Hardest Recent Puzzles

There are many reasons why you find a particular crossword easy or difficult, but thanks to our XWord Info data, we can determine which puzzles are trickiest for most people.

Well, probably. Maybe?

photo of thunderstorm

Here’s how this works. Most solvers come to XWord Info to find answers to puzzles they’re working on. (The 45 most recent puzzles are always available for free.) Usually, they see letters they’re missing, slap their heads, and go on with their lives.

If they’re still confused, though, they might click the “More…” links to read the explanations by the constructors or by Jeff Chen.

We can’t tell who clicks “More…” but we can track how many times it’s clicked for each puzzle. For this analysis, we compare that number with the typical number for that day of the week. (More people do early-week puzzles and Sundays than others.)

Crosswords highlighted here are the most recent ones in the 90th percentile for each day of the week.

NOTE: If you’re on a computer, you can hover over the grids here to see the clues. Either way, you can click once to reveal the answers and click again to go to the XWord Info page for that puzzle.

Trickiest Monday

Zhouqin Burnikel (known to the crossword community as C.C.) fooled people with this colorful colored food theme on May 10.


Trip Payne cornered the market on tricky on August 3. Each corner was an anagram of THE MARKET.


Alex Vratsanos gave us some Z grid art and lots of Z’s in the grid.


This Trenton Charlson crossword fooled many people. The revealer was FILL IN THE BLANK, and that had to be interpreted literally to make sense of the grid.


Brooke Husic gave us the hardest recent Friday. The grid displays her trademark diagonal symmetry.


Saturday puzzles are always difficult, but this Kameron Austin Collins takes the prize as the recent Saturday that confounded solvers the most. It’s a solid puzzle, there’s nothing unfair, but many people found it a struggle.


The hardest Sunday, by far, was this offering by Chandi Deitmer. Inconsistent grid art across the (at the time) various solving platforms didn’t help, but even so, there were far more hard clues than usual. Not to mention an unusual gimmick.

On a personal note, this is also the recent puzzle where I learned the most.


Remember, these are just statistical averages. Your experience might be quite different.

We might do this analysis again in a few months if there’s interest.

Your thoughts?