Tips and tricks from a crossword addict
~~Hello, future crossword fiends!
First of all, I am sure that a lot of you are probably rolling your eyes upon reading this, or you think crosswords are incredibly boring and would rather have a root canal than to do one. Chances are, that reason is probably because you choose not to familiarize yourself with the fine art of solving puzzles.
Thus, my friends, I choose to help you solve these puzzles, and I GUARANTEE that after going over my hints, tips, and tricks, you will at least be able to fill in one clue on a New York Times Sunday Paper crossword. I hope to make crosswords easier and more enjoyable for you.
Crossword writers have certain wordings to convey their clues, and to the novice solver, they can often seem non-sensical. Here are a some of the strange clues that commonly come up in puzzles:
Man--mouse connector: To some, it may be tempting to think of something as outandish as Mickey and Prince Charming as siamese twins, but what the clue is REALLY asking for is the WORDS that come between in order to form a phrase; in this instance, the solution is Man OR A mouse
Kind of Fork: Probably, the first attempt at solving this clue is to think of the kinds of forks you eat with--but you can't think of any! Here is a kind of clue which requires a little abstract thinking. A tip: think off all the kinds of forks--all the expressions concerning the word "fork". One prime example is, of course, a tuning fork.
Rib or Number starter: This kind of clue is asking for a word that precedes both Rib and Number to form common expressions. The solution is PRIME. . .prime rib (yum!) and prime number. The solution can also come after the two clue words; in that case, the writer words the clue Pole or House ender, and the solution would be CAT. **Also note that the solution could be a prefix or suffix, such as "neo-"
Right and Obtuse; or Cherub and Seraph: This is the kind of clue I like to call a "Match 2". The clue is looking for the word that matches with both of them to form a phrase. Right ANGLE and Obtuse ANGLE; Cherubs and Seraphs are ANGELS. (Note the similarity to the above clue)
Clues ending in "?": These really require abstract thinking. The clue is probably a pun or some corny joke; nevertheless, there is some "clever" (IMO, most of these clues are corny as hell) twist. One clue I came across is "Good grades in Greek class?" The answer was "betas" (Grk for "B" of course! haha. . .haha. . .ha. . .).
Clues ending in e.g. or et. al.: This is kind of a "reverse clue" in the sense that they are giving you a specific and you have to figure out the "group" it belongs in. "Yogi, e.g." is an EXAMPLE of a BEAR. "Manilow, et al" basically reads "Manilow, an example of OTHERS LIKE IT". The et al clues are ALWAYS plural; thus, the answer is BARRYS.
Rule of thumb: ANY crossword clue that is given as one part of speech will have its answer in the EXACT SAME form of speech. Therefore, if you get a clue that says "Took a Taxi" (clue is a past tense verb), the answer must be a past tense verb such as "RODE"
***This knowledge can help fill in empty squares if you are lost to the clues themselve. Chances are, if the clues follow these rules, then you can at least fill in part of the answer as follows:
Plurals: Many clues will ask something like "African Antelopes". Chances are, you have no fucking CLUE! BUT you can at least confidently fill in the last space with an "S". Other plural clues to look for are clues with "et als" and the conjuction AND (i.e. "Bonds and Manilow. . .they are BARRYS)
Past Tense / Present Tense Verbs: Verb clues such as "Wakens" will almost always end in an "s", as they are present tense verbs. Most of the time, a past tense verb will have the last two squares end in "ed", but be careful about some like this: "Got out of bed" could mean "AROSE" (the "-ed" rule is the least dependable).
Gerunds: Gerunds are words that describe an action in progress and end in "-ing". Chances are, if a clue says "Taking a taxi" it could be "RIDING". And remember, even if you dont know, you can go ahead and fill in the last 3 squares I-N-G. Now do you see the beauty of this?
Comparisons: Many clues will state "more curvy" or "less obvious"; in this case, the clue most likely ends with the letters -ER. Some clues will say "Meanest", and most likely, this superlative clue ends in -EST.
Refer to my EXTENSIVE list: List of Common Clues: Useless knowledge to cram your head with
A lot of crosswords, espcecially the ones in the paper, are thematic, meaning the writer of the puzzle has incorporated a theme, such as "Basketcase". Usually, the longest clues in the puzzle will contain an element of the theme; for example 25 across might be an 18 letter word that has something to do with baskets.
Don't look at the answers unless you are completely stuck. Looking at the answers is for pussies!
. . .And for the love of God, DONT call the hotlines for the answers!
I really hope you find my help useful. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please EMAIL ME, Laura, at email@example.com.