Puzzle 574: Freestyle 518. I had you going…


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


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The construction of this grid, for a long time, felt like one big game of Whack-a-Mole. I laid out the central stack, but it seemed like there was always one slot where no entry would work. I would fix that spot so that something would fit there, and it would cause another area not to work. What saved me, what broke that maddening cycle, was the entry at 23-Down. It hadn’t been in my word list; it wasn’t in any online dictionary, though it’s definitely a thing. It just washed over me in what felt like a biblical revelation. If that entry hadn’t worked, I have no idea what I would have done.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 573: Split Decisions Two Ways 6. Just try and cross me.


Last week’s Two Minus Three solution

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I’ve been asked about when I was going to put up another one of these Split Decisions Two Ways grids. So, lucky for those who asked, I like constructing these… so here’s another one! (If you’re not familiar with these, or, by some chance, the original Split Decisions format, go through my post history of these at this link.) It’s just a pencil, paper, and a lot of erasures and write-overs to construct these things. The main impetus for how these grids get expanded, pair by pair, from the central answer is twofold: one, to make certain that it’s a unique overall solution, and two, to add more letters to certain word pairs to give the solvers a little nudge. (I bet you’re not used to my giving you a nudge in any puzzle I write!)


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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

Puzzle 572: Freestyle 517. Keep this one on file.


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!


My son learned how to say the word “baby” today. Well, at least, this is the first time we’ve heard him say that word. I feel like, because he’s on the edge of still being one, this is the sign that he’s started to go meta on us. Either that, or he’s ripped some hole in spacetime somewhere in the universe that I hope is nowhere near Earth. What does all this have to do with today’s grid? Nothing. This is sorta like when a host has to vamp when they can’t think of anything else to say and they have time to fill.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 571: Two Minus Three. Just drop it, okay?


Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the Harder PDF here!


I realized that quite a few common two-word phrases in English share some letters in common. I know, not exactly a groundbreaking discovery in the world of wordplay. But it was the starting point to this variety puzzle. The premise of this puzzle is that you take a common two-word phrase whose two words have at least three letters in common. Then, remove those three common letters from each word in the phrase… and that’s it. Your goal is to restore the phrases. The difference between the Easier and Harder versions is that the easier version still maintains the space between the word and the harder version doesn’t. For example, the two words in CARAMEL LATTE each have an A, E, and L. In the easier version, you would see CARM TT, and in the harder version, you’d see CARMTT.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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

Puzzle 570: Freestyle 516. I did not see that coming.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.79


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Whenever you see a lower word count than you’re used to from me, know that it probably means one thing: I had to lengthen an entry or two to make it work. That means I had to remove a pair or two of blocks, and, for some reason, I couldn’t add any blocks somewhere else. Of course, the lower the word count, the higher degree of luck I had to experience, and that’s what definitely happened in the upper left. One across entry in that area that I like, but was forced into, severely constrained me. I don’t like the “hold your breath and pray” spots like that, but when it works out, it’s extra nice.


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 569: Freestyle 515. Look for an angle.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19


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It feels like I must’ve gone through pretty much every possible block configuration to get the upper left and lower right corners to work without big compromises in the fill for this grid. I made it a little harder on myself than I should have, what with the seed entries I chose and the grid I started with, so I have not the English language but only myself to blame.


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 568: Freestyle 514. You’re in the ballpark.


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!


Back to sanity with 72 entries here, after two in a row under 70. Guess I got out of line. Almost always, when I’m building these stacks, I find two adjacent answers that stack well and find the third entry that way. This time, I had two 12-letter entries in mind, so I had the top and bottom entry and needed to find an entry that sandwiched in between the two. And now I remember why I don’t do it that way. It was a pain, to say the least, to find an entry that goes between two others. I don’t do it that way in a normal stack, why would I do it that way here? I don’t know. Long story short, I’m not doing it that way again…


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!