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Lindsay McBride '23, One of the Youngest Contributors to NYT Crossword Puzzle!

Lindsay McBride '23, One of the Youngest Contributors to NYT Crossword Puzzle!

For Lindsay McBride, The New York Times crossword puzzle has been part of her daily routine for quite some time. After today, the Academy of Notre Dame senior can add “one of the three youngest female contributors to the NYT Crossword” to her resume. 

If you happened to read the Jan. 18 issue of the NYT, your eyes are not deceiving you. Lindsay McBride is indeed the crossword puzzle contributor today

About a year ago, McBride saw the list of the youngest NYT crossword puzzle contributors and found it puzzling that it was mainly composed of males. After seeing a fellow female crossword constructor reach out to veteran puzzler Ross Trudeau, McBride decided to do the same. 

Trudeau gifted McBride the software “CrossFire” to create a puzzle free of cost, encouraging her to pay it forward in the future. 

Starting with the mini-crossword puzzles on her phone, McBride’s interest was also sparked by her family’s love of them as well. 

In the NYT, the puzzles get progressively harder each day of the week. McBride would start with the Monday puzzle and eventually worked her way to being able to complete each day of the week. 

“They [crossword puzzles] teach you new information. Even when the clues are frustrating, they teach you something you didn’t know before,” said McBride. 

In January 2022, after trial and error, McBride submitted her first puzzle to the NYT. 

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of submissions to the NYT has grown significantly. The editing team receives more than 200 puzzle submissions per week, and only a handful are ever accepted for publication. 

While her involvement in mathletes and science fairs also involve problem-solving, McBride enjoys crossword puzzles because they are different from all of the other many activities she is involved in. 

Since puzzles are typically created by men, the content of the puzzles do not represent all identities, cultures, and experiences, said McBride. 

“Being able to help diversify the solver base and increase the number of perspectives that the NYT is including means a lot to me,” said McBride. 

McBride explained that when you have more diversity of perspective, the clues and answers account for people’s lived experiences. 

“The goal is to make crosswords inclusive for everybody. Hopefully, I can help move towards that,” said McBride. 

In terms of a strategy for making her puzzles, McBride thinks of a theme and a revealer. Then, she uses the software to place them in the proper spots. 

“You want the words to be exciting, fun, and interesting to solve,” said McBride. 

What some may not realize according to McBride is that there is a puzzle within a puzzle. That you may have your theme or ideas when constructing it, but actually assembling it is harder than it seems. 

“Once you figure out a layout that can work, it’s really satisfying,” said McBride. 

McBride’s advice for those venturing into the crossword puzzle world might be controversial to some. 

“It is okay to look things up. Crosswords are about learning. It is the most enriching and exciting part,” said McBride. 

Click here to try your hand at McBride's puzzle!