A couple of years ago I spent the summer with the New York Times daily crossword. I worked on it every day over the summer, essentially mastering Monday through Wednesday, figuring out the occasional tricky Thursday puzzle, and getting stumped almost every Friday and Saturday.
I achieved my overall goal, which was to put in a good showing on the Sunday puzzle.
Actually, I surpassed my goal - I became quite good at the Sunday puzzle.
Not like tournament-worthy good, but sucessful.
Nowadays I just do the Sunday crossword...but I always scour the Magazine for the secondary ('Variety') puzzle.
Too often it's an acrostic puzzle, and I don't love that one...but every so often you get a surprise new puzzle.
That happened last Sunday.
The puzzle was called "Getting To The Point".
The point (pun intended) was to take the letters given and arrange them in an inverted pyramid so that eight words would be formed beginning in each of the top four squares.
It sounds complicated, and it kind of is.
And it gets harder as you go. The beginning pyramids feature four letters in place already for you (there are 10 available blanks), then there are a couple with three in place, then two, and then one.
I did OK with the 4-letter ones, I got one of the 3-letter ones, and then I took a break.
I'll really try to get the other 3-letter ones. And I'll take a shot at the 2-letter ones. But I won't get my hopes up too much on the 1-letter ones.
If I've learned anything from my practice with the crosswords, it's that success doesn't come from just one puzzle.
I'll save the puzzle, I'll save the answer key.
And I'll wait.
Because the next time Will Shortz publishes a 'Getting To The Point' puzzle, I'll be ready for it.
I'll know how to approach it.
And I'll have one goal: To improve.