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 a product manager at Intuit, the creator of Somebody.io and Rightspeed, and the guinea pig for Month to Master.

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