Puzzle 546: Freestyle 494. Just let it go.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.50


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This is technically a staggered stack, yes, but I came dangerously close to a full-on triple stack, which is something I haven’t done in a long while. Literally the day before this grid was due to be posted, I changed an entire corner (the upper right) — it was worth it, because I suddenly saw an opportunity to get rid of two entries that I was definitely not happy about having in the grid. I was glad to have to reclue that whole section to get rid of them; plus, I was able to include a new entry that I was really pleased to put in (8-Down).


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Puzzle 545: Freestyle 493. Covered from top to bottom.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33


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Any time you build a crossword with “pockets” like in the upper right and lower left, it makes it easier, of course, to build a grid since those little sections are cut off entirely from the rest of the grid. As a solver, however, I concede that I do appreciate grid flow and connectivity, since a solver is more likely to get stuck in a section with only “one way in”. That’s part of the tradeoff between ease of construction and the perspective of the solver, alas.


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Puzzle 544: Freestyle 492. You ain’t kidding.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


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When I’m not trying to mingle a stack with a stack on purpose like I did last week, I just start with a basic form and see where the stack leads me. The longer a pair of entries I can get to intersect, the easier it’ll get for me in the rest of the grid. Plus the 14s are, as I among many others have pointed out, underused in 15x15s.


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Puzzle 543: Freestyle 491. That’s a loaded question.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.52


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Yeah, I’m just trying a little bit of weird stuff here. I wanted to do a 12-stack, but I also wanted to keep it at 15×15, so I figured, what the hell, let’s do it. That’s why it’s only 66 words (hey, less clues for me to write!), and that’s why you’ll see a piece bitten off each of the corners if you do this on paper. This has 8 12-letter entries, which is really unusual in a 15×15 grid without either doing something crazy wide open or something like I did here. (Crossword geniuses out there, feel free to disprove me if I’m dead wrong…) I often find 12-letter entries that I’m initially shocked haven’t been in any published grids, until I realize that 12-letter entries aren’t really used that often.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 542: Freestyle 490. All tied up in knots.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.56


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I decided to do something (relatively) crazy for me and try intersecting stacks for the second time. That’s why you’re looking at a 68-word grid here. It got a little more wide open in the middle than what I expected even for intersecting stacks. It was, sorta, by choice — it was going to be 72, but I found I could take out a pair of blocks and actually make it easier after I built the two stacks. (The pair split what’s now 14-Down and what’s now 31-Down in half.)


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 541: Freestyle 489. This is your responsibility.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.28


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I don’t do 11-stacks that often anymore, since it tends to cause a lot of 3-letter entries. There aren’t many 3-letter entries that are worth using that haven’t been used before, which means that a lot of clues have been written for them, which means that it’s harder for me to find some new angle for each one of them. Not to mention the longer the stack is, obviously, the harder it is to build in the first place. But I have a lot of good 11-letter entries that are gathering dust, so here we are.


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Puzzle 540: Freestyle 488. Challenge accepted.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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I have had the same thing for lunch virtually every workday, except Fridays, for pretty much the whole decade-plus I’ve been working where I’m working. It’s a ham and cheese sandwich toasted in a toaster oven. To achieve that end, of course, I go to the grocery store deli every week. 36-Across was the seed entry for this grid, and I have no idea how I haven’t used it until now. I’ve been hearing that phrase pretty much every other week for over ten years, and I didn’t realize until very recently that it’s 15 letters long. I’m a little ashamed of that. Do I still get to keep my secret crossword constructor membership card?


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Friday!