As in prior years, the Orcas will honor excellence in crossword construction and editing in several categories, including Best Easy Crossword, Best Sunday-sized Crossword, Best Freestyle Crossword, and Best Gimmick Crossword. New this year will be a Best Contest Crossword award. There will also be the Bob Klahn Award for Most Outstanding Clue and the coveted Constructor of the Year Award.
The highlight, no doubt, will be the award for Best Crossword. You can read about the nine nominees for Best Crossword after the jump.
We begin, however, with a few words about the selection process. As in the past, nominees for Best Crossword were selected in part 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, our ongoing rule that no constructor should have more than two puzzles in the running for any one award, and our new rule against using the Orcas for personal vanity. As a result, the nine nominees are not necessarily the puzzles with the highest overall star-rating average.
Oh, and we have nine Best Crossword nominees because there were nine nominees for Best Picture. It’s not like the nine nominees were head and shoulders above the rest. Indeed, 2013 was a banner year for the crossword, and some truly excellent and deserving puzzles had to be left off the list (luckily they will be nominees for other Orca Awards, so they’ll get some well-deserved recognition soon). Orca tradition, such as it is, always limits the number of Best Crossword nominees to the number of nominees for Best Picture, meaning some hard cuts had to be made. You’re welcome to talk about puzzles that got snubbed in the comments (hey, half the fun of the Oscars is all the chat about those that should have been nominated).
So here are the nominees for Best Crossword of 2013, listed in order of publication date (the links take you to this site’s reviews of the puzzles and not to the puzzles themselves, so if you want to go back and solve some of these you may want to visit the Best Puzzles of 2013 page after you make note of the nominees):
- “Knight Moves” by Matt Gaffney (MGWCC #243, January 29).
- “Executive Decisions” by Tom Pepper (BEQ, February 15).
- “First-Quarter Action” by Matt Gaffney (MGWCC #250, March 18).
- “Religious Inscription” by Pete Muller (Muller Monthly Music Meta, June 4).
- “Two-by-Fours” by Patrick Berry (NYT, June 23).
- Untitled by Patrick Blindauer (NYT, July 25).
- “Cut Down” by Brendan Emmett Quigley (BEQ, October 17).
- “Veiled Invitation” by Pete Muller (Muller Monthly Music Meta, November 5)
- “One Good Turn Deserves Another” by Patrick Berry (Fireball, December 4).
Congratulations to all of this year’s Best Crossword nominees! Find out which puzzle wins this and all the other Orca Awards in two weeks!