Solving

Resources for finding, solving and reading about crossword puzzles.

Where can I find crosswords?

If you’re new to solving crosswords, I recommend trying a range of both mainstream and indie puzzles for a few weeks, in order to find out what you enjoy.

Mainstream puzzles will typically be a touch conservative in both fill and cluing, while indie venues are often willing to stretch the boundaries (with exceptions of both sides, of course). You can also find many indie venues that focus on a niche that may be relevant for you.

I recommend signing up for Matt Gritzmacher’s Daily Crossword Links to find these various venues. For the mainstream venues, I recommend taking a look at my crossword difficulty matrix to help you get started.

Looking for something totally different? Then look for past puzzle packs, competition puzzles, or browse a site like Crosshare.

Solving advice

The definitive post on how to solve puzzles is surely The New York Times’ How To Solve The New York Times Crossword, by Deb Amlen of the NYTimes Wordplay blog.

After that, take a look around Steve Weyer’s Solving Strategies and Resources pages. In itself it doesn’t provide much advice, but he links off to some great articles (for example, How to Get Better at Crosswords from Lifehacker).

Solving tools

Mobile app, desktop, web, or good-ol’ pen and paper? It’s really up to you and each has advantages.

This is a list of recommended tools, that I use almost daily:

Android: alphacross, Shortyz, NYTimes or Redstone Games (where some of mine are published).

Mac: Across Lite, Black Ink, Xword (docs).

Web: Crosshare (I host my crosswords here, an open source web app).

There’s plenty more, obivously. Check out Steve Weyer’s list and visit some of the individual blogs you see on Matt Gritzmacher’s Daily Crossword Links.

Reviews and other blogs

  • The New York Times’ Wordplay has commentary for their daily puzzles.
  • Diary of a Crossword Fiend covers the largest mainstream and indie venues, often with detailed explanations (especially for meta puzzles).
  • XWord Info is the authoritative source for everything you need to know about The New York Times puzzles.
  • Rex Parker takes a mostly critical look at The New York Times puzzles (a bit of a controversial figure, Rex (Michael Sharp) has been doing this since 2006)