CrosswordCheats was born out of frustration. Not my frustration at crosswords, as you might assume, but frustration at my darling wife. I went through a period of working from home, and in a very small, cramped house. She would be in the same room as me, while I was working, and occupied herself by doing crosswords.
And she'd ask for help. All. The. Time.
This wasn't the end of the World, but it was a distraction I didn't need. So, I decided to build her a tool she could use to find answers instead of asking me.
One week later, CrosswordCheats.com was launched, with the first version of its crossword clue solver. It's evolved and been added to since then, but at its heart is still that same tool.
CrosswordCheats is relatively simple, but it's still got some fun features to it.
Perhaps most obviously, it features a crossword clue solver with a database of several hundred thousand words. It can handle anagrams and partial solutions, and displays potential solutions instantly on-page.
There is also a crossword builder, which you can use to generate a crossword of your own, which produces a PDF of the output.
The site has a linked Twitter game, where cryptic addicts can solve clues on Twitter for points.
Finally, there is the piece I'm most proud of - the cryptic crossword clue trainer. This little gizmo will work out how good you are at solving cryptic clues, and will then show you clues that are at, or just above, your current level. Practice regularly with this tool and you'll be rattling through cryptic crosswords in mere minutes.
Problems and Future Projects
Unfortunately, the cryptic crossword clue trainer is reliant on having a certain level of consistent usage. It constantly adds new clues to the database, but without users running the tool regularly it doesn't know how hard those clues are to solve. Which makes the tool less useful - a chicken and egg problem.
I'd really like to change the Twitter game (or add a new one) to something where it's real-time and on-site. The Twitter version is fun, but very slow.