Hints and Tips on Puzzles for the New York Times Archives

Hints and Tips on Puzzles for the New York Times Archives

I only blog after I’ve done the puzzle myself, usually the evening before it appears in the printed paper, five weeks before the syndicated puzzle appears.  The blog gives hints, not direct answers, to help you get un-stuck without giving away the answers!  Bookmark this page and then you won’t get a direct answer the minute you google.   If you’re new to NY Times Crosswords, check out Words Every Puzzler Should Know.  For some general tips, click here.

This blog has no advertising or commercial aspect.  I assume people who come here love words and like thinking about things.  It’s here because I like doing it, hate being given answers directly, and hope you’ll  check out the rest of the site while you’re here.

NYT Crossword Hints not Answers Sun Sep 8

drJ : September 8, 2013 10:17 pm : NYT

Sorry for the late posting…had to go down to NYC today….

Theme:   The title (Bumper cars) can be taken pretty literally today.   This is a “don’t over-think it” situation.   Just a series of a particular category of nouns strung together to form a phrase (not a common phrase this time) that literally fits the pun (“?” in the clue = pun )

10 specific hints

1.  1-Across Fix:  Think cats and dogs, not objects

2.  25-Down Time piece:  Don’t think watch.

3.  80-Down Rule: Think verb

4.  12-Down Ready for a frat party:   Think Animal House (btw:  It’s one word, not two)

5. 90-Down Very Blue: Don’t think color

6. 101-Down Opposite of brilliance:  Don’t think bright light

7.  102-Down Split:  Think tongue

8. 57-Down Non-kosher lunch orders, for short:  Think diner

9.  59-Down Playground retort:  3 words

10.  71-Down Speak pigeon?:   Speak love.


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NYT Sunday Crossword Hints not Answers – Sept 1, 2013

drJ : September 1, 2013 10:01 am : NYT

NYT Sunday Crossword Hints.


Theme:   “Persons of Note”.   Sounds musical, eh?  Nope.  Hint: “If it doesn’t fit, you must…”   As soon as you find a spot where you’re pretty sure you know the answer, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in the space allotted, you’re on the right track.  Hint #2:  Take out your wallet!  Hint #3:  If you’re still stuck, see if you can work out 31 & 33 Down with the emphasis on the last two words of the phrase.

10 specific clue hints:

1.  19-Across & 20-Across are both plurals, but only one ends in S.

2.  115-Across & 111-Across (linked clues):  Think grocery store, not shoe store.

3.  72-Across:  Think Colorado and Washington, not elbows and places to get an inexpensive meal

4.  107-Across It has 135-degree angles: quite a number of them, actually

5.  109-Across Proust title character:  He has a Way with him.

6.  53-Down Polish the old way:  Think door knobs.  2 words

7.  77-Down Recently:  Well, thank god it’s not OF LATE (I hate that phrase!), this one’s 3 words.

8. 73-Down Web site heading:  NNE?  No.   Psst:  It’s an acronym that ends with a letter that rarely ends a word.

9.  6-Down Assesses:  Sounds like a pair of jeans for kiddies?

10.   61-Down Apotheosizes:  Boy, that’s a big word.  What the heck does it mean?  Think religiously about this one.





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Recommended Crossword: NYT Thu Aug 28, 2013

drJ : August 29, 2013 9:35 pm : NYT

Those who’ve found your way here because you sometimes do the New York Times Sunday crossword on a computer or in pencil on paper, I heartily recommend Thursday, Aug. 28’s crossword puzzle.   Quite a challenge, I must say.

I don’t give direct answers in my crossword blog, just hints, so my Hint #1 here to do the Aug. 28 puzzle.

It’s a Thursday puzzle.    Thursday puzzles are always themed, like the Sunday puzzle, but don’t have a title.  In this case, there’s a little note.   The puzzle can be solved without the note, but I read it first and was glad I did.

I don’t want to say more about the puzzle itself.   I don’t want to spoil the challenge.   Leave it to say that this is a pretty inventive puzzle and fun once it begins to come into focus.

If you start it and get stuck, save your work and look at it later.   If you want hints, come back here in a couple days and I’ll have added a couple.



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Hints not Answers – NYT Crossword Sun Aug 25

drJ : August 24, 2013 10:22 pm : NYT

“Capital L’s”, eh.   As usual, one must pay close attention to the title.  What else do we find if we look over the grid and all the clues quickly?  What’s unusual about the “long” answers.   Usually these hold the theme answers, but they’re not as attractive as usual for the source of what holds the puzzle together.

Ok.  The what about these clues that don’t seem to be normal clues at all.   What are they telling us?  You know what Einstein and Camus have in common, yes?  No, e=mc squared wasn’t part of existentialism.   They share something far more common than that!

Now, let’s once you figure one of those non-clue clues out, you’re left with a some spaces with no idea what goes in them, right?   Look back at the title of the puzzle.  It isn’t “Capital L”, is it?

As every Sunday, 10 non-theme-related hints:

1.  19. – Across Rossini’s William Tell and others:  There are a couple of types of musical works that could fit in here, but don’t let them fool you.  Think vocal range.

2.  21-Across Lump in one’s throat:  think literally, not figuratively, but don’t try to get rid of this with a heimlich maneuver, it won’t be appreciated.

3.  47-Across Putting out on an anniversary, maybe:  You should be ashamed of yourself for what you thought this clue meant!   Puh-lease, this is the NYT, not Brandon Emmett Quigley!   It’s much tamer than that!

4.  96-Down Markdown markers:  2 words and the first one does NOT end in S.

5.  123-Across Emergency Broadcasting System opening:   This are the words you want to hear.  I didn’t hear them once after the “This is the Emergency Broadcasting System…” and I just about jumped out of my skin!

6. 1-Down Goes down:  Think ocean.

7.  96-Across Darwin stopping point:   Yeh, this little stop-off pretty much changed biology forever.  Think turtles, big turtles.

8, 132-Across Jerks:  Or, things  you may need to give a little jerk  to

9.  91-Across Apple line: Don’t try biting into these apples!

10.  112-Down Year the emperor Claudius was born:   He was Roman, yes, but his numerals aren’t in this answer.





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Sun Aug 17 NYT Crossword Hints not Answers – Edginess

drJ : August 17, 2013 11:29 pm : NYT

Hard to give a hint on the theme this time without giving it away altogether.   Different kind of them.  Not related to the long answers at all (well, there aren’t any long answers, really)   38-Down and 69-Across and 56-Down are “key” clues that relate to the theme, but I’d guess you’ll discover the trick of the puzzle before you get those.   You’ll get the idea when you find what should be an answer but seems to be missing something important.   No, not a rebus (multiple letters in the same box).   Haven’t seen this idea before.   Once you get one, the rest will fall into place.   Usually you shouldn’t get too edgy, but it might help you with this one.


10 specific hints:

39-Across Less certain:  somewhat slangy

59-Across French children’s song:  that most American school kids learn.  Rhymes with 84-Across

78-Across Old fashioned street conveyance:  two words.  kind of self-contradictory

122-Across Jumping off point:  quite appropriate for this puzzle!

111-Across Honor at graduation?:  Not sure why there’s a question mark on this one.  Oh, cum now!

108-Down Big screen format: Really big!

41-Down Pope Francis’ birthplace:  No, not Assisi, he was a saint, not a pope.  Pope Francis is the current pope, in case you didn’t know.

70-Down Fleur-de-  :  I can never remember if this is the one with the “Y” in the middle (it isn’t!)

54-Down ______ Light:  think commercial product

112-Down Org. in “Monk”:  4-letter acronym

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Reflections’ NYT Sunday Crossword Hints, not Answers Aug 11

drJ : August 11, 2013 11:12 am : NYT

Theme:  A fairly standard Sunday theme:  Wordplay where something’s added (as the title tells us) to each answer.  It’s the same something each time, though not in the same place in each theme answers.  As is normal with this kind of puzzle, removed the “extra satisfaction” and you have a moderately common phrase.  My favorite was 62-across, but you might see if you can get enough down clues to get 26-across.  Once you’ve solved one, you’ve got the theme which should make the rest of the solving a lot easier.

Ten specific hints:

1.  52-Across Exciting matches?:  Or, Fruit from trees at the oasis

2.  85-Across 1986 Rock autobiography:  2 words with a comma in between

3. 106-Across Close to losing it: 3 words…don’t fall off!

4. 8-Down “Whole” thing: Could have been clued The whole _________.   Ever eat too much Mexican food?  Then you really won’t believe you at the whole _____!

5. 64-Down Trump, for one:  Think celebs, not cards

6. 81-Down Historic exhibit…Dulles airport:  I thought this was in the Smithsonian.  Maybe it used to be.  2 words that made an awfully big bang.

7. 92-Across Cover, in a way:  Or, how you might describe a strap to hold a gun across the chest rather than the waist?   I guess that’s pretty weak.  Think furniture, not lies or clothing.

8. 13-Down Prepares to eat, perhaps:  Think of from the perspective or a farmer, not a diner.

9. 35-Down Game for those who don’t like to draw:  Thing card games, not barroom shoot-outs

10.  71-Across Total:  Thing “complete,” not summing up





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NYT Crossword Hints – Sun Jul 28 – Fast Work

drJ : July 28, 2013 10:10 am : NYT

Theme hint:  If you happen to know me personally, you might know I played the role of the man who’s the subject of this puzzle last year.   In this case, there’s barely a theme, just a unifying concept.  You can forget about the circles until you’re done, they’re just a little added attraction.   The man I’m referring to (5-Down) didn’t exactly “invent” 57-down, but he was the first to apply to the particular things that were 116-Across.

(Frequent readers:  Apologies, I wrote, but forgot to hit “publish” last week.)

10 Specific hints:

75-down Ending with cyto- : or ecto- for that matter.  Add an “a” and you’ve got a screen to keep your eyes on.

76-down Space rock, maybe:  Maybe that’s what Chicken Little saw coming her way!

105-across Polo ground::  Or:  These hints are made to help ______ you.   Hope you don’t feel more dis______ed than when you started!

88-across How many Playboy bunnies dress:  If they have at least a little something on

94-down Big Bang Theory creator:  Or, the nefarious “M” and many other devious characters

47-down He wrote “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”:  He wasn’t joking, either.  He even wrote a book titled La Nausée (The Nausea) 

88-down Pearl Buck heroine:  From The Good Earth.  Just a letter away from Camus’ city where infested with plague and not to be confused with  the small emirate near the Persian gulf.  All three are  crossword puzzle favorites.

63-down Up to the task:  Or  “_____ I was ere…”

25-across Bobble: think noun, not verb

29-across ______ Peninsula.  And a homonym of the clue to 44-across




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NYT Crossword Hints – Sun, July 21

drJ : July 28, 2013 9:44 am : NYT

Theme:  The question marks on the long answers tell you it’s all pun and games and the title clues you in to the wordplay to expect.  Once you get one,  the idea will be obvious.  Think homonyms.

10 specific hints

1.   100-Down Phycologist’s study:   Think of a swimming pool you forgot to drain for the winter.

2.  3-Down Like old unrecyclable bottles:  Well, they didn’t cost you anything, in theory

3.  63-Down Good wife in “The Good Earth”:   She’s so good she shows up in puzzles all the time.   Her name’s just one letter different from a tiny emirate and from the plague city of Camus’ novel.

4.  85-Down Apiarist’s woe:  Well, if you’re an apiarist, you get a lot of these, as do bears when they stick their noses in the wrong places.

5.  62-Down Erotic:  Think the color associated with eroticism.  (Why is this the color associated with eroticism, I wonder.)

6.  2-Down What’s big in the movies: Or, What Mel Gibson said when asked what his role was in his early movies before he learned to speak aramaic.

7.  5-Across Where les enfants might play: …and a homonym of where a kid might play in any town in the U.S.

8.  83-Across Part of an umpire’s count:  Or what you might be accused of having if you refuse to do something a la 52-Across

9.  Speaking of 52-Across, it’s three words

10.  78-Down Summer lawn sight:  and a very welcome, when it’s on, to a kid on these hot summer days!



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Sun Jul 13 NYT Crossword Hints not Answers – Show Me the Money

drJ : July 13, 2013 10:50 pm : NYT

Hi Sunday fans.  Well, today’s theme is another designed to drive Across Lite puzzlers nuts, ’cause there’s simply no “correct way” to solve the puzzle.   This is one where getting the trick early will make your life easier, even if Across Lite won’t tell you if you’ve got it or not.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, always look through all the clues (except on Fridays & Saturdays which are normally themeless) to see if there’s a key clue that unlocks the puzzle.  You’ll quickly see that 65-Across (rather bluntly, I must say) tells you what the trick is.  The trick works perfectly on paper and will be a big help once you get any one of the spots where long answers cross and the correct answer for one can’t be correct for the other.  The title is a big help to know what should go into the “impossible” crosses.  Like 65-Across says you just got to superimpose I suppose.

10 specific hints:

1-Across City south of West Palm:  West Palm is a nickname, so the answer to this one’s another city with a well-known nickname.

13-Across Heckle or Jeckle of cartoons:  If you don’t know the cartoon, Heckle and Jeckle are mean black flying things whose real life counterparts are known to be nuisances.

28-Across Antics:  Along with 88-Down, this is a pretty crazy puzzle.

101-Down Social level:  Think India

69-Down Certain bank deposits:  Not the kind of banks you’d want to put your money in

48-Across It should have no effect:  In theory it should have no effect.  Actually, there’s a phrase that specifically says the _______ effect.  Think drug trials.

31-Across Like someone trying to hit a piñata:  Don’t think about who’d be trying to hit a piñata, think about what’s happening to their equilibrium

101-Across French film award:  We have our oscar, they have another guy whose name has at last two things in common with him

63-Feudal figures:  No, not ESNES (a common crosswordese answer) but close.  These folks certainly aren’t lords of all they survey.

12-Down Ticket to the World Series:  Think of the ticket for the teams, not the fans.


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Sun July 7 NYT Crossword Hints Not Answers – Bonus Features

drJ : July 7, 2013 12:07 am : NYT

This one’s the opposite of last Sunday’s:  It’s a huge help to solve the theme early.  So let’s see if I can help without giving it away.  Look over the set of clues:  Many “—” clues and a key clue, 70-across, that says it’s linked to the ten others, obviously, the “—” clues.  I wouldn’t suggest going for the long answer first.  It’s a lot easier to solve the other way around.  The puzzle creator has been pretty clever about covering his tracks, though knowing something about white rap singers would be a big help.  I’ll just say this:  What’s a dash at the end of a line in a paragraph usually indicate?  Ok, one more hint:  Sometimes, when what’s shaping up to be the right answer won’t fit, it means there’s a rebus (multiple letters in a single box).  That isn’t what’s going on here, but there’s something very similar going on.

Meanwhile, 1o specific hints:

6-Across Cry like a baby:  Or a baby cat

20-Across Spanish skating figure:  No, not the Spanish word for axel or toe loop or camel, think of the kind of figures in a spread sheet.   Which one would you make in the ice?

78-Across It’s a lock:  Or an Eli.

121-Across Spirited?:  More non-standard than even 101-Across

14-Down Skipjack and others:  Think fish.

72-Down  Question to a poker player:  Or to a dog or cat

91-Down Headlines, as a band:  Two words.  Clue should probably say “sometimes” as this isn’t always so.

88-Down U.S.S. Ward, e.g.:  Every play the game Battleship?  Think naval vessel types.

76-Down Where the code of Hammurabi is displayed:  Think specific museum, not city or country


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