Minnesota Crossword Tournament

June 11 was a success!

Professional Crossword Puzzle Constructors

There was competition. There was suspense. There were straight line winds that threatened to keep us all home. But thanks to you, this year’s tournament was a success! We couldn’t have done it (in ink) without you.

Thank you to our sponsors, to the amazing professional crossword creators who created the puzzles, and to all the incredible competitors.
See the complete list of scores here.

Proceeds from the tournament go straight to supporting the Library. If you aren’t yet a member of The Friends, click here to become one today and help us invest in libraries and in our communities!

Want to see how you’d stack up against the competition? Order your own set of puzzles from this year’s tournament for just $5!

Official Media Partner:

Pioneer Press




Official Outreach Partner:

Twin Cities Geek



Complete scores listed here:  2012  |  2013  |  2014  |  2015  | 2016 | 2017

Meet the Constructors Below

The Minnesota Crossword Tournament offers sponsors an opportunity to be part of the only competition of its kind in the state. With the help of some of the top crossword constructors in Minnesota (and nationally – with Minnesota connections), the tournament is designed to be enjoyed by everyone from experts to amateurs. Last year more than 150 puzzlers and wordsmiths lined up to compete, and at least 200 competitors are expected this time around. Companies that sponsor our events and programs receive statewide recognition, publicity and positive brand affiliation. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Greg Giles, Vice President of Development and Community Engagement, at 651-366-6499 or greg@thefriends.org

Thank you to our sponsors and partners:

A.J. Schaake Logo
A.J. Schaake Company

American Values Club Crossword

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Aries Puzzles


Common Good Books

Crossword Nation

Fireball Crosswords
Fireball Crosswords

Roy Leban
The Librarian’s Almanaq

Magnetic Poetry
Revealing the Poet Within

Mintahoe Catering and Events

For a Good Crime, Call!


Puzzaz | The Best Way to Solve Puzzles in the Digital World
The Best Way to Solve Puzzles in the Digital World

Stan Newman's Crossword Land

Subtext Books-01
Satisfy Your Curiosity

Twin Cities Geek

The Year of Puzzles
The Year of Puzzles


Meet our puzzle constructors:

chrispictureChristopher Adams is a graduate student in mathematics at the University of Iowa. He first got into constructing after meeting George Barany at the 2015 Minnesota Crossword Tournament, and has since had solo puzzles published in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Orange County Register, with one soon to appear through Fireball Crosswords. In addition, he and George Barany collaborate on the crossword for the Star Tribune Magazine.

GeorgeGeorge Barany is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. His first New York Times puzzle, a collaboration with Michael Shteyman, appeared on a notable Sunday anniversary in January 2006.  He has additional puzzles in the New York Times, as well as others in venues such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Wall Street Journal. Solve more than 300 puzzles from Barany and Friends.

Victor Barocas is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and an avid crossword solver and constructor. His puzzles have been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, amongst other publications. He created the Ada Cross mystery / crossword series, which will be published in hard copy soon. He has participated in every MN Crossword Tournament and lives in St. Paul with his wife and two children, all of whom enjoy crosswords and games.

C.C. Burnikel

C.C. Burnikel runs the LA Times Crossword Corner blog. She has had puzzles published by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other outlets.



David Hanson

David Hanson grew up in the Twin Cities. He graduated from Mariner High School in White Bear Lake in 1982 and from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Mathematics in 1986, and works as a Chargemaster Analyst with Gillette Children’s Hospital in Saint Paul. He has had crosswords published in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and two of his creations were chosen by Will Shortz as the weekly qualifying quiz for NPR’s Sunday Puzzle. Hanson has been a member of the National Puzzlers’ League since 1997.

Andy KravisAndy Kravis is a puzzlemaker, editor, and trivia writer living in Brooklyn, NY. A native Michigander, Andy is one of the co-directors of the annual Indie 500 Crossword Tournament. Since 2011, Andy’s puzzles have been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Fireball Crosswords, Outside the Box Puzzles, the mobile app Crosswords With Friends, and semi-regularly on his own blog, Cruciverbalist at Law.

Mark McClainMark McClain grew up in Oklahoma, spent most of his career in business management in Texas, and now lives in Salem, Virginia, near the iconic Appalachian Trail. His visits to all 50 states included a 350-mile camping trip in a 14 ft. boat down the Mississippi River starting in Minneapolis. In addition to his regular contributions to several nationally syndicated puzzle outlets, he has published three books (the “Unplugged Crosswords” series). In his spare time he does volunteer work for several local organizations.

Andrea Carla MichaelsAndrea Carla Michaels grew up in Minneapolis across the street from Lake Harriet. After a career in stand-up comedy, “Dating Game” chaperoning and writing for game shows and sitcoms, she now resides in San Francisco. With close to 50 crosswords published in the New York Times and dozens of others from TV Guide to the Los Angeles Times, she is known for her early week puzzles which are on the lighter, easier side, but still fun to solve. As a company/product namer and founder of ACME Naming.com, her life is words, words, words. She also won a Motorhome on “Wheel of Fortune”.

David Liben-Nowell

David Liben-Nowell is a faculty member in the computer science department at Carleton College, where his research focuses on computational social science. He has written crosswords for the New York Times, the New York Sun, Games, and Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzle Collection, and for the Minnesota Crossword Tournament every year since 2013. As an east-coast transplant to Minnesota, David has recently taken up curling in an attempt to further embrace his new midwestern home.

Tom PepperTom Pepper is the Finance Director for the City of Eagan. He has survived 45 Minnesota winters. His few brushes with fame include having Ann Curry as a guest at his wedding and co-constructing crossword puzzles with Victor Barocas. Tom’s puzzles have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Andrew RiesAndrew J. Ries has been constructing crossword puzzles for more than 10 years. His work has been published in Fireball Crosswords, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New York Times. He has also has written six books of crossword. In addition, Ries is a skilled solver, placing in the top 50 at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and the top 30 at Lollapuzzoola.

JeffreyWechslerJeffrey Wechsler calls himself a “cruciverbal Rip Van Winkle.” He had a few puzzles published by the New York Times in the 1960s, then took a 40-year hiatus before starting to create puzzles again in 2009. He is now one of our most prolific constructors, with puzzles published regularly in in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. Perhaps indicative of his propensity to do things the “old fashioned way,” he still constructs puzzles by hand.


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