WSJ Watch Your Back 4-12-21

A place to discuss regular (non-meta) crossword puzzles.
SReh26
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WSJ Watch Your Back 4-12-21

#1

Post by SReh26 »

Anyone care to comment on tactics for getting Monday and Tuesday WSJ puzzles sub 10 minutes? Im stuck at 11 or 12.
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BrianMac
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#2

Post by BrianMac »

Are you solving on paper or computer? Desktop computer is fastest for me by far. It also allows you to drop in guesses and correct errors much more easily and quickly. But if you want to do tournaments (in real life if we ever get back to that), you should practice on paper.

Have you been solving crossowords a long time? Do multiple puzzles a day (timed). You will learn the crosswordese and be able to drop those in as gimmies. You will also learn to recognize misdirection in clues, so you don't get stuck trying to figure out why "Island feature" is SILENTS. Speaking of which, don't linger - if you get stuck move on.

I like to start in the top row by filling in the first row of across answers, and then go across filling in downs. Many people like to start in the SE corner, which they believe tends to be easier (and I think there may be something to that). You'll have to find what works for you.

There some amazing people who can breeze through these in two or three minutes and I have no idea how they do that. But if you practice, you can definitely get under 10.
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MikeM000
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#3

Post by MikeM000 »

To tack on to what Brian wrote....I go for speed when doing the NYT each day. I find that using their app on my tablet takes 1-2 minutes longer on Monday/Tuesday due to the relative uncertainty and slowness of typing on that vis-a-vis a regular keyboard. Also, I generally only do the WSJ for the meta. I just did the "Watch Your Back" puzzle to see how long it would take. I'd recommend that if you're concentrating on the WSJ each day that you adjust whatever settings they let you modify on the website puzzle applet to fit your style as to what different keys do and how blank squares and directions and whatever else are treated. Since I'm used to my NYT settings and the defaults for the WSJ are different, I probably had a minute or so added onto my time by fumbling around on things that my NYT settings would have skipped past. But yeah....practice and repetition are huge keys. I'm way better than I was a couple years ago.
SReh26
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#4

Post by SReh26 »

Wow, these are some great insights. I so appreciate it. Im new to this board and never even had a friend who did crosswords, so this is a big deal for me. Ive been using my iphone for the wsj crosswords and Ill use pen and paper when a relative puts a paper puzzle in front of me, as in “here, finish this one.” Crosswords have been part of my life since childhood (both parents are avid puzzle solvers, plus my mom is a Scrabble fanatic). So certain words are indeed gimmes, and my foreign language knowledge helps. I think I got a 9 minute once but yes, 3-5 minutes, no idea how they do that!

Traditionally Ive used pen and paper but when I discovered the wsj crossword app it went much faster because I can erase more easily and cleanly (the rare times that happens 🙄). The puzzle became essential to my life as I was working from home for the first time ever in the pandemic and diversion, even escapism, became more important.

Ive noticed that Im somewhat faster when I just do acrosses first and then downs, rather than going area by area - it eliminates lost time between words reorienting.

As for tournaments, fun idea!! but Im not there yet.

Thanks so much again for your suggestions.
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MikeM000
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#5

Post by MikeM000 »

SReh26 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:37 am

Ive noticed that Im somewhat faster when I just do acrosses first and then downs, rather than going area by area - it eliminates lost time between words reorienting.
Yes! Absolutely go in clue number order. I didn't even think about that. Do all of 1 direction, then all of the other direction. (I usually go Across first, but if I see in a Sunday puzzle that the theme = really long across answers all clued with a "?" at the end I'll do the Downs first as you're just not going to get the themers quickly without some of them filled in.)
SReh26
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#6

Post by SReh26 »

I just tried a washington post crossword online that a muggle posted. first time ever. would you believe that the app automatically skips over letters that have already been filled in, jumping automatically to the next blank! 🤯🤯 WSJ should do that too. Id improve my time! without having to improve my skills. lol.
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MikeM000
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#7

Post by MikeM000 »

SReh26 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:44 am I just tried a washington post crossword online that a muggle posted. first time ever. would you believe that the app automatically skips over letters that have already been filled in, jumping automatically to the next blank! 🤯🤯 WSJ should do that too. Id improve my time! without having to improve my skills. lol.
I found that this morning when I did the WSJ puzzle. Click the "settings" cog-wheel icon above the clues and you can turn on "skip filled squares". That will DEFINITELY improve your time... only question to me is if you're just a guest user if it keeps that setting intact. It may, as when I solve the meta and close that browser tab, then go back to the puzzle a day later due to someone here posting some interesting quirk or whatever found in it, it always re-opens with the grid filled in.
SReh26
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#8

Post by SReh26 »

Fainting! Thank you! This is so good to know! Just went in and switched it on settings. Can’t wait to try it this afternoon when tomorrow’s puzzle comes out!
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BrianMac
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#9

Post by BrianMac »

SReh26 wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:30 am Fainting! Thank you! This is so good to know! Just went in and switched it on settings. Can’t wait to try it this afternoon when tomorrow’s puzzle comes out!
You will have to switch it again. At least I do. :roll:
SReh26
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#10

Post by SReh26 »

I don’t mind! Thanks for the heads up!

And yes, fortunately Ive never had the problem that some do with WSJ that the grid erases filled in letters.
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BrianMac
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#11

Post by BrianMac »

I find the WSJ website puzzle interface unpleasant. If you're willing to wait until the day the puzzle actually comes out, you can get the Across Lite version from Crossword Fiend. Across Lite is a much better solving experience, in my opinion.
SReh26
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#12

Post by SReh26 »

Holy!! Just went to crosswordfiend! What a great resource! Glad I consulted the pros!
SReh26
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#13

Post by SReh26 »

Tomorrow is the big day! I’ll report back as soon as I get a sub ten, which may be Tuesday (not sure if Im being overconfident or under). Ive been using the filled box skipping program. It’s terrific, thank you. Although the washpo’s is a bit faster.
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RPardoe
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#14

Post by RPardoe »

BrianMac wrote: Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:54 am I find the WSJ website puzzle interface unpleasant. If you're willing to wait until the day the puzzle actually comes out, you can get the Across Lite version from Crossword Fiend. Across Lite is a much better solving experience, in my opinion.
I have discovered that while the link at "Today's Puzzles" is updated overnight, but the puzzle file is actually available the evening before.

It is a bit of a manual process. Copy the URL link, then change the date to the next day manually. (It is how I get the WSJ Puzzle PUZ file on Thursday night rather than waiting for the link on Friday Morning.)
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BarbaraK
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#15

Post by BarbaraK »

You can also pick it off this calendar:

https://www.fleetingimage.com/wij/xyzzy/21-wsj.html
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BrianMac
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#16

Post by BrianMac »

I'm not sure I agree with you guys about doing all the across clues first and then the downs. Seems like you're going through the puzzle twice. If you're going for time, I tend to think that doing it section by section is going to be faster. You're correcting errors as you go and not going back and facing errors you made several minutes ago. Also, by clicking or right-clicking the mouse you can instantly toggle between the across and down clues and answers, so it's actually much easier to do that on a computer. Everyone has to do what's right for them, and different things work for different people, but if you've been going all across and then all downs, maybe try it the other way (going by section and trying to make one pass through the grid) a few times and see what's faster for you.
SReh26
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#17

Post by SReh26 »

Thanks Brian. My time today was 1139. Ill try your approach on Tuesday’s puzzle.

Not sure why Im so hell bent on getting a sub 10 lately, but there it is. And yes, I already ran a mara, so now there’s this.
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joequavis
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#18

Post by joequavis »

I've gotten sub-10 (M-W, 8:02 today) doing either approach. On paper, I definitely go by section. Doing wsj online, I do like to just plow through the acrosses, then the downs, then by area (a hybrid approach). Not sure if I honed in on just area if I'd end up quicker or not.
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joequavis
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#19

Post by joequavis »

SReh26 wrote: Mon Apr 19, 2021 6:32 pm Thanks Brian. My time today was 1139. Ill try your approach on Tuesday’s puzzle.

Not sure why Im so hell bent on getting a sub 10 lately, but there it is. And yes, I already ran a mara, so now there’s this.
welcome to the forum, btw!!
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SReh26
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#20

Post by SReh26 »

Thank you!

Good point that going across first online may be faster, but doing areas on paper puzzles is faster. I trained for the mara, looks like I need more training for the sub 10 (hopefully not as much). Going for the meta as well this week.

Coffee must taste amazing from one of those cups!
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