Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

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gravlax
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Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by gravlax » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:24 am

In case you didn't know, the New York Times offers some of the best crossword puzzles available. The puzzles get significantly more difficult from day to day with Monday being the easiest, and Saturday being the most difficult. The Sunday puzzles are sort of a different beast, with a different editor, twice as large, and probably around a Thursday level of difficulty.

I am currently a strong Thursday solver, can usually finish Friday, and at least get a strong showing on Saturdays.

I find the puzzles to be much improved since Will Shortz took over as editor. It is fascinating to me the different domains of knowledge that are represented from Opera to rap music to sports to Shakespeare to physics and chemistry.

Does anyone else here solve the puzzle?

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prudent
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by prudent » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:26 am

I will work on them for 30 minutes tops. That means I can almost always finish Monday through Wednesday. I don't work on the rest as I know I won't finish in 30 minutes.

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nisiprius
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by nisiprius » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:51 am

gravlax wrote:I am currently a strong Thursday solver, can usually finish Friday, and at least get a strong showing on Saturdays.
About the same for me. I don't do them in the paper, I buy books.

You might really enjoy the book Wordplay: The Official Companion Book, it has a lot of interesting background and a lot of interesting crossword puzzles in it, illustrating various aspects of crossword puzzle lore. I really enjoyed it.
I find the puzzles to be much improved since Will Shortz took over as editor.
The Wordplay book has a fair amount of background on the different editors. I don't get the New York Times itself and am not a regular, but based on book collections and on that book, I find Will Shortz to be more in tune with my tastes then the late Eugene Maleska.

A crossword puzzle composer devised a crossword puzzle in 1980 whose title was something like "Tomorrow's Election Headline" which was so cleverly devised that it had two possible solutions, both fitting a single set of clues. Depending on which way you solved it, there was a six-letter entry that could be either REAGAN or CARTER. Maleska rejected it, supposedly on the basis that the next president COULD be John B. Anderson. The very idea of Maleska rejecting it suggests a degree of pedantry that is hard to credit. Fortunately the composer got a chance later--with a puzzle that again could solved in two ways--IIRC with BUSH and GORE filling a four-letter space--and Shortz accepted and published it.

I quit subscribing to The Atlantic Monthly when they dropped Cox and Rathvon's "Puzzler;" it wasn't a crossword puzzle, each was a unique kind of interlocking-word puzzle. Those were the hardest word puzzles I've ever gotten anywhere with. I would guess that I couldn't even make a start on a third of them; mostly would get partway through and bog down. I'm not sure I ever completely solved a single one, but I always felt very proud when I could get even partway through.

I love crossword puzzles because they help my left and right brains be friends with each other. They generate these "aha!" moments. C. S. Forester has an essay on how he wrote the Hornblower books, and he says that for him writing is like lowering planks of wood off a pier and letting them sit for a while, then hauling them up to see what has grown on them. Crossword puzzles are that way for me. I am a very, very, very slow solver. My left brain starts the process, works on the clues, sends a friendly request to my right brain, and then hours or days later the right brain pops the answers into my left brain...
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by gravlax » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:02 pm

nisiprius wrote: You might really enjoy the book Wordplay: The Official Companion Book, it has a lot of interesting background and a lot of interesting crossword puzzles in it, illustrating various aspects of crossword puzzle lore.
I have seen the movie, but did not realize there was a book available. Will look into it soon!
A crossword puzzle composer devised a crossword puzzle in 1980 whose title was something like "Tomorrow's Election Headline" which was so cleverly devised that it had two possible solutions, both fitting a single set of clues. Depending on which way you solved it, there was a six-letter entry that could be either REAGAN or CARTER. Maleska rejected it, supposedly on the basis that the next president COULD be John B. Anderson. The very idea of Maleska rejecting it suggests a degree of pedantry that is hard to credit. Fortunately the composer got a chance later--with a puzzle that again could solved in two ways--IIRC with BUSH and GORE filling a four-letter space--and Shortz accepted and
I believe the final puzzle to which you refer could be answered either CLINTON or BOBDOLE. It was a justifiably famous puzzle and quite spectacular since all of the across answers had to work with the given clues no matter which of the down answers was given. For example, the first down clue was "Black Halloween Animal" so an answer of CAT gave the C in CLINTON and an answer of BAT gave the B in BOBDOLE. Will Shorts says they received several complaints from solvers stating that the puzzle should not have included a question to which no-on yet knew the answer, none realizing that either answer would work.

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by Typ997S » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:13 pm

Since I don't get the Times regularly, I solve the syndicated Sunday puzzle, a week after it's in the NYT. I'm about 50-50 in solving it completely, usually in a couple of sittings. The last two weeks have been unusually easy, so I've actually solved them both in one sitting, which I think is a first for me...

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by Harold » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:34 pm

I've done the NY Times crosswords since I was a child, since my dad regularly did them.

Now I do the Fri/Sat puzzles any time I get my hands on them. (I still vastly prefer holding the folded newspaper and confidently doing them in ink, rather than doing online versions.)

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by graveday » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:39 pm

nisiprius wrote:
gravlax wrote:
I love crossword puzzles because they help my left and right brains be friends with each other.
That whole left brain/right brain thing is a left brain idea. That said, it is common for me to come back to a puzzle and pop in answers that refused to come earlier.
I do like to read the Rex Parker reviews. I am doing the NYT puzzles later as they are published in the Sacramento Bee.

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by chaz » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:00 pm

DW does them daily. I supply some answers as and if requested.
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by jebmke » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:05 pm

Spouse does them daily. Good friend is a constructor - has published in NYT and LAT.

Blog for real hard cores here:

http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by gkaplan » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:15 pm

I used to do them. That's one of the things I want to get back to when I retire at the end of the year.

(I'm not as good as the OP or nisiprius at doing them. Monday through Wednesday I can do with increasing difficulty. The rest of the week I usually can't finish.)

Another good crossword puzzle, or at least it used to be, is the Sunday puzzle in the magazine insert to the Los Angeles Times, particularly when Merle Reagle is the constructor.
Last edited by gkaplan on Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by mlipps » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:52 pm

Do I get any points for regularly finishing the puzzle in (Free) Chicago RedEye? Probably not.

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by The Wizard » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:05 pm

The NY Times puzzle costs money, one way or another.
I sometimes do the LA Times puzzle on my smartphone or Android tablet for FREE, using the Shortyz app.
They, also, get harder as the week goes on.
Sadly I'm not proficient enough to complete either the NYT or LAT Friday puzzles...
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by nisiprius » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:40 pm

gravlax wrote:I believe the final puzzle to which you refer could be answered either CLINTON or BOBDOLE.
Yes, that was it.
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by khh » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:04 pm

You can do the USA Today crossword online daily. Has archived puzzles, as well.

http://puzzles.usatoday.com/

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by S&L1940 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:29 pm

chaz wrote:DW does them daily. I supply some answers as and if requested.
Same here, the wife does the heavy lifting and I can usually fill in the last few blanks
I will not attempt them solely because you need to have a 'crossword' vocabulary and a knowledge of the subtle twists when a clue is not as clear cut as it seems and I am basically clueless.

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by Oddlot » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:43 pm

I also do the Sunday NYT a week late in another paper. When the theme is tied to a holiday or event the puzzle tends to lose a bit of luster after the fact.

The Wall Street Journal has a good xword on Fridays (free on line).

The Chicago Tribune/LA Times xwords seem to be getting more challenging on Fridays and Saturdays. Occasionally I have to refer to the "LA Times Crossword Corner" blog.

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by pjstack » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:10 pm

I do the Sunday one. The definitions are devilishly misleading (to me, anyway). Great fun, although sometimes takes me two days to let my subconscious work on it!
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by SnapShots » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:12 pm

DH does the: LA Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, USA today and our local papers every morning. Sometimes the NY Times. Says they all get harder as the week progresses but says the NY Times is pretty hard.
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by jegallup » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:51 pm

Typ997S wrote:Since I don't get the Times regularly, I solve the syndicated Sunday puzzle, a week after it's in the NYT. I'm about 50-50 in solving it completely, usually in a couple of sittings. The last two weeks have been unusually easy, so I've actually solved them both in one sitting, which I think is a first for me...
And here I thought I was getting better at them!

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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by grabiner » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:10 pm

I have been with several groups of serious puzzlers who do the puzzle using only the Down clues. Later in the week, a small group may need to give up and look at the Across clues, but the puzzle doesn't last long after that.
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Re: Any New York Times crossword solvers here?

Post by wadefish » Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:32 pm

NYT crossword is fun. I'm a casual (early in the week) fan.

Another crossword puzzle I like is the "Jonesin' Crossword", as syndicated in several "alternative" weeklies. Here in the NW, that includes (I believe) The Stranger (Seattle) and the Portland Mercury.

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