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Summer Tournament Nuts and Bolts

All Summer Tournament solvers will complete six puzzles -- five themed puzzles and one themeless puzzle. The themeless puzzle will have two sets of clues -- “Mild” and “Sizzling” -- and you will select which version to attempt right before during that puzzle.


If you registered for the Summer Tournament, you should have received an email from us with details about becoming a member of our Boswords site, using your unique 9-digit Boswords code, and a variety of other details. If you did not receive such an email, please contact us at

Unlike in past Boswords events, you will enter your unique 9-digit Boswords Code AFTER you submit the puzzle. The Boswords Code is how we match your submitted puzzle to you. The video below illustrates the solving process.


Timing: How will your solving time be measured?


Let’s say that Puzzle #1 is made live at exactly 1:20 PM. Your time does not actually start until you actually click the link to the puzzle on the Summer Tournament Puzzle Page. So if you click the link at 1:21 PM, your time will start from there. 


Note that the Summer Tournament Puzzle Page has a “Practice Puzzle #2” that is in tournament mode so you can have a puzzle to practice on. Actually, we would appreciate you trying this with your Boswords Code as we will be testing a new automated scoring system on Saturday afternoon 7/24, and we would love to have some solving data in there to do another dry run of our system!


The address for the Summer Tournament Puzzle Page is


Scoring System


You will receive a score for your performance on each puzzle. Every puzzle has a time limit that will be announced before the puzzle begins. 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 (awarded even if you go over the time limit)

  • 1 point per second under the time limit for the puzzle

  • 1 point subtracted from your score for every second you go over the time limit


Note that to receive the time bonus, you must correctly fill in at least half the words in a given puzzle. You will not get the time bonus if you submit a blank or barely filled in puzzle shortly after you begin the puzzle.



Below is the schedule for the Summer Tournament. We will do our best to stay on schedule.


















Navigating the Puzzle Me Software


First, solvers must solve the puzzles on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. Both the Boswords and PuzzleMe 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 some 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. 


Note: Ad blockers such as “Privacy Badger” that may be running on your browser can often prevent you from accessing our puzzles. So if you are running such software and run into problems, try disabling it in order to access the puzzles.


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 tournament puzzles will have a Rebus component.







Schedule, Puzzles, and No Official Championship Round


We want to give you some idea of what to expect, seeing as this is, for many solvers, their first crossword tournament. In terms of NY Times crossword difficulty, we have aimed for Puzzles #1 and #2 to be at a Tuesday level, Puzzles #3 and #5 to be at a Wednesday level, and Puzzle #4 to be at a hard Thursday level. Each of the first five puzzles is themed.


Puzzle #6 is a themeless puzzle with a 20-minute time limit and you will have the option to solve one of two versions of this puzzle. The “Mild” version will be clued at a Tuesday/Wednesday level and is recommended for solvers who do not confidently solve Friday/Saturday NY Times puzzles. The “Sizzling” version will be clued like a weekend NY Times puzzle and is intended for solvers who confidently solve Friday/Saturday NY Times puzzle. You will decide which one to solve on the day of the Summer Tournament.


For those of you who have solved in our Themeless Leagues, the “Mild” version is meant to be a bit harder than a Smooth level puzzle, and the “Sizzling” version is meant to be between a Choppy and Stormy difficulty level.

Unlike most crossword tournaments, the 2021 Summer Tournament will not feature a traditional Championship puzzle in which only the top 3 solvers compete. All solvers will officially solve all six puzzles, and the winner will be the solver with the best total score for the six puzzles. 

Thus, someone who is in, say, 5th place after the first 5 puzzles could leap to 1st place after the 6th puzzle. We are doing things like this for a variety of reasons, one of them being technical (a live broadcast is hard to set up effectively in the limited time that we have). In addition, we want more people to be in contention going into the final puzzle, and we want the last puzzle to be meaningful for all solvers. Note that we will aim to have the standings for the first five puzzles available to view before the last puzzle begins … so you will know where you stand going into the final puzzle.


Streaming Broadcast on Twitch


There will be a broadcast accompanying the Summer Tournament that will be hosted by Andrew Kingsley and John Lieb. It will be available to watch on Twitch, a streaming service that you can watch for free. (You only need to create an account if you wish to participate in the live chat stream.)


We expect that solvers will watch the broadcast on their computer, as we make announcements, air interviews with constructors, and, most importantly, tell you exactly when each puzzle will go live.


We will be streaming on Twitch for the Summer Tournament and will start airing at 12:50 PM Eastern so that solvers can engage in the chat before we officially start with an introduction at 1:00 PM. The web address for our Twitch channel will be posted on the main page and is also given below.

Tips for Solving Puzzles Using Puzzle Me

Summer Solver Nuts and Bolts

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