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!



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