English Teacher Celebrates Cruciverbalist Publication


Mr. O’Brien shows off his publication.

Dave Gosse, Moderator

On Monday, English Teacher Joseph O’Brien’s crossword puzzle “We’re on the Map!” was published by Andrews McMeel Syndication Group.


The puzzle appeared in the print and online edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer Monday.  You can access the puzzle here under the search tab: http://syndication.andrewsmcmeel.com/puzzles/crosswords 


Syndication means O’Brien’s puzzle will be published across news outlets nationally that subscribe to the syndication service. Andrews McMeel publishes Universal Crossword and is also known for premiering Sudoku puzzles. A cruciverbalist, O’Brien notes, is the name given to crossword constructors. This is his first extra-Salesian publication.


Mr. O’Brien runs the Crossword Club at Salesianum, and publishes crosswords through SalsReview. “I started making puzzles as a very early quarantine hobby–so summer of 2020. I started solving puzzles the previous Fall,” states O’Brien.


He set his sights next on the Inquirer. O’Brien worked with Andrews McMeel editors to refine answers and build the grid—the foundation for the puzzle.  Experts from Universal Crossword weighed in to hone the puzzle for a national audience. “I haven’t done that kind of back-and-forth co-creative process since college,” said Mr. O’Brien, “I really appreciate the help.”


“The best moment was simply getting my theme accepted,” Mr. O’Brien reflected. “I had the idea, and sent it in, expecting a rejection–pretty common in crossword puzzle construction-land.”


“Crossword puzzles have been a major part of my life for a few years. I even told some friends about my wife and my expecting a baby by hiding “BUNINOVEN” in a crossword puzzle I made them.” Mr. O’Brien noted, “So it feels really gratifying to officially be a professional cruciverbalist.”


Look for more Mr. O’Brien exclusive puzzles in SalsReview!