99% of crossword solvers begin a puzzle at 1-Across. That's not wrong, but here’s a super-secret pro tip: there's an even better strategy. Spend a few seconds scanning the puzzle for fill-in-the-blank (FITB) clues, and write in any of those that are obvious. Then go back to 1-Across and proceed; you'll be solving the same puzzle, but with a few "freebie" answers already filled in.
FITB clues are just what they sound like: those clues where, instead of getting a synonym, description, or other hint at the answer, you're given a blank space in which you must, as Taylor Swift sings, write...well, not necessarily someone's name, but write the word or words that fit there.
Why start with those? Because they have a much higher percentage of obvious, fill-it-right-in-and-move-on answers than other clues. Check out some of the FITBs from last week's puzzles:
- Monday, 25-D, three letters: [Neither here ___ there]
- Tuesday, 10-A, four letters: [___ and greet]
- Wednesday, 9-A, four letters: [___ Arkin (2020 Emmy nominee for "The Kominsky Method")]
- Thursday, 24-D, three letters: [___ standstill (not moving)]
- Sunday, 14-A, three letters: [___ out of (choose not to participate in)]
Those would be NOR, MEET, ALAN, AT A, and OPT, as you probably figured out.
Did you miss one or more of those? Don't fret. Not every FITB is low-hanging fruit, but in general they'll be easier than other entries, so a quick scan of the grid will probably give you a handful of correct entries right off the bat — and 1-Across will still be waiting there for you when you're done.
Drawing a blank on a fill-in-the-blank? Sound off by tweeting it at #beastxword and see if others blanked on it as well.
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