Contest Totals


Winners, in alphabetical order by last name and with dates wins were announced, by number of Blast! challenges won.

7 Wins
Mark Diehl (6/29/15, 6/12/15, 5/22/15, 5/15/15, 5/8/15, 4/17/15, 11/7/14)

3 Wins
Howard Barkin (5/29/15, 2/13/15, 1/16/15)
Barbara Hindenach (3/20/15, 3/13/15, 2/27/15)
Doug Peterson (4/10/15, 4/3/15, 12/19/14)

1 Win
Ben Coe (2/6/15)
Barry Haldiman (1/2/15)
Jeffrey Harris (12/12/14)


Goal:  To find the most mistakes in litzed puzzles by November 1!

(Note:  The totals below are current as of 12:00 a.m. PDT November 1, 2014.)

1.  Mark Diehl:  1,742

2.  Howard Barkin:  345
3.  Todd Gross:  165
Wei-Hwa Huang:  52
4.  Dave Phillips:  46
Tracy Bennett:  42
Anonymous:  20


Unlike the litzing contests, the Pre-Shortzian Proofreading Challenge isn't about speed.  The goal isn't to proofread as many puzzles as possible but to find as many mistakes as possible.  So it will be to your advantage to proofread slowly and carefully.  Obviously, though, the more puzzles you proofread, the more mistakes you'll find!  Here are the rules:

1.  The contest will run from September 1, 2014, until 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2014.
2.  The minimum number of puzzles each contestant must proofread is 30 (one month, roughly speaking)
3.  Contestants should follow the style rules outlined in the proofreading guide.  If you've never proofread before, you'll need to own Crossword Compiler and contact me first for the proofreading self-test.
4.  Reporting of the number of mistakes found will be on the honor system, so you'll keep your own tally and report it when you return your proofread puzzles.  I'll keep a running total of the mistakes found on this page so you'll be able to see how your total stacks up against other totals.
5.  Logical groupings of mistakes will count as one mistake.  An example of this would be if you discover three missing ellipsis points; this would count as one mistake, not three.  Another example might be an underscore that is two lines too long; deleting the extra two lines would count as one mistake, not two.  Adding missing quotation marks would also count as one mistake, not two.  You get the idea.  It's definitely possible to find more than one mistake in a clue, but they have to be clearly different mistakes.  An example might be a misspelled name, followed by an incorrect punctuation mark; that would count as two mistakes.
5.  Prizes will be as follows:
1st Prize:  All prizes listed below
2nd Prize:  $25 Amazon gift card
3rd Prize:  A surprise pre-Shortzian artifact from my collection
Random Prize:  A Puzzazz e-book of your choice
Good luck, and thanks again to Puzzazz for the e-book prizes!

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Total puzzles litzed during Litzstarter:  2,355, putting us at 13,363 litzed puzzles!

(Note:  The totals below are current as of 12:00 a.m. PDT November 1, 2013.)

Mark Diehl:  674
Ralph Bunker: 539
Nancy Kavanaugh:  343; winner of the Grand Prize drawing 
Vic Fleming:  153
Howard Barkin:  104
Jeffrey Krasnick:  102
Denny Baker:  91
Mike Buckley (tie):  56
Brian Kulman (tie):  56
Tracy Bennett:  49
Todd Gross (tie):  28
Todd McClary (tie):  28
Ed Sessa:  21
C. G. Rishikesh:  14
[David Steinberg:  97]


Goal:  13,000 litzed puzzles by October 31!

This contest's prize structure is loosely modeled after Kickstarter campaigns in that it features a variety of tiers, each of which offers a different reward for "backers" (aka litzers).  Like Kickstarter, we have a precisely defined goal:  to reach 13,000 on the litzing thermometer in two months.  That's approximately 2,000 more puzzles—a bit more than we litzed during the last two-month-long litzing contest, but definitely still achievable!  Unlike Kickstarter, however, Litzstarter's rewards won't be contingent upon our attaining the goal.  So even if we fall short, backer-litzers (or "blitzers"!) will still receive rewards.

Moreover, to encourage "between-tier" litzing, anyone who litzes 14 or more puzzles will receive one virtual raffle ticket for each puzzle litzed and be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing at the end of the contest.  This means that whether you litz 14 puzzles or 1,400, you have a chance of winning this prize.  But the more puzzles you litz, the greater your odds of winning!

Finally, if you qualify for a reward at one tier but would prefer the reward for a lower tier, you can level down and request that reward instead.  Rewards aren't cumulative, though, so each tier doesn't include the rewards of previous tiers.

Thanks again to our generous sponsors for these rewards, listed in order by number of litzed puzzles:

14 or more:  Eligible for the Grand Prize drawing
25 or more:  Puzzazz e-book of your choice
50 or more:  XWord Info 1-year subscription/renewal
100 or more: American Values Club Crossword (AVCX) 1-year subscription/renewal
200 or more: Crossword Nation 1-year subscription/renewal
300 or more: Fireball Crosswords 1-year subscription/renewal
400 or more: Write a guest blog post for Rex Parker on a day of your choice
500 or more: Grab bag (well, box!) full of puzzly surprises, both old and new
Grand Prize:  Free admission to the 2014 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT; hotel and transportation fees not included)

Litzstarter is open to everyone, including contest sponsors, though if you haven't litzed before, please contact me for detailed instructions.  You must use construction software or know how to litz in text files.  Contest totals will be updated as frequently as possible.  Packets typically contain 7 puzzles, but some may have fewer; you may ask for more than one packet at a time (up to a maximum of 10), but please do not ask for more packets than you'll realistically be able to complete either by the end of the contest or shortly thereafter.  As you finish the packets, send them in and let me know if you'd like another (or several others).  Near the end of the contest, if you are only partway through a packet, simply send in the puzzles you've already litzed—they will count toward your total.  Remember, you must litz at least 14 puzzles to be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing for a free ACPT admission!  The deadline to submit litzed puzzles is 11:59 p.m. PDT on Thursday, October 31.  The Grand Prize drawing winner will be announced on November 1, 2013.

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(Note:  The totals below are current as of 11:59 p.m. PST February 28, 2013.)

1.  Mark Diehl:  625

2.  Howard Barkin:  503
3.  Jeffrey Krasnick:  204
Denny Baker:  132
Todd Gross:  103
Nancy Kavanaugh:  96
Alex Vratsanos:  46
Mike Buckley:  33
4.  Barry Haldiman:  32
Tom Pepper:  20
Joe Cabrera (tie):  14
Todd McClary (tie):  14
Doug Peterson (tie):  14
Stephen Edward Anderson (tie):  7
Peter Broda (tie):  7
John Farmer (tie):  7
Parker Lewis (tie):  7
C. G. Rishikesh (tie):  7
Dan Schoenholz (tie):  7
Vic Fleming:  6


Goal:  The halfway point by the end of February—8,113 litzed puzzles!

On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, the second Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project litzing contest will begin and is open to everyone!  This contest will run for two months, so during January and February, I'll be tracking how many litzed puzzles come in from anyone who litzes at least one week's worth of puzzles.  If you haven't litzed before and own construction software and/or know how to litz in text files, this is another great opportunity to try it out!  Three prizes will be awarded based on the number of puzzles litzed; an additional prize will be awarded to a random litzer who has not won one of the first three prizes.  The prize structure is as follows:

First Prize (for the most litzed puzzles in January and February):  A year's subscription  (or renewed subscription, if you already subscribe) to Jim Horne's XWord Info, plus 2 Puzzazz e-books of your choice (for solving puzzles on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch).

Second Prize (for the second-highest total litzed puzzles in January and February):  A year's subscription (or renewal) to XWord Info, plus 1 Puzzazz e-book of your choice.

Third Prize (for the third-highest total litzed puzzles in January and February):  A year's subscription (or renewal) to XWord Info.

Random Prize, from a drawing of all other contestants:  A year's subscription (or renewal) to XWord Info.

As with the first litzing contest in October, previously litzed puzzles will not count toward this contest, but any puzzles litzed during the contest will be added to regular totals as well as to contest totals.  You can request as many batches of puzzles in advance as you like and think you can finish, up to a limit of 10 at any one time.  You can return litzed puzzles a batch at a time or more than one batch at a time.  Except for the last day, though, you must submit complete batches of litzed puzzles (usually Monday through Sunday puzzles).  On the last day of the contest, if you only have a partially completed batch, you can submit that.

You can also request additional batch(es) before you finish the ones you have, so there's no delay between the time you finish up one batch and receive the next one.  As with the first contest, I'll try to send out batches as soon as possible, but since I'm in school during the day and sometimes gone at other times, there may be some unavoidable delays.

The longer duration of this contest is to give more people an opportunity to win one of the top three prizes, so if you have other commitments or a particularly busy week, you'll still have plenty of time to catch up, if necessary.  The randomly drawn prize is to encourage all litzers to participate, even those without much time available to litz.  The deadline to submit litzed puzzles is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, February 28, 2013.

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The October litzing contest has officially begun!  During the month of October, I'll be tracking how many litzed puzzles each litzer submits.  The three litzers who send in the most puzzles will win free Pre-Shortzian Project T-shirts!  October litzer totals will also be added to regular litzer totals.  Here we go!

(Note:  The totals below are final as of 12:00 a.m. PST November 1, 2012.)

1.  Mark Diehl:  289
2.  Jeffrey Krasnick:  135
3.  C. G. Rishikesh:  100
Robert W. Jones:  81
Nancy Kavanaugh:  67
Andrew Laurence:  62
Joe Cabrera:  42
John Farmer:  35
Todd Gross:  28
Vic Fleming:  26
Barry Silk:  25
Doug Peterson:  19
Brian Tyler:  17
Todd McClary (tie):  14
Beth Welsh (tie):  14
Stephen Edward Anderson:  13
Mangesh Ghogre (tie):  7
Barry Haldiman (tie):  7
Garrett Hildebrand (tie):  7
Dan Schoenholz (tie):  7
Sean Dobbin:  6


  1. Call me crazy, but I think Mark Diehl's going to win a t-shirt.

    1. I think Mark may win all 3 t-shirts.

    2. I think I'll just buy one.

  2. Some pre-Shortzian constructors have volunteered to litz their own puzzles. Brian Tyler published four daily puzzles, but one had already been litzed. After he litzed his three puzzles, he generously offered to litz additional puzzles and is now working on a regular batch from 1982.

  3. Anyone else noticing that Eugene Maleska used an awful lot of gratuitous hyphens?

    [Dairy-farm equipment]
    [Pone-company code]
    [Traffic-jam verb]

    And that was just on a Tuesday.

    Perhaps he owned stock in Smith-Corona and was trying to get us all to use more typewriter ribbons?