June 29, 2005


Will Shortz and a variety of others suggested ways to up the challenge of easy crosswords, including trying to improve on your fastest time for a given weekday. I'm trying out my own twist on that. I solve the LA Times, CrosSynergy, and New York Sun puzzles each morning in Across Lite. (I know a lot of people like to solve the week's NYSs all at once on Monday, but then what have you got to look forward to?) Since the LAT and CS are unlikely to be that hard, even by the time Friday rolls around, why not bundle them with the NYS and shoot for a cumulative time to beat? For Tuesday, I guesstimated 11:00, and finished the three puzzles in 10:37. Today, the goal was 12:30, and I finished in 11:58.

I seldom do the Creators Syndicate puzzles (Stan Newman) because they're not available in Across Lite. (I have been printing out the Saturday Stumper lately, though.) Yesterday I printed out Monday, Tuesday, and last Thursday, and covered up the across clues. For the Thursday puzzle, I did have to peek at three across clues, but everything else could be filled in with jsut the downs.

I don't suppose constructors try to put their cleverest clues into just the across column or just the downs?

I haven't touched any puzzle books lately—must be a dog days/laziness thing. I have done a few cryptics in Games or Games World of Puzzles at bedtime. Mostly they're much slower going than standard crosswords, but there was one by Harvey Estes that I just zipped through. It had a three-star difficulty rating (like all cryptics, perhaps?) but I got every answer almost instantly. Is this a wavelength thing, or a cryptic that was actually written to be easier??