Congratulations to “Cosima K. Coinpott,” who has been elected by a huge plurality of Nation puzzle-solvers to don the mantle of the late Frank W. Lewis, our British-type cryptic crossword puzzle constructor for more than six decades.

“Cosima K. Coinpott,” as many in the puzzle world deduced by cracking the code, is an anagram (thanks to our own Sandy McCroskey for those delicious anagrams) for a cryptic team: Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto, fans of Frank’s puzzles for years.

The contest unfolded like a horse race—a burst of votes at the outset gave a commanding lead to “Barney Prey.” “Cosima” lingered at the rail and let others pass by, only to slowly pull ahead and then sprint across the finish line with a decisive 40 percent of the votes.

Having unmasked Ms. Coinpott to reveal Kosman/Picciotto, we must now unmask her worthy opponents in this duel of wits. In no particular order, here are the identities of the finalists:

§ “Sean-Carlo Rewind” is Caroline Andrews, who has been producing cryptics for seventeen years for the Toronto Star, where these days her puzzles run twice a week and are syndicated. She teaches cryptic solving, and her puzzles have been collected in two volumes, called Caroline’s Cryptics: Puzzles With a Smile. Find out more at

§ ”Nestor Nightspree” is Stephen Gerritson of Bothell, Washington, a Nation Associate and the author of Hidden Meanings: Cryptic Crosswords for the Creative Thinker. He is a writer of nonfiction articles and reviews, and also of fiction. He began constructing puzzles (“minicryptics” on a 5×5 or 7×7 grid) as a teaching tool for a course on nonprofit management.

§ Remi Silk-Knee” is Mike Selinker of Renton, Washington, who has worked Frank’s puzzles since he was 10. A game designer for Hasbro, Disney and others, he runs large games events (; has created crosswords for Games (at age 13), the New York Times and Wired; runs the Decode site for Wired; and has created cryptics for a number of venues.

§ ”Barney Prey” represents another team, Patrick Berry of Athens, Georgia, and Trip Payne of Boca Raton, Florida. Their puzzles have appeared separately and together in such publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Games and Cryptics Monthly. To see more of their work go to (Berry) and (Payne).

Our winners hail from the Bay Area. They have served as cryptic crossword editors for The Enigma, the publication of the National Puzzlers’ League, and edited The National Puzzlers’ League Cryptic Crosswords (free download at

Kosman is a classical music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs about music at Picciotto, whose native language is not English, teaches math at The Urban School of San Francisco and has taught at every level from counting to calculus (see Their puzzles will be appearing here soon.

Welcome, Joshua and Henri!

Solutions to the contestants’ puzzles