Contest for constructors in their teens and twenties

Ben Tausig has sent out a call for puzzle submissions from constructors under the age of 30. I’ll let Ben explain:

I am delighted to announced that the “Twenty Under Thirty” contest is officially open. Please feel free to forward the announcement to anyone who might be interested.

About “Twenty Under Thirty”

“Twenty Under Thirty” will be a standalone app featuring crosswords by twenty of the top young puzzle constructors in the world. Submission is open to anyone under thirty years of age, regardless of where she or he has published work in the past. Payment for selected entries will be $250–more than any newspaper daily in the United States–and participants will be featured prominently in announcements and marketing campaigns for the app. We want selection to feel like the honor that it is, and hope also to help young constructors make a name for themselves. Although the judging process will be blind, “Twenty Under Thirty” encourages submissions from groups underrepresented in puzzlemaking, including women and people of color.

Selections will be judged by a panel of experts, including New York Times regulars Elizabeth Gorski and Brendan Emmett Quigley, and blogger Michael Sharp (aka Rex Parker at The winning puzzles will be edited by Onion A.V. Club and Ink Well xwords editor Ben Tausig, and the app will be produced by crossword app maker CRUX for iPhone and iPad.

Submission Instructions

  • Entry is limited to one puzzle per constructor. Completed, clued puzzles should be emailed to by midnight, June 20, 2012.
  • IMPORTANT: In order for the judging to be blind, please make the file name of your submission (whether it is a .ccw, .puz, .doc, .pdf, etc) a random string of ten numbers and remove all indication of your own name from the puzzle and file information. You may submit from your personal email account, but I don’t want any way of knowing that your puzzle is linked to you. If you have questions that might reveal your theme, simply email me from an anonymous (or a friend’s) address.
  • All submissions must be wholly original, and neither I nor the panelists can know that they are yours. (i.e., if you’ve workshopped an idea with Brendan, then come up with a different idea).
  • We are looking for work in the range of Tuesday-Friday New York Times difficulty. Both themed and themeless puzzles will be considered, and judged within the same pool. It’s up to you to decide which type best reflects your talents. Since we expect to receive upward of 40 puzzles for 20 spots, plan to submit your very best stuff. Genre-bending themes are strongly encouraged; feel free to extend grids and to do things that aren’t seen every day. (The app can accommodate special grids and gimmicks). Add-a-letter and three-of-a-kind themes are very unlikely to be chosen unless they feature a truly excellent twist. Amaze us.
  • In general, puzzles should be 15×15, but we will also accept 16×15, 15×16, and 16×16 sizes.
  • Puzzles should conform to the usual high standards of construction—avoid excessive black squares, have no more than 78 words, stay away from lousy entries such as long partials and pluralized names, and try to weed out repetition in the grid. You know the drill.
  • Aim to submit work that feels fresh. No specific bad words or references are off-limits, but you’ll get a lot more credit for cluing PUBES as “Strands below?” than dropping in QUEEF because you feel like it. Likewise, include literature, film, music, food, and sex content that skews young, but be sure to keep it clever, not just edgy.
  • Crossword Compiler or Across Lite files are preferred, but any other reasonable format is acceptable. As long as we can see the completed grid with numbers and the corresponding clues, you’re in good shape.
Good luck!


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5 Responses to Contest for constructors in their teens and twenties

  1. jefe says:

    Must all entries be individual, or can they be joint efforts?

    Is there a limit to the number of entries per person (or group, if allowed)?

  2. Gareth says:

    “Entry is limited to one puzzle per constructor.” (Don’t worry. I misread the email and sent my puzzle to Ben’s address not the one in the post)

  3. pauer says:

    How ageist!

  4. Jacob says:

    Do you think larger grids, like 16×16, will be limited to 78 words?

  5. Deb Amlen says:

    @PB2: I wish I could “Like” that comment. A lot. :)

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