Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.67
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Another one where I actually found it easier to remove a pair of black squares and increase the word count by two. The pair was in the lower right and upper left, splitting 18- and 53-Across in half. It wasn’t working in the lower right corner, and sometimes you have to try to make it work by giving the counterintuitive way a shot. To my mild surprise, and relief (I wasn’t about to take out the whole right-hand stack), it worked.
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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.
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