Now is the time for you to start preparing your entries for the 2023 World Championship and the RPM Trophy.
We are a small team and are always looking for grids for the Calendar Puzzles and the Extra Puzzles, which is why both challenges require the design of a 3D grid, or indeed, if you are feeling inspired, grids, with a little bit more for the World Championship entrants to do. We included excellent grids from our 2022 competition winners in the 2024 Calendar.
The links below take you to the relevant pages of our website where the information leads you towards best practice. Please, please use one of the grid templates as well as the word table template provided. By using the templates you really will help the judges. Of course if you are creating a new grid design, an innovation warmly welcomed, we will accept your best efforts. Bear in mind that any new grid design needs to fit on an A4 page in landscape orientation with cells big enough to be comfortably filled in by the solver. Likewise if, despite your best efforts, you cannot print or edit a template we will accept non template grids. We cannot stress more that our challenges are for your entertainment and to be enjoyed. Nothing helps your overall appreciation of crosswords more than adding grid design and clue writing to your solving achievements. Below is an outline of each challenge.
One word of warning. We already have grids lined up for two months in the 2025 calendar: August and October. This will not stop you winning either of the competitions for entering grids designed for those two months but it may well mean you’ll need to wait until 2026 or later to see them published. Alternatively they may be published as an extra rather than in the calendar itself.
2023 World Championship
Qualification: you must have successfully solved 12 puzzles during 2023. When you submit your monthly puzzle entry, your acknowledgement email will contain your progress status. There is also a “check your progress” link on our Puzzles Page. Solving the November Extra will give you an extra boost towards getting the required 12.
Your tasks will be:
- To solve the November Extra crossword puzzle.
- To create a 3D grid with a theme suitable for our 2025 calendar, i.e. the year after next. This can be an anniversary related theme appropriate to a specific month or a non-anniversary related theme which can appear in any month.
- To write clues for the following two phrases:
- Robin Redbreast
N.B. Each entrant may only submit one grid and one set of clues.
2023 RPM Trophy
There are no qualifications required for this challenge and everyone is encouraged to enter, although World Championship entrants must submit a separate grid. Your task is to create a 3D grid with a theme suitable for our 2025 calendar, i.e. the year after next. This can be an anniversary related theme appropriate to a specific month or a non-anniversary related theme which can appear in any month. If you enter more than one grid, please indicate which is your preferred grid. However, all grids submitted will be considered both for the competition and for publication.
The submission deadline for both competitions is 15 January 2024.
In all aspects of each competition (clues, grids and word lists), entries will be anonymised before being sent to the judges. Make sure you only send your entries to the address specified in the word table template.
3D Grid Design Guide is for guidance but nothing is cast in stone.
3D Grid Templates (PDF) are there for you to use and adapt as you see fit. Or you could create your own.
Word Table Template (.docx) is our preferred method for you to submit the information about you and your grid. Please return in the same format (not as PDF). It also contains the information for where to send your entry.
3D Exemplar Grid and Word Table (PDF) is an example of your final submission.
November Extra Puzzle
The November Extra Puzzle and entry form can be found on the 2023 puzzles page.
Message from the Editor: How do I get my puzzle selected for publication?
As the 2025 Calendar will be the first whose puzzles I oversee from beginning to end — from offering my opinion on some of the grids and word-lists entered for these 2023 competitions to the moment when the Calendar is declared complete in early October — I thought it might be helpful to pass on my thoughts to prospective entrants for the WC and RPM competitions.
As a principle, those grids winning the World Championship (in which I will be part of the consultation process) and RPM Trophy (in whose award I shall have no role at all since I too will be entering the competition) will always be included in the following year’s Calendar. Those higher up in the standings will very probably be included; however, there are ways of catching my eye as Editor.
Five key words occur to me: variety, fun, challenge, scale, elegance. Let me take them in turn here.
Historic events; discoveries in science and technology; landmark publications in the arts; births or deaths of famous people and institutions: such will always be our bread and butter, since they lend themselves to commemorative puzzles. But I would like to welcome grids on other themes also.
When shall we publish the first ever 3D puzzle on pigeon racing? When shall we be entertained by cryptic presentations of economics, farming, dance, millinery or bicycles? My examples are random and purely representative of course, but you get the idea.
Variety in grids is also very much to be welcomed. There are several different shapes now well-established in the 3D canon, but nothing prevents your being inventive — provided the grid works and can be practically represented on what is a 2D page.
As to length of words, variety can be most welcome, though it may involve the solver in a snake-hunt; however, there is also a special elegance in a grid which consists only of seven-, six- or five-letter words without any bars.
We are to some extent providing temporary relief from an often dark and disturbing world. So nothing too introspective, no tendentious political themes please, and nothing which would offend those whose presuppositions may not be our own. I shall be very happy to receive grids where the discovery of the theme, the thematic entries themselves, the shape and working of the grid, the Easter Eggs (if any) or other devices give a smile or set the famous tea-tray a-swinging.
A range of levels of difficulty is needed. Do not fear that your idea is too simple; but also do not be afraid to challenge the solvers. I think it is a good principle that January’s puzzle should not be too hard, while the second half of the year should generally be somewhat harder. However, a saw-tooth profile of difficulty is almost certainly better than a discouraging uphill trudge, so do not hesitate to submit a relatively gentle idea for December or something tough for April! New types of puzzle are welcome also: see Soup’s innovative November 2024 puzzle for an example. Remember that of course we want the solver to win; to be variously challenged but not bogged down; to go on looking forward to the next month and year.
Please bear in mind that as well as fitting the grid onto one page, we also have to fit the clues on to a calendar page. Should you provide a March puzzle with thirty-one entries, I will be disposed to love it from the word go! As a solver I like to get value for my money, but also prefer not to be sent scurrying to the back of the Calendar too often. As a remedy for a sprawling puzzle, see what you can do with unclued items which are of a kind, or Easter Eggs grouped together: last month’s ‘Disney’ puzzle by the amazing Shark is a great example of that kind of condensing.
This will be subjective in many cases. However, I think that generally a neat grid preferably without bars, a shape apposite to its theme, a front edge (in cuboid puzzles) which presents real and thematic entries, a use of symmetry where appropriate, will attract me as something I think I would enjoy looking at on my kitchen wall for a month or so.
There are many other possible ways of achieving greater elegance which will occur to the designer, and I do not wish to anticipate here your own future brilliant inventions. Please astonish us!
AGC / Komorník