The structure of a crossword puzzle can be broken down into several characteristic elements, the most distinctive of which are its theme and its grid. With numerous independent puzzles published daily in various periodicals and in syndication one might expect these elements to be repeated occasionally through circumstance, but a recent analysis of tens of thousands of individual puzzles found far more replication than chance would explain in the puzzles produced by Timothy Parker for USA Today and Universal Uclick.
Regular Expression Crosswords Do you like regular expressions? Do you like crosswords puzzles? Then you're going to (hate|love) this.
Derek Crozier was an idiosyncratic crossword setter who, under the pseudonym Crosaire, ran the Irish Times cryptic crossword singlehandedly for almost 70 years. He died in April 2010 at the age of 92, having compiled over 14000 daily crosswords. The last puzzle completed before his death, number 14605, runs in today's Irish Times. [more inside]
Frank W. Lewis, longtime cryptic crossword setter for The Nation, passed away on Nov. 18 at the age of 98. Although best known for his puzzles, of which he set nearly 3000 over sixty years, Lewis also had a distinguished career with the War Department. His work on the team deciphering Japanese shipping codes during World War II led to awards for Exceptional Civilian Service, Outstanding Civilian Service, and Bletchley Park Service. [more inside]
Stephen Sondheim's crossword puzzles for "New York Magazine." Incredibly rare.
XWord Info soberly describes itself as containing "data about NYT puzzles dating back to November, 1993, covering the entire time that Will Shortz has been Puzzle Editor," understating the cornucopia of geeky goodness within. See any crossword over that time. Look up every appearance of a word with every clue ever used for it. See the most frequently used 500 words, and the most popular by length. [more inside]
Since Wordplay has come out, crossword puzzles have been on the rise. If you want to join in on the fun, read this primer by Will Shortz to get started, then download Across Lite, head to Cruciverb, and do free puzzles in the right-hand sidebar. Will Johnston's page contains a huge repository of Across Lite puzzles. If you get stuck, can't figure out why an entry is correct, or just want to chat about a grid's brilliant construction, try reading the crossword blogs. The best two are Diary of a Crossword Fiend and Rex Parker Does the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. (Caution! Spoilers abound!) And, if you want to try your hand at constructing some crosswords of your own (submission guidelines for various papers here), Crossword Compiler is an outstanding piece of software. [Via this AskMetafilter question]