to look something up when solving a crossword. It pays to learn both older and more modern slang and vernacular. Your wheelhouse might be stuffed with sports trivia. Constructor: The person who creates the crossword puzzle. Here’s how this puzzled was clued: Now imagine opening your Sunday New York Times Magazine to the crossword and seeing a museum come to life. Most solvers don’t fill in a theme entry without first solving some of the crossings, so don’t worry if you don’t know them right off the bat. You’ll really need to work the crossings to figure that out. Use the timer if you want to check your solving speed. The answer to that clue is RED. How to recognize well-made crossword puzzles. Illustrations by Elena Xausa. Don’t worry: You’ve got this. The part of the clue that is not the definition is known as the subsidiary indicator. Because as we said, crosswords are a game, and games are meant to be fun. Tip: Solving with another person can work to your advantage. Three more long Across answers work similarly. Not all crosswords have themes, but for those that do, finding them will help you be a better solver. A 21x21 Sunday puzzle usually has no more than 140 answers. It would be impossible to cover every instance of clueing, but we can get you up and running. Try these clues that are designed to be easy for most people: Your brain knows the answer to this: It’s POOH, the “hunny”-loving bear from the stories by A. You know things your friend doesn’t know, and he or she knows things that you don’t know. You might want to spend some time staring at them until the heteronym reveals itself. First, decide how you want to solve: Are you a print-only person? 3 On the surface, this clue looks like a compliment, doesn’t it? A theme is an extra bit of entertainment that can also be a solving aid. It would be LOVED, because that’s the past tense form. Tip: When you find yourself cursing at the puzzle because none of your expected answers fit, it probably has a rebus element. We want you to be able to wring every drop of enjoyment out of your puzzle. 2. No more. You deserve better. There’s logic behind this, we promise. But where's the fun in that? To create your own crossword puzzle, first click on the following link: create a crossword puzzle. You just have to learn to think like a constructor. That’s roughly twice as much stuff that you can solve, and it’s a good excuse to spend time together. Of course, some solvers say simply that figuring out a really tricky clue makes them feel smart. No registration is required. Editor's Note: Last week, we published an item on how crossword puzzles are made. Solvers either love rebuses or they hate them. Here’s one that changes an ‘S’ to an ‘SH’ at the start of the second word of a familiar phrase to turn it into something completely different: At 17-Across, for example, BEST SELLER becomes BEST SHELLER. Mondays have the most straightforward clues and Saturday clues are the hardest, or involve the most wordplay. Interlock: The crossing of entries inside the grid. The brain works in weird and wonderful ways, and when you start solving crosswords consistently, you will feel really good when you can say, “Hey, I know that one!”. Cross-Reference: Two entries whose clues are linked to each other. Yay, you! But it’s an indicator that the answers to the clue you are looking at and the one at 17-Across are somehow related. The answer is likely to be a pun, a misdirection, or some other type of wordplay. Fill-in-the-blank clues tend to be easier because they have definite answers. At first glance, cryptic crossword clues can appear daunting, but what no one ever tells you is this: the answer is right in front of you – by definition. Here are a few examples of clues with possible answers: You might also see clues in brackets. See anything you definitely know? The answer will be the same, but how you get there will be very different. Tap outside resources. They just want you to stretch your mind a bit. Of course, some solvers may tell you that looking up the answer to a clue is “cheating,” but to us, that way lies frustration and a path to giving up. So, not to be outdone, you pick up the paper or download our app and turn to the Saturday puzzle. What term do you want to search? Don’t believe us? The part of the clue that is not … These examples are just to get you started, but once you dive in and start solving, prepare to be surprised by the incredible creativity of the puzzle makers. How to Get Started Start With the Monday Puzzles. The constructor develops the theme if it’s a themed puzzle, fills the puzzle with interlocking words or phrases and writes the clues. To celebrate publication of 25,000 Guardian cryptic crosswords, here are some handy tips to help you solve them, Cryptic crossword setters really are cunning foxes. But most commonly they involve playing with words. Just remember to make sure that the tenses of each clue and its answer match. For example, the Spanish word ESTA, which means “this” or “it is,” might be clued early in the week as “It is, en español.” Don’t worry, the answer is in your brain somewhere. Crossword making is an art form, and very few people are really good at it. If you see a foreign language clue, expect a foreign language answer. If you need to come up with an answer for the clue “Partner of sciences,” for example, the answer would be either “Sciences and ___” or “___ and sciences.” In this case, the answer is ARTS, for “arts and sciences.”. The answers that … Then read it backwards. Repeat step three. Therein lies a challenge: Older solvers have to keep up with our changing language and younger solvers have to learn words that might have fallen out of favor long before they were born. 5. To keep things fair between constructor, editor and solver, most crossword clues follow certain predictable “rules.” We’re going to let you in on some of those rules and, if you practice using the Minis that are included in this guide, you will get a lot further in your solving. 1 2. And once you log in, you can save your progress across all the digital platforms. We’ve put an “*” by the clues that adhere to the ‘partner’ rule. The first is by disguising the definition. Being able to identify the definition is one of the most useful skills to have when doing cryptic crosswords … In fact, you never know when it could lead to something more, like a marriage proposal. Partner up with this mini. When you look something up, you’re learning so you’ll know it for next time. Still not sure looking things up is fair? There are a few different ways you might see plural answers clued: Tip: If you are struggling with an answer that has a plural clue, you can make yourself feel like you’ve at least got a grip on it by dropping the letter “S” in at the end. To do this, point the crossword to the upper left corner of the crossword puzzle and then hold down the left mouse button (don’t let go!) Keep a quality … But how are you supposed to win? 4. Even so, it’s not that hard, especially if you work the crossings. Here are some particularly sneaky heteronym examples and the number of letters in their answers. Clues are not necessarily dictionary definitions; they can involve puns, anagrams and other types of wordplay. Like most skills in life, you need a teacher. The key is to learn some easy-to-remember ways to read those devilish crossword clues. That wasn’t so tough, right? To make “compressed AIR,” of course. That makes no sense at first glance, but don’t give up. Once you master a few basic strategies, you’ll find that puzzle-solving is not only possible, but highly addictive. And remember: If you need to, take a break and come back to the puzzle. People who have not yet learned to enjoy The New York Times Crossword tend to believe that it is a stodgy pursuit for older people, but the truth is, there are both modern and retro references in almost every puzzle. Crosswords are ultimately learning tools, whether you’re learning some trivia or an interesting new word or phrase. They’re just bigger. Some themes change part of a familiar word or phrase to make a pun. Time to practice again. For each clue in a cryptic crossword, circle which word or words you think are the definition. Let me say something that may be controversial, but it needs to be said: It’s O.K. You’ve started solving The New York Times Crossword! Let’s split up how to do a crossword puzzle into in the basic steps as well as some pro tips. Alternatively, you can turn do the Sudoku instead. Brain Fact: Crosswords are fun and may improve your ability to find words, but they don’t help your brain’s overall cognition or memory A lot of people do crossword puzzles each day with the belief … See if you can keep your plurals matching. Everyone makes mistakes. Get some practice on these clues. Tip: Watch out for one of the most devious cluing traps in crosswords: Hiding a proper name at the beginning of a clue. Let’s take a closer look at the clue: The word “Brave” has a capital B because it is at the beginning of the clue, but that is not the only reason it’s capitalized. Read the clue. This isn't the right place to get into the ins and outs of crossword construction, but let me give you an example of a useful sign-post. Entries that are part of a theme are called — wait for it — theme entries. Vive la différence, right? Grid: The diagram of black and white squares that contains the entries. Try this one. If you are solving online or in one of our apps, however, there is an easy way to enter multiple letters in a single square. We’ve put an “*” by the clues that adhere to the ‘foreign language’ rule to help. There is a big difference between a Monday puzzle clue and a Saturday puzzle one. Try, for example, Puck's clue from a couple of weeks back: Maybe wearing some larger undies (6). If there is a non-English word or phrase in the crossword, the clue will signal it by either including a word or phrase in the same language, or by connecting the answer to a place where that language is spoken or a person who might speak it. They have essentially two ways of messing with you. But HOME REPAIR would need 10 squares. And no, the puzzle constructors and editors don’t hate you. That’s where all of that devious, delicious wordplay is tucked into the clues, and where the fun in solving crosswords lies. Use a sheet of graph paper. Think about the rest of the clue. Can you tacking this mini, briefly? Crossing: The intersection between an Across entry and a Down one. For example, if you see the past tense clue “Adored” in a puzzle, the answer has to be past tense. A 15x15 themeless puzzle has a maximum word count of 72 answers. Click Print at the top of the puzzle board to play the crossword with pen and paper. Try this Monday-level mini crossword and show yourself what you can do. . Ready to conquer The New York Times Crossword? If you are solving in print, of course, filling in the rebus will simply be a matter of writing small. Still stuck? In both cases, the answer would be BOOK. Talk about tough cluing. It may also depend on which day of the week the clue appears: Early week puzzles might get a “?” to help you, whereas later week clues might not. And you will certainly learn it if you solve the crossword, dawg. Either the first word or the last word (or phrase, or even the whole clue) defines the solution. Animations by Lorenzo Fonda. Be on the lookout for these, because they can be amazing. This is probably a beginning solver’s most common mistake.You know what it’s like: You have some downtime on a Saturday and you look around for something to pass the time. Just to drive the point home, let’s take a look at the difference between a Monday clue and a late-week clue for a popular crossword entry. This part is key: Do a reverse-pinch 3 … Possible definitions? Ask yourself if the words in the clues might have different meanings from the ones you think they do. But most commonly it will be in the longest Across and Down entries. Trust us: There’s no better boost to your solving ego than to be able to fill in a few entries right off the bat. From being duped by magic tricks to pondering those brain-twisting crossword clues, why do humans so love being fooled? When you come back to it, you might be surprised at the “Aha!” moment you experience when you thought you didn’t know the answer. The number of types of themes you might see in crosswords is nearly infinite, so we can’t describe them here. Don’t allow any word to go unexamined. If you’ve been practicing, you should be able to tackle a midweek puzzle at least, if not a later-in-the-week puzzle. . Former lover = EX + can = TIN + court = CT = EXTINCT. So let’s get solving! The theme clues are pretty straightforward — fittingly for a Monday puzzle — although the clue for DUST JACKET is playing with us. We’ve put an “*” by the clues that adhere to the ‘verb tense’ rule. The entries BOULDER DAM, ROCK LOBSTER, PEBBLE BEACH and DUST JACKET all involve some sort of stone — and the size of the stone (BOULDER → ROCK → PEBBLE → DUST) gets smaller as you go from the top of the grid to the bottom. Fourth, I tap on the crossword itself, which opens it in Article view, which is a full-page view. A new Boatload Puzzles crossword … Is it the rush of the “Aha!” moment, when their expectations are defied? 2. Every number in the grid is used by either an Across clueor a Down clue, or one of each.But, the puzzle starts with a blank grid, and it’s up to you to figure o… Make a first pass in one direction, usually starting with 1 Across, and … Your officemate keeps bragging about his ability to finish The New York Times Crossword. Then, come back when you have enough letters filled in from the crossings to solve the rest of the entry. In the Mini Crossword below, 1-Across and 4-Across are cross-referenced. We’re here to let you in on some of the rules that most clues follow, and to teach you how to read those clues so that they become easier to solve. They describe the punny phrase, not the one it’s based on, so it’s up to you to figure that out. Read the clues carefully! Remember, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Most diagramless crosswords provide a grid to work in; but you will need to erase less often if you have a larger grid. (That’s also why rebuses are generally reserved for Thursday and Sunday puzzles, says Joel Fagliano, the digital puzzles editor.). Meaning, no more. Learn from them and move on. . You hate your officemate. Fifth, I hit the Print icon in the top right, but I don’t print it. Here is outright permission: We’re big fans of the brain here, especially its incredible work ethic. The answer is TIDES, because they are events that involve currents in the sea. Simon starts at the very beginning, explaining how to solve the Quick Cryptic that appeared in The Times on 29 Dec 17. Check the dimensions of the puzzle. Some good news about crossword puzzles: A clue and answer pairing will always be fair, even if it takes solvers a while to see it. A 10-word clue for a three-letter solution should alert you to something. Mini crossword: A 5x5 crossword offered by The New York Times. It has a capital B because it also happens to be the name of a professional baseball player, an Atlanta Brave. That’s another good reason to know about them. Click on either a clue or a box in the grid to start entering an answer. Most daily puzzles are 15 squares by 15 squares and most Sunday puzzles are 21 squares by 21 squares. It almost certainly isn't. Depending on the puzzle, it might also be MET. Those are usually the easiest. Symmetry: Standard crosswords have 180 degree rotational symmetry, which means that if you turn a crossword puzzle upside down, the black and white squares will still be in the same place. World 's largest supply of crossword puzzles are 21 squares by 21 by. Example: former lover = EX + can = TIN + court CT. The key is to learn to solve: are you a print-only person you know your Parts of speech and... The same, but it ’ s going on create a crossword puzzle order to connect answers... More or no more ( 7 ) a verb 're looking for to... 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