4 Down: Teen Genius Crossword Maker

20150513 Here Comes the Sun2
NBC Washington

What do cries from Homer Simpson and toothpaste with “green sparkles” have in common?

New Haven resident Jose Chardiet. On Tuesday, he became the fourth-youngest person to have his crossword puzzle published in the New York Times, according to the New Haven Independent.

The 16-year-old spent two to three months creating puzzles and submitted two in April.

“I was always hesitant to send something in. Afraid it’d be rejected. So I set it aside, then I came back (to work on the puzzle),” he told the New Haven Independent. He edited out what he didn’t like because he did not want a rejection notice.

However, Chardiet did not have to worry for long.

A month later, he received something every crossword junkie would love to get, an acceptance e-mail from the king of crosswords -- New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. The subject line was something to the effect of "Crossword Yes!"

Some adults try their whole lives to have their puzzles reach New York Times status, but Chardiet did so on his first try.

“For Jose to have the skill and knowledge to do this is pretty amazing,” Shortz told the Independent.

Shortz receives 75-100 crossword submissions for publication each week, and selecting the puzzles to run is highly competitive, but he and his staff were impressed that Chardiet had five theme entries and a “kicker” -- a clue or answer that reveals the theme of the puzzle.

Jose plans to continue to create puzzles and just might submit more to the Times.

Don’t expect a puzzle by a teen to be easy. It took Jose’s dad, George Chardiet, a week, on and off, to solve the crossword, That was with some help from the author, the Independent reports. Jose's mother and sisters solved the puzzle. but he has stumped friends who decided to try it because they knew the creator. 

If you decide to try Chardiet’s puzzle, you’ll need to rack your brain for answers to clues that range from music to movie references to abbreviations.

“I became interested in crosswords when I was 14,” Chardiet told New York Times crossword blogger Jim Horne.

He was on a car ride with his mom and sister, as well as his sister’s friend, who brought a puzzle book on the trip.

“I think it was the book Will Shortz’s Favorite Crosswords,” he told the Times blogger.

He works out his puzzles on grid paper and uses websites to stay up to date on how often words and clues have been used in the past.

His least favorite part of the process is making up clues.

“It’s tedious and it’s hard to come up with something new.”

However, his hard work paid off to the tune of $200, and he used up to five answers he has never seen before in any puzzles, in this one alone.

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