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Just a few hours before, Mr. Biden tried to choke off that line of argument, seeking to discredit Mr. Putin’s contention before it came out of his mouth.“Sixteen months ago, Russian forces were on the doorstep of Kyiv in Ukraine, thinking they’d take the city in a matter of days, thinking they would erase Ukraine from the map as an independent country,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” in the administration’s first comments on the chaos in Russia.Mr. Biden has reason to be reluctant to become a cheering section for the uprising. First, he did not want to back the brutal Mr. Prigozhin, a mercenary leader who is under sanctions imposed by the United States. (More sanctions were set to be announced by the Treasury Department but seem to have been delayed, so as not to be seen as aiding Mr. Putin.)
But White House officials also did not want to appear to be easing Mr. Putin’s pain. For months now they have been awaiting any signs of fissures in the Russian leader’s hold on power; when they finally got one, it was more like a geologic fault line. Mr. Biden stressed on Monday that he had no idea what was next.In his first comments on the mutiny that captivated his White House and much of the world, Mr. Biden said his first move was to gather key allies on a video call because “we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse” to “blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO.” “We’re going to keep assessing the fallout of this weekend’s events,” Mr. Biden said about the implications for Russia and Ukraine. “But it’s still too early to reach a definitive conclusion about where this is going. The ultimate outcome of all this remains to be seen.”David E. Sanger is a White House and national security correspondent. In a 38-year reporting career for The Times, he has been on three teams that have won Pulitzer Prizes, most recently in 2017 for international reporting. His newest book is “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age.” @SangerNYT • FacebookThen, twisting the knife a bit, he added, “Now, over this weekend, they’ve had to defend Moscow, Russia’s capital, against mercenaries of Putin’s own making.” He went on to say that Mr. Prigozhin had “raised profound questions about the very premises for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the first place, saying that Ukraine or NATO did not pose a threat to Russia, which is part of Putin’s narrative.”Most solvers don’t fill in a theme entry without first solving some of the crossings, so don’t worry if you don’t know them right off the bat. But do notice that these particular entries cover a range of topics: Topography, pop culture, sports and, well, a pun about book covers. There’s something for nearly everyone.If you’ve ever picked up a crossword puzzle and said to yourself, “I am not smart enough” or “I don’t have a big enough vocabulary for this,” please allow us to let you in on a little secret:If you’re just getting started, make your life easy and solve as many Monday puzzles as you can. Eventually, you’ll be ready for more of a challenge, and that’s when you move on to the Tuesday puzzles. You know things your friend doesn’t know, and he or she knows things that you don’t know. That’s roughly twice as much stuff that you can solve, and it’s a good excuse to spend time together.In general, solvers will see some sort of signal that an entry is an abbreviation, an initialism or an acronym, although that signal may vary.Some of the signals you see might include:If there is a non-English word or phrase in the crossword, the clue will signal it by either including a word or phrase in the same language, or by connecting the answer to a place where that language is spoken or a person who might speak it. For the most part, foreign words or phrases included in puzzles they are very common words that most people will know, providing they paid attention in their high school language classes. Kudos to you for hanging in there with us! If you’ve been practicing, you should be able to tackle a midweek puzzle at least, if not a later-in-the-week puzzle. All it takes is dedication to solving and learning. Oh, and a willingness to have fun. Because as we said, crosswords are a game, and games are meant to be fun.In general, solvers will see some sort of signal that an entry is an abbreviation, an initialism or an acronym, although that signal may vary. Some of the signals you see might include: Occasionally, you will see abbreviations in the clues that have nothing to do with abbreviations in the answers. For reasons of succinctness, some words in clues are nearly always abbreviated, like \”U.S.\” for United States, \”U.N.\” for United Nations, \”N.F.L.\” for National Football League, or \”V.I.P.\” for very important person.Solving a New York Times crossword is not easy, but it should be satisfying. Even if you only get a few answers the first few times, keep on solving. It just gets easier – and better – from there. Part of the fun is determining where in the entry the rebus belongs. You’ll really need to work the crossings to figure that out. If you are solving in print, of course, filling in the rebus will simply be a matter of writing small.
n animal,” and you have confidently written in “CAT.” Themes can be placed anywhere in the crossword grid, depending on the creativity of the puzzle constructor. But most commonly it will be in the longest Across and Down entries.Take the word BOOK, for example. BOOK can be both a noun and a verb, so you may see a noun clue or a verb clue for the word. The answer will be the same, but how you get there will be very different.Your wheelhouse might be stuffed with sports trivia. Your BFF’s wheelhouse might be crammed to the rafters with a deep knowledge of opera. Vive la différence, right?Some crosswords contain a set of entries that all have something in common. Puzzle makers have a knack for spotting oddities in our language, and when they can put enough of the same kind of oddity together, they have developed a theme set. As the solver, you not only get to do the crossword puzzle, you also get to piece together the theme. Tip: If you are struggling with an answer that has a plural clue, you can make yourself feel like you’ve at least got a grip on it by dropping the letter “S” in at the end. Then, come back when you have enough letters filled in from the crossings to solve the rest of the entry.
Some themes change part of a familiar word or phrase to make a pun. Here’s one that changes an ‘S’ to an ‘SH’ at the start of the second word of a familiar phrase to turn it into something completely different: At 17-Across, for example, BEST SELLER becomes BEST SHELLER. Three more long Across answers work similarly.
How about a short quiz to help you figure this out? Here are some particularly sneaky heteronym examples and the number of letters in their answers. We’d like you to guess those answers. You might want to spend some time staring at them until the heteronym reveals itself.The Times has even run puzzles where solvers had to write the theme outside the grid. Talk about thinking outside the box! If you’re feeling daring, you can try one of those here.
Entry: The answer to a clue that solvers write into the crossword puzzle. Entries that are part of a theme are called — wait for it — theme entries. Fun fact: In a typical American-style crossword, an entry must have at least three letters.Imagine how much that unique facet of language enthralls our puzzle makers and editors. And they use it to their advantage.This might not seem completely fair, but if you’ve been learning the tricks to understanding the clues in the rest of this guide, it’s well within the bounds of fairness. You just have to learn to think like a constructor. People who have not yet learned to enjoy The New York Times Crossword tend to believe that it is a stodgy pursuit for older people, but the truth is, there are both modern and retro references in almost every puzzle. So while you might see the words MASHER (slang for a man who makes often unwelcome advances to women) and MOOLA (slang for money), you will also see BAE (slang for a boyfriend or girlfriend) and BROMANCE (slang for a close, platonic friendship between two men). Tip: The New York Times Crossword speaks to all ages. It pays to learn both older and more modern slang and vernacular. And you will certainly learn it if you solve the crossword, dawg. Constructor: The person who creates the crossword puzzle. The constructor develops the theme if it’s a themed puzzle, fills the puzzle with interlocking words or phrases and writes the clues. In other countries, the constructor might be called a compiler or setter. Deb Amlen is the columnist and editor of Wordplay, the crossword column of The New York Times. She believes that, with enough peer pressure, anyone can learn to solve crosswords and enjoy them.Let’s take a closer look at the clue: The word “Brave” has a capital B because it is at the beginning of the clue, but that is not the only reason it’s capitalized. It has a capital B because it also happens to be the name of a professional baseball player, an Atlanta Brave. The puzzle maker and the editors put it at the beginning of the clue to capitalize on (sorry), or take advantage of, the capital letter.
We’ve even included some tips and encouragement from the puzzle pros to help keep you motivated, like our very funny friend, Megan Amram, a writer for television shows like “The Simpsons” and “The Good Place.” Ms. Amram is a devoted solver and has also made a puzzle that ran in The New York Times.Would you like to improve your mental flexibility, learn a few interesting things every day and establish bragging rights among your friends? Solving crossword puzzles is like mental yoga — both challenging and relaxing at the same time. Plus, it’s fun, especially if you appreciate words and wordplay as much as I do. I believe that with patience and practice anyone can learn to solve crosswords. Once you master a few basic strategies, you’ll find that puzzle-solving is not only possible, but highly addictive. So let’s get solving!
Once you’ve learned some of the shorter answers and how they are clued, you can almost be sure you’ll see them again. The brain works in weird and wonderful ways, and when you start solving crosswords consistently, you will feel really good when you can say, “Hey, I know that one!”
We’re big fans of the brain here, especially its incredible work ethic. But even brains get tired, so if you are stuck at some point in the puzzle, one of the best things you can do is put it down and take a break from it for a while. Crossing: The intersection between an Across entry and a Down one. Crosswords are intended to play fair with solvers, so a difficult or obscure entry will ideally cross a more “gettable” one. To keep things fair between constructor, editor and solver, most crossword clues follow certain predictable “rules.” We’re going to let you in on some of those rules and, if you practice using the Minis that are included in this guide, you will get a lot further in your solving.In this puzzle, the theme entries were clued to make you think. They describe the punny phrase, not the one it’s based on, so it’s up to you to figure that out. Here’s how this puzzled was clued:
I’m not sure how this works, but your brain will continue working on the clue in the background while you go about your day. When you come back to it, you might be surprised at the “Aha!” moment you experience when you thought you didn’t know the answer.From being duped by magic tricks to pondering those brain-twisting crossword clues, why do humans so love being fooled? Is it the rush of the “Aha!” moment, when their expectations are defied?
An example of this would be the clue, “Partner of live” for which the answer would be LEARN, because the popular phrase is “Live and learn.” Occasionally, the word “and” is not needed as a separator, as in the clue “Partner of neither,” for the answer NOR, because “neither” and “nor” are partnered in sentences.There is so much more to a crossword puzzle than just a list of clues and space for you to write in the answers. We want you to be able to wring every drop of enjoyment out of your puzzle. That’s one reason you should know about crossword themes. A crossword theme is like bonus content; it is an extra puzzle-within-the-puzzle for you to solve.
Sneaky? Maybe. But we promise you’ll learn to love this, and the more you practice solving, the easier it will be to spot these delicious opportunities to play with words and language.In both cases, the answer would be BOOK. But the first would lead to the noun BOOK, that bound object with pages, while the second clue is for the verb BOOK, because “Make reservations” is a verb clue.