T Campbell’s “Ubercross C-Spot” crossword

T Campbell, the crossword and comics fiend who’s been writing the weekly series of “Callin’ Them Squares” posts here to explore all the types of crosswords we encounter, wants to break the record for the biggest crossword that follows the prevailing rules of construction. A 120×120 grid is equivalent to 64 (!) 15x15s tiled together, and will not only beat the previous record of 111×111, but do so without relying on a slew of obscurities. (As for that giant Hammacher Schlemmer crossword you’ve all seen? It’s loaded with unchecked squares. Quelle horreur!) T has fun writing clues and it shows—so this will be no dry slog through the annals of crosswordese.

T isn’t going to construct this puzzle unless we make it worth his while, mind you, so he’s seeking funding via Kickstarter. Check out his page and chip in a few bucks—a mere $10 will get you an electronic copy of the “Ubercross C-Spot” crossword, and bigger donations bring extra premiums (just like when you donate to PBS or NPR). If you’d pay $9.95 for a book with 64 daily crosswords in it, the dollars-per-hour-of-diversion ratio is pretty much the same here. The funding deadline is August 26.

Pleasantville Crossword Tournament

Will Shortz just announced via Twitter that the 15th Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, in Pleasantville, NY, will be held on Friday, October 21.

Lollapuzzoola 4

It’s in eight days! If you’re into crosswords (come now, there’s no use denying it) and you can be in Manhattan on Saturday, August 6, you owe it to yourself to attend The World’s Funnest and Most Whimsical and Yet Still Solid Crossword Competition (TWFAMWAYSSCC). Visit the Be More Smarter headquarters for details and registration.

If you can’t make it to Lolla, don’t miss the new solve-at-home option, because the puzzles will be awesome and surprising and stretch beyond what newspaper crosswords can do. $10 for seven puzzles might sound steep, but you can submit your scores and find out where you would’ve ranked at the tournament, plus those puzzles are going to be cool, I just know it.

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8 Responses to Announcements!

  1. john farmer says:

    What format is the electronic copy? Will it be AL?

    Btw, my guess is that your final grid will be closer to 5,000 than 2,000 answers.

    Good luck.

  2. Neville says:

    To John’s point: An average word length of 5 letters should require about 4,800 entries. Will it be a pangram? :)

    Good luck, T!

  3. Jim Horne says:

    It would be tough but not impossible to keep the word count under 5,000. Certainly having a few stacked 120s would reduce that number.

    Here’s another way to look at the effort involved in solving. Start collecting NYT Sunday puzzles. You’d need just about exactly 8 months worth to have that many clues.

    What is the construction effort worth? Let’s look at it in terms of NYT equivalents. 64 daily puzzles amounts to only $12,800, but the same number of clues for Sunday puzzles would total roughly $35,000.

    Yes, the price per clue, or per square if you prefer, is much higher for Sunday grids because maintaining consistent quality through a larger grid is harder. You’d have to extrapolate from there to imagine what a 120x would be worth on the same scale. Still, one could argue that if T makes >$35K through PayPal, he’s ahead of the game.

    Speaking just for myself, that’s more clues than I want to solve in a single grid, but still, I wish Mr. Campbell well. I look forward to reading the in-depth analysis on this site when it’s published.

  4. Amy Reynaldo says:

    “Stacked 120s.” Love it, Jim!


    • 29a, 57a, 182a, 404a, 667a, 801a, 1073a, 1118a, 1334a, 1411a and 1412a (what a pairing!), 1693a, 1727a…

    Um, no.

  5. joon says:

    i’m also giggling at “stacked 120s”. that would be A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE, so to speak.

  6. T Campbell says:

    John Farmer, I would love to offer it in AL, but I’m not *certain* that AL accommodates puzzles of such size. Does anybody know about that?

    Looking over my figures, I think the final size will end up more than 2,000, but less than 5,000. The original Ubercross Fiddy was something like 728 answers, much less than I’d originally expected. Supersize puzzles tend to need somewhat longer answers, because the real risk is that you’ll run out of those “glue words” that are generally either crosswordese like ESNE or ERNE, or frequent repeaters like OREO or AAA.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    I’m willing to blog it. Might not be the same day it comes out, though.

  8. Dan F says:

    LOL, Amy and Jeffrey. T, I do hope for your sake that it’s closer to 2,000 but my math comes out closer to 5,000 too. I’m 99% sure that Across Lite can’t handle that large a puzzle; you may want to find out if Crossword Solver can.

Comments are closed.