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Winter Wondersolve Nuts and Bolts

All Winter Wondersolvers will complete four puzzles -- three themed puzzles and one themeless puzzle. 


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


The video below explains the process of solving in our online environment and using your Boswords code when you are accessing a tournament puzzle. 

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 Winter Wondersolve Puzzle Page. So if you click the link at 1:21 PM, your time will start from there and end when you hit “SUBMIT”.


After you hit “SUBMIT”, you will be prompted to enter your Boswords Code.

Scoring System


You will receive a score for your performance on each puzzle. Every puzzle has a 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 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 may 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

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. 


Also, you may manage your settings in the PuzzleMe software when you access the Practice puzzles. As long as you use the same browser for the Winter Wondersolve, these settings should carry over to future puzzles you solve with us in PuzzleMe. If you run into problems with this, we’d like to hear about it.


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 PuzzleMe 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 Winter Wondersolve puzzles will have a Rebus component.



Below is the schedule for the Winter Wondersolve. We will do our best to stay on schedule.


1:00 -- 1:20 Welcome / Introduction / Directions


1:20 -- 1:45 PUZZLE #1 -- [25 minutes]


1:45 -- 2:00 Break + Interview + Mini Puzzle


2:00 -- 2:25 PUZZLE #2 -- [25 minutes]


2:25 -- 2:45 Constructor Interviews


2:45 -- 2:55 Break


2:55 -- 3:35 PUZZLE #3 -- [40 minutes]


3:35 -- 3:50 Break + Interview + Mini Puzzle


3:50 -- 4:15 PUZZLE #4 -- [25 minutes]


4:15 -- 4:30 Constructor Interviews


4:30 -- 4:35 Conclusion -- Announce Results

Puzzles and no official Championship Round


As for puzzles, 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 Puzzle #1 be at a Tuesday level, Puzzle #2 to be at a Wednesday level, and Puzzle #3 to be at a Thursday level. Each of the first three puzzles is themed.


Puzzle #4 is a themeless puzzle with a 25-minute time limit and you will have the option to solve one of two versions of this puzzle. The “Flurry” version will be clued at a Wednesday level and is recommended for solvers who do not confidently solve Friday/Saturday NY Times puzzles. The “Blizzard” 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 Winter Wondersolve. Both versions have the same puzzle grid … it is simply the clues that are different.

Unlike many crossword tournaments, the 2024 Winter Wondersolve will not feature a traditional Championship puzzle in which only the top 3 solvers compete. All solvers will officially solve all four puzzles, and the winner will be the solver with the best total score for the four puzzles. Thus, someone who is in, say, 5th place after the first 3 puzzles could leap to 1st place after the 4th puzzle.

Streaming Broadcast on Twitch


There will be a broadcast accompanying the Winter Wondersolve 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 Winter Wondersolve and will start airing at 12:45 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 is posted on the main page and is also given below.

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