January 14, 2018

Crossword Puzzles: Want to start crossword puzzling? Here are some tips.

I love solving crossword puzzles.  A lot.  The challenge and mental awareness  and concentration crossword puzzles bring me adds much enjoyment to my days.

Oh, and by the way, I'm a crossword puzzler on paper.  With a pencil.  Don't like solving crossword puzzles on a computer or smart phone, which to me is a messy, non-cohesive platform.

And yes, you're no doubt wondering why I have a photo of an Oreo cookie on a blog post about solving crossword puzzles.  Stay with me now, I'll get to that in a minute!

Anyhoo, last year, Deb Amilen and Sam Ezersky posted a very interesting article in the New York Times website titled "How to Get Started Solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle".  It contains a wealth of helpful information and puzzle solving aides, as well as some pretty darn fascinating crossword trivia.

You can read the entire article here.  Today I'll share Ms. Amilen's and Mr. Ezersky first crossword puzzling help topic, with which I totally agree.  Plus, the trivia about OREO New York Times Crossword clues is fascinating!  I'll post more of their crossword help topics in the future.  But for today ...

Crossword Puzzling Tip #1:  Start with the Monday Puzzles
"Mondays are the easiest and they get harder as the week goes on.

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. Your officemate keeps bragging about his ability to finish The New York Times Crossword. You hate your officemate.

So, not to be outdone, you pick up the paper or download our app and turn to the Saturday puzzle. How hard could it be?

Fun Fact: The Saturday crossword is actually the hardest puzzle of the week. Contrary to popular belief, the Sunday puzzles are midweek difficulty, not the hardest. Mondays have the most straightforward clues and Saturday clues are the most vague or involve the most wordplay. Some later-week puzzle clues may require specialized knowledge.

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. OREO cookies (answers in puzzles are generally written in all capital letters) are such a popular entry in crosswords that they have been dubbed by some as the “official” cookie of the crossword. A typical Monday clue for OREO will be very straightforward and drive you almost directly to the answer.
“Nabisco cookie”
“Cookie with creme filling”
“‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ cookie”
And here are some late-week clues, which might require more specialized knowledge about these delicious treats:
“Snack since 1912”
“It has 12 flowers on each side”
“Sandwich often given a twist”
We weren’t kidding you. There is a big difference between a Monday puzzle and a Saturday puzzle.  
That doesn’t mean that you can’t work your way toward solving a late-week puzzle – and we recommend that you do, because they’re fun – but it takes experience and patience.

If you’re just getting started, though, make your life easy and solve as many Monday puzzles as you can. Eventually, you’ll be ready for more of a challenge, and that’s when you move on to Tuesday puzzles."
--  Deb Amilen and Sam Ezersky, "How to Get Started Solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle"; NewYorkTimes.com; July 217, 2017
Are the differences in the OREO cookie crossword clues mesmerizing, or what?!  Now grab some Oreos and get to crossword puzzlin'!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts


  1. As a follow-up to this post, I never realized an Oreo Cookie had 12 flowers on each side of the cookie. Fascinating how so many clues can be developed for a rather simple cookie! Mary Rae Fouts

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