Themeless Sixteen (#78)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 79!

Today is my sixteenth themeless, and I hope you enjoy the clue that you can probably guess was my main seed entry.

Lollapuzzoola is coming up in two weeks, so be sure to register for that and say hi to me! Also, my plans for after the tournament, Friday afternoon/evening, and Sunday noon are WIDE OPEN for me that weekend.

And, I do plan to write my Indie 500 wrap up soon, damn it.

All right, enjoy the puzzle!



Solution to Summer Lovin’ #74


Answer: [HERE]

Hey everyone! I didn’t get the review of the Indie 500 up for today, so it should be up within 24 hours.

Until then, here are the answers for the second Variety Edition published 3 weeks ago. Feel free to rummage through the answers and see what you got and didn’t got. At the end, this was just a side exercise to have fun. I’d like to imagine all of you solved it in a beach chair with the roar of the ocean in the background.

The randomly picked winner of this meta suite is Anita Hollister and Steve Watt, which I’ll be sending something to the for their valiant effort. I’ll let all of you know what it is when I come up with it.

Thanks to all the people who took a gander at it, and I hope that you had fun with the puzzles, no matter your personal progress.

I’ll see you soon for an Indie 500 recap, and a themeless comes out next Sunday!


We Got One! (#77)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 77! Enjoy this week’s puzzle, as it did take a while to clue, for reasons that’ll hopefully become obvious.

I didn’t get the answer key for Summer Lovin’ typed up yet, so everyone’s got another week to work on the meta suite. Next week I’m taking a week off, and instead I’ll have solutions to the meta suite as well as my write up of the Indie 500, which I still haven’t done yet, and I have to assume the at-home division is closed.

Oh, and be sure to check out last week’s puzzle if you haven’t yet. In reflection, it maybe in my top 3 I’ve written for the site.

Thanks everyone, and have fun!


Match Game (#76)

Note: This puzzle is best enjoyed as a PDF. That being said…
[No solution for now]


Hey everyone, and welcome to Match Game 76! Ok, so although this week is not a meta week, there is a final answer to this puzzle. When you think you have it, feel free to email me at cking.gow(at), but there is no prize for getting it.

Also, my Variety Edition is still live, and next week is the deadline! Feel free to email me for any hints you may want or need, and I hope to get you through it!

And also, I have booked my flight for Lollapuzzoola 9! I am very, very excited for it. However, while I’ve booked my flight, I have not gotten a room. If you would like a roommate for that weekend, PLEASE email me, and I would love to defray some costs with you for the weekend. You as the crossword community are amazing.

Anyway, we had a meta from last week, so let’s look at that:

The answer for this meta was a well-known trio, and there were only three theme entries:

56A – [PART 3 (you have to change a letter for this one)] = JADEN SMITH DEBUT

A little knowhow or research will tell you that Mikey’s breakfast from commercials was Life cereal, Lady Liberty stands in New York’s harbor, and Jaden Smith’s first big role was in one of his father’s movies, The Pursuit of Happyness. Thus, by changing a letter in the movie name, that famous trio would be LIFE, LIBERTY, and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Nothing too hard for your week of the Fourth.

Altogether, 51 (one for each state plus Puerto Rico) readers submitted those unalienable rights. Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Justin Weinbaum. 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, Mike Ruslander, Matthew Breen, and David Stein in a future section of the site. Congrats Justin!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks everyone, and enjoy!


Meta: Party Like It’s 1776 (#75)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 75! I hope all of you are having a great Fourth weekend, and I hope you plan on eating some great American foods in the next few days.

Just a reminder that last week’s Variety Edition is still live, and you’ve got two more weeks to work on it! We already have some people who have submitted a correct final answer, and now that I’ve got Internet again, I’ll be able to address errata and emails.

Before we discuss my biggest crossword development, let’s take care of some usual Chris Words business. It’s time for a new crossword, and since this week’s puzzle ends with a 5 or 0, it’s time for a meta.

For this fifteenth meta, I’m looking for a well-known trio. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow(at) with your answer. I’ll accept answers all the way to midnight ET Saturday, July 9th.

By the way, this meta is a Week 1 MGWCC. I figured you all deserved it.

As I’m sure you probably know, I had the absolute honor to be the fourth member of Matt Gaffney’s Guest Constructors Month. Matt assigned me Week 4, knowing I Holiday2-solutionhad a penchant for intricate and elaborate metas, and I’m glad I didn’t disappoint.

This puzzle originally didn’t have the days-of-the-week sequence that it ended up having, and instead had seven clues with a (2) or (5) at theend, so that you had to arrange them in the designated order. As you can tell, some of the words made it to the better puzzle, but some didn’t. The challenge was to find someone you don’t see everyday, with CAROLER as the final answer. After much thought, I realized that a solver could theoretically just plug the words into the Ginsberg database and find that word, so I knew I needed a different method, which is the one involving Sunday through Friday sequentially.

I want to make it clear that I really wanted to have each day of the week, but it just couldn’t be done. Note that I used this Wikipedia page as a good barometer for any holidays. Solvers over at Crossword Fiend suggested the possible observances of Holy Saturday, Derby Day, and Armed Forces Day. While I am very familiar with each of those days, I just didn’t think those three days meet BOTH qualifications of being widely celebrated and in the public conscience. I felt way better picking both Labor and Presidents Day rather than a day most people probably wouldn’t have known. Holy Saturday is the closest to being best known, but I’ve already got two religious days, and I didn’t want half my themers to be based on Holy Week.

But still, 116 folks (and maybe a viewer like you) got it, and it was slightly easier I guess than last week. I wrote a Week 4 puzzle, and it turns out Jeff wrote a Week 3 puzzle that could have been a Week 5! Still, the numbers don’t like, and I think both of our puzzles were pretty normal for their slot.

As a lover of metas (which explains those five puzzle hunts I’ve written), it was a great honor being a pick for Week 4. And no matter what some might think, I’m extraordinarily proud of my entry. Haters, as they say, gonna hate.

Good luck with my meta this week, and I surely hope it’ll be easier than CANDLES.

Happy nonmoving Fourth!



Summer Lovin’ (#74 and Variety Edition #2)


Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 74!

First, I hope everyone’s enjoying MGWCC #421. Since it’s live, we’ll talk about that next week.

The big news for Chris Words is the release of my second Variety Edition! As the creator and main writer of the USC Puzzle Hunt, writing metapuzzles has been a part of me for five plus years now, and now that I have a crossword website, I can make you all play along.

Last year, I wrote The Horseshoe Letter, all about RAs working together at USC, but this year, we go destination wedding.

To quote the cover page of the meta suite:

The summer is now well under way, but the season of course belongs to the people getting married these next couple of months. Summer is certainly the time to get married, but there’s one underlining reason of the reason for the season. What does a summer marriage prevent?

And that is your question to answer for the next three weeks. Head over to where you can find the PDF of the puzzle suite, made of 15 puzzles plus the meta. Also there is an answer checker, so that can confirm any of your answers.

If you find any errata, please email me at cking.gow(at), and I will post them in the area below.

-On “Something Blue”, be sure to use the fullsized picture for Slide #4, not the thumbnail. All other slides match. This will be updated when I get better Internet.

On “Rice”, color and position of number is just a visual aid. The numbers, of course, are a disguised clue. Also, “local” should be “couple”.

Due to an error, the entire puzzle “Bridesmaids” has been fixed. Check to make sure your fifth line starts with “Rice”.

[Sunday 6/26 9:40ish, all errors in the PDF have been fixed. ArcGIS still same issue]

Last year’s time limit was 3 weeks, and that seems like the right amount of time to plan this wedding. By July 17th, be sure to send me your final meta answer. While you’re contacting me, please let me know the successes/struggles you have with any puzzles. I love feedback, and I like giving hints, so there’s never a bad time to shoot me an email.

Also, someone will win a prize. And it’ll be spectacularly unforgettable.

Sorry if this post seems a little short, but I’m currently in a Myrtle Beach campground, and I’ve been using my phone as a hotspot to make most of this happen. Words are a premium, but all good puzzle people know that. The errata of the puzzle will be fixed when I’m Internet capable for it.

I should be back next week with #75, which will be a meta! So until then, good luck with MGWCC, good luck with “Summer Lovin”, and just a general good luck to you!


Welcome to Chris Words!

Chris Words Logo-Blue v3

Hey guys, and welcome to Chris Words! This might very well be your first time coming to the site, so I just wanted to give you a quick tour of what we have to offer, before you have to go back to your Across Lite file.

The About Me page does a fine job describing, and you’ll be able to find all of my first 73 puzzles at my Archive page. Check out the Fun Stuff page, where you can read three of my “The X-word Files” crosswordese research articles, as well as links to a number of my various crossword research studies.

I publish a recurring sequence of themed, themeless, and meta, and as your sommelier, here are a few suggestions I’d make for you to enjoy RIGHT NOW.

Themed: Series Finales 52, Thanksgiving Stuffing 54, Just You Wait 72, Just Puttering Around 46, Hold Onto Your Butts 36
Themeless: Eleven, Thirteen, Seven, Eight, Twelve
Meta: That’s the Power of Love 50, Heads of State 70, I Could Count on Two Hands 35, Mark My Words 25, Meeting of the Minds 45

Also, I previewed my newest Variety Edition (a mini puzzle hunt similar to P&A Magazine), which was supposed to come out today. The meta coming out today is the one why you’re here, but I am releasing Variety Edition #2 this Sunday at my usual timeslot, and it’s going to be jam packed. Feel free to check out the first Variety Edition here.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for coming by, please subscribe to get your alerts about releases of Southern grown crosswords, and I hope you have fun this weekend.

Good luck!


Themeless Fifteen (#73)



Hey guys, and welcome to Week 73! First of all, I would like to thank Neville Fogarty and Erin Milligan-Milburn for the wonderful Twitter conversation in the last few days that inspired the seed entries. It’s a subject very near and dear to my heart, and it was a joy to put them into a grid. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of stuff that should keep you entertained, so don’t worry if 90s nostalgia is your gambit.

In other exciting news, I plan to release my second Variety Edition! Last year’s The Horseshoe Letter was a huge hit, so it’ll be great releasing this year’s product. It’ll contain 15 puzzles plus the meta, and will be fun for the whole family. And, since I’ll be on vacation starting this upcoming weekend, this set will go online on Friday before my vacation gets into the swing of things. Thus, this will be puzzle #74, but you’ll read more about that on Friday.

I guess I should note that I’m [on Twitter], so feel free to follow me all of you puzzle people. And, I’ve written almost 600 questions on my other site Five Course Trivia, so be sure to give that an email subscribe.

Enough self-advertising. Enjoy today’s themeless, and I sincerely hope you enjoy the meta on Friday!


Just You Wait (#72)



Hey guys, and welcome to Week 72! Besides the source material, today’s puzzle was inspired by puzzles written by Patrick Blindauer and friend-of-the-show Neville Fogarty. Patrick’s puzzle should be apparent, and Neville’s is a bit more subtle, but it’s still there. Also, for all those who are heavily invested in the theme material, I hope this puzzle does it justice. Probably not. Talk about high bars.

Also, Neville made this fantastic observation yesterday, left as an exercise to the reader.
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.41.29 AM

Now, onto the meta!

The puzzle was looking for the appropriate US state, and the four long answers of two-word phrases in this puzzle were, from left to right:RushmoreSol

18D – [*Political topic with a lot of heat?] = GLOBAL WARMING
6D – [*Bloody Mary majority] = TOMATO JUICE
25D – [*Confectionary since 1896] = TOOTSIE ROLL
10D – [*Delta Sky Club, e.g.] = AIRPORT LOUNGE

With the title “Heads of State”, the ‘head’ of each phrase gives us the initials GW, TJ, TR, and AL. These initials are also the initials of four different US presidents or heads of state: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. With these four presidents, and arranged from left to right, this should clue you in on Mount Rushmore, a monument displaying the heads of heads of state. With Rushmore as the key, the appropriate US state will be SOUTH DAKOTA.


Thanks to some self-advertising at the Indie 500, and a generous link someone provided in the WSJ puzzle comments (thanks, loyal fan!), we had a total of 56 correct entries for this week’s meta! There were several people who I know solved the meta there in DC, but didn’t submit an answer because they had other things to deal with. Nonetheless, congrats to all those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was David Stein. 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, Mike Ruslander, and Matthew Breen in a future section of the site. Congrats David!

I hope to have an Indie 500 recap up soon, which really rests on when I’ll get the drive to write it, and when the organizers say spoiler alert buffer period is up. Themeless next week, so that’ll be exciting. Also, big welcome back to Sam Ezersky.

Well, looks like I’m done writing like I’m running out of time. Enjoy the puzzle!


Full-length Features (#71)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 71! First of all, if you are joining Chris Words for the first time, a hearty welcome! It was great seeing so many of you over the course of the weekend, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the two sample puzzles I distributed as a sample. Just a little taste of what we here at Chris Words provided for you the solver.

In CW news, I would like to extended the #70 meta another week. There was enough interest at the event to delay a little bit, so I have no problem kicking the deadline a week down the road. And to be fair, I do extended the deadline for ACPT reasons, so no reason not to for the Indie 500.

Also, what a puzzle weekend it was! I would like to once again give a shoutout to Andy, Angela, Erik, Peter, Neville, Kameron, Joanne, Lena, and Sam for writing some damn great puzzles and putting on an amazing event. Like last year, I’ll write a review of the puzzles in a few weeks, after the organizers give the ok for when we can.

This year, I was 42nd out of 77 in the Outside Track, and 82nd out of 117 overall. Honestly, I’m shocked my ranking was as low as it was, since I had three correct solves this year. Last year, I had none, but still ended up 81st out of 100.

Huge congratulations to Roger Barkan, Al Sanders, and Glen Ryan for finishing top 3 in the Inside Track. Due to my flight, I couldn’t make it to watch the Finals go down, but I’m sure they were exciting to watch.

And unfortunately, I am not the defending “joon pahk Award for Worst Handwriting” winner. That title now belongs to Michael Sharp. Ah well. I feel like the fix was in after a no-name won it last year. A hearty congrats to one of the hardest working people in crossword journalism.

This week’s puzzle is a nice, easy theme for those who need a detox from this weekend’s brain busters. Be sure to submit to me your meta answer for last week’s meta.

Thanks everyone, and it was great seeing many of you all again!