What’s your New Years crossword puzzle?
It’s New Years Eve, and you know what that means: it’s time to write some resolutions. If writing New Year’s resolutions doesn’t come easily, fear not! I share mine below, and I invite you to join me in the resolution to accomplish some or all of these things. If my resolutions are not the right ones for you, I encourage you to choose your own goals adjacent to the crossword.
Maintain a solving streak, including Sunday! – for the whole year.
This is my most culpable solving secret, and I’m unveiling it so you can all see me and judge me for: I, your fearless Wordplay columnist Monday through Wednesday, sometimes I skip the Sunday puzzle. I know, I know – I should solve all the puzzles. Believe me, I want to! Sundays can just take So long. Well, this year I’m giving myself no excuses: hereby I publicly commit to a 365 day streak in 2022. If that seems unattainable to you, maybe a goal to complete every Monday or every Monday. Wednesdays could be a good place to start. The app and online interface will also follow these sequences for you.
Thank a builder for their work.
Something I learned recently in my other life as a teacher is the sheer joy of being thanked for writing something that someone has found moving, or at least useful. The same goes for crosswords. If you are particularly entertained, impressed, or amused by a builder’s work, let us know, either via Twitter, if the builder is there, or here in the Wordplay comments.
Build a 6×6 puzzle as a gift for a loved one.
I build life-size jigsaw puzzles for various outlets using software, but recently I helped a friend write a jigsaw puzzle for her family members, and it was such a great gift! I encourage solvers to try making mini puzzles, with dimensions of 6×6 squares, as gifts for friends or relatives. Not only can this be done by hand, especially if you add extra black squares in the corners, it could give you an added appreciation for the challenge and elegance of crossword construction. Small puzzles like these can be meaningful and personal – you can start by scattering the puzzle with a nickname, or word from an inner joke, and building the little grid around it.
Make your friends addicted to the resolution – or at least the Spelling Bee.
Another way to share the love of Wordplay in 2022 is to introduce your friends and family to the joys of solving. In 2021, I encouraged a few friends to start solving the mini daily, and several of them are now daily crossword solvers! I want to continue into this new year and bring new solvers to the wide world of word games. Even those who ultimately decide that crosswords aren’t for them can still enjoy the spelling contest, and I would consider that a win, too.
Learn the difference between Mauna KEA and Mauna LOA.
In 2021, I decided to learn the difference between AXEL and AXLE, and I am proud to announce that I now know, without any hesitation, that an AXLE belongs to a car and that an AXEL belongs to an ice rink. . This year I want to learn the difference between Mauna KEA and Mauna LOA Hawaiian volcanoes. (Although I’m not sure this knowledge will help me solve the “Hawaii’s Mauna ___” clue any faster.)
Try a new resolution mode.
I almost always solve the New York Times crossword in the web interface, but I want to shake things up a little more in 2022. Solving the Super Mega while on vacation really inspired me to do a little more solving in the pencil and paper – there’s something so satisfying and tactile about journaling in your hands. And if you always solve pencil and paper, maybe check out the New York Times Games app or the online interface every now and then – you might find that you appreciate the speed and flexibility that these other modes make possible.
Solve at least one puzzle from a freelance crossword puzzle every week.
I talk about the joys of solving freelance crosswords all the time, but I don’t do a great job of researching them regularly – sometimes I go weeks without solving one, then do four or five at a time. In 2022, I pledge to resolve at least one crossword per week on independent sites, such as The Inkubator, The American Values Club, or one of the countless builder blogs.
Solve at least one cryptic crossword puzzle every month.
Although I now professionally solve American-style crosswords, I am horrible to British-style cryptic crosswords, which use an entirely different clue structure focused on the makeup of the entry itself, rather than its meaning. My brain just doesn’t work that way, right now. But, knowing this about me and determined to become a better all-around solver in 2022, I hereby commit to solving at least one cryptic crossword per month. Some possible locations include The Guardian, The New Yorker, and several independent sites. (And the occasional cryptic puzzles that take place right here in the Times.) For more on how to solve cryptic crosswords, check out this guide from The New Yorker.
There you have it: eight things that I will definitely do in 2022 – and that I will not stop doing even after the end of January! What are your word game resolutions for 2022? Share them in the comments or tweet them on @NYTimesWordplay using the hashtag #WordplayResolutions.