Solving a crossword puzzle is a great hobby as it not only kills some time that you might not have used otherwise, but it also exercises your brain. There are millions of people who play crosswords on a daily basis, and many of them follow a few simple tricks that help them to solve their puzzles either online or in the local newspaper.
If you’re just getting into crosswords for the first time, there are a few weird tricks that you should know about. If you follow these five tips, you’ll be able to solve even the hardest crossword puzzles in no time.
Grab a Pencil
Trying to visualize the right answer in a crossword puzzle can be difficult, and there are a lot of people that like to use a pen to play. After all, using a pen looks cleaner and nicer…assuming that you get the correct answer on every guess. If you really want to look at a crossword and picture it without using your imagination, though, you can simply use a pencil and lightly write in what you think the answer would be.
If it doesn’t fit or if you find another answer that negates it that you’re confident about, you’ll be able to erase your old guess. It’s actually pretty astonishing how many people use a pen compared to a pencil while playing. That doesn’t mean that you should be ashamed about using a pencil, because we all make mistakes and need a little help to see what the problem is.
Don’t Guess At All (At First)
Some of the best crossword players in the world have one trick where they read through the entire list of clues before writing down a single response. When a clue pops up that they’re 100 percent confident that they know the answer to, then they’ll write it down. If there’s any doubt in their mind, however, they’ll try to build around the words that they know for certain are there.
This is a great strategy as you’re setting up your future self with hints that will lead to faster puzzle-solving. Nailing these easier questions first and foremost will allow you to see what letters go in the right places when getting to the harder clues. For example, getting the crossing answer first might help you decipher between words like “pole” and “poll.”
Avoid the Weekends
There’s a rule that almost every newspaper follows, and it’s that the hardest puzzles are reserved for the weekends. The Saturday puzzle tends to be the hardest since it brings out the expert players that have a lot of weekend time on their hands, while the Sunday puzzles are typically just as hard.
If you want to feel like you’re starting to get the hang of crossword puzzles, try to focus on the Monday puzzles. Since there isn’t a lot of time in the day, newspapers have made this the easiest day of the week. Beginners should try to find every Monday edition they can of their local paper to play the crossword until they get the hang of things before eventually working their way up to Saturdays.
Every professional crossword player and editor has said that one of the most important tricks that you can perform is to take a break in the middle of playing. If you get stuck on a clue and the answer is on the tip of your tongue, you’re only going to cause yourself agony by trying to think about what it is.
Experts say that you should take a break, walk around a little bit, and focus on something else that isn’t the crossword puzzle. Eventually, the answer will come to you while you’re on a break, or simply refresh your brain to the point where you’ll be able to get it out when you sit back down to finish the puzzle.
If there’s one thing that crossword editors love more than anything else, it’s a good pun. A lot of the clues in modern puzzles are pun-related, and you should be on the lookout for any of those. Get yourself familiar with how puns work and try to think of some good ones on your own to really get into the mind of a crossword editor.
They don’t have to be entirely long or convoluted to work in a crossword puzzle, but it’s best to get a basic grasp on the world of puns. Once you understand them better, a lot of the clues will become a breeze.