2011 Oryx Awards – Best Crossword Nominees

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:

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!

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8 Responses to 2011 Oryx Awards – Best Crossword Nominees

  1. Jeff M. says:

    Man that Sunday Fagliano puzzle is going to be hard to beat…but then so were the Packers, the 49ers and the Patriots [shameless Giants plug].

  2. Jeffrey says:

    I’ve added links to the Fiend review for the two puzzles not otherwise accessible. Spoilers!

  3. Evad says:

    I should hope that you’ve engaged the services of one of those big accounting firms to ensure that the star rating tallies are beyond reproach and un-Sully-ed.

  4. Jeffrey says:

    And now we have links to the reviews of all of the puzzles.

  5. Jim Horne says:

    I’m somewhat surprised to see that my personal selection for the NYT Puzzle of the Year didn’t make the short list.

  6. Sam Donaldson says:

    @Jim Horne: Me too. But I think you’ll still want to “tune in,” as it were, next week.

    @Jeffrey: thanks for supplying links to the write-ups! That’s a nice touch.

  7. rmac says:

    And how do(es) the winner(s) get selected?

  8. pannonica says:

    I feel obligated by both nature and reputation to point out that the photograph in this post (as well as the one in Brendan Emmett Quigley’s 20 February post) depicts a gemsbok.

    There are four species in the genus Oryx, three of which are popularly called oryx(es). While the gemsbok (O. gazella) is of course an oryx, it is the only one of the four species which has a distinct (non-“oryx”) common name, and is probably the most frequently depicted. The other three species are: Arabian oryx (O. leuconyx), scimitar oryx (O. dammah), and East African oryx (O. beisa). The last has a very similar appearance to the gemsbok, but is distinguished most notably by less black coloring on the tail and lower legs.

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