I enjoy crossword puzzles, but I'm not an expert. Will I feel like I don't belong?
Absolutely not. Crossword tournaments typically attract puzzlers with a broad range of skills. Some competitors will be experts, but many will be there simply because they enjoy puzzles. In an effort to maximize everyone's enjoyment, we have created different participant divisions. If you simply enjoy puzzles and think it might be fun to try your hand at a competition, there's the Rookie division. If you enjoy the puzzles and have competed before, but recognize that you're not up there with the Experts, there's the Regular division. If you'd like to complete the puzzles without any competitive pressure, there's the Tournament Spectator division. Our bottom line: This event is about having fun and giving to a great not-for-profit organization.
I'm an expert at crossword puzzles. Will the tournament be too easy?
The Expert Division was created especially for people like you -- in large part to ensure that you could be challenged by those of similar skill level. While you're likely to find some of the puzzles straightforward, we hope that competitive requirements of "speed" and "accuracy" will make things interesting. Too, you may be challenged by some puzzles. Our bottom line: This event is about having fun and giving to a great organization. It represents a chance for people who like puzzles to spend time together in a friendly environment.
I want to watch the tournament, but really don't want to compete. Is that possible?
Absolutely. For people who want to spend the day with the competitors, without the competitive pressure, we have a Tournament Spectator division. That means you can come join us for lunch, between puzzle chatting, and the finals. As a spectator, you're also promised a seat in the tournament room -- and copies of the puzzles. That means you can try your hand at the puzzles as people are competing. You just don't hand them in when time is called!
How is the competition scored?
To score the puzzles, we will use the system developed for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. This system calculates your tournament score as the sum of all individual puzzle scores -- with each puzzle assessed on the basis of completion time and completion accuracy. There is also a tie-break system.
More than one person will judge each puzzle. The judges will resolve any discrepancies before finalizing scores. If a competitor thinks the judges have erred in their scoring, an appeal can be lodged.
Further scoring details will be provided on tournament day.
Will other people find out my scores? Can I compete anonymously?
It's typical in crossword tournaments for scores to be posted by contestant name and contestant number (the latter of which will be assigned to you on the day of the tournament). If you don't want others to know your scores, you can request to be an "anonymous entrant" when you check in on tournament day. An anonymous entrant will have his or her contestant number and scores posted, but not his or her name. Of course, privacy is not possible for the three leaders who compete in the tournament final. Well, we suppose it's technically possible ... But if an anonymous entrant scores in the top three, we will either convince that person to make him- or herself known (or choose the next highest, non-anonymous entrant to compete in the finals).
Some photographs may be taken during the event and posted to the website in the days thereafter. We will not associate names with photos unless specific permission is given. If an individual makes a specific request that a photo be pulled from the website, that request will be heeded.
Where is the tournament?
A map and directions are provided on the Directions page. Parking is free. In planning your travel, please assume that it will take at least 15 minutes to find a parking space and walk to the tournament venue.
Will I be able to register at the event?
The event room can accommodate 120 competitors and additional spectators. It is expected that empty seats will be available for last minute entrants on a first-come, first-serve basis. But, to be 100% sure of a seat, you should both register AND pay online in advance. (We cannot guarantee seats for individuals who register early without paying, though we will try to warn them in advance if we approach seating capacity. Seats are only guaranteed for those who both register and pay early.)
I hear tell of freebies and prizes. Tell me more!
All competitive entrants will receive small tokens of our and our corporate donors' appreciation when they check in on tournament day. There will also be a few raffle giveaways.
Those who score in the top three of each division and in the top three overall will win prizes provided by our donors. Of note, additional prizes are also likely to be given out to deserving participants.
What is the history of crossword puzzle competitions?
The modern era of crossword puzzle tournaments began in 1978 with the launch of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT).* The tournament has been held 34 times since then. In the years after national release of the popular documentary film "Wordplay," the tournament has grown to include almost 700 participants (not including spectators).
In February 1985, crossword constructor Merl Reagle organized the Great Western Crossword Tournament in Los Angeles. Reagle has today become one of the most recognized crossword constructors around. Today, his puzzles appear in papers worldwide -- including each week's LA Times Sunday Magazine.
Crosswords LA, launched in 2009, was the first tournament held in LA since the Great Western event. 2012 marks the fourth year of what we hope becomes an annual Los Angeles tradition.
* For a brief history of crossword puzzles, click here.
What happened at earlier Crosswords LA events?
If you have further tournament questions, send them to