Tuesday, August 7, 2018



Aries Freestyle publishes four wild-card puzzles in 2018 that are supplementary to the regular bi-weekly puzzles. For the second time in 2018, I’m opening it up for outside submissions. Puzzles will be solved and assessed blindly – that is, the constructor name will not be revealed as I review submissions. One winning puzzle will be selected and published at the end of September.

Specs: Fully gridded, fully clued freestyle crosswords only. Keep these things to a minimum in the grid: partial phrases, non-English words, Roman numerals, uncommon abbreviations or initialisms, awkward plurals, and obscure proper names. Avoid having suboptimal entries cross each other. Clues should be very challenging (think a touch harder than a typical Saturday New York Times puzzle) and should favor wordplay over trivia. Max word counts: 72 for a 15x15 puzzle; 73 for a 16x15 or 15x16 puzzle.

Submit puzzles in .puz or .pdf format. Please do not put your name in the .puz or .pdf file, but be sure include your name in the body of the email when you submit.

Email to: [aries.freestyle.submissions@gmail.com].  

The deadline to submit is Thursday, September 13, 2018. Aries Freestyle test solver David Plotkin will then send me all of the puzzles with the constructor names removed so as to ensure the process is blindly judged.

The winning constructor will receive $100 and a copy of Maverick Crosswords. All constructors retain all rights to their puzzles. The winning puzzle will be distributed one time only to Aries Freestyle subscribers and will not be included in any future archived packs.

Constructors of all backgrounds are encouraged to submit, especially underrepresented groups in crosswords such as women and people of color. New constructors are also very much encouraged to submit. I’ll give each and every submission detailed feedback about the puzzle – the highs and lows, and general commentary about the clues and the grid.

You don’t need to be a subscriber of Aries Freestyle to submit. And though Aries Freestyle puzzles tend to focus on the stagger-stack type freestyles, all types of freestyle layouts are encouraged, including grids featuring atypical symmetry.

Andrew J. Ries, editor-in-chief