The New York Times crossword puzzle is one of the most popular and challenging word games in the world. It is published daily in print and online, and attracts millions of solvers every day. But how do you solve it? What are the tips and tricks to crack the clues and fill in the grid? Here are some suggestions from experts and enthusiasts on how to master the certain to happen NYT crossword puzzle.
Know the rules
The first thing to know about the NYT crossword puzzle is that it follows some basic rules that you need to be aware of. These rules are:
- The puzzle is a square grid of black and white squares, usually 15 by 15 on weekdays and larger on weekends.
- The grid is symmetrical, meaning that if you rotate it 180 degrees, it will look the same.
- The black squares divide the grid into words that run across (horizontally) and down (vertically). Each word has a number and a clue that corresponds to it.
- The clues are divided into two sections: Across and Down. You need to fill in the words that match the clues in both directions.
- The clues are usually written in a cryptic or witty way, often involving wordplay, puns, anagrams, homophones, hidden words, abbreviations, etc. You need to figure out the meaning and the word that fits the clue and the grid.
- The difficulty of the puzzle varies throughout the week. Monday is the easiest, and Saturday is the hardest. Sunday is a special puzzle that is larger and has a theme.
Use the theme
One of the most helpful features of the NYT crossword puzzle is the theme. The theme is a set of words or phrases that are related in some way, and that appear in the longest or most prominent answers in the grid. The theme can be anything from a common category, a wordplay, a quotation, a trivia, a joke, etc. The theme can help you solve the puzzle by giving you a hint about the answers or the clues.
To find the theme, you need to look at the title of the puzzle, which usually gives you a clue about the theme. You also need to look at the longest answers in the grid, which are usually the theme entries. Sometimes, the theme is revealed by a special clue or answer that explains the theme. For example, in the puzzle titled “Certain to happen” from January 5, 2023, the theme was words that end with -ABLE, such as INEVITABLE, UNBEARABLE, UNSTOPPABLE, etc. The theme was revealed by the clue “Certain to happen … or a hint to the ends of the answers to the starred clues”, which pointed to the word INEVITABLE.
Use the crossings
Another useful strategy to solve the NYT crossword puzzle is to use the crossings. The crossings are the letters that are shared by the words that run across and down in the grid. The crossings can help you confirm or eliminate the possible answers for a clue, by checking if they fit with the other clues.
To use the crossings, you need to look at the clues that intersect with the clue you are trying to solve, and see if you can fill in any of the letters. For example, if you are trying to solve the clue “Certain to happen” for 10 letters, and you have the letters _ _ E _ I _ A _ L _, you can look at the clues that cross with those letters, such as “One spewing hogwash” for 4 letters, or “When Santa and the tooth fairy are most active” for 5 letters. If you can fill in those clues, you can narrow down the possible answers for the clue “Certain to happen”. In this case, the answer is INEVITABLE, which fits with the clues LIAR and NIGHT.
Use the resources
The final tip to solve the NYT crossword puzzle is to use the resources that are available to you. These resources can be anything from dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, websites, apps, books, magazines, etc. that can help you find the answers or the clues that you are stuck on. You can also use the hints or the cheats that are provided by the NYT crossword app or website, such as revealing a letter, a word, or the whole puzzle. However, you should use these resources sparingly, as they can take away the fun and the challenge of the puzzle.
Some of the best resources to use for the NYT crossword puzzle are:
- The New York Times website, which has the archive of all the past puzzles, the answers, the explanations, the statistics, the leaderboards, the blogs, the podcasts, the videos, and more. You can access the website at nytimes.com/crosswords.
- The New York Times Crossword app, which has the same features as the website, plus the ability to play the puzzle on your phone or tablet, offline or online, with different settings and modes. You can download the app from the App Store or the Google Play Store.
- The Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle blog, which is a popular and entertaining blog that reviews and analyzes the NYT crossword puzzle every day, with insights, criticisms, jokes, and comments from the author and the readers. You can visit the blog at rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com.
- The Wordplay column, which is a daily column that appears in the NYT website and app, that gives you tips, tricks, and trivia about the NYT crossword puzzle, with interviews, puzzles, quizzes, and more. You can read the column at nytimes.com/column/wordplay.
The NYT crossword puzzle is a fun and rewarding activity that can challenge your brain, improve your vocabulary, and entertain you. To solve it, you need to know the rules, use the theme, use the crossings, and use the resources. With practice and patience, you can become a master of the certain to happen NYT crossword puzzle. Happy solving!