Worst Crossword Ever (Huntinality 2022)

Worst Crossword Ever
Huntinality 2022
CFO (Scarlet Tang)
The "grid" used in several parts of this puzzle.
Author(s)Kris Brown, Benji Nguyen
AnswerClick to revealSELLER
No. solves178
No. total guesses819*

Worst Crossword Ever is a word puzzle from the CFO round of Huntinality 2022. While the accuracy of the title is up for debate (primarily as to whether it's a crossword at all), the puzzle does deal heavily with linguistic error as well as crossword clue-writing conventions.

Solve Path[edit | edit source]

While solvers may initially be drawn to the long list of clues split into "Across", "Down", and "Not Even In The Grid?", it's more effective to skip over them and look at the "grid" presented at the bottom of the page, which appears to be (among other notable things) already filled out.


Solvers who scan the grid before looking at the clues may notice that some of the clues solve to words or phrases that are present in the grid. This is a bit of an understatement, however, as going through all of the clues (in the Across and Down sections at least) will reveal that not only are all but six of the answers present in the grid, but each clue's answer is the last word in the clue itself. This (along with some of the odder answers, like RHYMES WITH LAW DEGREE and IF ON A WINTERS NIGHT A TRAVELER BY ITALO CALVINO) should make solvers question whether or not the puzzle is actually a crossword in the first place.

Knowing at this point that the clue answers are in the clues, attention should be shifted to the last set of clues, labelled "Not Even In The Grid?". As it turns out, that's a true moniker, as their answers are not found in the grid at all. However, the six clues have more in common than just that: each one describes a type of linguistic error or corruption that could theoretically make sentences (particularly crossword clues) less understandable. Additionally, each one includes a number that seems to imply the presence of a number of occurrences of those errors. People who can do quick mental math and have already counted the number of clues in the other lists may notice that while the sum of these numbers is 49, there are 55 clues. This would seem to imply that either they don't match up at all (which should start looking unlikely once one looks a bit closer at the clues themselves), or that they do, but 6 are left over. This is backed up by the previous observation of six clues not having their answers in the provided grid.

  • SPOONER --> Spoonerisms - 7
  • ENGLISH-BREAKING MEMES --> Internet memes that result in incorrect English - 8
  • APOSTROPHE --> Improper apostrophe placement - 11
  • IAMBIC PENTAMETER --> Incorrect syllable count - 10
  • DASH --> Wrong use of em dash/en dash/hyphen - 6
  • HYPERCORRECTION --> Improper use of foreign language rules - 7

Looking back at the clues, some clearly have certain errors, such as the clue for CASINO spoonerising 'Don Rickles' as 'Ron Dickles'. However, others use content that may imply the presence of a particular error (such as the clues that are formatted in iambic pentameter couplets but actually get the syllable count right). Going by the numbers, each clue should be affected by a maximum one error, so one needs to be careful when assigning errors. Once this is done correctly, solvers should be left with six clues that aren't erroneous at all, but do seem to relate to one of the six errors themselves.

  • In contractions, apostrophes connect one of these head-to-tail to another word. (4)
    • 'Apostrophe' explicitly mentioned in the clue.
  • The particular shape of the Big Dipper and Little Dipper is the subject matter of this field, which is practiced in departments of astronomy. (9)
    • The Dipper constellations are in the shape of spoons, tying this to the spoonerism error.
  • The Shape of Dash, an unsuccessful sequel to The Shape of Water, didn't form any of these on opening night outside theaters, as audiences got bored fast by a bunch of horizontal lines. (5)
    • 'Dash' explicitly mentioned in the clue.
  • A meme that causes some to laugh uproariously at six vertical lines and one horizontal one, while everyone else is at a loss. (4)
    • 'Meme' explicitly mentioned in the clue.
  • The place one's web browser will store data from the Wikipedia page on scansion after solving this puzzle, if you don't clear your cache. (5)
  • What one typically is looking for while assigning words in a jumble to European countries; what to do is a question that basic geography answers. (7)
    • Each of the hypercorrection errors specifically mentions either a European language or a country in Europe.

The word soup masquerading as a criss-cross grid is oriented bizarrely, but seeing as this is a hunt puzzle, that is certainly intentional. Now that each of the words belongs to a particular group, the next step is to highlight each group's words at once. Doing so should reveal some visual connections between the given answer sets, somewhat related to both the error type itself, and the unused clues that got connected to them.

  • Spoonerisms --> An image of two spoons (of questionable quality)
  • Apostrophes --> Every answer is connected to another answer, via a first letter-last letter overlap
  • Memes --> The "Loss" meme, in traditional minimalist form
  • Iambic Pentameter --> The graphic scansion of a line in iambic pentameter
  • Hypercorrection --> Answers from clues involving a country or a particular country's language arranged in their approximate positions in Europe.
  • Dashes --> Just a single horizontal line going across the middle of the grid.

However, each of these depictions has its own error. In each case, a single word doesn't fit in with the rest of the diagram, resulting in a new set of six entries.

  • Spoonerisms --> RHYMES WITH LAW DEGREE is not part of either spoon drawing.
  • Apostrophes --> SNICKERS is not connected to any other words.
  • Memes --> TAURUS provides an unnecessary horizontal-ish line in the first "panel" of Loss.
  • Iambic Pentameter --> WOULD makes the wrong symbol (should be a dot, not a slash).
  • Hypercorrection --> SELLER is nowhere near Great Britain.
  • Dashes --> BEING IRONIC isn't part of the continuous horizontal line.

Looking at these six entries, there's not much that appears to connect them. In fact, the only way to see the proper connection is by keeping them highlighted in the grid. Having all six highlighted at once will show that Click to revealall but SELLER is part of a pentagon in the middle of grid, while SELLER is off by itself in the bottom right. Fitting with the puzzle, the final answer is in fact, a word that was in plain sight in no less than two different locations within the puzzle.

Track Differences[edit | edit source]

As with the other puzzles in this hunt, there are differences between the casual and expert tracks' versions of this puzzle. The difference in this puzzle is an additional piece of text marked as an "Editor's Note" at the beginning of the "Not Even In The Grid" section.

Editor's Note: These might give you insight into the types of errors you're looking for and how many of each you should expect.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

  • Criss-Cross - While it certainly doesn't follow any traditional crossword rules, visually the "grid" visually resembles a criss-cross grid the closest.
  • Spoonerism/Linguistics (Grammar, Punctuation, and Scansion)/Internet Culture (Memes) - As determined by the "Not Even In This Grid" section of the puzzle, there are six types of errors found in the crossword clues, and those span these elements (with Dash/Apostrophe misuse in Punctuation, Hypercorrection in Grammar, and Iambic Pentameter in Scansion)
  • Error Correction - Technically, the errors present in this puzzle are never actually corrected, but the identification and grouping of them is still a very important part of the process. Someone else will probably fix it later, anyway.
  • Red Herring - Many intentional ones, all to make the job of classifying errors more difficult. Among these are clues written in iambic pentameter (but correct iambic pentameter), clues that either mention countries and then don't hypercorrect, or that use loanwords but don't hypercorrect. All of them make it more difficult to determine exactly what's actually wrong.
  • Unused Information - Even after doing all of the identification and grouping, six answers are left out (not because they're perfectly fine, but just because they're not as bad). As it turns out, these end up containing clues to how to interpret the results from the...
  • ...Paint-By-Word - If properly grouped, painting a given error's answer words the same color results in some interesting diagrams that relate to the error that created them. For example, the Spoonerism set results in (of course) two spoons! However, it should also become clear that in each of those diagrams there's an...
  • ...Odd-One-Out - Each diagram has a single word that just doesn't fit what it's going for (either creating a mistake in a pattern, or not contributing to the larger image).
  • Recursion - Once solvers have all six odd-ones-out, they can perform their final extraction! This happens to be pretty similar to the previous extraction, as now highlighting the six answers results in five of them forming a nice pentagon in the middle of the grid (and the sixth one being by itself off to the side). As it turns out, that's your answer!
  • Hidden In Plain Sight - Yep. The answer was one of the clue answers the entire time, meaning that (if you added the grid image to whatever workspace you were using to solve this) there's a good chance you had the answer somewhere in your work document three times before finishing.