NYT Sunday Crossword: other puzzles of similar difficulty/style?
December 1, 2013 10:52 AM   Subscribe

For years, my dad has enjoyed the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. Now that he's retired, he has a lot more free time and I think he's running out of his backlog of these puzzles. He likes the larger size of the Sunday, so I doubt he'd be as interested in the weekday puzzles. For those of you who regularly solve the NYT Sunday, are there puzzles you find just as challenging?

I'd like to get him a book of new crosswords of comparable grid size, difficulty, and wordplay as the NYT Sunday, perhaps from a different publisher. It seems like all the top crossword books on Amazon are NYT. Reviews seem to indicate that he LA Times Sunday is about on par with a NYT Wednesday, which would be a bit too easy.

I've looked through this question, but it sounds like they were looking for slightly easier puzzles. I've looked on puzzle blogs but they are all a bit insider baseball. Googling just leads to links discussing the NYT. My dad doesn't solve for speed or anything. It's more of a relaxing hobby, but he definitely needs something pretty challenging.
posted by pourtant to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The NYT Sunday is also about as difficult as a NYT Wednesday, it's just larger (it's a myth that Sunday is harder than Saturday). I would give the LAT a go if the large format is essential.
posted by telegraph at 11:02 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

My understanding is that the NYTimes puzzles get progressively harder through the week, with the Saturday puzzle being the most difficult. The Sunday puzzles under Eugene Maleska were considerably harder than the more recent ones edited by Will Shortz.
posted by DrGail at 11:07 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you sure the size is essential? I also like the collections of different difficulties, for different moods. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a Friday or Saturday puzzle though, those are the tough ones. Even the Monday puzzles are tougher than what you might find in many other magazines.

How about cryptic crosswords? Pretty common in Great Britain I believe. A different kind of puzzle, but they can be very challenging.
posted by bongo_x at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2013

Best answer: Merle reagle makes a good Sunday sized puzzle, usually just a bit easier than a times Sunday. I think the Sunday compares more to Thursday, btw.
posted by mearls at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2013

Agree with telegraph that the Sunday is about Wednesday level of difficulty. You might tell your dad to try a few Thursday puzzles; they always have some trick involved, such as multiple letters in one square, that often show up in Sunday puzzles as well. Friday and (especially) Saturday puzzles can be brutal, but the rush you get finishing one is awesome.
posted by sapere aude at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm not sure if the size is important because of the actual size of the grid or because he tends to casually linger over a puzzle for several days and Sundays probably take longer because there are more clues. I do know that he really likes figuring out the themes in the Sunday puzzles.

In all these years, despite having access to them, he's never done a weekday puzzle. I'm not sure if it's just because he's set in his ways or just needs some prompting.
posted by pourtant at 1:26 PM on December 1, 2013

Best answer: I like the large size puzzles too. The LA Times and the Chicago Tribune both publish books of the larger puzzles that I've really enjoyed.
posted by entropyiswinning at 2:14 PM on December 1, 2013

Best answer: Seconding Merl Reagle's puzzles -- I see he has books of them available, and they are syndicated in several papers including the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle if your dad wants to give them a go. (And if you want to MeMail me your address, I'll send you and him a couple to see if he likes them!)
posted by vickyverky at 3:11 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's the NYT Cryptic. It has puzzles within the puzzle. I stayed with some people once. They solved the NYT crossword puzzle daily but they also did this other one (the cryptic ) and it would take them a few days to solve.
posted by aniola at 3:12 PM on December 1, 2013

I was also coming in to recommend cryptics, specifically Guardian ones, because the rules are so very different but the mind-bendiness feels similar to a Thursday/Sunday NYT puzzle. I'd start with the Monday Guardian cryptics and a lot of advice beforehand, so it might be a whole restart he wouldn't be favorable to making.
posted by lauranesson at 6:26 PM on December 1, 2013

I was in a similar place to your father - my favorites were the NYT Sundays because of the size and the themes - and I decided to take up cryptics. There was less repetition of clues, and solving each clue felt like solving a theme clue in the Sundays.

Now, this was a graduate student and not a retiree, so my open-mindedness may be different. There are a number of compilations available at your local big box bookstore, some of which will have a good summary of the types of clues and small practice puzzles to learn the tricks.
posted by whatzit at 12:25 AM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: Another way to look at this is to follow the authors of the NYT Sunday puzzles. Will Shortz is the editor, but he doesn't write them. Look at the top of the puzzle to see the author's name, then google for other work by him.

One of them is Brendan Emmett Quigley. He makes puzzles for NYT and other places. Today's entry on his website is about how to choose crossword books to give people for Christmas, so that might help you too.

Another place to look is on blogs that talk about the puzzle. Here is Rex Parker's site. He has a list of independent puzzles from other sources, as well as links to even more crossword blogs. I would bet that if you search those sites for your exact question (if I like NYT Sunday, what else would I like?) you will probably find it already answered and then added to by commenters with their own suggestions.
posted by CathyG at 10:35 AM on December 2, 2013

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