IAC is pleased to announce a new addition to its Nationals program for 2024: the National Children’s Crossword Championships! This competition is a chance for students to both compete in a crossword format in subjects that they already excel at, as well as test their skills in two New York Times style puzzles, which are being commissioned for this competition. Crossword puzzles are a great test of knowledge and mental agility for students of all ages. If you are interested in competing in this competition, we recommend you try your hand at some puzzles in advance. In the USA, the gold standard for crossword quality is the daily puzzle in the New York Times. Note that from Monday-Saturday, the puzzles increase in difficulty, while the Sunday puzzle is much larger, but only about as hard as a Wednesday or Thursday puzzle. Your IAC Executive Director began doing the NY Times puzzle with his Elementary School Newspaper Advisor when he was in First Grade, and he still routinely does the Saturday NYT puzzle. Click here for the NY Times puzzle (paywall applies), here for a great introduction to solving crosswords, and here for a review of each day’s puzzle if you want to hone your skills in advance of the National Championships!

Here is how the National Children’s Crossword Championships will work:

Part I – 25 Minutes – Subject Specific Puzzle
Part I will consist of a subject-specific puzzle in your choice. You can either choose the Science Puzzle, the Geography Puzzle, or the History Puzzle. This puzzle will be comparable to this sample History Crossword Puzzle (which was used at the 2023 International History Olympiad in the Hexathlon event) in terms of format and size. In terms of difficulty, the sample puzzle is comparable to the difficulty we will feature for 7th and 8th graders. There will be a somewhat easier puzzle for 6th and 5th graders, and a puzzle that is easier still for students in 4th grade and younger.
Just like in the National Geography, Science, and History Bees, students will compete solely against other students in their grade, with the exception of students in 3rd grade and younger. We will award a separate medal for each of the top finishers in each subject in each age division, but otherwise Part I does not count towards the overall National Championship title (as different students will be competing in different subjects, so that would be unfair).

Then there will be a 5 minute break.

Part II – 50 Minutes – Official National Championship Puzzles
Part II will consist of two puzzles, both of which will follow the size and style conventions of weekday New York Times puzzles. One of these puzzles will be easier. That particular puzzle will like the subject puzzles, have three different difficulty levels (one for 7th and 8th graders; one for 5th and 6th graders, and one for 4th graders and younger students). The second puzzle will be more challenging and will be the same difficulty for all students. That second puzzle will be approximately as hard as a standard Monday New York Times crossword level.

The focus here will be more on accuracy than speed. In both parts, students will score one point for each correct letter in the grid. Time will only be used as a tiebreaker between students with identical scores. Only Part II will count as towards the calculation of the Official National Championship scores. G__D L_C_ !