Criss-Cross puzzles are a type of Crossword variant in which, rather than filling in white space in a symmetrical grid, solvers must fit entries into a set of loosely-interconnected rows and columns, rarely symmetrical and usually only crossing a few other entries at most. As a result, Criss-Crosses have a very low percentage of cross-checked cells.

Background[edit | edit source]

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Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

A typical Criss-Cross grid, confined to a box.

Criss-Cross puzzles differ from traditional crosswords by way of both a lack of symmetry in their grid (and a lack of cohesion to any of the core grid styles), and a lack of cross-checking. While normal crosswords have almost every cell cross-checked by another entry, Criss-Crosses are lucky to have half of their cells cross-checked. Instead, entries will cross anywhere from 1 to about half of their cells with another entry, forming an interconnected web of words with no rotational symmetry in sight.

The primary things one can change about Criss-Crosses is whether or not the entries are numbered, and whether or not all of the connections are interconnected into one big web. By removing numbers and any other identifiers that would clue where particular entries go, solvers are forced to use logic to figure out where entries go (similar to a Fill-In puzzle). This is commonly paired with the latter change of splitting the web of entries into chunks (often pairs or small even groups of answers). This pairing can be used in a very logical way, or be used to amplify the mechanics of a word puzzle in which pairs of connects words are generated.

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Strategy[edit | edit source]

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Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Fill in the Blanks (MITMH 2013) (web) - An especially-difficult Criss-Cross, in which none of the entries are given. Instead, solvers just get a list of answer lengths, and have to deduce what the connection is (and how they can fit them into the provided Criss-Cross grids).
  • Lost in Translation (MITMH 2017) (web) - A 3D Criss-Cross stylized to look like a 2D dungeon-crawler, where solvers can traverse along tunnels (entries) and go up and down through the layers via a few vertical entries.
  • Filming on Location (MITMH 2020) (web) - Another Criss-Cross without a word or clue list. Instead, solvers must realize that the grid can be filled in two different ways: once by a particular set of US states, and once by those states' capitals.

See Also[edit | edit source]