Since the tournament is run by Crosswords LA, are competitors limited to the Los Angeles area?

No. You are allowed to compete from anywhere on this planet. In fact, we'd love as many competitors as possible, from as many places as possible. So, no matter if you're in Machu Pichu, Kathmandu, New York, Santa Monica, or ... anywhere else. We'd love you to participate. (Of course, if you’re on a different planet, we urge that you make appropriate allowances for communication delays due to the finite speed of light.)

How is the competition scored?

As in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT), this system calculates your tournament score as the sum of all individual puzzle scores – with each puzzle assessed on the basis of completion time and completion accuracy.

After you complete all the puzzles, we calculate scores based on your reported times used and letters wrong. For those who are familiar with ACPT scoring, note that this approach is somewhat different from what you have seen previously. Our score approximates incorrect words based on self–reported incorrect letters — a change made because manual word–counting is highly error–prone. Also, since there is no longer a hard time limit, our score adjusts for times that exceed the nominal time limit.

Other than these changes, we use the ACPT system.

Are there divisions like those in the in-person tournaments: Expert, Regular, Rookie, etc.

No. The only distinction is Paper or Digital (Online).
  • If you choose to print the puzzles on paper and then solve them in the traditional manner, you are considered to be in the Paper division.
  • If you choose to solve the puzzles using software that allows you to interact directly with a display screen (Across Lite, for example), you are considered to be in the Digital division.
You should choose whichever method makes you more comfortable. Your results will be compared only with other competitors in the same division.

Will other people find out my scores? Can I compete anonymously?

There are two ways to remain anonymous here:
  1. Post your scores using an alias. For example, someone named Alexander Hamilton could choose a nickname like Eliza, masking his true identity (to all except many crossword puzzle fans!).
  2. Refrain from posting your scores. (We hope you won’t choose this option!)
Are there any prizes?

The only prizes are bragging rights.

Our self–scoring "honor system" approach, with prizes, might encourage some questionable reporting. But, far more than that, prizes tend to cost us money ... And we want to give every penny to "Reading to Kids." (The puzzles were donated by the constructors, as was the programming work to make the tournament possible.)

What is the history of crossword puzzle competitions?

The modern era of crossword puzzle tournaments began in 1978 with the launch of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).* The tournament has been held annually since then. In the years after national release of the popular documentary film "Wordplay," the tournament has grown to include almost 700 competitors.

In February 1985, crossword constructor Merl Reagle organized the Great Western Crossword Tournament in Los Angeles. Reagle went on to become one of the most recognized and beloved crossword constructors around. Launched in 2009, Crosswords LA was the first tournament held locally since the Great Western event. 2015 marked the seventh year of the tournament.

In 2016, Crosswords LA is experimenting for the first time with an online tournament in which competitors download the puzzles, fill them out, and then score themselves based on an honor system.

* For a brief history of crossword puzzles, click here.

What happened at earlier Crosswords LA events?

2015 Event:
  • 1st: Eric Maddy
  • 2nd: Brian Fodera
  • 3rd: Jon Berman

2014 Event:
  • 1st: Eric Maddy
  • 2nd: Jordan Chodorow
  • 3rd: John Beck

2013 Event:
  • 1st: Eric LeVasseur
  • 2nd: Eric Maddy
  • 3rd: Jordan Chodorow

2012 Event:
  • 1st: Jordan Chodorow
  • 2nd: Eric LeVasseur
  • 3rd: Doug Peterson

2011 Event:
  • 1st: Jordan Chodorow
  • 2nd: Eric LeVasseur
  • 3rd: Eric Maddy

2010 Event:
  • 1st: Eric Maddy
  • 2nd: John Beck
  • 3rd: Jon Berman

2009 Event:
  • 1st: Eric Maddy
  • 2nd: Eric LeVasseur
  • 3rd: Jordan Chodorow

If you have further tournament questions, send them to

© 2014 E. Grossman. All rights reserved