Puzzle 399: Freestyle 359. That’s just not okay.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.43


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I was met with the slightest disappointment in a grid that otherwise I was totally happy with. (Way to come out hard selling this one, Tim!) My seed for this grid was a clue/entry pairing that I thought was a home run. But I had to change the entry ever so slightly to make the grid work, so, alas, the clue had to go by the wayside. I won’t give away which one it is.


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Puzzle 398: Freestyle 358. Now you see it, now you don’t.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42


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I don’t often construct around a “matrix” of grid-spanning entries, but I did here. (I do a lot of things on this website that I say I don’t often do, no?) There are three vertical grid spanners with a horizontal one intersecting all three. Usually, that’s enough to exclude stacks from the party, but not this time… it’s a pain to build stacks when you have two columns of three letters intersecting them fixed in place, but it worked out.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 397: Freestyle 357. It’s who you know.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.47


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Dual triple stacks! It’s been a while since I’ve done that. And there’s a reason I don’t do them too often… they’re hard to build! Once the stacks are in, it’s not so bad to build the rest of the grid, since the top and bottom are as wide open as you can get them, but they’re a pain to get started. Not only that, I once submitted a (rejected) triple stack grid to the times (for various reasons, I wouldn’t probably put it here) that had JAZZ SAXOPHONIST at 1-Across. Talk about artificially handicapping yourself…


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 396: Freestyle 356. Don’t be shy.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


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At first glance, if I hadn’t said anything, many of you would say, “What’s this, a themed puzzle on a Tuesday?” when you opened this one up. It doesn’t really look like a freestyle grid at all, a departure from my usual stacks-in-the-corner fare. But I saw this as a good opportunity to get three good grid-spanners in there without overly taxing myself on the construction.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 395: Freestyle 355. Have a ball!


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.51


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Back on the 7×7 train with a little twist — staggered 9-letter answers in the middle to add a bit more length and color to the proceedings. I obviously built the intersecting staggered stacks first, because they’d be the most difficult thing to construct, and from there the corner sections came fairly easily.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 394: Freestyle 354. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.28


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Sometimes we as crossword constructors like to hold onto seed entries stubbornly, way too long, even after it becomes apparent that it would take way too much of a stretch to keep them alive in the grid. I did that in the southwest corner of this grid. I ended up changing not that much of it, but it made the entry, in my opinion, good instead of great. But that downgrade was necessary for the overall health of the whole grid. I solved a bigger problem, which was a duplicate in two entries in the same section that I wasn’t going to abide at all.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 393: Freestyle 353. It’s all Greek to me.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.88


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I don’t know why I did this, but I guess I felt like making it a little tougher on myself by intersecting 8-stacks with other 8-stacks, something you know I wouldn’t usually do. As you can see above, this is a rather high average word length for me on this site. I was a bit forced to go to 68 mainly because I constructed the upper left stack first, and the way the construction proceeded from the first stack, I was forced to leave out a black square (at the intersection of what’s now 24-Across and 11-Down) to make an entry possible.


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!