In Your Face NYT Mini: How to Beat the New York Times Crossword in Less Than a Minute

If you are a crossword lover, you might have heard of the New York Times Crossword, the most popular and prestigious crossword puzzle in the world. The daily puzzle, edited by Will Shortz, is known for its clever clues, challenging themes, and cultural references. But did you know that there is also a mini version of the puzzle that you can solve in less than a minute?

The NYT Mini is a 5×5 grid that appears every day on the New York Times website and app. It is created by Joel Fagliano, the digital puzzles editor, and it is designed to be a quick and easy way to enjoy a crossword. The clues are usually straightforward and the answers are mostly common words. The mini puzzle is also free to play, unlike the daily puzzle, which requires a subscription.

But don’t let the size and simplicity of the mini puzzle fool you. It can still be a challenge to solve, especially if you are aiming for a fast time. The mini puzzle has a leaderboard that shows the top 100 solvers of the day, as well as your personal statistics and streaks. If you want to see your name on the leaderboard, or just impress your friends with your crossword skills, you need to be fast and accurate.

So how can you beat the NYT Mini in less than a minute? Here are some tips and tricks that might help you achieve that goal.

Tip #1: Start with the Across Clues

The across clues are usually easier to solve than the down clues, because they have more letters to work with. You can use the across clues to fill in the grid as much as possible, and then use the letters as hints for the down clues. For example, if you see a clue like “Public transit option”, you can easily guess that the answer is BUS. Then you can use the B and the S to help you with the down clues that cross them.

Tip #2: Look for Patterns and Themes

Sometimes, the mini puzzle has a theme or a pattern that connects some of the answers. For example, the mini puzzle for November 18, 2023 had a theme of “skunks”, with the answers LEPEW, ODOR, and STINK. If you can spot the theme or the pattern, you can use it to narrow down the possible answers and fill in the grid faster.

Tip #3: Use Logic and Elimination

If you are stuck on a clue, you can use logic and elimination to rule out some of the options. For example, if you see a clue like “___ and cheese”, you can eliminate any word that does not fit the pattern of four letters and ends with a vowel. You can also use logic to deduce the answer based on the context of the clue. For example, if you see a clue like “Pepe ___, cartoon skunk”, you can infer that the answer is LEPEW, because Pepe Le Pew is a famous cartoon character.

Tip #4: Practice and Improve

The best way to beat the NYT Mini in less than a minute is to practice and improve your crossword skills. You can play the mini puzzle every day and track your progress and statistics. You can also play the daily puzzle and other games on the New York Times website, such as Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed, Tiles, Vertex, and Wordle. These games can help you expand your vocabulary, sharpen your spelling, and enhance your logic. The more you play, the better you will get at solving crosswords.


The NYT Mini is a fun and easy way to enjoy a crossword puzzle. It is also a great way to challenge yourself and test your crossword skills. If you follow these tips and tricks, you might be able to beat the mini puzzle in less than a minute and see your name on the leaderboard. But remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the game. Happy solving!