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NYT Crossword Times' Trendlines

Have the New York Times crossword puzzles gotten harder?

The chart below shows the trendlines for my NYT crossword puzzle times for the eight-year period from April 28, 1997, to April 23, 2005.  As you can see, every day's puzzles have taken me longer over the eight years, and the nearer to Saturday the larger the increase.


The trendline function smooths out all the eight years' worth of times into a single straight line, which eradicates all but the most essential detail.

One way to add detail is to compare the first year's times with the last year's.  Another is to compare the two earliest years' data to the last two years' data. 

In the first 52 Saturday puzzles in the eight-year period my average was 35:04 (2,104 seconds).  In the last 52 weeks the average rose to 48:06 (2,886 seconds), an increase of more than 13 minutes (782 seconds), or 37%.

The Friday average in the first 52 weeks was 28:55 (1,735 seconds), and in the last 52 weeks it was 37:02 (2,222 seconds), an increase of more than 8 minutes, or 28%.

There are a number of other factors to consider.

For one, presumably I've gotten better at playing Saturday puzzles, or any others, over the eight years.  I've learned more answers from seeing them so many times.  I've gotten more efficient at using my references.  In the last year I've even caved in and started using the Internet as a resource.  Yet my times have gone consistently up, not down.


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