Dylan’s piece of the puzzle: Puzzle mania


Photo used Dylan Cohen

The hidden message to the New York Times Super-Mega Crossword is junior Dylan Cohen.

December is the most wonderful time of the year. It has holidays, winter break, snow and more importantly, The New York Times Puzzle Mania. 

The New York Times Puzzle Mania was delivered on Dec. 12 and can be thought of as a section of the newspaper completely dedicated to puzzles. It contains 14 unique mini-puzzles, such as anagrams, Sudokus, visual games, trivia and more. As a centerpiece, it features a Super-Mega Crossword, complete with over a thousand clues and enough word-play to keep you engaged.

Once I draped the Puzzle Mania across my kitchen table, it was go-time. I shuffled through the papers until I found the Super-Mega Crossword in all of its glory. Frankly, I had no idea where to start– and that’s OK. 

I did not work on the puzzle by going in numerical order of the clues. Instead, I started with the clues I saw first and immediately knew the answers to. I did this for about half an hour and then stopped to give other people the chance to work on the puzzle. 

Working with others on a puzzle this large is not only a fun social activity, but also necessary to complete it. A good technique when working with others on any puzzle is for one person to read off the clues while the other person writes, then both people collaborate to find the answer. As always, two heads are better than one and the more the merrier. 

As with any crossword, the Super-Mega has a hidden message that will allow you to solve the puzzle more easily. This hidden message takes place as two clues with long answers running up and down the puzzle. Instead of immediately working on the hidden message, work on the surrounding clues and you will get an instant headstart to solving the clues and therefore the entire puzzle. 

The Super-Mega Crossword is not meant to be completed in one day. Unless, that is, you are staying up all night, which I do not endorse. If you’re ever bored during a staycation, the Super-Mega Crossword is a great way to keep you entertained and keep your brain working. 

One of my favorite mini-puzzles in Puzzle Mania is called Cover-Ups. This puzzle features three overlapping words that appear in different translucent colors. The goal of this unique visual quiz is to find how the words relate to each other.  For example, one could have LEASH, LITTER and WHEEL, and the answer would be pets. This puzzle could prove difficult for those who are color-blind, but luckily there are puzzles for everyone throughout the New York Times Puzzle Mania.

If you or someone in your household is a New York Times print newspaper subscriber, it’s time to get digging through past newspapers. If not, New York Times Puzzles are available for purchase online or at a local bookstore throughout the year.