The New York Times Crossword Puzzle thread

drummerboy

I figure I'm not the only one out there who does the puzzle. Often the puzzle is worthy of discussion, whether it's the theme or an especially clever clue or construction.

By way of introduction, you can tell us if you do the newsprint version or the electronic one. Pen or pencil. Do you ever "cheat"? How?

Me, I download the electronic version and print it out, 1/2 page size, and stick it on a small clipboard. I like to use pen, preferably a Zig Millennium ultra fine point, though a Superfine Flair does ok too. (yes, I'm a bit compulsive about my pens. But then, anyone who does the puzzle everyday is probably a bit compulsive. cheese )

I only have so much patience though, so if i get stuck an unusually long time I'll cheat a bit. I use the Across Lite program, which lets you reveal a letter at a time, and I'll pick a a letter on the board whose reveal might be especially useful. Sometimes I'll use the program to double-check a letter if I have some doubts about it.

I normally only have to do this from Thursday on. Mon and Tue are usually a piece of cake. You can often fill in a word without even looking at the clue. Wednesday is when I have to start thinking about it, and Thursday is when it usually becomes a major task for me.

Has anyone ever timed themselves? I never have, though on Mon or Tues I can usually do it one sitting in a 10 minutes or so. The rest of the days I'll do a bit at a time throughout the day. This weekend I was on a bit of a tear and finished a Saturday and 3 Sundays (had to go into the archive to find puzzles I hadn't done yet). I don't normally do this. Usually one puzzle a day is enough.

Anyone ever been to the Crossword Tournament in Connecticut? I have not myself.

OK, hope to hear from fellow crossworders out there.


zucca

Have you ever checked out Rex Parker on the crossword puzzle? That's fun—but only after you've done the puzzle!

My daughter kept stealing the puzzle from me, so my kids got me the electronic version. But she also hates it when I've done the puzzle before her, because it's no fun to discuss with someone who's already done it. So more or less only Thursdays on belong to me anymore. Kind of sad, but I love that my kids do the puzzles too, and it's definitely made me better at the harder ones. They are supposed to clear the puzzle after completing it, so we can eventually all have a go at it, but that's not exactly a system that works.

And no cheating of any kind, unless it involves asking another family member for help with a clue. But no looking anything up. I could probably be more relaxed on that one, but they are sticklers.


lizziecat

I do the on-line version. I've been doing the Times puzzle since I was in college. I used to do it on the subway, on the way to class, always in ink. When my father was alive, we had to buy two newspapers every day because we each wanted the puzzle. Up until a couple of years ago, I still did the puzzle in the paper, in ink. I rarely cheated. I used to look answers up in primary sources, but I don't consider that cheating. Now, however, since my eyesight has gotten quirky at age 74, I do the puzzle on line. I can see it better, and I really enjoy the online version. I use my laptop or my i-pad. When we go on vacation, even if I can't get the actual newspaper, I still have the on-line version, and the crossword. It's the dirst thing that I do, before I read anything else. I also do the mini puzzles on my i-pad, usually in under a minute.


Nancy

The New York Times does live videos solving the crosswords together. I don't know if they do this for everyone. But, I have seen a few.


ctrzaska

Print, UniBall extra fine pen, never. And only Sunday except the occasional Friday.


jimmurphy
I get the paper delivered M-F. Whatever pen is in my bag. Pretty much the same -Mon and Tues are easy, start thinking on Wednesday but always get it. Thursday is tough, usually when they do something like a double-letter in a box or something. Friday's are always very rough. Solved it this past Friday and was very happy with myself. Can't imagine that I'd get anywhere on Saturday or Sunday.

drummerboy

Don't give up on the Sunday one. Saturday is almost always a bear to solve, but I think Sunday is of a Thursday difficulty, only a lot longer.

Many times on Sunday I start reading through the clues and I feel completely befuddled. I can't think of any answers. Then finally I find something I know. It might be at the bottom of the puzzle but it's something, and I'll just work from there. And then slowly but surely, even the clues that seemed the hardest get easier, once you get some letters filled in.

jimmurphy said:


I get the paper delivered M-F. Whatever pen is in my bag. Pretty much the same -Mon and Tues are easy, start thinking on Wednesday but always get it. Thursday is tough, usually when they do something like a double-letter in a box or something. Friday's are always very rough. Solved it this past Friday and was very happy with myself. Can't imagine that I'd get anywhere on Saturday or Sunday.



yahooyahoo

Pen, never pencil. I can do Mon, Tues, and sometimes Wednesday. I don't bother past Wednesday except for trying a few clues on Sunday.


jimmurphy


drummerboy said:

Don't give up on the Sunday one. Saturday is almost always a bear to solve, but I think Sunday is of a Thursday difficulty, only a lot longer.

Many times on Sunday I start reading through the clues and I feel completely befuddled. I can't think of any answers. Then finally I find something I know. It might be at the bottom of the puzzle but it's something, and I'll just work from there. And then slowly but surely, even the clues that seemed the hardest get easier, once you get some letters filled in.

jimmurphy said:


I get the paper delivered M-F. Whatever pen is in my bag. Pretty much the same -Mon and Tues are easy, start thinking on Wednesday but always get it. Thursday is tough, usually when they do something like a double-letter in a box or something. Friday's are always very rough. Solved it this past Friday and was very happy with myself. Can't imagine that I'd get anywhere on Saturday or Sunday.

I'll have to try Sunday then.

Forgot to mention - done on the train and no cheating. If I have one or two that I just could not get I'll check the Rex Parker site.


drummerboy

I don't know Rex Parker, will have to check that out.


fillyboy64

This is a great thread!.

First, real men do the puzzle in pen and don't cheat! grin

The puzzles are progressively harder during the week with Saturday's being the hardest. I can whip thru a Mon thru Wed in about 6- 9 minutes on average...sometimes even faster. Thurs thru Sat gets harder and a slower...Sat and sometimes Sun I will get most done but it may take all day coming back to it throughout the day to get the few remaining clues to wrap it up. I find taking a break and coming back to it with a fresh eye helps a lot.

I've been to the crossword tournament a few times over the last 10 years...its a fun weekend, geeky and humbling. The top tier solvers will finish ridiculously fast, a puzzle may be done in 2 - 4 minutes. You can see them walk quietly out of the solving ballroom as they finish and as you are toiling away. Got to meet Will Shortz, ( have a pic with him) and a few other celebs who've attended. Also, my brother and I are in the background in a few scenes of the "extras scenes" on the DVD of "Wordplay"




twindad


ctrzaska said:

Print, UniBall extra fine pen, never. And only Sunday except the occasional Friday.

+ 1 Any pen - no sharpies!


debby

I usually print; always use pen. I usually finish Sunday in 40-45 minutes. I have not yet looked at yesterday's, but my mother says it was quite difficult. I can usually do Friday and Saturday, but over many small doses; it always looks impossible to begin with.

I went to the tournament a number of years ago, in Brooklyn. It was a LOT of fun, and I came out practically smack in the center (I think 343 out of 708). If I still lived up north, I would do it every year.


A great website www.brendanemmettquigley.com


The Soulful Mr T

In recent months Thursday has become "gimmick day." Sometimes they're very difficult, sometimes not. Sometimes they're foolish (i.e., the Ghost puzzle last week) and sometimes as difficult as Saturday but it's a fairly new phenomenon.

I've been doing the puzzle, the Acrostic and some of the other novelty puzzles for, Jesus, 40 years. My parents were the first ones I ever knew to get a home photocopy machine in the early 70s. Amortized it quickly once they stopped buying two papers every day for the damn puzzle.

An OK Cupid date recently turned me on to the Puns and Anagrams puzzle. Trying to develop the POV for that one.

I always use a blue Precise V5. I buy them by the box.

And, sure, I like "Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle. It's clever and fun and relatable to puzzle geeks. But I avoid it. haven't looked at it in months.


lizziecat

My father would never have gotten a copying machine. When I cleaned out their apartment, in 2003, they still had an old black rotary dial phone and a phonograph in one of those little suitcase like boxes. So we bought two newspapers.


debby

I can't stand Puns & Anagrams!

My favorite second puzzle is Diagramless, followed by Split Decision. I went back and did both Saturday and Sunday yesterday. Saturday has 4 or 5 blank squares.


Who likes Spelling Bee?


mfpark

I absolutely adore the Spelling Bee. It is the first thing I do on a Saturday morning when the Mag arrives.

I always do all puzzles in pen--any one to hand works for me. The Monday and Tuesday puzzles I usually do in about 10-15 minutes. It is kind of fun (in a mean, snarky way) to sit next to someone on the train who is working on one of them, pull out the paper, and finish it long before they get halfway through.

Wednesdays are always harder, and for some reason I find Thursdays to often be the hardest, and not because of the twist angle to most of them. Fridays and Saturdays are hard but lots of fun because they usually have some really long answers that don't follow a theme but are really clever once you get them. Sundays are usually easier for me than Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, only longer, partly because the theme helps guide some of the answers.

Yes, I often start from the bottom or middle and work my way around, even with the easier ones. Then again, I read the comics pages in the Star Ledger from bottom to top most days, and others from the middle out.

The acrostics are a particular favorite of mine, right after the Spelling Bee. Some of the other small puzzles are fun for a diversion, like the ones where there is a flower arrangement where the answers spiral inwards and outwards simultaneously.

In recent months I have been enjoying the Diagramless, but I always need to look at the hint for the starting cell, and I rarely complete the whole thing. I get many of the clues, but there are always a few I don't get and those kill the placement of other answers in the puzzle.

Also in recent months I have enjoyed the hyper-sudoku puzzles which kind of remind me of three dimensional chess on Star Trek episodes.

Hmmm, as any of my ex-girlfriends and ex-spouse and current spouse can espouse, I like playing games.



drummerboy

I have been unable to branch out beyond the crossword. Acrostics puzzle me. Diagramless seem impossible. I never got into Sudoku. What's Spelling Bee? I only have a crossword subscription to the Times so I don't get the mag.


I agree about Thursday. Sometimes they throw me for a loop.


debby

Look at "Variety Puzzles" online.


mfpark

Here is an example of the Spelling Bee, as well as another type of puzzle I like, the Alter Pieces.

http://www.nytimes.com/svc/crosswords/v2/puzzle/print/Aug1416.3.pdf



lanky

Printed (or from paper) and with my Pilot G-2 07. Absolutely no cheating (what's the fun / point?). I also enjoy the KenKens but Sunday's 7-grid KenKen is a bear!


The Soulful Mr T


mfpark said:

Some of the other small puzzles are fun for a diversion, like the ones where there is a flower arrangement where the answers spiral inwards and outwards simultaneously.


I like those, too. and the "Screw/Sinew" ones. (Know what I mean? I don't recall what they're called.)


drummerboy

what's the fun? Well, I'd simply rather look at a filled in grid then an empty one. I don't have the skills to do it on my own all the time, so I don't mind taking the last resort. In the end it makes me a better player because I still get to solve the rest of the puzzle. I cheat less as time goes on. To me that's a thing.

Believe me though, any puzzle not completed via cheating tastes a lot sweeter... (well, not the puzzle taste exactly)

What's a KenKen?


lanky said:

Printed (or from paper) and with my Pilot G-2 07. Absolutely no cheating (what's the fun / point?). I also enjoy the KenKens but Sunday's 7-grid KenKen is a bear!



lanky

Yes, true, you definitely become a better player and tend to cheat less over time - I used to google some clues when I first started out but now I don't - sometimes I do give up and just check out Rex Parker to see the answers to what I could not come up with...

KenKen is like soduku crack and it resides next to the actual print paper puzzle - for particularly hard crosswords, it's nice to take my mind to the more math-y, logic-based KenKen puzzle to give my crossword mind a bit of a break.

http://www.nytimes.com/ref/crosswords/kenken.html?_r=0


drummerboy said:

what's the fun? Well, I'd simply rather look at a filled in grid then an empty one. I don't have the skills to do it on my own all the time, so I don't mind taking the last resort. In the end it makes me a better player because I still get to solve the rest of the puzzle. I cheat less as time goes on. To me that's a thing.


Believe me though, any puzzle not completed via cheating tastes a lot sweeter... (well, not the puzzle taste exactly)


What's a KenKen?




lanky said:

Printed (or from paper) and with my Pilot G-2 07. Absolutely no cheating (what's the fun / point?). I also enjoy the KenKens but Sunday's 7-grid KenKen is a bear!



agbarganza

I used to always do the puzzles in pen, but my MIL rubbed off on me and now I'll do the toughies (Thu-Sat) in pencil more often than not. I feel like I solve them faster in pencil since I am more willing to throw something in I am unsure of and hope it cross checks. Unless I do them with my daughter, I don't do Mon-Tue anymore -- they gave me agita as I found myself racing to get them done. I used to go on to Rex Parker daily, even though it was a pretty major time suck to read all the comments. I suppose it's a good thing Rex's shtick grew tiresome, so now I go about once a month if I find a puzzle really interesting.

I dig the Spelling Bee, too- a fun family activity.



drummerboy

this is great! so many more time wasters - er, intellectual activities - to pursue!

As for doing it in pen - the reason I pick such fine markers is so I can squeeze in a letter in the left of the box in case I think I'll have to scratch it out later, and still have room in the box for another letter..

I'm not proud. I may do it in pen, but geez louise sometimes the finished puzzle looks like s disaster area.

I have resorted to white-out at times.


The Soulful Mr T


drummerboy said:

geez louise sometimes the finished puzzle looks like s disaster area.

No shame in that. A tough puzzle is a tough puzzle. You make guesses, you make mistakes, you tough it out til you get it done. That's what makes it fun. You should see my Acrostics . Messy jottings in the margins and all over the page. Answers written over answers in the blue pen I showed above.

Oh, and pencil? Not since 1977.


drummerboy


The_Soulful_Mr_T said:



drummerboy said:

geez louise sometimes the finished puzzle looks like s disaster area.

No shame in that. A tough puzzle is a tough puzzle. You make guesses, you make mistakes, you tough it out til you get it done. That's what makes it fun. You should see my Acrostics . Messy jottings in the margins and all over the page. Answers written over answers in the blue pen I showed above.

Oh, and pencil? Not since 1977.

+1, as they say


eta: p.s. always on the lookout for a good pen, so I'm gonna buy me some of them pens you use.


The Soulful Mr T


drummerboy said:



The_Soulful_Mr_T said:



drummerboy said:

geez louise sometimes the finished puzzle looks like s disaster area.

No shame in that. A tough puzzle is a tough puzzle. You make guesses, you make mistakes, you tough it out til you get it done. That's what makes it fun. You should see my Acrostics . Messy jottings in the margins and all over the page. Answers written over answers in the blue pen I showed above.

Oh, and pencil? Not since 1977.

+1, as they say




eta: p.s. always on the lookout for a good pen, so I'm gonna buy me some of them pens you use.

Make sure you get the V5 not the V7.


The Soulful Mr T


drummerboy said:



The_Soulful_Mr_T said:



drummerboy said:

geez louise sometimes the finished puzzle looks like s disaster area.

No shame in that. A tough puzzle is a tough puzzle. You make guesses, you make mistakes, you tough it out til you get it done. That's what makes it fun. You should see my Acrostics . Messy jottings in the margins and all over the page. Answers written over answers in the blue pen I showed above.

Oh, and pencil? Not since 1977.

+1, as they say




eta: p.s. always on the lookout for a good pen, so I'm gonna buy me some of them pens you use.

Make sure you get the V5 not the V7.



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