Contest Rules


A new puzzle will be posted on January 9, 2024, and on the first Tuesday of each month thereafter. Solvers will have until Sunday 11pm (Eastern Time) to send in a correct solution to the meta.

The meta answer for each puzzle will be a song, band, album, or something else music-related.

Make sure you read the meta instructions carefully. While the first few puzzles will be on the easier side, the later puzzles will be trickier.

Submit your answer to the meta using the form on the home page. Only one answer per solver is permitted. If you submit multiple entries, only the first will count. I make exceptions for obvious typos, so it’s OK to resubmit to correct a typo.

Solvers who send in correct solutions will be eligible for prizes, including a free entry to the 2025 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.


Correctly solving a monthly meta will earn you between 1 and 5 points per puzzle, depending on the puzzle’s difficulty.

Solvers will also get a chance to guess the mega-meta early, and (if they’re successful) will score 5 bonus points plus 2 additional points for every month remaining in the contest. As an illustration, a solver just before the June puzzle would get 5 points for solving the 13th puzzle’s meta, an additional 5 points for solving it early, plus 2 points for each month they’re early, giving them 5+5+(2*7) = 24 points. I will not reveal if anyone has cracked the mega-meta until the next puzzle is published. To facilitate solving the mega-meta, unlocked Across Lite files will be made available after each month’s contest is closed.

There are no free guesses. You can guess at the mega-meta as many times as you like, but incorrect guesses will incur 1-point penalties.

The final puzzle of this year’s contest, the mega-meta reveal, will be released on December 24, the penultimate Tuesday of 2024. Correctly solving the mega-meta after seeing the final puzzle will earn you 5 points.

Red Herring:  The contest also features a red herring – something hidden in the puzzles just like a mega-meta, but leading to a dead end. Solvers get one try at figuring out the red herring, and they can submit their answer anytime during the year. Successful answers earn 5 points.

Monthly prizes:

Each month a randomly selected winner will receive the 15-ounce coffee mug pictured below.

Grand (annual) prize:

At the end of 2024, participants who have solved the mega-meta early AND correctly solved at least 8 out of 12 regular-season metas will be eligible to win a free entry to the 2025 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, CT (or $100 in cash if you can’t make the tournament). You can also qualify for the Grand Prize drawing if you solve the mega-meta and 10 out of 12 of the monthly puzzles, even if you don’t solve the mega-meta early.

There will be a random drawing in which each person’s total points for the year determines their weight in the drawing. One tournament entry (or $100) will be awarded.