Here we are at Friday. So no more themes, probably no more tricks. A possible strategy: Go straight through the acrosses relatively quickly in pencil inserting words or individual letters that seem probable but not definite. Ink in only those words you’re pretty sure of. Do all the acrosses with barely a peek at the downs and then all the downs. In doing the downs, put in a probable even if it conflicts with an across you’ve written in pencil. Leave the crossing square with the letter of the word that seems more likely. If something seems to confirm another guess, mark both in ink. If something seems to make a previously penciled answer very unlikely, erase the penciled answer.
Now that you’ve done the acrosses once through and the downs also, look for the area you have the most inked in and start from there to see if you can get anything more. (In the early days of doing Friday puzzles, don’t be surprised if there’s very little you feel sure about, but start in areas of the puzzle where you have the most.) Don’t belabor an area. If nothing’s coming, try another. Again, use pencil unless you’re confident about the specific answers you’re adding.
After you’ve done as much as you can in this manner. Take a break. Do something else for a few minutes or hours. Come back and look at the puzzle again. Try a few spots again. Check your answers next. Are there some that might be wrong and misleading you? Take ’em down a grade (from ink to pencil in Across Lite; erase penciled in answers that look likely to be wrong as you look at the puzzle again.
If there’s a space with only one or two letters missing, you may want to run the alphabet through your head to consider possibles. Don’t do this too quickly or you may skip over a correct answer.
When you’ve filled in as much as you can and you’re getting more frustrated than it’s worth, start checking answers (this assumes you’re using Across Lite). This is much better than googling. Googling often tells you more than you wanted to know. When you do check, try checking a single letter, rather than a whole word. Then words if you’re still stuck and, finally, the whole puzzle. Now you know where you’ve gone wrong. The goal is not to try to solve the puzzle with as few checked letters being wrong as possible, but more importantly to have fun.
Specific Hints for this Friday:
Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson. Not LEFTIES. Baseball was their game and the _______ were their team.
Sawbuck: Slang for an amount of money. Less than a CNOTE a more than a FIN.
Candle-lighting occasion: There’s misdirection by the puzzle-maker here. It’s not a rite, but a completely different reason to light a candle.
To come: 3 words
Game with forks and pins: No, not bowling. And not something really tricky like a roast wild duck, that would require a question mark in the clue. You know this game.
Goes out, in a card game: You know this game, too. You may not know this word as a verb, but it’s how one wins the game of the same name.
Giant of legend: Poor Mr. OTT, our xword favorite, is too short for this one. It’s in a different category altogether from the most common denominator in the puzzle.
_____ – pop: You can’t drink this kind.
Hit accidentally: But…you’re only hurting yourself!