Hey, it’s Indie Spotlight time! This month we’re highlighting Chriswords, constructed by Chris King. Chris, much like Erik Agard and a few other indie constructors, is one of my favorite crossword people to spend time with. Publishing out of South Carolina, Chris publishes a new crossword every week, alternating between standard crosswords, themelesses, and meta puzzles on a fairly regular basis. He even does a yearly variety packet – this year’s is themed to go along with the Eclipse that just happened and can be found here.
Before I get into the many reasons I like Chris’ puzzles, I’m giving you some homework — play around with these six puzzles to get a feel for what Chris cooks up on a weekly basis:
- Match Game
- Thoroughly Modern Minis
- Square on the Nose
- Motion Pictures
- Dream Catcher
- Continental Break
Okay, you’re back! One thing I hope you’ll notice in these puzzles is the creativity – there’s a series of 5×5 minis with a hidden meta, puzzles with internet links for clues, and something going on with “Dream Catcher” that its name should make clear and that I don’t want to spoil any further because you just need to do it, especially if you didn’t see it on the tables at Lollapuzzoola this year. The best indie puzzles push crosswords in directions you didn’t think possible, theme-wise, and I figure it can’t be too long before there’s an NYT puzzle with Chris’ byline.
Similarly, I love the fill in these puzzles. When you’ve got a themeless puzzle, it’s a wonderful time to pull in one or more bits of fill that pull from what’s going on in the world of pop culture. Chris and I both have a love of trivia and pop culture , and I love seeing little bits of things from the internet, media, or elsewhere pop up in his grids.
To close, I asked Chris a few questions (trying to stray from too many of the standards) and here’s some more info in his own words:
When did you start constructing?
I started my crossword site after about three years of writing the USC Puzzle Hunt, and I’ve loved watching both of these franchises blossom since then.
What are your goals as a constructor?
I want people to enjoy the experience. And I want people to enjoy something new. When it comes to my themed puzzles, I try to find some slant that has not been done before. I’ve been fortunate that some of my more recent puzzles like 97, 96, 92, and 91 have had this type of variety. Since I run an indie blog, there’s no reason for me to really try something new.
Who are some of your favorite indie constructors?
Highlighting of course the evergreens like Gaffney, Erik, and Andy, but certainly wanting to shout out both Paolo [Pasco] and Will Nediger. I’m insanely happy and pleased I was able to work with Paolo on a puzzle for CW, and Will is putting out two great puzzles a week, with one of them subscription based. More people should follow these two guys, since I feel confident they’re already following the established classics.