Crosswords: To Cheat, or Not to Cheat?

I’ve always loved word puzzles. Recently I finally broke down and got a subscription to the New York Times crossword. I really enjoy working through the puzzles each day, from the easy Mondays all the way up to the slog fest of Sunday. But as I’ve talked to some other crossword aficionados, I’ve discovered a fairly wide range in what we all think of as “acceptable crossword behavior.” So I thought I’d widen my net and see what the rest of you think.

Here’s my approach: I refuse to look at the daily crossword blog, as that gives away too many answers. I also refuse to cheat and just look at the answer key, no matter what. My goal is to get a “gold star” on each puzzle, which means you never had to check the puzzle and got all the answers cleanly. However, I also view the crossword as an excellent exercise in Google-fu. I like to research things, and some of the questions require a bit of work to phrase correctly to have Google help you out. (It doesn’t help that there are a slew of crossword puzzle answering services that flood the interwebs with chaff around specific searches.)

So I’ll merrily Google anything I don’t know, but that’s where I draw the line. Others say that’s completely verboten. Perhaps some of it is simply a matter of how long you’ve been doing crosswords?  Maybe if I were even more experienced, I wouldn’t need to Google as much. But I have no idea how I’d get through some of those puzzles on Friday and Saturday without it. I use easily searchable things like actor names and location names to give me signposts for the harder clues.

How about you? Do you do the daily crossword? Where do you draw the line for what you’ll let yourself do and what you won’t?


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