Puzzle 610: Freestyle 551. It’s out of my hands.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.40


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When I really like an entry enough to put it in my seed list, sometimes I don’t think about just how difficult or awkward it would be to write an actual clue for it. I guess the right maneuver is to put it in first, and work it out later; that’s obviously what I did here. The seed entry for this one was one of the last three clues I wrote. It was really hard to write a clue that didn’t repeat a word in the entry.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 609: Freestyle 550. That doesn’t change anything.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


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What was I saying about turning triple stacks into double stacks recently? I’m definitely making a habit of this. It requires a little more work to get the center sections to work every time, but that’s nothing compared to the easier time I have stacking two instead of wrangling three entries together to fit in those two corners.


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Puzzle 608: Freestyle 549. You’re gonna flip out.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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Well, I finally did it. All three entries in this main stack are entries from my seed list. Usually what happens is that I get a 15 from my seeds and try to find another 12 from the list that stacks well, then leave it at that and find any old good-looking entry that works for the other 12. This time, I put the 15 in, then I put the 12 in below it, and it stacked so well that I thought, “What the hell?” So I went down the list of 12s again and, lo and behold, I came across one that actually worked on the top. That got me many magnitudes more excited than a normal person should get.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 607: Freestyle 548. Don’t lose sleep over it.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


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Forgive me that I like to talk shop in a lot of these posts, but I nerd out about crossword construction sometimes! I think this is what I’m going to do from now on when I have 10- or 11-stacks intersected by the grid spanner. Breaking up the corner into doubles instead of triples spreads the impact a little around the grid instead of having three fixed letters in a long stack. Not that any of these constructions are a breeze, but that made those corners so much easier and didn’t really make the rest of the grid any harder to construct.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 606: Freestyle 547. Get your butt in here!


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46


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It’s amazing how much emphasis and priority is placed on finding someone to blame for a problem instead of the much more important exercise of finding how not to re-create the problem. The central seed answer is based on that — no one wants to crack and admit a goal is impossible, just so they won’t be the first one on a team to be blamed when it goes sideways. I’m so glad there’s an actual term for that.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 605: Freestyle 546. There isn’t a cloud in the sky.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42


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I wanted to seed a grid with an 11-letter entry, but I didn’t want any 11-stacks. Remind me never to do that again. It was a great challenge to make it work, because now, all of a sudden, I was dealing with multiple long entries spread out across the grid and intersecting my stacks in the corner. It was much more difficult than I had anticipated. It’s a lot easier to construct a grid with most of the long entries concentrated in stacks than scattered about. Mind you, it still came out like I wanted it to, but I had to get lucky in a couple spots.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 604: Freestyle 545. I have confidence in you.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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A lot of this grid was composed on a shaky 90-minute drive in the back seat of a car out to an apple orchard in rural New York. The last few minutes, finalizing one corner, was after driving into the orchard on a really bumpy, uncomfortable road. Nausea set in, and it got really hard to type in the letters every time we hit the bump. Hazards of the work, I know. I set a goal of completing the grid before getting out of the car, and dammit, I did.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 603: Freestyle 544. You’ve come a long way.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39


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The double stack of 15s is not something that I do too often, and I don’t know why. Really, after finding pairs that stack well, the toughest part was linking the twin 8-stacks to the top center/bottom center. It is exponentially easier, of course, to stack two 15s than three.

It’s funny the disparate sources from which I gather my seed entries. Especially the bottom two 15s in this grid — one of them was randomly seeing a tech term I found funny in a Wikipedia article (I was probably going down the old Wikipedia rabbit hole) and the other was the first line of a country song I heard on the radio. My ears and eyes are constantly tuned into this sort of thing.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 602: Freestyle 543. You deserve a pat on the back.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.34


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33-Across was one of the first things I ever put in my seed list for this site, more than five years ago. I started with 36-Across, but what I do with these stagger stacks is choose a 15- or 13-letter entry, then go down my list of 12s to see what stacks well with that middle entry. Finally, since this stagger stack Tuesday thing has given me a good excuse to use two 12s without wrecking the flow of the grid, this entry has seen the light of day in one of my grids. Not that I’d ever partake of this particular entry myself.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 601: Freestyle 542. We’re packed and ready for action.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


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I don’t usually have a grid-spanning entry anymore without having another one cross it at the center. That said, it’s a lot less limiting without another 13 or 15 letters set from the start. Also, I could have avoided a little difficulty in the center by making double stacks into triple stacks; it was harder than it looks to make the 8/21-Down/33-Across area work.


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!