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 2:20 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 2:21 PM, your time will start from there. 


Note that your time starts once the puzzle loads on your page (we get a “start timestamp” in our system for your puzzle). This is why we recommend copying and pasting your Boswords Code, for the timer starts once the puzzle loads on your page. When you hit “Submit”, we get an “end timestamp”. The difference between the end timestamp and start timestamp will be considered your time for the puzzle. The video above illustrates this process.

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 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.

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 tournament puzzles will have a Rebus component.



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


                                 2:00 — 2:20 Welcome / Introduction / Directions


                                 2:20 — 2:45 PUZZLE #1 (91 words)


                                 2:45 — 2:55 Break


                                 2:55 — 3:30 PUZZLE #2 (104 words)


                                 3:30 — 3:50 Break + Constructor Interviews


                                 3:50 — 4:30 PUZZLE #3 (99 words)


                                 4:30 — 4:45 Break + Constructor Interview


                                 4:45 — 5:10 PUZZLE #4 (70 words)


                                 5:10 — 5:20 Two Featured Solvers + Constructor Interview


                                 5:20 — 5:30 Conclusion + Announcement of Results


Schedule, Puzzles, and No Official Championship Round


You can see from the above schedule that the end time has been adjusted to 5:30 … this is because our first three puzzles are all bigger than a 15 x 15 size … that’s just the way they each came out. So we want to provide a little more time for solvers. More solving content for you!


Speaking of puzzles, we want to give you some idea of what to expect, seeing as this is our first Winter Wondersolve. In terms of NY Times crossword difficulty, we have aimed for Puzzle #1 to be at a Tuesday level, Puzzle #2 to be at a Wednesday level, and Puzzle #3 at a Thursday level. Each of these three puzzles are themed.


Puzzle #4 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 “Flurry” 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 “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.


For those of you who solved in our Fall Themeless League, the “Flurry” version is meant to be between a Smooth and Choppy difficulty level, and the “Blizzard” version is meant to be between a Choppy and Stormy difficulty level.

Unlike most crossword tournaments, the 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 3 puzzles could leap to 1st place after the 4th 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 last puzzle, and we want the last puzzle to be meaningful for all solvers. Note that we will have the standings for the first three 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 Winter Wondersolve that will be hosted by Andrew Kingsley and myself. 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 2:00 PM Eastern. 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

Winter Wondersolve Nuts and Bolts