Puzzle 641: Freestyle 581. Always have a backup.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


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This may be the least awkward way to get in two 14-letter entries to a 15×15 grid without opening up the whole grid or needing awkward-looking chunks of black squares. It’s certainly the easiest way to do it. I would say that it’s a good way to “get rid of” a couple of seed entries, but I looked at my seed list and realized that six-plus years of doing this has led me to accumulate 540 seed entries in the list. I’ll obviously never use them all. It’s gone full-circle, in fact: one of the secondary seed answers I used for this one was derived from brainstorming clues for a different seed entry that I used recently. The cycle goes on and on.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 640: Freestyle 580. You’ve found what you’re looking for.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Whenever I use the name of another puzzle as a seed entry in a crossword grid, I feel like I’ve gone beyond the meta world and I’m afraid that I’ll tear some sort of hole in spacetime. I don’t know, I may have to time-travel to discuss this with Einstein or Hawking, but I think I only would have to worry about tearing spacetime if I then create that type of puzzle I put as an entry, and then use CROSSWORD PUZZLE as an entry in that one. So I think the fabric of the cosmos is safe as long as I don’t do that.


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!

Puzzle 639: Freestyle 579. You nailed it.


Last Friday’s themed puzzle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.22


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I was about to go ahead and clue this grid in its first incarnation. But let this be a lesson that you cannot ignore a persistent voice in your head because it’s almost always right. The issue was a very minor word that was duped not once, but twice; it appeared three times in the completed grid. I played it off in my head as no big deal, but my little cruciverbal conscience would just not let it go. I’m glad I listened to that little voice, because I feel a lot better now.


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 Tuesday!

Puzzle 638: Freestyle 578. Use your oblique muscle.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72 (diagonal)
Mean word length: 5.64


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It’s obviously a lot easier stacking entries when they’re oblique to one another rather than right on top. That’s why I’m coming back to this odd grid shape. When the whole grid is oblique rather than square, it makes the entire construction easier because every stack is staggered instead of the one in the middle that I usually do on Tuesdays. I apologize for the weird formatting with the PDF — I had to reduce the margins so that I could fit everything on one page without having to shrink the font to unreadable levels.


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!

Puzzle 637: Themed Puzzle 10, “Canceled”. I’m simply overwhelmed.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 78 (themed)
Mean word length: 4.79


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Happy New Year to all! And look out, here’s a themed Club 72 grid! I’ve made both the PUZ and PDF versions available, of course, but I really do think it’s better hand-solved on the PDF. I’m not just saying that because I prefer hand-solving myself, either. I’ve ratcheted down the difficulty a little bit — a little bit — hard enough as that is to do for me. It’s an instinct for me at this point, one that I had to really fight, not to go the usual whole hog with clue difficulty.


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 Tuesday!

Puzzle 636: Freestyle 577. Take care of yourself.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Another happy accident, as I like to say, that I was able to put another stack down the middle to intersect my usual stack across the middle. There was actually a pair of blocks where the end of 26-Across and the start of 38-Across are now, but, to get rid of a very undesirable pair of entries, I actually had to remove that pair to make it work. It was just very fortunate that the vertical stack actually was able to fit, because I would have had to do some serious rearranging if it didn’t.


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!

Puzzle 635: Freestyle 576. You beat me to the punch.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.28


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Good morning and Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! I want to give you a virtual present in the morning underneath your Christmas tree (if you have one), so I am posting this early. And if you don’t, then have a happy Friday! Sometimes it’s more interesting in a grid without the grandiose stacks that call attention to themselves — spreading out the big answers in the grid can be a little less constraining since you don’t have to make sure they can stack one on top of the other.


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 Tuesday!

Puzzle 634: Freestyle 575. Don’t mind the mess.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


It was really, really tempting to make this into a staggered quint stack. I’ve done it once before on this site (though it was “only” 10-10-9-10-10), and that was a really happy accident that it ended up that way. These three entries stacked really well for me to even consider doing that.


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!

Puzzle 633: Freestyle 574. No harm, no foul.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


The longest entries I think I’d ever quad-stack are sevens, and I did just that right here. It was a lot of patience and some luck to get those stacks to turn out how they did. I admit that this will probably play like three mini-puzzles in one grid, and that was a side effect of my own design; I obviously had a look in mind before I filled in any entries in this grid.


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 Tuesday!

Puzzle 632: Freestyle 573. Let’s take this off-thread.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19


Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!


Another rare time where all three of the entries in the middle stack came from my seed list. The top one had probably been on the list for a few years before it finally got its moment in the sun. A 6×4 area, like the ones in the upper right or lower left, is harder than it looks to fill, especially when six of the letters you can’t change, like it was in one of the corners. Hence the helper squares in the corners there.


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!