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XWord Info Collaborate & Compete FAQ

Solve crosswords with a friend over the Internet

The Collaborate & Compete feature is now available. Here's what you need:

  • A PC or Mac. Phones or tablets don't work.
  • An XWord Info account. You can get one here.
  • A current New York Times puzzle account. (We check!)
  • A friend working on a different computer.

If you're anxious to dive in, try Collaboration mode here:

What is Collaboration mode?

Most people get into crosswords by collaborating with a friend. Breaking into late-week puzzles or difficult variety puzzles like cryptics is especially difficult. Collaboration mode allows two or more people to chat and work together on a puzzle. Letters typed by one person appear on the grid of the others. Color coding shows which letters are yours.

What is a room?

To collaborate, you and your friend must be in the same virtual "room." You can call your room anything you like, but you have to agree on some name. By default, your room name is your XWord Info account name so you can invite your friend to meet you there, or choose your pet's name, or whatever. Here at XWord Info, we sometimes hang out in the Seattle room.

Once you've joined a room, we'll remember it for next time as your default.

Why is the grid dark gray?

The grid is grayed out until someone joins you in your room and is looking at the same puzzle as you. If you're both in the same room, you can chat, and the chat window will give you helpful links to get you to the same puzzle.

I swear I'm logged into my NYT account, but the Collaboration page insists I'm not!

We are particularly interested in talking to you if you find yourself in this situation. Please , and we will follow up with you.

Why am I sometimes prevented from changing some letters in the grid?

You can change any letter in the grid you typed yourself. Letters entered by others can be changed unless they are correct. This prevents you from taking credit for letters your friend got correct.

How does Compete mode work?

Compete mode is a new kind of crossword solving competition. Two people work on the same puzzle at the same time. To begin, use this link:

It works similarly to Collaboration mode. You've probably noticed that there's a running count of letters you enter and those your friend enters. In Collaboration mode, this is just for interest. In Compete mode, it's the whole point. Remember, you can change any letters except correct ones your friend has entered.

Compete mode has these differences:

  • Clues are hidden at first
  • Clues are revealed to both players at the same time when they're looking at the same puzzle.
  • "Reveal current word" and "Indicate incorrect letters" options are hidden.

Should you work on your own part of the grid or try to stomp over your opponent's? Should you purposefully enter wrong letters to throw them off? You'll discover your own strategies.

Which puzzles are available?

All NYT daily puzzles and all Variety puzzles that are similar to crosswords are available. That includes Puns and Anagrams, Vowelless, Cryptic, even Diagramless (although the grid shape is revealed.) You can even use this feature for puzzles you upload yourself to share with your friends. Acrostics are not yet available for collaboration.

My collaborations partners are confused about rooms. Can I send them links to simplify things?

To make it easier, you can send a link to your friend that looks something like

Sounds good. What do I do now?
  1. Give it a try.
  2. Have fun.
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