY / OLD MAN AND THE SEA / A FAREWELL TO ARMS. Yes, Sam will reinvent the Hemingway theme. How will he do it? We will all find out when we flip over the paper.

And with all of that out of the way, we’ve still got to find a sixth constructor. We’ve only got five so far, so I’m supposed to predict #6. However, I’ll let you decide who it’ll be. Using the Google Form below, place your vote on who will be the final constructor for the Indie 500 2.

And like a wrote last year “Even if all this stuff does come true, it would still be an awesome tournament, because these guys are running it. Even if these are the six puzzles you guys are running, I still hope you put some cool references to the NBA or Pokemon or something.”

Thanks everyone, and hope to see you next week!



Wonderful Phrases (#67)


Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 67! This week’s puzzle comes from some of my favorite source material, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Anyway: Two weeks ago, Chris Words released a meta, so let’s go over that!

The puzzle was looking fora Prime Minister of the UK that will complete this set of four, and the six long answers in this puzzle were:PNG065

20A – [*Steel magnate and library namesake (born 1835)] = ANDREW CARNEGIE
38A – [*Reverend and father to children named Anne, Charlotte, and Emily (born 1777)] = PATRICK BRONTE
57A – [*”Something” musician (born 1943)] = GEORGE HARRISON

The three people we have listed here have the first names Andrew, Patrick, and George. With the title “Don’t Patronize Me”, the connection here is they are named after the patron saints of the United Kingdom. Each of the four nations of the UK have its own saint (England’s St. George, Scotland’s St. Andrew, Ireland’s St. Patrick, and Wales’s St. David), so the fourth member we are looking for is a PM whose name begins with David.

The (born ____) dates in each of the clues are references to each of these people’s births/heritages. Besides being named after a patron saint, they all identify as being from that country! George Harrison was English, Patrick Bronte  was Irish (before moving to England), and Andrew Carnegie was a Scot (before moving to America). So, besides looking for a David PM, we’re looking or a Welsh David PM. A quick Google should lead you to the fact that David Lloyd George, who served from 1916-1922, is the only Welsh Prime Minster in UK history, and thus, he becomes our meta answer.


However, the other David PM (David Cameron) was submitted as well. While of course he is a David, he apparently claims Welsh heritage, as stated by his Wikipedia page. He’s not as  Welsh as Lloyd George, but in the terms of this metapuzzle, he’s also a correct answer. After all, he was a PM named after David.

Altogether, 28 readers submitted either David Lloyd George or David Cameron. Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Matthew Breen. He will join Jon Delfin, John L. Wilson, Jim Quinlan, Eric Maddy, Andy Keller, David Cole, Roger Barkan, Patricia Miga, Erik Agard, Charles Montpetit, Steve Blais, and Mike Ruslander in a future section of the site. Congrats Matthew!

I’m taking a break next week, as finals work needs to happen. However, I will be posting my long-awaited sequel of my predictions of the puzzles and the Indie 500! If last year’s post was a precedent, then I plan to hit the mark exactly this year. And, if you haven’t registered yet, then go do that!

Enjoy the puzzle everyone!


Fate Knocking at the Door (#66)


Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 66!

Nothing much to say here. Easy, straightforward enough puzzle with a classy theme. The only main note here is that last week’s meta is still open for answer submission. Be sure to send your answer to my email before this Saturday at noon.

Oh, and you should register for The Indie 500, but maybe since this is the second year of the event, it should be called either The Indie 501, or The Indie 500 2. I’ll ask the organizers what the style guide dictates.



Meta: Don’t Patronize Me (#65)


Hey everyone, and WELCOME BACK to Week 65!

I know it’s been a while, but I’m glad to be back, and I hope to have a new puzzle for the next few weeks. I also plan to talk about the USC Puzzle Hunt in depth very soon.

And of course, I hope those of you who went to ACPT had fun! I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to make my way to Connecticut next year.

Anyway, since this week’s puzzle ends with a 5 or 0, it’s time for a meta.

For this thirteenth meta of the blog, I’m looking for a Prime Minister of the UK that will complete this set of four. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow(at)gmail.com with your answer. I’ll accept answers all the way to noon ET Saturday, April 16th. I’m sure there are some of you who’ll be too busy in ACPT to worry about this meta puzzle 😀

Thanks everyone, and I’m looking forward to once again getting your answers!


ETA: Huge congrats to Howard Barkin for winning ACPT this year! The cosmic ballet goes on.