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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

Latin Students Make Connections Over NYT Games

Natasha Benjamin
Junior Aria Balani plays Wordle on the fourth-floor bench near the kiosk during her passing period.

It’s 10 a.m. and you’re quietly focusing on the day’s lesson when you suddenly hear a grating jingle blasting from a laptop behind you. You turn around to notice that your classmate has just completed the daily New York Times (NYT) Mini Crossword; The student’s face reddens as the entire class leans over to look.

Unsurprisingly, the NYT games have had Latin Upper School students in a chokehold. Whether it’s playing games between classes, competing with friends, or using these games as a distraction from schoolwork, chances are you have seen one of the grids of colorful words illuminating a student’s laptop screen. Today, the NYT offers four different puzzles free to non-subscribers: Wordle, Spelling Bee, Connections, and the Mini Crossword.

In 1924, the NYT deemed crossword puzzles a “primitive sort of mental exercise” and a “sinful waste” of time. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the then-Sunday editor of the NYT, Lester Markel, decided to look past the company’s view and include crosswords in the Sunday paper as a “need for relaxation of some kind or other.” Margaret Farrar became the first NYT crossword editor in 1942. The 15-by-15 daily crossword officially began on September 11, 1950, and was finally brought to the internet on January 22, 1996. The popular 5-by-5 Mini Crossword was born on August 21, 2014, and has since become very popular among students.

“The Mini Crossword [is my favorite] because it is a great way to start the morning off by getting your mind thinking,” freshman Fabi Vallenilla said. Similarly, freshman Josie Malkin said, “The Mini Crossword makes me think.”

Junior Reilly Henderson said, “The Mini Crossword is my favorite NYT game because it’s the easiest game with the most variation.”

A less popular NYT game among US students is the Spelling Bee. The goal of the word game is to form new words from a set of seven unique words while also using the center letter at least once. The puzzle made its first printed debut in The New York Times Magazine in 2014 and then was launched as an online game in May 2018. Today, the NYT has a forum to help struggling fans solve the daily puzzle. Out of each of the seven community members The Forum interviewed, not one of them said that the Spelling Bee was their favorite game.

“The Spelling Bee is a very difficult game and is hard to complete,” junior Aria Balani said.

Arguably the most popular NYT game is Wordle, which was released in October 2021 and quickly became an internet sensation. This word-guessing game brought communities with a common goal together. In a time of uncertainty, Wordle provided a distraction from the new, inconsistent life that COVID brought about.

Freshman Alex Quiñones mentioned social media’s influence on his love for his favorite NYT game, Wordle. “I watch that one guy on TikTok who plays it,” he said. Michael Di Costanzo posts regularly on TikTok, playing all sorts of NYT Games and broadcasting his results.

Connections, the newest NYT Game, was launched on June 12, 2023, and features a four-by-four grid with each box featuring a different word. The puzzle’s premise is to group similar words into four different categories. The popularity of this game resonates with Latin students for a multitude of reasons. For example, freshman Ariya Desai said, “Connections is my favorite because of all the categories and how it works your brain in many ways.”

We challenge you to ask the next person you see about their favorite NYT mini-game; It may tell you a lot about someone.

We have prepared a Latin Connections game. See if you can get the correct solution with four mistakes or less. Good luck!

Connections game embedded from swellgarfo.com.

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About the Contributors
Theo Garino, Staff Writer
Theo Garino ('27) is a freshman who has loved writing since he was young and enjoys using this skill to write articles relating to the Latin community! Theo loves to participate in sports at Latin such as Cross Country and also Track and Field. Out of school, Theo loves to cook, bake, and hang out with his friends.
Natasha Benjamin, Arts Editor
Natasha Benjamin ('25) is excited to serve as an arts editor this year! This is her third year writing for The Forum, and she enjoys writing film reviews and covering student opinions. She can’t wait to continue to share her passions and interests with the Latin community. Beyond The Forum, Natasha is on the basketball team, plays piano, and loves to consume media in all its forms.

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