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Fall Themeless League Basics

This video is for solvers who have registered for the Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League

See bottom of the page for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Goals of the 2020 Fall Themeless League


We aim to provide a weekly league for crossword solvers that focuses on themeless puzzles. To make this league accessible to as many solvers as possible, each weekly puzzle will have three levels of clues — dubbed Smooth (easy), Choppy (medium), and Stormy (hard). Solvers may compete as Individuals or as a Pair.


We strive to produce an entertaining 45-60 minutes Twitch broadcast that will air on Monday nights beginning at 9:00 PM Eastern that will involve not only the solving of that week’s puzzle but also include elements we feel crossword solvers will find entertaining and relevant.


We hope to create an environment for more frequent, synchronous gatherings of the crossword community while solving puzzles (themelesses) that are not usually a part of the tournament experience. In addition, we want our programming to highlight our (and your) love of puzzles and to showcase not only the people behind the puzzles but also their strategies and techniques for making the puzzles. And, of course, we want this to be FUN for solvers.

Note: We understand that solvers will occasionally miss the Monday night broadcast and live solve. Thus, solvers will have until the end of their day on Wednesday to do that week's puzzle and be included in that week's standings. Also, overseas solvers do not have to do the puzzles during the live broadcast if it is inconvenient for them ... they can do the puzzles any time between the Monday live broadcast and the end of their day on Wednesday.



Andrew and John have run all aspects of the Boswords summer tournament the past four years, and the two of us are delighted to have Brad Wilber serving as the primary editor of the puzzles in this project. Brad, in addition to being a prolific and talented constructor, was the editor of the crossword for the Chronicle of Higher Education from 2014 to 2020.


  • Andrew Kingsley (co-Director, Assistant Editor)

  • John Lieb (co-Director, Assistant Editor)

  • Brad Wilber (Editor)


The Constructor Crew


We are excited about this project for a number of reasons, and high on the list is the chance to work with the group below. We respect and admire their work and cannot wait for solvers to tackle their puzzles over the weeks of this league. Below is the list of constructors signed on for this project (in alphabetical order).


  • Nate Cardin

  • Emily Carroll

  • Tracy Gray

  • David Quarfoot

  • Amanda Rafkin

  • Claire Rimkus

  • Sid Sivakumar

  • Yacob Yonas

  • Stella Zawistowski

Note that we intend the constructor of each week’s puzzle to be a surprise for the solving audience; we will announce the constructor right before the puzzle is released each week.


We will be interviewing constructors about the making of their puzzle on the Twitch broadcast on the week that their puzzle is solved. At our recent July tournament, we had interviews with our constructors, and if you wish to see any of these interviews, they are available at


Season Schedule


Below is the season schedule. As you see there will be a Preseason Puzzle (and accompanying Twitch broadcast) that will air on Wednesday 9/30. Monday 9/28 is Yom Kippur, which is why the Preseason broadcast is on a Wednesday. 


The Preseason broadcast gives our solvers an opportunity to get used to our solving platform and for us to see what works and what needs improvement in our process before the first official puzzle.


Note: In the Championship week, all solvers will have the opportunity to do the puzzle before the live

broadcast of the top three solvers in the Stormy division solving the Championship puzzle.

Scoring System


You will receive a score for your performance on each puzzle. Every puzzle has a 20-minute time limit. Your score will be based on both accuracy and speed using the following calculations:


  • 10 points for each correct word in the puzzle

  • 180 point bonus for a completely correct puzzle

  • 1 point per second under the 20-minute time limit for the puzzle

  • 1 point subtracted per second over the 20-minute time limit

Twitch Broadcast


Each broadcast starts at 9:00 PM Eastern on Twitch. There will be a broadcast accompanying each Monday night's puzzle that will be hosted by Boswords co-directors Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb. It will be available to watch on Twitch, a streaming service that you can watch for free.

We expect that solvers will watch the broadcast on their computer, as we make announcements, air interviews, and, most importantly, tell you exactly when each puzzle will go live. The web address for our Twitch channel is given below.

Navigating the Puzzle Me Software


First, solvers must solve the puzzles on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. Both the Boswords and Puzzle Me interfaces are not optimized for phone solving, thus do not solve on a smartphone. 


Second, we realize there is a wide-range of experience with online puzzle solving. Some folks solve exclusively on paper, some exclusively on the computer, and some do a little bit of both. The video below explains the ways to navigate within the Puzzle Me software that you will be using. This video covers both the basic navigational features and some advanced features that you may enjoy learning. 


After experimenting with the Puzzle Me software, you may wonder how to enter a Rebus answer. Don’t worry about it, that won’t be on the test! None of the league puzzles will have a Rebus component.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What if I cannot make it every Monday night?

  • You can still participate! We expect solvers may have to miss a Monday or two (or three). Every week, solvers will have until the end of their day on Wednesday to complete the puzzle and be included in that week's standings. We also will be recording the Twitch broadcasts and posting the interviews we have, so that solvers can watch them later.

What if I live overseas and cannot make it on ANY Monday night?

  • You can still participate! As noted above, solvers will have until the end of their day on Wednesday to complete the puzzle and be included in the standings. So you can do the puzzles at time that is convenient for you. We will be recording the Twitch broadcasts and posting the interviews we have, so that solvers can watch them later.

Once the Fall League starts, can I switch divisions?

  • Yes! You can contact us and request a switch of divisions if the level you are solving at is too easy or too hard. We recommend signing up for the hardest level you think you can do, as we think it is better to move down a level than move up a level. But moving in either direction is certainly possible. We want you in the right place!

I am in the Pairs division .... Do I have to be in the same physical location as my partner?

  • The ideal situation for pairs is to be in the same location looking at one computer, as we do not have the capability to have two solvers solve one puzzle on the same grid simultaneously. But, pairs may have two solvers in different locations communicating on a Zoom (or other video) call, with one person typing in the answers. We do have the capability of both solvers having the puzzle up on separate computers ... we just don't have a way of both people typing on one grid.

Will I have the opportunity to do the Championship Puzzle?

  • Yes! On the Week 10, Monday 11/30 broadcast, there will be a 20-minute time window for solvers to complete the Championship Puzzle, which will also have Stormy, Choppy, and Smooth versions. After that time window, we will have the top-3 Individuals in the Stormy division compete in a Live Championship for all to see on Twitch.

Do you have other questions that are not answered above?

Feel free to reach out to us at

How to Solve Puzzles Using Puzzle Me

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