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NYT Crossword One-Year Streak

Published by marco on

Kath and I passed a milestone today: we’ve been on a NYT Crossword-puzzle streak for one year.

 NYT 365-day Streak

You have to complete the puzzle on the day without asking for help. There is no time limit other than by the end of the day (so 24h maximum?) As you can see from the graph of average times I’ve also included, that issue doesn’t come up for us.

Maintaining a streak used to be more difficult before they improved the software for rebuses. A rebus is where you have to put more than one letter in a box or where the answer in a box for across is different than down. In the old days, you had to formulate it exactly as expected. Even if you had the right answer and wrote “two” as a rebus instead of “2” (very rare), you’d get punished. Or if you wrote the correct clue for down, but the answer key wanted the clue for across, you didn’t get credit until you’d guessed all of the possible combinations until you’d hit on the one the answer key expected. No longer.

Somewhere in there, for a month or two, the puzzles were noticeably easier—almost annoyingly so. Now, I feel that the difficulty level is back to “normal”—solvable but challenging enough to be interesting.

So it’s gotten a bit easier, I guess. Also, we’ve been doing these for at least a decade—if not longer—and have gotten quite used to the standard clue structure the NYT uses.[1]

About three years ago, we started doing the cryptic crossword, which is much, much harder than even the Saturday NYT crossword. We started off getting almost nothing and have now worked our way up to being able to solve most of them in about 90 minutes or less. The Puns and Anagrams puzzle is somewhere in between the standard trickiness of Saturday and the deviousness squared of a Cryptic.

Speed-wise, we’re OK but not stellar. We have fun doing them and sometimes regret that we’ve even gotten as quick as we are—a puzzle takes about 10-15 minutes now rather than the luxurious 30-40 minutes it used to. I guess that sounds like a humble-brag, but it wasn’t intended as such. We can finish pretty much any English-language crossword puzzle, but we’re not anywhere near the pros.


[1] Hello, Brian Eno!