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Playing Connections

/ 3 min read

I love my NY Times digital subscription. I get access to:

  • The best newspaper in the country
  • The Athletic, the premier sports reporting site on the web. Off the charts articles and terrific newsletters.
  • Wirecutter. I rarely make a purchase without checking their recommendations.
  • And of course, the famous NY Times games, including Wordle and Connections

I do Wordle, Connections, and the Mini-crossword every day. I’m kind of obsessed. Today, I’ll share my thoughts and strategies on Connections, a game that I find fun, challenging, and often frustrating.

NY Times Connections
  1. So the first thing I do is I always hit the shuffle button right away before even looking at the puzzle. I find that they sometimes will put two items in the upper left — the place your eye naturally goes to — that try to get you thinking one way, and that way is often not productive. They try to trick you, and I shuffle things before I can get that fake connection in my head.
  2. At any point in playing, I frequently hit shuffle to shake things up and get me thinking in a different direction.
  3. If I make a wrong guess and they tell you “One guess away”, I never try to figure out the correct, missing item. I always press “Deselect all” and go off to something else and maybe come back to it later. (Well, okay, “never” and “always” are storng words here. Sometimes I try, but usually to no avail…) Often, I find a different connection between one of the off-by-one guesses, and then go back. (As a side note, 97% of my failures are the result of getting impatient about this and trying wrong combinations.
  4. Purple is the hardest category, and almost always is a common word association between the four, as opposed to the four words being directly related. For instance, “couch”, “baked”, “hot”, and “sweet” are all associated with “potato”. I always look for that kind of thing first. Getting purple out of the way early usually makes things go smoother by removing red herring connections.
  5. One thing that bugs me about the game: The “Mistakes Remaining” is off by one: If you have one mistake remaining, there are actually two little dots. This is not right. Yes, I’m a coding nerd.
  6. I have more than once had a perfect game getting the connections “in order” — yellow, green, blue, purple. I’m yet to reach Connections Nirvana — purple, blue, green, yellow. I do have a friend that got it once!
  7. Impatience is usually my failing. Often, the best thing to do is to set the game aside and come back to it later.
  8. Occasionally I will have absolutely no clue about one of the words in a group. None. Never heard of it ever. This is frustrating. ;-)

One final note: I absolutely LOVE the color scheme used by the Games app. I’m going to try to integrate that color palette in to this site.