Tournament Info/Schedule

About the Event

Founded in 1978 by Will Shortz, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is the world's oldest and largest crossword event. This year for the first time it is being conducted virtually. Solvers will race to solve eight crosswords specially created for the event by leading puzzlemakers, earning points for accuracy and speed. The puzzles range in difficulty from easy/medium to very challenging.


At the end of the weekend the top three solvers will face off on a final puzzle for all to watch, with live commentary. The prizes total $6,000. In addition, the weekend features bonus puzzles, word and trivia games, and presentations through which participants can meet each other in a fun, relaxing atmosphere.

Note: You'll need to use a computer or a laptop, not a smartphone, for solving the tournament puzzles. Tablets are not recommended for speed-solvers.

Three Sample Puzzles are available in the Member area, so you can Sign Up and try solving before purchasing tickets. 

Live streaming throughout the weekend

  • The entire weekend will be held virtually.

  • The festivities will begin at Friday, April 23rd at 8:00 PM ET, at the livestream website

  • Your ACPT Code is your login for the live stream. The login is unique and cannot be shared.

Friday, April 23 — 8:00-10:30 pm [all times ET]

Warmup Games and Puzzles

  • Welcome — Will Shortz

  • Retrospective: 42 Years of ACPT Champions (photos by Don Christensen)

  • Crossword Call My Bluff (quiz by Adrienne Raphel)

  • Puns & Anagrams crossword / Cryptic crossword (solver's choice)

  • Merl Reagle Memorial Award presentation (short film on Patrick Berry + live and prerecorded tributes) 

Saturday, April 24 — 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Tournament puzzles #1-#6 - Starting at 11am ET

  • Welcome + summary of rules — Will Shortz

  • Puzzles released during the day at these approximate times:

    • Puzzle 1 - 11:15 - 15x15, 15 minutes

    • Puzzle 2 - 11:40 - 17x17, 25 minutes

    • Puzzle 3 - 12:20 - 19x19, 30 minutes

    • Puzzle 4 - 2:00 - 15x15, 20 minutes

    • Puzzle 5 - 2:40 - 17x17, 30 minutes

    • Puzzle 6 - 3:20 - 19x19, 30 minutes

  • Each puzzle will be introduced with a short video from the constructor


Saturday —  8:00-11:00(?) pm

Game Night + Dr Fill


Sunday, April 25 — 11:00 am - 12:10 pm


Puzzle #7 - 21x21, 60 minutes

  • Welcome back — Will Shortz

  • Short video from the constructor

  • Note: Contestants who want to be eligible for cash prizes must have themselves filmed as they solve, with sound, showing both themselves and their screens; videos to be uploaded afterward to Dropbox or another site. Solvers who are not competing for cash prizes do not need to film themselves.

  • Officials will look at the videos for the solvers with the highest cumulative scores on Puzzles #1-#7. The top three solvers whose videos are approved will be invited to compete in the playoffs (Puzzle #8)


Sunday  — 2:00 pm **private -- not shown live**



  • The three playoff contestants will solve the final puzzle, with their screens being recorded

  • The playoff puzzle will be made available to everyone else at 2:30 - 15x15, 15 minutes, but you will be given 30 minutes to solve


Sunday — 3:00-4:00 pm


Playoff presentation

  • Welcome — Will Shortz

  • “A Crossword Show Olio” with Zach Sherwin (prerecorded video)

  • Announcement of the top winners in all the solving categories

  • Announcement of the three finalists ("A" division only)

  • Presentation of the playoff round (three screens + live commentary by Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's "Ask Me Another"; and Greg Pliska, composer, puzzle writer, and presenter on public radio's "A Way With Words")

  • Comments by the three finalists

  • Parting words — Will Shortz




  • 1st – $3,000

  • 2nd — $2,000

  • 3rd — $1,000

  • The winner of each solving division (skill category, age category, geographical division, rookie, and pairs), as well as each of the above, will receive a medal inscribed with their name.

  • In addition, the top three solvers in each of the above categories, as well as the top 10 rookies, will receive a New York Times crossword collection from St. Martin's Press.


The 2021 ACPT constructors and organizing team are shown here.