To lure subscribers, the Times debuts a free mini crossword

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Will Shortz. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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Alex Weprin

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The New York Times is launching a free daily mini crossword puzzle for users of its crossword app for iOS devices, the company said today.

The puzzle, which is comprised of a five-by-five grid of blocks, is meant to be completed in just a couple of minutes, as opposed to the full-size puzzles, which can take far longer, depending on the skill level of the player.

The Times crossword, edited by Will Shortz, is widely regarded as one of the best, and is one of the most lucrative revenue streams the paper has. The mini puzzles are being written and edited by Joel Fagliano, a regular Times crossword puzzle contributor. Fagliano, who graduated from college this year, published his first puzzle in the Times in 2009 at age 17.

Subscriptions to the New York Times crossword cost $39.99 per year or $6.99 per month, and are not included with a standard Times subscription. Digital or home delivery subscribers do get a 50 percent discount on the crossword puzzle subscription, which includes the puzzles from the newspaper and archived puzzles from the last 18 years.

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The free mini puzzle is, in that respect, a preview for what users can expect if they level up to the full crossword puzzle subscription package.