- The contest consists of three original crossword puzzles on which all contestants compete at each level. The top three teams, individual amateurs and individual experts with the highest combined scores will move on to the finals. The championship for all three levels will be played on identical grids, with different clues prepared for each class.
- Amateurs and Experts will compete at the same time for the first three rounds, but at different tables.
- Solvers will have 15 minutes to solve each of the first three puzzles, with a 10-minute break between rounds.
- All competitors in each class will begin rounds at the same time.
- Upon completion, signal a referee. Time will be marked at the time signaled, rounded to the next minute. All referees will use the same clock, located at the front of the room.
- Contestants may leave the table upon completion, but please be conscientious and quietly push in your chair, with respect for others still solving.
- Cell phones, solving references and outside help from spectators are not permitted.
- At the tournament director’s discretion, a contestant or team will be disqualified from the competition for any violation of the tournament rules.
- Winning will be determined by points. Based on accuracy and speed, scoring is as follows:
10 points for each correct word entered across and down
25 bonus points for each full minute a puzzle is finished ahead of the allowed solution time — BUT subtract 25 points for each missing or incorrect letter (but not beyond the point the bonus returns to zero)
150 bonus points for each completely correct solution
For purposes of scoring, a “word” consists of any series of letters written between black squares in the grid, or between a black square and the border of the grid, whether it is a single word, a phrase, or otherwise.
- Ties, if any, will be broken by the best score on puzzle three. If a tie still exists, then the best score from puzzle two will advance. If a tie still exists, then the best score from puzzle one (allowing “come-from-behind” wins).
- All final puzzles use the same grid, but have different clues for each skill level. Because of this, Expert and Team finalists will be isolated during the Amateur finals; Teams will be isolated during the Expert finals.
- Puzzlers who compete both as an individual and on a team may compete in only one championship.