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Friday, July 3, 2020

Opinions > Lifelines

Always a Cross Word

Nov 14, 2019

By Kathy Werner - columnist

One of my great pleasures in life is doing crossword puzzles.
I've always gotten great satisfaction from figuring out clever clues and then putting letters in squares both across and down.
I will take my crosswords wherever I can find them, and the Democrat has a dandy. I also like to work on the daily crossword puzzle in the New York Times, which I subscribe to online.
For the uninitiated, the Times crosswords start on Monday with their easiest puzzle and get progressively more difficult as the week progresses. Friday and Saturday's puzzles are doozies.
Sunday's puzzle can be a bear, too, although mostly because it's such a big one.
I love the Times crosswords for many reasons, not the least of which is the ability to do them online. And, well, there is another reason I love the Times puzzles, and that is the relatively new addition of a feature called Auto-Check. You used to be able to check and/or reveal either a square, a word, or the entire puzzle to discover how well you were doing with the puzzle. You were shamed, so to speak, by having your answer dinged with a tic on the corner of each square of the word you had to reveal, and your time didn't count, but my time was always too high to make a difference. The more I did these puzzles, however, the fewer times I had to hit “reveal.”
At least in theory.
However, the Times really made my day when they added Auto-Check, which instantly lets you know if you have put in an errant letter. I love this feature and use it every day.
Could it be considered cheating? I prefer to think of it as saving me from going down the wrong path.
Of course, if a clue really stumps me, it is possible to go through all the letters till you find the correct one, so that might actually be a bit suspect. But, hey, I'm not in a formal competition with anyone but myself.
Another thing you learn after doing hundreds of crosswords is that they have favorite words with lots of vowels that pop up often. “Emo” is a fave, and means a type of music with personal emotional lyrics like that played by Fall Out Boy or Weezer. They also like words with lots of handy vowels for the middle of other words, or words with N, T, or S for the ends of words.
Figuring out the clues involves a word play sensibility that can be honed with practice. For instance, for the clue “problem”, your answer could be anything from “distress” to “cliffhanger” to “bother” depending on how many letters you have to fill. You have to do a lot of lateral thinking.
I find it keeps my mind active to keep doing crosswords and it is very…
CLUE: 10-letter word meaning enthralling - to keep up my crossword habit.

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