Brow Beat

The New York Times “Mini” Crossword Replied to Slate’s Takedown, and It Was Perfect

Well-played, NYT.


On Monday, I wrote a cranky but sincere rant on the New York Times’ daily “Mini” crossword, my least-favorite product in a franchise I otherwise adore. My hyperbolic complaint was that the Mini is overly simple and uncharacteristically witless, and that it therefore devalues the great Times crossword brand. I called it “the People magazine crossword puzzle of the New York Times.” I said it was a waste of time.

Today, the Mini responded, and it was anything but witless.


If the message needs spelling out, the three longest Across answers are:




I may be overanalyzing, but I’m also happy to read that top-line “IDK” as a kind of exasperated eye-roll toward my Mini manifesto, the crossword version of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Mini is the creation of a puzzle wunderkind named Joel Fagliano, who placed his first full-size puzzle in the Times at age 17. I didn’t want to call him out by name in my original post; I may be a curmudgeon but I’m not a jerk. But now I’m happy to tip my hat to Fagliano for this response. It’s clever, saucy, and fun—the Mini at its best.

It was worth every single one of the 46 seconds it took me to complete.