# Puzzle 80: Freestyle 52. Promise you’ll forgive me?

Last Tuesday’s There Are No Words solution

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Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.67

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First off, I would like to thank Evan Birnholz for linking to my Merl Reagle tribute puzzle over at his site… so go check out his stuff if you haven’t already! You will never be disappointed… you will always be dazzled!

So I lied. Will you forgive me? I’ve said on this site that I would never go below 68, but here I am with a 66-word grid. Well, I couldn’t help myself with this one: it was going to be 68, but there was a symmetric pair of blocks in the 4th/12th columns that split a 5- and 3-letter entry apart, and I just didn’t like the 3-letter word at the bottom of the 4th column (I started constructing at the bottom). So I took the block out, shifted another pair of blocks slightly, and made the two words into a single 8-letter entries. (I know… excuses, excuses!) This is the rare case where reducing the word count actually made the fill better… go figure!

This unusual block formation also allows me to give some love to the forgotten stars of crossword construction: the 13- and 14-letter entries. Their very nature, especially that of 14-letter entries, normally forces constraints on block placement. This is why there are more than twice as many 15-letter entries in the Ginsberg clue database than there are 14s, even though there are, of course, more 14-letter words and phrases than 15-letter words and phrases in the English language. 14s are just that more difficult to fit into a 15×15 grid. It forces you to put a single block on the periphery of the puzzle, which means you’ve got to either make an L-shaped cluster of blocks or stack some downs intersecting that 14, making a more wide-open and hard-to-handle corner… that is, if you don’t do something unusual like I did here.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the word origin at 12-Down. Who knew?

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better?

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

## 3 thoughts on “Puzzle 80: Freestyle 52. Promise you’ll forgive me?”

1. “…there are, of course, more 14-letter words and phrases than 15-letter words and phrases in the English language”

I’m not sure that’s true. I might believe that there are more 14-letter words, but not necessarily phrases. If anything, the opposite is more likely to be true, as there are simply more (26 times more, to be exact) possible 15-letter words/phrases than 14-letter words/phrases.

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1. At some point, though, the trend starts to dip in the other direction… it has to. You may be right with phrases, but with words, I think the turning point might come before then. To take an extreme example, there are many, many powers of ten more combinations of, say, 25 letters than 15. When single words are concerned, I think its speakers want to keep brevity a priority. I’d be interested to see where that turning point comes.

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1. Absolutely. I was indeed thinking more about phrases. Interestingly, my wordlist (mostly compiled by hand rather than from puzzle mining) contains almost exactly as many 14- and 15-letter entries (18,000 and 18,159, respectively).

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