Meta: Opening Remarks (#112.1)



Hey everyone!

Sorry it’s been a while, but I’ve missed you a lot.

I hope to have more puzzles here in the very near future, but I thought you all should at least get something to bide you. This was a puzzle I worked on this summer, but finally got around to finishing. Even though this puzzle does not end with 0 or 5, it is still a meta puzzle.

The meta answer is a three-word, twelve-letter phrase first seen in rap music that would complete the theme. Send your responses to cking.gow(at)

No contest, but a nice thing you can work on, and it gives you the chance to send me some correspondence. Hope you enjoy the puzzle.

I won’t be at LPZ11, but I hope everyone that goes has a fantastic time. Oh to be in New York.

Hope all is well with you, and talk to you soon!


Puzzle Predictions for the Indie 500 2018


Hey everyone!

Tomorrow is the Indie 500 tournament, the indiest crossword tournament this nation has to offer, and I will be in DC later today! Very excited to see everyone once again, and I’m gearing to bringing home some more hardware.

As longtime followers of this blog know, and I have correctly predicted every puzzle used in the Indie 500 tournament, and this year, I plan to do the same.

You have less than 24 hours to prep, but here you go, the puzzles used in the Indie 504, in co-organizer alphabetical order.

Andy Kravis – I don’t fully understand it, but there’s a new Spelling Bee feature on the NYT app, led by friend-of-the-show Sam Ezersky. My money is that Andy has been working with Sam for a special, Saturday-edition of Spelling Bee, and you are going to have 15 minutes to find as many words as you can. Words With Friends may be a thing you should consult right now.

Angela Olson Halsted – This year’s theme for the tournament is fashion, and I think Angela was inspired when she went to ACPT 2018 to bring back one of its most popular features. You know how there’s people dressed like pencils/crosswords/wackiness at each tournament? Angela’s puzzle will be worn by her. Not sure how we’ll all be able to read the clues and entries, but she snagged one of those costumes from Connecticut and it will be the centerpiece of the puzzle.

Erik Agard – The reigning ACPT champ, and champion in life. A humanitarian and abecedarian, Erik has been involved with a number of positive crossword movements in the last year. So, it should come to no surprise that his puzzle will be in the form of a charity suite. For $10 or more to one of the listed charities (or one of your choice), this Indie 500 puzzle will be progressive and probably feature a Thursday theme with a Saturday difficulty. With the success of Puzzles for Progress, Queer Qrosswords, and Women of Letters, I’m hoping for something like “Across the Planet”, an environmental-based puzzle set. Have you seen how much plastic is in the ocean?

Neville Fogarty – Keeping with the theme of the tournament, I think Neville’s puzzle will do with hats. Not sure what exactly. Puzzles written on hats, hats in the grid, hats made of black boxes in the grid, but Neville’s always been keen to hats, and I think that reflects today.

Peter Broda – Peter will round out Saturday’s tournament by being a collab with a famous celebrity. We’ve seen these puzzles all year, and now Peter brings his best to the tournament. Since he’s from Canada, I hope he picked a Canadian to partner with for this year’s puzzle. God, a Broda-Reynolds puzzle might be the greatest thing ever.

These five did not list who they were teaming up with to write their puzzle, so Anna, Laura, Lily, and Sophia, I’m sorry I couldn’t predict yours. I’ll say that either you abetted these folks by letting them get away with the theme I predicted, or worse, you came up with it yourselves. Either way, you are just as responsible.

And if for some unknown reason I’m wrong about my predictions, I look forward to seeing the puzzles and hanging out with the folks that make them. I’m really looking forward to being there, and I’m sure it’ll be a bunch of fun.

Good luck this weekend! See you all soon!


Rock Group (#112)

[Actual Spoiler Alert] – Today’s puzzle is centered around the recent film “Avengers: Infinity War”, and this puzzle actually contains spoilers for that movie. If you have not seen the movie yet and are planning to soon, I’d suggest to not solve this puzzle until you’ve seen it. If you’ve seen the movie OR aren’t worried about seeing it, please enjoy this puzzle. Even if you have no knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think this puzzle is still very enjoyable, and there’s a ton of non-plot fill that should tickle fancies. Proceed at your own pace.

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 112!

Not much to say here (sans the spoiler alert), except that there is a new charity crossword suite, Women of Letters. Edited by Patti Varol, if you donate $10 or more to one of the charities dedicated to women featured on the site, you receive a set of 18 puzzles! I have received my packet, and I have enjoyed the puzzles immensely. Support a good cause!

Next puzzle should be a themeless, not sure when it’ll come out. In the meantime, why don’t you follow me on Twitter? I recently had a tweet that was liked by Peter Sagal, so you know I mean business.



Ride Into the Danger Zone (#111)

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Danger Zone 2

Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 111!

Before I go into the meta answer, I hope you enjoy today’s 31×11 crossword. I’ve been sitting on this for a while, and ironing it out for a while, but I think the final result is nice, like a exhibition piece. I hope you learn something new from it!

Now to go over the answer:

I told you that brother has tessered, and now I don’t know where he is, and the puzzle’s answer is where he went.


The puzzle featured four clues labeled [Clue #1] to [Clue #4], which were SILENTCLOWN, HARDLYRACY, LOSEENERGY, and QBTEBOWETAL, while the central answer gave us the theme.

39-A [2018 Disney film whose title serves as a hint for solving this puzzle] = A WRINKLE IN TIME

While you did not have to see the film to enjoy the film, I certainly would recommend seeing it.

Hopefully looking at the different clues and noticing you needed to wrinkle time, you saw that each of the clues was referring to a word that is one letter away from the word TIME.

Silent clown = MIME
Hardly racy = TAME
Lose energy = TIRE
QB Tebow, et al. = TIMS

The four words edit each letter of the word time: Mime, tAme, tiRe, timS, and with that, you discover that brother has not tessered to a distant planet, but rather to or neighbor MARS, our answer. He reported that Mars is pretty cold, and there’s not much to do.


A few notes about the puzzle:
1) Apparently, it’s really hard to come up with a good clue for TAME that is 10 letters long and does not end with an E.
2) A few of you all submitted how odd the phrase QBTEBOWETAL looked, which make me happy. While I am perfectly happy with the phrase I picked, I also figured out I could have made the word CEOCOOKETAL, but the inclusion of Qs, Bs, and Ws was fine with me. Are there any more examples of 11-letter phrases that include a surname, a job description, and a reference to there being multiple ones? Feel free to let me know.
3) As I highlighted in the above grid, turns out the puzzle itself was on Mars, as all four corners of the planet were labeled.

Altogether, 122 readers submitted the right answer. This is, by far, the most number of correct submissions for a Chris Words puzzle, and I couldn’t be more excited that all of you submitted. If you were a first time solver, I sincerely hope you continuing solving the puzzles, it being a meta or not! Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Anna-Marie Ruoff. She 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, David Stein, Justin Weinbaum, Tyler Hinman, Kathy Johnescu, Regina Cassidy, Tim Harrod, Laura Mendyke in a future section of the site. Congrats Anna-Marie!

Enjoy the puzzle everyone! Hope to have #112 soon!


Meta: Other Worldly (#110)

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 110!

Just as a heads up, registration for The Indie 500 is open, and you should definitely go! I will be there for my fourth consecutive appearance, and as a two-time winner at the event, I hope to make it a threepeat.

Today’s puzzle ends with a 0 or 5, which means we have a meta.

Help! My brother has tessered, and now I don’t know where he is! For this twenty-second meta, I’m looking for where he went. When you think you have it, email me at with your answer by April 21st.

Hope you enjoy the puzzle!


Additional Studies (w/ Chris Adams) (#109)

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 109!

1) Today’s puzzle was co-constructed with Chris Adams, who runs an indie puzzle site over at arctan(x)words, which you should already be checking out. This puzzle couldn’t have been made without his grid and majority of the clues. Paolo’s collab took 9 months from start to end, and this one took less than a week, so I think I’m getting better at communication.

2) Chris Words is fortunate enough to now have a new way to solve the puzzle! PuzzleMe, which you may be using already to solve Paolo’s, Will’s, and Evan’s puzzles, has helped outfit me with the same software! Unfortunately, due to WordPress reason, I can’t embed the puzzle into the post, but a link to the puzzle is at the top of the post! The program is very slick, and I am so excited that you will be able to solve the same way!

3) This week saw a great release in crosswords: the Queer Qrosswords collection. Headed by the great Nate Cardin, this collection of 22 LGBTQ+ themed puzzles can be yours by donating $10 or more to a worthwhile charity. I’ve already worked through a third of them, and they are some great puzzles with a great message. Support your communities today.

4) I swear, the Mystery Hunt review goes online this week. I’ve written a fourth of it already.

5) Good luck to all those in Connecticut!

Oh, and in tradition with the previous collab, the collaborator gets to pick a video that is must-see viewing, and Chris has chosen this.


Philly Fanatic (#107)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 107!

A straightforward 12×13 on this Tuesday for you. Shouldn’t be surprised to figure out what the seed entry was.

If all goes well, I’ll publish my write up about the Mystery Hunt in the next couple of days. I have opinions I’d like to express!

This puzzle is not an endorsement of the Eagles. Go Cowboys.

Have a great week everyone!


Wash Your Mouth Out (#106)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 106!

Disclaimer for this week’s puzzle: Everything about it is a joke, and nothing about this puzzle should be taken as advice or endorsement. That being said, I hope you enjoy it. I think it’s hilarious.

We had a meta puzzle two weeks ago, so let’s go over the results:

The answer to this puzzle was a possible seventh theme answer that could be clued as “Popular candy bar (Boston)” while using the help of an MIT alumnus, and there was six starred answers, which are highlighted in MIT colors:PNG105

17A- [*Power company in New York City (La Jolla, CA)] = CON EDISON
23A- [*Woodwind tuned to E flat (Helsinki)] = ALTO CLARINET
30A- [*Dismiss something as insignificant (Mill Run, PA)] = WRITE IT OFF
40A- [*Lou Gehrig’s portrayer in film (Bilbao, Spain)] = GARY COOPER
49A- [*English actress of “Gods and Monsters” (Washington, DC)] = LYNN REDGRAVE
61A- [*He played Lobo in “The Clash of the Wolves” (London)] = RIN TIN TIN

Hopefully Googling a few of these locations would lead you to the right answer, especially since Mill Run, PA would take you to the Wright answer: Each of these answer phrases begin with the homophone of a surname of a famous architect, while the city is home to maybe their most famous work:

CON – Louis Kahn – Salk Institute
ALTO – Alvar Aalto –  Finlandia Hall
WRITE – Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater
GARY – Frank Gehry – Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
LYNN – Maya Lin – Vietnam Veterans Memorial
RIN – Christopher Wren – St. Paul’s Cathedral

So, looking for a seventh entry, which fits the bill. By far, the most famous architect to ever graduate from MIT, and certainly in the top architects of all time, is I. M. Pei, who is the designer of Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library, the John Hancock Tower, and MIT’s Green Building. So, the candy bar that begins with name is PAYDAY, which is our answer. By the way, Building 7 is an MIT building which is shown in the cover of last week’s post.


A few of our submitters tried the candy bar AERO as a potential correct answer, which is heartbreakingly close. While AERO is a homophone of EERO, Mr. Saarinen who designed the Gateway Arch, (1) This involves a first name while the other theme entries used last names and (2) Eero Saarinen did not graduate from MIT. While he did design the Kresge Auditorium at MIT which I attended twice last weekend, he did not receive a degree from it. Sorry for those who came close, but you were SO on the right track.

Altogether, 53 readers submitted the right answer. Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Laura Mendyke. She 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, David Stein, Justin Weinbaum, Tyler Hinman, Kathy Johnescu, Regina Cassidy, and Tim Harrod in a future section of the site. Congrats Laura!

Enjoy the puzzle everyone! Be safe out there!


Meta: Building 7 (#105)



Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 105!

So, it’s been a while. Last semester, I finished my master’s degree in geography. Fun times. Life has been kind of hectic, and the blog has taken a hit because of it. One of my resolutions this year is to write more puzzles, as in 2017 I only wrote about 15 crosswords for this site and zero USC Puzzle Hunts. Puzzling means too much to me for me to have it sit to the side, and I hope to bring you more puzzles in the upcoming year that have that same nonsense I like in puzzles. I hope you’re ready for them.

This Thursday, I fly to MIT for my annual trek to solve puzzles at the Mystery Hunt. And, I figure it’d be a shame to go into the Hunt without a meta puzzle on the site. So, with that in mind, let’s have a meta.

Invoking the help of an MIT alumnus, for this twenty-first meta, I’m looking for a possible seventh theme answer that could be clued as “Popular candy bar (Boston)”. When you think you have it, email me at with your answer by January 20th.

If you’re going to be in Boston this next weekend, feel free to find me!

Happy 2018 everyone!