Puzzle Experience

  • Founder and editor of Devil Cross, an irreverent, weekly crossword puzzle.
  • Co-founder of the Indie 500 Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
  • Freelance puzzle constructor for multiple outlets, detailed below.
  • Substitute puzzle blogger for Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle (see here and here for samples) and lead puzzle blogger for Devil Cross (see here).
  • Finished 69th at the 2015 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
  • Mentor for new crossword constructors.

Crossword Publications
(All puzzles are sorted by place of publication and can be accessed at the links below)

The New York Times
Featured Puzzle: Untitled, Thursday, October 3, 2013

NYT 10-3-13 solution

This was my debut New York Times crossword, a “2B OR NOT 2B” puzzle where you have to read certain squares as TO BE in the Across direction and BB (that is, two B’s) in the Down direction. At the very least, it gave me the perfect opportunity to get America’s newspaper of record to print SUCKS TO BE YOU and SCREW IT on the same day.

Other New York Times puzzles:

The Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post
Featured puzzle: Sunday Puzzler, March 2, 2014

WashPost Puzzler 3-2-14 solutionAli-G

Before it ceased operation in March 2015, the Washington Post Puzzler did not normally accept freelance submissions and instead relied on a set lineup of constructors to create its puzzles. However, editor Peter Gordon ran an open, themeless submission contest in November 2013, and he selected this grid as the winner. 1-Across gave a great show some major respek.

Fireball Crosswords
Featured puzzle: White Lies, April 23, 2014

FB5-17 solutionOscar-Wilde

This challenging mind-bender features a hidden quotation by 8-/9-Down, OSCAR WILDE. The symmetrical pair to 8-/9-Down is FALSE START at 48-/49-Down, which provides the key to understanding how to solve the puzzle. Every Across answer begins with a wrong letter that is correct in the crossing Down direction. For instance, 1-Across — clued as [Commandeer] — would normally be HIJACK, but the answer to 1-Down (clued as [“The Good War” historian Studs] is TERKEL, so the correct answer for 1-Across is TIJACK. Read in order, the false starts of the Across answers spell out THE TRUTH IS RARELY PURE AND NEVER SIMPLE, a quotation from “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Twenty Under Thirty (independent puzzle series edited by Ben Tausig)

Will Shortz’s WordPlay

Devil Cross
Featured puzzle: Character Study, August 5, 2014

DevilCross16CharacterStudy solutionLink-backwards

Meta puzzles are fun challenges that contain an extra, hidden answer. This one asked solvers to find a specific video game console. The key to figuring it out is to notice that the puzzle has an unusually large number of N’s. In fact, every single answer in the puzzle contains at least one N. If you take the title of the puzzle and make this a literal character study — where character means “letter” — then count up the number of N’s in the grid, and you’ll see that there are exactly 64 of them. That leads to the meta answer N64.

Featured puzzle: Something Different, June 14, 2014

DevilCross12SomethingDifferent solution

There are traditional themed and themeless crosswords, and then there are crosswords that are truly insane. Something Different puzzles are novelty crosswords where most of the entries are completely made-up phrases, yet you can still solve them because the short entries are usually legitimate words and the clues for the bizarre entries are just straightforward enough to lead you to the correct answers. To this day I still laugh over the ridiculous clues and answers in this puzzle like:
6-Down: LOLcats meme featuring Steven Spielberg’s depressed movie alien = E.T. HAS A SAD
12-Down: Homosexual enough to be compared to Total or Raisin Bran = GAY AS A DRY CEREAL
33-Across: Youngster within Bush crony Karl (like he’s one of those Russian nesting Karls) = A TEENAGER IN ROVE


Other Devil Cross puzzles:

Special Recognition

  • New York Times Puzzle of the Week, awarded by Jeff Chen at XWord Info, for the puzzle of April 26, 2014.
  • Puzzle of the Week, awarded by Michael Sharp at Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, for Fireball Crosswords, “White Lies” (April 27, 2014).
  • Nominated four times for Puzzle of the Month by Matt Gaffney: October 2013, April 2014, August 2014, January 2015.