The Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship Committee was absolutely delighted with the hundreds of next-level crosswords submitted to this year’s scholarship competition. High school and college students from all over North America submitted the largest quantity of high-quality puzzles we’ve seen in the last four years. Needless to say, this year’s Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship competition was particularly tough!
We received funny, creative, smart and personal puzzles on every theme, from American government, particle physics, and indie film, to English literature, marching band terms, bees, laughter, and American handicrafts.
Making a crossword puzzle is hard work! The range of topics, clever wordplay, and grid layout of the submissions we received were incredible. We were especially impressed by the number of repeat applicants who participated for a second (or even third) year. Sadly, our committee could select only one scholarship winner. We hope you enjoy exploring and solving all of these puzzles as much as we did.
The winner of the 2020 Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship is:
Winner: Jared Goudsmit: Director’s Cut
Sophomore, Tulane University
Tulane University Sophomore Jared Goudsmit combined his two greatest passions––crosswords and film––in his winning puzzle Director’s Cut. A previous Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship Finalist, Jared has been submitting both crosswords and films to publishers and festivals for several years. He’s intrigued by the parallel between the two art forms and enjoys creating within their demanding structures.
In his own words: “For film, that’s proper lighting, the rules of cinematography, and time constraints. For crosswords, it’s rotational symmetry, maximum word counts, and the 15×15 grid. But these technical requirements are never an excuse for poor artistry – an uninteresting story line, say, or an overdone theme. Every scene, every bit of fill necessitates great labor – effort which will make the final product appear effortless. Google “bumping the lamp” and you’ll see what I mean.”
While not creating puzzles, Jared writes and directs self-described “goofy comedies with an irreverent energy”––a trend reflected in first place crossword.
Read our winner’s interview with Jared for more info and crossword building tips!
2021 Crossword Scholarship Finalists & Semi-Finalists
In the most competitive year in scholarship history, we received hundreds of excellent contenders. These talented cruciverbalists included hidden messages, creative word play, and many strong clues.
To award their effort and achievement, all finalists and semi-finalists also receive life-time subscriptions to Crossword Hobbyist.
Crossword Scholarship Finalists
The finalists for the 2021 Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship are:
Caleb Shenk: Love Gov
First-Year, Goshen College
Intellectually-driven Caleb Shenk, a first-year student at Goshen College is a self-proclaimed “news junkie” and passionately interested in civics education, policy, and all-things politics––pastimes which are artfully reflected in his puzzle Love Gov. While majoring in Accounting and minoring in Spanish, Caleb also finds time for athletics, spending time outdoors, reading, and, of course, crosswords. He finds joy in exercising with others, especially while playing collegiate tennis, and loves stimulating his curiosity through politics. In addition to crafting excellent puzzles, this former Crossword Hobbyist Finalist has also undertaken research projects at college on policy, as well as written crosswords for the college newspaper.
Maxwell Berkowitz: Code Words
Freshman, University of Michigan (Fall 2021)
Recent summa cum laude High School graduate Maxwell Berkowitz is headed to University of Michigan this fall to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Fittingly, he combines his love of technology with his love of clever wordplay in his puzzle, Code Words. To Max, crosswords and coding challenges are inherently similar; neither can be forced and both require a high degree of finesse. When not creating puzzles, he enjoys programming on his school’s robotics team, teaching himself web-design, and playing both trombone and piano in a variety of musical ensembles––hobbies that are reflected in his puzzle.
Joah Macosko: Forward March
High School Senior, Reagan High School
High School Senior Joah Macosko used his time during Covid lockdowns to refine his existing love of crosswords––culminating in a Wall Street Journal publication. Outside of word games, Joah also enjoys volunteering at his local science museum, competing on his school’s academic team, and, as highlighted in his delightful puzzle Forward March, playing in the Reagan High School marching band. A musician since the age of five, Joah loves music and has helped his marching band section win 13 competitions. Though, the specific section cannot be revealed quite yet, lest the theme of Forward March (or Foreword March, or is it Four Word March?) be spoiled prematurely.
Jem Burch | Splitting the Atom
Freshman, Yale University (Fall 2021)
Aspiring polyglot, avid Scrabble player, and self-proclaimed “all around word-nerd” Jem Burch is headed to Yale in the fall to study Linguistics. An avid cruciverbalist since the age of 14, Jem became interested in crosswords through his dad and had his first puzzle published by the New York Times this April (after “accruing a slew of rejects”, he says). Jem’s puzzle Splitting the Atom is an homage to the elements and properties of the atoms that comprise our universe.
Emma Tuttle | Poetic Justice
Freshman, Boston University (Fall 2021)
High-school senior Emma Tuttle has, as she puts it, “too many interests”––writing, rock climbing, roller derby, and, now, creating crossword puzzles. Due to such myriad options, she had a difficult time deciding upon a puzzle theme for the competition. Eventually, however, she decided on creative writing. Besides paying homage to some of her favorite writers, Emma’s puzzle Poetic Justice also includes nods to some of her other hobbies, including music, theater, travel, and marine biology. Headed to Boston University in the fall, Emma plans to study marine science and (hopefully) continue to pursue her passions.
Crossword Scholarship Semi-Finalists
For their valiant efforts and excellent puzzles, the scholarship semi-finalists all receive a free, lifetime subscription to Crossword Hobbyist.
In reverse alphabetical order, the Semi-Finalists for the 2021 Crossword Hobbyist Scholarship are:
- Nicole Seah: It’s All Greek to Me
- Dustin Pillatzke: Falling Blocks
- Mary McCoy: King of Mischief
- Julian Hernandez: What’s the Buzz?
- Mackenzie Gregory: Victoria’s Literature
Congratulations to our winner and all Finalists and Semi-Finalists! Thank you to all applicants for their entries. Next year’s contest will be announced in early 2022. See you then!
Inspired by these talented students?
Try making your own crossword today: