There are millions of people that play crossword puzzles on a daily basis, and almost every player has their preferred source for their puzzles. Newspapers in general have their own crosswords section, with some being more widespread and/or challenging than others. Major metro areas across the world tend to be the ones that have dedicated crossword editors and puzzles that are played on a national basis.
Whether it’s through newspaper syndication or through the power of the internet, some publications are played by more people worldwide than others. Which of the big ones presents the biggest challenge, though? Here are the five toughest newspaper crosswords in the world and what makes them so difficult.
5. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal, of course, based out of New York City, is mostly known for its reporting on finance and the world of economics, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t have a little crossword fun when reading the paper. Back in 1998, the Wall Street Journal started printing crossword puzzles in the weekend edition, and then in 2015 decided to make it a daily occurrence.
Mike Shenk has served as the crossword editor for many years and makes sure that the week starts out with easier puzzles that get progressively harder. By the weekend edition, only the experts are left to complete their perfect week. The WSJ also holds crossword contests for when they really want to test out the toughest of the tough.
4. The Telegraph
Started by Arthur B. Sleigh in 1885 as The Daily Telegraph & Courier, most of us know the newspaper these days simply as The Telegraph. The newspaper became the first in the United Kingdom to publish a daily crossword, doing so in 1925, and also became the first in the country to give out a prize for solving the puzzles due to the cryptic clues that were given for each word.
Since then, The Telegraph has become a staple for crosswords players and still remains one of the most challenging. Thankfully, there are options for people of all skill levels, but those that consider themselves experts fancy themselves a try at the Telegraph’s daily crosswords which include an archive of more than 17,000 puzzles.
3. New York Times
One of the biggest newspapers in the world with a staff of more than 2,000 people, The New York Times started back in 1851 under founders Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones. Following World War II, the newspaper expanded tremendously and includes adding a crosswords section that first appeared in 1942. Since then, it has been included in the features section of the NYT.
Since 1993, the New York Times has become popular in the mainstream thanks to crossword editor Will Shortz. Shortz was able to make the puzzles both challenging and fun, and it turned him into a household name. Each Saturday, the toughest crossword of the week is released and tests the best players in the world.
2. Washington Post
Now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post got its start in the nation’s capital in December 1877 and has become one of the most well-known newspapers throughout the United States. Much like the other publications on the list, things start out easy on Monday and get a lot harder throughout the week, with the weekend edition being the toughest.
There have even been pleas for the Washington Post to “dumb down” their crossword puzzles as even some of the top experts in crosswords found them to be too challenging. Thankfully for those that really want a challenge, the Post has ignored many of these pleas and instead focused on having the most difficult crossword puzzles in the United States.
1. The Guardian
The oldest newspaper on the list, The Guardian was founded as The Manchester Guardian in England in May 1821 by John Edward Taylor before simply becoming The Guardian in 1959 and has a circulation of over 100,000 with many more online readers. Many of these readers flock to the paper so that they can play the daily crossword, which is regarded as the toughest in the world.
The Guardian’s editors have said that they’ve received countless complaints about the crosswords being too hard or cryptic, but that hasn’t deterred them. In fact, they’ve essentially said “tough luck” to those that were having difficulty. There are still contests for the toughest puzzles, bringing out the best of the best.