A meticulous team evaluate the crossword, vetting each clue and also answer due to the fact that “there is no such thing as a neutral word.”



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As a crossword puzzle tester because that The new York Times, one of Evie Eysenburg’s work is to call Will Shortz, who has edited the puzzle for 28 years, and tell him when something is wrong.

Ms. Eysenburg, a previous middle institution math teacher, plays each puzzle herself and also looks because that typos or anything the is factually incorrect or may be sensitive, and also then informs Mr. Shortz.

She is part of a team the ten that has testers, fact-checkers and also reviewers who study the puzzles for errors and administer feedback to make certain each puzzle will carry out the intellectual difficulty — and also playful high quality — that human being have concerned expect.

What go it take to be a good crossword tester?

“Flexibility that mind,” Mr. Shortz said. “The capability to take a clue, and also see the numerous different means it deserve to be interpreted and also figuring the end which one works.”


The puzzles themselves originate with constructors, who submit around 200 puzzles every week for consideration.

Mr. Shortz and also a team of 4 editors go through the submissions and select puzzles that will certainly run each day that the week, v the difficulty level famously boosting from Monday with Saturday, and Sunday being the greatest crossword. They do changes and also fine-tune them.

But before they room published, the puzzles are sent to a team of reviewers whose task is to try them out and also look for any kind of shortcomings, such as inaccuracies, typos and also even reactions about how words or clues might be perceived by different groups that people.

The puzzles first go to 3 testers who work for Mr. Shortz. One is Nancy Schuster, a previous crossword editor, and also champion that the an initial American crossword Puzzle Tournament, the country’s earliest crossword competition. Favor Ms. Eysenburg, she test-solves the puzzle and also keeps her eye out for anything the is off.

Brad Wilber is the chief reality checker. A previous librarian, he bring his attention to detail to meticulously inspect as lot of the details as possible.


“You have to watch old commercials on YouTube, you have actually to check song lyrics, you have actually to check quotations,” Mr. Wilber explained. He climate calls Mr. Shortz directly and goes over any kind of errors he has found and discusses potential wording changes.

There is additionally another great of vetting for the puzzles. Everdeen Mason, the editorial director because that games, which includes the crossword, recently created a panel of seven testers because that what she phone call “a vibe check.”

“And through that ns mean, is it funny to play?” Ms. Mason said.

The dashboard of seven started in May and also tests as plenty of crossword puzzles as possible, with an eye for sensitivity and also inclusivity. Encourage to Ms. Mason by editors on the crossword puzzle team, the seven represent diversity in race, background, gender and also sexual orientation.

As they play the puzzles every week, the testers — Lisa Nichols, Layla Forrest-White, Elizabeth Hira, kris Jackson, Nate Cardin, Ade Koiki and Adam Lanphier — fill out a questionnaire on a Google doc through their feedback. “Did you understand the theme?” Ms. Mason said, listing few of the worries addressed in the document. “What space your favourite clues, what room your the very least favorite clues?”

Recently, Ms. Mason said, words “deadname” in a clue “prompted a the majority of discussion.” Deadnaming means to refer to a transgender human being by their birth name rather than acknowledging their liked name or identity. The panel discussed rewording the clue and eventually discovered a consensus where “we feeling comfortable with the clue, and the constructor feels comfortable with the clue,” Ms. Mason said.

“There is no such point as a neutral word,” Ms. Hira said, explaining the they effort to make sure every proviso and an answer is respectful and also inclusive.

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Feedback from the panel is collected at the end of the week, and also Ms. Mason presents it come Mr. Shortz and some the his crossword editors, who make final changes to the puzzles before they room published.