The Times' Mini Crosswords

I enjoy doing crossword puzzles, and especially enjoy the daily mini crossword puzzles offered by the New York Times’ iPhone app. The mini crossword is a 5x5 daily puzzle that is usually quickly dispatched, however, sometimes there’s one word or two that I just can’t get right away. Usually, abandoning the puzzle and coming back to it after a spell allows my mind to approach it fresh and I’m able to finish it up1. Once in a while, though, I just can’t get it, and have to avail myself of a hint.

After a hundred puzzles or so, I began to wonder how I do on them, and of course, I started keeping track. Below are various statistics of the puzzles from August 21, 2014 though and including August 5, 20172.

 

Misc Stats (Mini)
Total Puzzles Attempted 1027
Total Completed 1027
Total Incomplete 0
Percent Incomplete 0%
Total Completed with Help 46
Percent Completed with Help 4%
Average to Complete 1m 32s
Misc Stats (Midi)
Total Puzzles Attempted 55
Total Completed 55
Total Incomplete 0
Percent Incomplete 0%
Total Completed with Help 0
Percent Completed with Help 0%
Average to Complete 2m 22s

 

5 Most Frequent Time-To-Complete (Mini)
Time Times Seen
1m 4s
24 times
43s
22 times
51s
19 times
49s
18 times
58s
18 times
5 Most Frequent Time-To-Complete (Midi)
Time Times Seen
1m 40s
3 times
1m 54s
3 times
2m 0s
3 times
2m 17s
2 times
1m 39s
2 times

 

5 Fastest Puzzles (Mini)
Date Time
May 22, 2017 15s
August 15, 2016 17s
September 8, 2016 20s
May 30, 2017 24s
August 2, 2015 25s
5 Fastest Puzzles (Midi)
Date Time
October 22, 2016 48s
January 17, 2017 58s
April 15, 2017 1m 07s
October 15, 2016 1m 17s
December 3, 2016 1m 19s

 

5 Slowest Puzzles (Mini)
Date Time
March 11, 2016 7m 55s
December 17, 2015 6m 57s
May 3, 2015 6m 46s
March 21, 2016 6m 15s
February 16, 2015 6m 9s
5 Slowest Puzzles (Midi)
Date Time
April 22, 2017 6m 18s
June 17, 2017 4m 39s
May 20, 2017 4m 31s
April 29, 2017 4m 25s
November 19, 2016 4m 19s

 

10 Most Common Words (Mini)
Word Frequency
obama 20
yes 15
email 13
ocean 11
sky 11
adele 11
elite 10
oscar 10
three 10
alien 10
10 Most Common Words (Midi)
Word Frequency
sad 3
montana 2
oreilly 2
sassy 2
ukraine 2
red 2
orlando 2
set 2
seine 2
oriole 2

 

Character Distribution (Mini)
Character Frequency Percent
a5,02711.11%
 
b1,0512.32%
 
c1,3362.95%
 
d1,6293.60%
 
e5,43812.02%
 
f5561.23%
 
g9442.09%
 
h1,2262.71%
 
i2,7085.98%
 
j2240.49%
 
k7131.58%
 
l2,4075.32%
 
m1,4213.14%
 
n2,5335.60%
 
o3,3007.29%
 
p1,3943.08%
 
q600.13%
 
r2,7846.15%
 
s3,8048.41%
 
t2,5775.69%
 
u1,2942.86%
 
v4641.03%
 
w6601.46%
 
x3020.67%
 
y1,1662.58%
 
z2390.53%
 
Character Distribution (Midi)
Character Frequency Percent
a50711.42%
 
b1002.25%
 
c1343.02%
 
d1703.83%
 
e57713.00%
 
f461.04%
 
g962.16%
 
h1082.43%
 
i2876.46%
 
j100.23%
 
k561.26%
 
l1924.32%
 
m1262.84%
 
n3086.94%
 
o2746.17%
 
p1413.18%
 
q40.09%
 
r3547.97%
 
s3908.78%
 
t3066.89%
 
u902.03%
 
v260.59%
 
w440.99%
 
x140.32%
 
y681.53%
 
z120.27%
 

  1. When you come back to a puzzle and clear it to start over, the app continues the time it takes to solve it from the previous attempt, so those puzzles are always much longer than the average. For example, if I don't finish a puzzle after 2m 25s, clear it weeks later, then finish it in 38s, the time for that puzzle will be 3m 3s.
  2. It appears that the Saturday puzzles from June 25, 2016 onward are “midi” (7x7) puzzles, not “mini” (5x5) puzzles. I will have to account for them differently.