Prepare for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in 7 Days

by Carol Lee
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Today, I would like to ask all the crossword lovers a very simple question.

Do you think you are able to complete a crossword, which is as competitive as the American crossword puzzle in a single sitting with all the correct answers?

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Source: Google Images

I asked the same question to myself and was not sure about the answer. So, I decided to give it a try.

Solving crossword comes with learning hacks, trumps, frustration and what not.

Before beginning with the challenge I’d like to ask, how to determine the success?

Here is the answer:

  • Complete the crossword puzzle
  • Complete it in a single sitting
  • Do not take any help

I’ve already assumed that American crossword puzzle will certainly have a higher difficulty level. So, solving is going to be very tricky. Play daily crossword puzzle online to get hold of the solving techniques.

The starting point

My love for crossword has begun during school days when I saw my father solving crossword puzzles every Sunday in the newspaper. I sat beside him but didn’t understand what tricks he used to crack the puzzle. When I started solving in high-school, it became a very challenging job. As a beginner, I had no idea about how to understand the clues or where to start.

Later on, I switched to Wealth Words online crossword puzzles as they were accessible even on the go. Even after so much practice, I never managed to solve the complete puzzle without any help until three months back. For the first time in January 2019, I managed to solve this daily crossword puzzle on my own. And since then, I have tried my hands on many games.

Here is the first puzzle that I managed to complete all by myself.

Clearly, there is a lot that has to be accomplished because it is a long path to be traveled. When I completed a 20X20 grid for the first time, I felt I had done quite better now.

Day 1: Developing a strategic plan

There has to be a clear approach that will help you become a better solver. Here are some ideas that I’m going to with you that have helped me moving ahead:

Started solving multiple puzzles a day

I started solving more than one online crossword puzzle every day. This helped me find my inefficiency and bottleneck. I indulged myself in intelligent training and practice.

Dedicated practice hours

I know everyone has a busy lifestyle. Even I work at a corporate office but still, I managed to take out two hours a day to play free crossword puzzles. Practice makes a man perfect and this applies to crosswords as well.

Day 2: Study completed crossword

This might seem a little weird but it’s a great strategy. I have managed to slowly absorb crossword knowledge by reading the clues and the answers as every pattern are different. This makes identifying patterns easy and then memorizing them accordingly.

If you are able to study 10 puzzles an hour, this means you can work through 60 puzzles in less than a week.

Remember the repeated clues

When you are studying the solved puzzle, sort the repeated answers or clues and memorize them. Keep a note of the same and save it somewhere, so that you can come back whenever you want to.

Day 3: My crossword skill improved by 59%

When I was normally practicing my crossword routine, I realized my solving skills have improved as I managed to fill 59% of the squares of the grid. This made me realize that I’m moving in the right direction.

There is a lot to be done but I’ve already become an optimistic person.

I have not become great but I’m improving.

Day 4: Take a break

Today, there was an awkward situation. I was already awake before the alarm rang out. It was 5 in the morning. The adrenaline rush pushed me to try another puzzle early morning. And I decided to give it a try.

I started solving but was stuck after 10 clues. My brain stopped working and I thought, let’s not go ahead and get ready instead. In my office, I picked it up from where I had left. But still, I could only solve 5 more clues. Despite the tiredness of the day, I managed to complete 70% of the puzzle in the evening.

When I gave a closer look at the puzzle, I realized that it was not only an easy game but there were straightforward clues. It was like I had started a never-ending journey and I have been lost becoming a wanderer. Taking breaks helped me to solve it in a better way.

What did I learn?

When you are stuck in the middle, pause the game and take a short break. Your brain will start thinking of new ideas when you come back.

Day 5: My systematic approach

So far, my crossword playing technique was focused on two things:

  1.    Remembering the clues and answers of the crossword puzzles
  2.    Learning how to interpret the clues to find the appropriate answers

I think I should have invested some time in the solving technique as well.

This is the approach I started following further:

  • I started working on across clues and then moved down. I filled the answers right away.
  • After that, I looked at the densely filled-in part of the grid and tried working on it until I get stuck.
  • I keep moving in the puzzle until I’m able to solve anything.

So this is the conclusion I have come across:

While solving the crossword, when I reached a point where I get stuck, I know I have made some mistake. Then I started looking for the answer that I’m least confident about and deleted it.

All this helped to solve 75% of the puzzle with the north-east part of the grid remaining.

Day 6: Overcoming loss of momentum

Giving up on puzzles is very easy but staying determined to solve it needs courage.

I analyzed when did my momentum drop?

At the beginning and in the middle I got stuck and unable to move ahead in the games. Then I start guessing for the low probability clues.

Further, I found the solution to this.

If I’m reading through the answer and find a word that I don’t recognize. I assume that the answer is incorrect and look forward to changing the answer. Then I re-read the clue, check the changed answer. If it justifies the clue, that’s great. If not, I try correcting it again.

Day 7: The final showdown

It is my last training day, which means it is time to look back and overview my strategy and accomplishments.

In total, I have spent 18 hours this week on solving. I’m not at all surprised because there has been a lot that has gone into. The time spent was an average of two hours a day.

I’ve become a more optimistic person, who has gained patience and perseverance over time.

If you feel, you are a great crossword pro, who has participated in American Crossword Tournament or love solving a crossword, this guide will help you a lot. To make it more interesting, try playing real money earning games, where you can play enthusiastically to win cash awards.

Move ahead one step at a time and you will surely accomplish a successful crossword solving technique. All the best!!

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