Crossword puzzles have entertained and challenged people for over 100 years. These puzzles are good for the brain, and research has consistently demonstrated that playing them on a regular basis can help protect against degenerative brain diseases. People who continually get stumped when solving crossword puzzles shouldn’t give up. By learning some helpful tools, they can soon become experts.
Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to learn how to do crossword puzzles is to work on a lot of them. Different puzzles often use the same clues, so you may begin to recognise some answers.
Crossword puzzles can be found everywhere. They are published in most newspapers and are available online. Players can also purchase books of crossword puzzles online so that they always have a puzzle to do no matter where they are. Some books are collections of puzzles from specific publications while others are based on themes, such as puzzles related to cars. Players who would rather not carry around a book may also be able to get crossword puzzle apps for their tablets or mobile phones. Players should get in the habit of always having a puzzle with them so that they can practise their skills in their spare time.
Stock Up on Crossword Puzzle Tools
No serious crossword puzzler should be caught without tools. Crossword fanatics often rely on a crossword puzzle dictionary and a thesaurus to help them identify the answers to difficult clues.
Learn Crossword Puzzle Strategies
There are a number of different strategies to keep in mind in order to make crossword puzzles easier.
Go from Smallest to Biggest
It helps to fill in the smallest clues possible and work up to the big ones. The largest clues often require a multi-word answer that can take time to figure out.
Complete the Crossword in Sections
It is often easier to complete a section of the crossword than to go straight through the clue list. Players should divide the crossword into rectangular sections in their minds, then attack one section at a time. Complete as many clues both across and down in that section as possible. This provides the most filled-in letters, which can help players decipher tricky clues later on and is less discouraging than attempting to fill in the entire puzzle at once.
Become Aware of How Clues Work
There are a variety of different clues players may encounter. Clues with a question mark at the end usually represent some type of pun or wordplay, whilst two words together usually require players to find a word that is defined by both. Words such as “oddly,” “possibly,” or “sort of” often denote an anagram, whilst “initially” or “leads with” may tip players off to the fact that an acronym is required.
Fill in As Many Letters As Possible
Rather than setting their sights on solving every clue, players’ goal should be to get as many letters filled in as possible on the grid. Once several letters are solved in a clue, players may be able to determine the answer based on those letters. It can be helpful to learn rules related to word formation. For example, I_G at the end of a word is probably ING, most words follow a Q with a U, and PH, TH, and CH are common letter combinations.
When to Use Tools
If a player has gone through the puzzle two or three times and still feels hopeless about certain clues, it’s time to turn to crossword puzzle tools. Each tool has a different purpose and can be used to make certain types of clues easier.
- Crossword puzzle dictionaries are helpful for solving clues that occur frequently. Most dictionaries allow users to look up a particular clue and get a list of common answers of different lengths.
- Anagram solvers can be used to find common anagrams of words and can be helpful if the player is baffled by the clue.
- Thesauruses can help solve definitional clues by allowing players to look up common synonyms.
Crossword puzzles can be great fun, especially if the player knows how to approach them. If all else fails, put the crossword puzzle aside for a few minutes. Players’ subconscious minds often work on clues while they’re doing something else, so they may return to discover the answer.