On Oscar Sunday, February 26, this blog will host the 2011 Oryx Awards, honoring several of the outstanding achievements in crossword puzzle construction from puzzles published in 2011. Honors will be given in several categories, including Best Easy Puzzle, Best Freestyle, Best Gimmick Puzzle, Best Sunday-sized Puzzle, Best Clue, and Constructor of the Year. We’ll also award the first Margaret Farrar Prize in recognition of an exceptional construction feat.
Perhaps the most coveted honor, though, will be Best Crossword of 2011, an award given to the single most outstanding crossword puzzle of the year. Here are the ten nominees:
But first, a few words about the selection process. Nominees for this award were (inadvertently) selected by you, the readers of this blog, through your votes using the star-rating system. Some adjustments were made to take into account the number of ratings received by a puzzle, and what we felt to be a fair rule that no constructor should have more than two puzzles in the running. As a result, the ten nominees are not necessarily the puzzles with the highest overall star-rating average. Some truly brilliant puzzles had to be left behind, but each of the nominees is terrific.
Without further ado, then, here are the nominees for Best Crossword of 2011, listed in order of publication date:
- Untitled, by Jeremy Horwitz and Tyler Hinman (NYT, March 31) [Link to write-up]
- You’ll Get Through This, by Jeremy Newton and Tony Orbach (NYT, May 29) [Link to write-up]
- Latin Squares, by Victor Barocas (CHE, June 17) [Link to write-up]
- Making Faces, by Patrick Blindauer (Fireball Year 2 #23, June 23) [Link to write-up]
- Space Exploration, by Merl Reagle (Syndicated, July 31) [Link to write-up]
- Untitled, by Joel Fagliano (NYT, August 1) [Link to write-up]
- Moving Day, by Matt Gaffney (MGWCC #169, August 26) [Link to write-up]
- The Vision Thing, by Matt Gaffney (MGWCC #172, September 16) [Link to write-up]
- Getting in Shape, by Joel Fagliano (NYT, October 16) [Link to write-up]
- Raise Your Spirits, by Brendan Emmett Quigley (BEQ, December 1) [Link to write-up]
If you’re like me (heaven help you), you like to watch as many of the Best Picture nominees as you can before the Oscars. In a similar vein, you’ll see links provided for some of the puzzles so that you can solve (or re-solve) many of the nominees in advance of the Oryx ceremony. Note that not every puzzle is still available to the public for solving, and access to some of the puzzles requires a subscription.
Congratulations to the nominees! See you on the black and white carpet!