I submitted a wordsearch and a crossword to the New York Times, but for some reason they rejected them!

I'm really disappointed, but I'm willing to improve. It sounds like my wordsearch was fine, but my friends are telling me that my crossword looks a bit off. Can you guys tell me what it's missing?

Thanks in advance.



1.  Setting of Adventure Time (3)
5.  Canadian record label (2)
6.  Thirty (3)
7.  ___Tentacion (3)
9.  Red ___ (Montana manufacturing company) (3)
10.  Move king twice and rook thrice (3)
11.  Bacterial pathovar that attacks rice (abbr.) (3)
12.  Real Nice hit (4)
14.  With 7, a spy (2)
15.  Australian beer brand (4)
16.  Swedish B2B software investor (3)

1.  Hurricane Woody song (4)
2.  Zodiac animal (2)
3.  Android live TV app (4)
4.  Galvez music album (6)
5.  African language (3)
7.  Beyoncé song (2)
8.  Pub in Bangalore (4)
11.  Female indicator (2)
12.  Beekeeping helper (3)
13.  Kitchen brand (3)

(As per standard cross-search conventions, there are no two letter wo- wait there are? Ugh! Why do I keep getting so mixed up with all these things?)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ dang, it's been a while since a greenturtle puzzle :D $\endgroup$
    – oAlt
    May 1, 2020 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I see rot13(rirelbar'f snibevgr Vgnyvna cyhzore'f anzr onpxjneqf). $\endgroup$
    – S.S. Anne
    May 1, 2020 at 19:11

3 Answers 3


The answer to the question of what your crossword is missing is:


A lot of credit for solving the initial crossword and wordsearch needs to go to @BeastlyGerbil (go upvote their answer!) with helpful contributions in comments from @Anthroman, @LannyStrack, @teedyay and @oAlt. The solution details for those are listed in full in BG's answer, with the finished grids as follows:

Completed crossword and wordsearch

From the wordsearch BG was then able to extract an instruction:

WIN TIC TAC TOE (as spelled by the unused squares)

(My input to the solution from here onwards...) The way to carry this through is to:

divide the solved crossword into 8 equal 3x3 tic-tac-toe grids. Notice then that each 3x3 grid contains 5 X's and O's - 3 of one and 2 of the other, as if one player is about to play their third move. In each case that third move will win the game for that player - we need to place one final X or O and win that player the game...

The result then looks like this:
Winning tic-tac-toe, as requested

All that then remains is for us to:

overlay the winning positions onto the wordsearch and read off the letters in those positions. Doing this reveals the answer SYMMETRY!

Deriving the final answer

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Well done guys! I'm not sure which answer to accept.. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 16:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @greenturtle3141 I’m going to say accept Stivs, but I know Stiv is going to say accept mine so it’s probably down to you :P $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 16:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ After I saw the instruction, I was looking at chains of three Xs or Os that were already in the grid, but they didn’t seem to correlate to anything. This is much nicer and clever solution! Very good puzzle! :) $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil Ha, yep I think we were always going to say give it to the other! greenturtle3141: Your call - neither of us mind :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 1, 2020 at 18:05

Final answer:

@Stiv found the final answer, go see his answer for an explanation! The thing you are missing in your crossword is


Crossword solution:

enter image description here

Now clearly there is something a bit odd about this crossword...

Every single word contains only the letters X or O. This will be import later and is a reference to noughts and crosses.

Clue explanations:


1. The land of Ooo
5. Xo
6. Thirty in Roman numerals is XXX
7. XXXTentacion
9. Red Oxx
10. O-O-O is the notation for castling in chess
11. This bacteria - not gonna try and write that out
12. Oooo is a song by real nice - Thanks @LannyStrack!
14. 00 with 7 is 007 which is James Bond, a spy
15. Castlemaine XXXX
16. Oxx VC


1. Ooxo
2. The Ox
3. Ooxo
4. The album Xxooxx
5. The Taa language is also known as the Xoo language
7. Xo
8. Xoox Brewmill is a pub in bangalore
11. The XX chromosome
12. Oxx Beekeeping
13. Oxo

Word search

All the words follow a pattern

enter image description here


Yellow, ejects, complex, tomato, Mario, echo, convex, wrecks, yoyo, T-Rex - and thanks to @Anthroman - apex, sew, tow and latex


All these words end in either an ‘X’ sound or an ‘O’ sound - another reference to noughts and crosses.

The remains letters say ‘Win Tic Tac Toe’ which relates to the Xs and Os in the first grid.

See Stivs answer for the final step!

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My deepest apologies, the final answer has a typo that I failed to see many times. If you get an answer that's off by a letter then that's why, meanwhile I'm working on finding a good repair (it's still perfectly possible to get the answer) (It is unlikely that I'll modify the wordsearch). $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 2:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ UPDATE: I've decided that the path of minimum damage was to change the left column of the wordsearch and switch the Z to a C. This shouldn't change your answers too much. I believe this should work out perfectly now. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 3:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 12A: rot13/ uggcf://jjj.qvfpbtf.pbz/Erny-Avpr-Bbbb/eryrnfr/4172161 $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 3:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The answer is rot13(FLZZRGEL) - this image should help, where I have followed through the instruction you uncovered (you need to overlay the wordsearch). You can have this one for free :) Happy Friday! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 1, 2020 at 15:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv you still were the first person to get the gimmick of this so you deserve a lot of credit too! :) $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 15:55

This crossword is crazy! lol
What's going on?
Fun, though!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Fixed the image for you :) $\endgroup$ May 1, 2020 at 1:03

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