Crossword difficulty matrix

Heat map showing the comparative difficulty of various mainstream crossword puzzles

Looking to expand your crossword-solving horizons into new areas or just curious how the various mainstream puzzle venues stack-up against each other in terms of difficulty?

I made the above crossword difficulty matrix / heatmap to help.

Created primarily from personal experience and with a dash of inspiration from various other sources (e.g. Steve Weyer’s CommuniCrossings and Matt Gritzmacher’s Daily Crossword Links), this naturally presents a skewed and subjective view of the crossword landscape.

A few important notes:

  • This covers only the largest mainstream venues (i.e. those known to most non-crossword-solving Millennials).
  • I’m focussing exclusively on regular puzzles (so no cryptics here, such as The New Yorker’s Sunday offering).
  • I’m also focussing on “full-sized” grids (generally 15x or 21x, hence the absence of Vox’s Monday to Friday 9x midis).
  • It’s wrong! I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of these rankings. Hell, I do, too! It’s an impossible challenge, but a good first step. Give me a break.

I’d like to do something similar for the many fantastic indie venues. That’s a challenge for another day.

Have a suggestion? Leave a comment (or say something over on the relevant Reddit thread)! Thanks. 👍🏻

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