Home   Crosswords   Cryptograms   Anagrams   Puzzle Forum 
 News!   Contact@   Advertise   Privacy   About 

New Website Makes Crosswords Easier

Answer Suggestions Provided for Common, Complex Crossword Clues

November 1, 1999 (INB) -- Quick... What's a seven-letter word for befuddle? (flummox, bedevil, confuse, stupefy, astound.) Now, how about a nine-letter word for rescuer? (lifesaver, recoverer, deliverer, St. Bernard). Another word for rescuer might be 'OneAcross' if you are working a crossword. This new website, located at, offers suggestions for crossword clues, like those found in newspapers, magazines, or online -- from the simplest to the most complex.

OneAcross is the first true crossword help site on the web. Its vast database is comprised of information gleaned from dictionaries, thesauri, and newswire articles, in addition to an extensive collection of previously published crossword clues.

Unlike "900" numbers run by newspapers to provide clues to their own puzzles (for a fee), OneAcross is free. Also, the system works on any puzzle, offering suggestions, rather than just reporting the answer for the puzzle of the day.

OneAcross's Michael Littman notes that "'Crossword finishers' are fairly common. These are programs that list all the words that match a given pattern (give them '?n?ry' and you get back 'entry', 'angry', 'unary', etc.). OneAcross does this, too, but it can also give answers using only the clue and the length of the answer ('Door: ?????' returns: 'entry')."

While OneAcross will be useful for casual or novice puzzlers stuck on a seemingly simple word, Littman says, "OneAcross is also very helpful for solving clues with complicated patterns, highly ambiguous clues, highly specific ones, and tough, but common clues." This last category is the source of clues for the 'Crossword Purity Test' <>: you can tell "real cruciverbalists" by how well they recognize common crossword clues.

OneAcross is a spin off of an earlier research effort at Duke University to solve complete crossword puzzles instead of just individual clues. The Duke system (Proverb), which runs on a collection of a dozen computers, averages 98% letters correct on puzzles from USA Today, The LA Times, and The NY Times, in only 15 minutes per puzzle. Proverb, as the program is called, competed in the 1999 American Crossword Tournament and obtained a score that placed it near the middle of the pack of 255 expert human participants. The Duke team presented their findings at the annual conference of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Orlando, FL this summer and received the "best paper award" for their efforts. OneAcross was developed by three of the Duke researchers: Greg Keim, Noam Shazeer, and Michael Littman.

For puzzle fans, OneAcross offers much more than just help with crossword clues. Recent additions to the site include anagram and cryptogram helpers, and a "mail a friend" feature that allows users to send their friends encrypted messages or anagrams of their names. For more information or to get help with a crossword clue, visit OneAcross at