M2M Day 250: My crossword skills have improved by 57% in the past week

This post is part of Month to Master, a 12-month accelerated learning project. For July, my goal is to solve a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle in one sitting without any aid.

Today, I continued my normal practice routine: Completing two 54-minute rounds of Spaced Repetition using my “Crossword Trainer”, and completing two actual puzzles — one of which was today’s Saturday NYT crossword.

Given that it’s been a week since I worked through my first Saturday NYT crossword puzzle, this seems like a good time to measure my progress.

On Saturday, July 1, I tried to complete the puzzle of the day. I was able to successfully fill in 30% of the squares, which was better than I expected. However, crossword blogger Rex Parker explained that this particular puzzle was the easiest Saturday in a very long time, so my subsequent attempts were noticeably worse (around ~20% completion).

The July 1, 2017 puzzle

Today, after training for a week, I tried to complete the July 8, 2017 Saturday NYT puzzle (which was a more middle of the road puzzle according to Rex Parker), and successfully filled in 47% of the squares — a nice improvement of ~57%.

The July 8, 2017 puzzle

I then allowed myself to use the “Checking” functionality on the NYT website, which enabled me to to complete the entire puzzle in a little over 53 minutes.

In 76% of the cases, I filled in the correct letter on my first attempt. For the other squares, I probably averaged around 2.3 guesses per square.

If you’re curious (or have an hour to kill), here’s the 55-minute-long video of me actually trying to solve the puzzle. I commentate again, as the puzzle tortures me.

Overall, I’m moving in the right direction.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m becoming more optimistic: I started the month thinking I had a 5% chance of success. Now, I’m thinking I have a 30% chance.

Still not great odds, but improving…

Read the next post. Read the previous post.

Max Deutsch is an obsessive learner, product builder, guinea pig for Month to Master, and founder at Openmind.

If you want to follow along with Max’s year-long accelerated learning project, make sure to follow this Medium account.