Are you a crossword enthusiast or a novice? Even if you have ever attempted to solve crosswords, you must have realized the fact that clues are sometimes very confusing and the format is baffling.
I’ve been into crossword since I was 18. It was when I was preparing for university entrance exams that someone told me, solving crossword helps you to gain knowledge and improves vocabulary. Since then, I became a crossword fan.
Now, when I’m in a good profile in a reputed firm, I still manage to take out time on the weekend to solve at least 5 puzzles without a fail. Actually, I have made it a part of my routine.
Every Saturday & Sunday, I wake up late in the morning, make coffee and breakfast for myself, grab my smartphone and start playing online crossword puzzle game.
Almost a decade of crossword solving has made me understood that you get a great sense of accomplishment when you solve the complete crossword and this is something I love.
So, here I’m today, writing this article to help both veteran and novice so that they can challenge themselves even for the most difficult level crossword.
Let’s get started!
1. Figure the kind of crossword puzzle
Beginners will take time to understand this as the games don’t come in a dizzying array of flavors for them. Every crossword has its own strategy so you should know what kind of puzzle you are solving.
To be specific, I would say crosswords are mainly divided into 2 broad categories i.e. cryptic crossword and straight crosswords. Even the blank spaces vary as some puzzles feature large blocks while others use bards or a reform design in the grid.
2. Setting gimmicks
Every puzzle has a unique setting gimmick. This means that the themes have clues adhered to them. Different crosswords have different themes and the trick is to crack around which theme the puzzle is based on.
The most popular ones are American style crossword having a straight or blocked grid with higher checking and a British-style having cryptic, blocked or barred grid.
Before you submit your answers, make sure you are aware of the kind of puzzle that is in front of you.
3. Stick to one kind of puzzle
Almost all crosswords revolve a system of clues and answers, the types can sometimes be discouraging especially for newbies. If you are willing to enhance your confidence, pick a particular style of a puzzle to practice.
- If you want to get better at British-style crosswords, I recommend you to go to ‘The Guardian’ or ‘The Independent’ for free games.
- For American-style crosswords, there can’t be anything better than ‘The New York Times’ that has now become exceedingly popular.
- What if you want to master both American and the British puzzles? Go for Wealth Words online puzzle that also offers the opportunity to play and win real cash. The diverse variety of games offered are simply amazing.
4. Be careful of the multiple meaning clues
In cryptic crosswords, the puzzle maker tries to disguise a clue’s actual meaning with a deceptive interpretation.
For example, the word ‘setter’ can’t always mean crossword constructors but it can also be used for a dog, a jeweler or a winding street.
5. Keep a close watch on anagrams
Crosswords are always tricky. Actually, they are made that way. What fun solving if the answer to the clues is obvious, isn’t it?
Be careful about the smallest details of the clues like apostrophe or comma as they make a lot of difference and can help to find the right solution.
For example: “It’s fixed with a red pin, not yellow.” Initially, this may look like someone is talking about a specific pin requirement. Well, the answer to the clue is ‘intrepid’.
Was that way beyond your expectation? If yes, you are brilliant and if it’s a no, there is a lot that you have to learn about crosswords. If you pay a close look, both at the answer and the clue, you will realize that “it” is arranged with “red pin” to give “not yellow” which means fearless.
6. The exclamatory point means there is something cryptic
A clue that has an exclamation or a question mark needs a closer look. These two punctuation marks signal that there is a presence of an intricate wordplay.
In some cases, the entire puzzle can take you by surprise. For example, The New York Times ‘Election’ quiz that could be solved based on the lead declaration of either ‘Clinton or ‘Bob Dole’.
7. Urge to know quick answer is not good
If you are struggling with the puzzle for quite some time, it still makes sense. But if you have just started solving it and it has been only 15-20 minutes, then it is bad. Looking for the answers is always tempting but this is not considered as a decent practice.
Knowing the answers later-on help in understanding what did you miss but make sure to give yourself a fair chance and give it the best shot before harvesting the solutions.
8. Practice and more practice is the master key
If you seriously want to master the art of solving the crossword as a pro and excel in challenging puzzles, dedicate your time and energy into working on as many puzzles as you can get your hands on.
As you solve, look for the techniques that work best for you. No one becomes a good solver overnight. Everyone begins with staring at a blank grid and then scratching the head. Your patience and perseverance level will certainly take you heights. Plus, you will certainly get better with time.
9. Don’t get too frustrated
If the answer to a puzzle is getting hotter, step away for some time and then come back. Take a break, listen to your favorite music, watch an episode of your favorite series, draw sometimes or do what you love. This applies to difficult puzzles as well.
Ever thought how does it work?
Taking a break remolds your thinking patterns as fresh ideas come into your mind so the solution becomes easy.
10. Start with the easier stuff and then go for harder clues
Make sure you don’t rush to tackle difficult puzzles. Start with the easier beginner puzzles, practice for at least 4-5 months and then move ahead step by step. Trying to jump on the ladder will eventually make you fall off.
Initially, I started solving puzzles as a way to become more knowledgeable, enhance my cognitive skills but now I treat them as my stress reliever and fun activity.
Every online puzzle that I solve, helps me travel into another world of words and links me with my past experiences (some good and a few bad obviously) that I start feeling nostalgic.
My love for crosswords is endless and will remain so always.