The Hunt Is On

Chriswords greets 2024, prepares for MIT hijinks

Published January 7, 2024

Happy new year! I hope your first day back at work went smoothly enough. That’s the most you can ask for sometimes. Let’s dive into the newest grids of 2024!

Clues you can use

Monday, Jan. 1 (New York Times, constructed by Harry Zheng)

Tokarczuk who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature  = OLGA

2018 was a pretty good year for Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. In its new English translation by Jennifer Croft, her 2007 fragmentary novel Flights earned the International Booker Prize in May, and – though technically awarded in 2019 due to Nobel committee controversies – she won the 2018 Nobel for her body of work, including her 2014 novel The Books of Jacob. In her acceptance speech, translated by Croft again, Tokarczuk noted, “That is why I believe I must tell stories as if the world were a living, single entity, constantly forming before our eyes, and as if we were a small and at the same time powerful part of it”.

Olga Tokarczuk
Photo credit: © Lukasz Giza

Thursday, Jan. 4 (Black Crossword, constructed by Juliana Pache)

Where W.E.B. Du Bois is buried   = GHANA

Born in Massachusetts in 1868, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois received an education at Fisk University and Harvard University, published The Soul of Black Folk in 1903, and co-founded the NAACP in 1909. Obviously a pioneer in America, he was later inspired by Ghana, beginning with his 1960 research for the Encyclopedia Africana (he was personally invited by President Kwame Nkrumah). Around this same time, Du Bois was more influenced by communist ideas, alienating the NAACP, and so he took up Ghanaian citizenship. He died at age 95 on Aug. 27, 1963 – one day before the March on Washington – and received a state funeral in Accra. 

Funeral procession for W. E. B. Du Bois, August 1963.
W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312), Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Thursday, Jan. 4 (Crossword Club, constructed by Quiara Vasquez)

Havana-born actor who played Paloma in “No Time to Die” = ANA DE ARMAS

Ana de Armas is undoubtedly a major actress, and possibly the most popular ANA in crosswords today. Born in Havana in 1988, de Armas started her career with smaller American films like Knock Knock, Hands of Stone, and War Dogs, before starring as Joi in Denis Villeneuve’s 2017 film Blade Runner 2049. Since then, she’s starred as the female lead in Knives Out, in an Oscar-nominated turn as Marilyn Monroe in 2022’s Blonde, and, yes, as a Bond girl. You can catch her this summer in Ballerina, a spin-off of the John Wick franchise.

Some spicy solving

Tuesday, Jan. 2 (USA Today, constructed by Lindsay Rosenblum)

Online show where celebrities are interviewed while eating spicy wings  = HOT ONES

I love watching people answer questions, and when I’ve run out of quiz shows, Hot Ones is the way to go! A little quiz for you: I’ll give you a crossword clue describing someone who was on Hot Ones in 2023, you name the person. 

  1. NBA star after whom Syracuse’s basketball practice facility is named. CARMELO ANTHONY
  2. She is “wonder”-ful on screen. GAL GADOT
  3. Lasso handler? JASON SUDEIKIS
  4. First woman to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album as a solo artist. CARDI B
  5. Bassist who played a German nihilist in The Big Lebowski. FLEA

1-Across, 2023-Down

As a new 2024 dawns, it was a big week for recapping crosswords. On Jan. 1, T. Campbell published his annual year in crosswords post, and I’m happy to say that this very publication got a mention in the list.

And a very exciting update for the puzzles of this year, Daily Crossword Links will be highlighting their puzzles of the week. With more than 10,000 puzzles published in 2023, if you have to solve a few puzzles each week, these will be a great place to start. They have a great group picking the puzzles, so give them a solve!

Making connections

A few more crossword links this week:

  • Longtime Oregonian crossword constructor and all-around great guy Matt Jones was the subject of a lovely article from Cascadia Daily. A great read, and you can always solve some of Matt’s Jonesin’ crosswords here.
  • On Thursday, Puzzles for Palestine was released, featuring a puzzle suite of 22 puzzles and helping raise money for Palestinian charities, including the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
  • Lastly, the 2024 MIT Mystery Hunt will begin on Friday. Maybe the largest puzzle event in the country, it’ll be a puzzle-filled weekend, including crosswords. As last year’s winners, my team will be hosting the event, and I plan to run assistance all weekend, including meeting many of the solvers visiting Cambridge for the weekend. It’s going to be a great one, and it means this column will be on pause for next Sunday – but we’ll be back on the 21st with a recap. Either way, I’ll see you soon!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday.