The Most Difficult Crossword Puzzle, Ranked

Choose the crossword puzzle you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 21, 2024 06:30
Crossword puzzles present a delightful challenge, engaging the mind in ways few other puzzles can. For enthusiasts, the difficulty of a crossword puzzle enhances the allure, making the solving experience much more satisfying. However, what constitutes 'difficult' can greatly vary from one puzzle solver to another. By providing a user-based voting system, this service allows enthusiasts to voice their opinions on which crossword puzzles they find most challenging. Each vote helps to shape a clearer picture of the puzzles that truly test abilities, guiding newcomers and seasoned solvers alike in choosing their next cerebral venture.

What Is the Most Difficult Crossword Puzzle?

  1. 1

    The Azed Crossword

    A highly challenging cryptic crossword published in The Observer, known for its strict adherence to Ximenean clueing principles.
    • Publisher: The Observer
    • Clueing Style: Ximenean
  2. 2

    The New York Times Saturday Crossword

    Known as the hardest puzzle of the week, it challenges even experienced solvers.
    • Difficulty: Highest of the week
    • Publication Day: Saturday
  3. 3

    The Enigmatic Variations

    Published in The Sunday Telegraph, these puzzles offer a high level of difficulty with thematic clues.
    • Publication Day: Sunday
    • Publisher: The Sunday Telegraph
  4. 4

    The World's Largest Crossword (1997)

    Certified by Guinness World Records, it has over 28,000 clues and measures 12 by 16 meters.
    • Clues: Over 28,000
    • Size: 12 by 16 meters
  5. 5

    The 2012 7x7x7 Cube Crossword

    A 3D crossword puzzle designed by Eric Harshbarger, known for its complexity.
    • Dimensions: 7x7x7
    • Type: 3D Crossword
  6. 6

    The 1996 MIT Mystery Hunt Puzzle

    Considered one of the most challenging puzzles ever, it was part of a puzzle hunt at MIT.
    • Complexity: Extremely high
    • Solving Time: Varies, part of a larger hunt
  7. 7

    The Times Cryptic Crossword

    Famous for its challenging cryptic clues, it has been a staple for advanced solvers since 1930.
    • First Published: 1930
    • Type: Cryptic
  8. 8

    The Guardian's Genius Crossword

    A monthly puzzle known for its inventive themes and difficult clues.
    • Frequency: Monthly
    • Publisher: The Guardian
  9. 9

    The Atlantic Puzzler

    Known for its literary and cultural references, it's a challenging puzzle for intellectuals.
    • Theme: Literary and Cultural
    • Publisher: The Atlantic
  10. 10

    The Listener Crossword

    A series of challenging puzzles published weekly by The Times, known for their cryptic and complex clues.
    • Frequency: Weekly
    • Publisher: The Times

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult crossword puzzle. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Crossword is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 2 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Crossword once every 24 hours. The rank of each Crossword is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Difficult Crossword Puzzle

The Azed Crossword
Rank #1 for the most difficult crossword puzzle: The Azed Crossword (Source)
Crossword puzzles have entertained people for over a century. Among these, some stand out for their complexity. These puzzles challenge even the most seasoned solvers. Their difficulty arises from several factors.

First, the clues in these puzzles are often cryptic. They play with words in ways that can confuse. Solvers must think outside the box. Simple definitions are rare. Instead, clues might include puns or double meanings. This requires a deep understanding of language.

Second, the vocabulary used is advanced. These puzzles include rare words. They might use terms from specialized fields like science or literature. This means solvers need a broad knowledge base. Knowing common words is not enough. One must be familiar with obscure terms.

Third, the structure of the puzzle can add to its difficulty. Some puzzles have unusual grids. These might include fewer black squares. This creates longer words, which are harder to guess. Other puzzles might have themes that connect the answers. Identifying the theme can be key to solving the puzzle.

Fourth, these puzzles often require lateral thinking. Clues might suggest one thing but mean another. For example, a clue might involve an anagram. Recognizing this takes practice. Solvers must be able to see beyond the obvious.

Fifth, the time limit can add pressure. Some puzzles are part of competitions. Solvers must work quickly and accurately. This can be stressful. It requires not just skill, but also a calm mind.

Sixth, these puzzles often have cultural references. They might include names of historical figures or events. They could mention books, movies, or songs. Solvers need to be well-read and informed. They must keep up with both old and new information.

Seventh, some puzzles include rebus elements. This means a single square might contain more than one letter. Recognizing this twist is crucial. It adds another layer of complexity.

Finally, practice is key. The more puzzles one solves, the better they become. However, the most difficult puzzles still pose a challenge. They test the limits of one’s knowledge and creativity.

In summary, the hardest crossword puzzles are not for the faint of heart. They demand a high level of skill and knowledge. They require solvers to think in new ways. Yet, for those who love a challenge, they offer great satisfaction. Solving one brings a sense of accomplishment. It shows a mastery of language and logic.

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