Thursday Puzzle – Some problem solvers enjoy the unique aspects of the New York Times Thursday crossword puzzle, and some don’t. I fall firmly into the first category.
Solvers who fall into the second category—those who are frustrated with Thursday’s puzzles—can be divided into two more categories: people who want the puzzle to be a grid where they simply cross words as they do the rest of the week, and those who need help understanding the topic but are They feel as if their chains have been taken away because the answers are not what they expected.
I’d like to speak to the latter group—those puzzle solvers who feel as though they’ve been taken advantage of because the type of puzzle subject matter they’ve never seen before.
The good news is that puzzle editors Wants To be able to solve the puzzle. A lot of work goes into making each puzzle fair, if not easy to solve. (Seriously. I’ve seen them actually sweat.)
From what readers have told me over the years, the real problem is that they don’t know when to expect a difficult topic, and they wish a puzzle contained some kind of warning or caution. The problem is that this defeats the whole purpose of puzzle-solving, which is to enjoy the satisfaction of figuring things out on your own. It would spoil the fun for those with more experience.
The key to enjoying more challenging puzzles is to learn to expect anything and everything from constructors. Almost nothing outside the laws of physics is off the table. (And even then. Talk about breaking the fourth wall. The answers are here.)
Here are some tips to improve the predictability of tricks in crosswords:
Generally, you will see things like replays and other weird ways of reading entries on Thursdays. Sometimes, you may also come across these in a Sunday puzzle. I’ve seen a rebus or two on Wednesday, but it’s very rare.
Answers that don’t fit their place, or that don’t make sense, are reason enough to think something is going on. This is your cue to stop, take a breath and tell your mind to proceed with caution. Take breaks if you need to, because getting back into the puzzle can help you see things you didn’t notice before.
Practice will lead to better predictive abilities. I know the word “practice” takes you back to your childhood piano lessons, but there’s no way around this. The more puzzles you solve, the better you’ll be able to spot the tricks.
This last point is very important. Today you may find it almost impossible to know what is going on. But if you get into the habit of at least trying a Thursday puzzle every week, you might see a useful pattern. Over time, you may find, as I did, that Thursday becomes your preferred resolution day.
The subject of Freddie Cheng is certainly what I would call difficult, because the answers you have to write are not complete. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find the rest of the answer. It’s not as far away as you think.
The answer to the clue at 47D (“Don’t you have a fuzzier!”…or when the first two letters are put at the end, a key part of seven answers in this puzzle”) is not a clue.
When I set out to solve Mr. Cheng’s riddle, I confused myself thinking that the first two letters of the subject’s answers should be put at the end, but it was the detector that needed the old key. This means that the detector actually looks like this: CLUE NO.
Did you realize that? NO is now short for “number”. We have to look at the clue numbers to find the beginning of each answer to the topic.
For example, in 30D, the answer to “NBC comedy starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin” as we need to write it is ROCK, but those of us who watched that comedy know there’s more to it. The show was actually called “30 ROCK,” and — oh wait, look at that! Mr. Cheng has cleverly put the answer in a box containing the number 30.
So the way we’re supposed to read topic answers is “[clue no.] +Enter.”
Let’s do another one. On 39D, the clue reads “1935 Hitchcock thriller, with ‘The'” and the answer as written is STEPS. Mr. Hitchcock’s film was not called “The Steps,” but “The 39 Steps.”
It was difficult but not impossible, right? And if that’s the case, instead of getting angry at yourself or the puzzle editors, try thinking of Solving Thursdays as a path. The first step is getting started, and then all you have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. Come here to find help when you need it. Don’t worry about how others solve it – you do it for you, not anyone else.
I’ve got this.
1 a. “November continued” is not December but OSCAR because this guide refers to the NATO alphabet. To read more about why people adapt the alphabet to their own needs using their own words, see this article by Sam Corbin.
26 A. Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star and “lifelong friend of Kim Jong-un”, has been an “ambassador of peace” to North Korea.
44 a. “Autumn in winter” is snow as in snowfall.
50 a. In England, potato chips are called Crisps.
58 a. The canines in the Where to Find Canines guide are teeth, not canines. You will find fangs in the jaw.
36 D. “Am I problems?” It’s not about visual issues. It is simply a homogeneous guide (eye versus ego), and the answer is the Freudian ego.
Of the many (very) weird and (very) weird Thursdays I’ve ever presented, this one is by far the easiest in comparison, as you can technically solve the entire puzzle while being oblivious to the gimmick. The New York Times crossword puzzle team was partly thinking about it on Wednesday. Fortunately, it was posted today, so I can finally “get into the course.” (Goals that a person desires or hopes to achieve in his life!)
In previous Thursday puzzles, the creators experimented with just about everything they could get their hands on – from what would fit in the white/black squares, to the space outside the grid, and of course, to the clues themselves. Why not play with the evidence numbers too?
I have restricted subject entries to those containing Arabic numerals only, in accordance with the guide numbering format. Since moving the black squares affects the numbering sequence, there was a lot of trial and error to build, due to the need for symmetry. I would have liked to have limited the subject boxes to just one Arabic number per entry, but in the end, it wasn’t worth the sacrifice for the extra flexibility.
Kudos to the puzzle editing team for the 43A and 63A clues!
Creator Record: Submitted and accepted between May and August 2022.
Don’t Fear Fridays: About Easy Mode Newsletter
Puzzle Editor Christina Iverson will be sending out a weekly Friday crossword puzzle with easy-to-access clues straight to your inbox if you sign up for the Easy Mode newsletter. This extra bit of goodness is for those who want to try out Friday puzzles but have heard all about how hard they are.
Take a look at the difference between the Normal Mode and Easy Mode guides below. The links are a small sample of the clues from Friday’s puzzle. When you click on it, you will see the version that will play the normal puzzle as well as the easier version.
(Warning: The following contains spoilers for Friday’s mystery.)
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