“So, what’s my style?”, I often ask myself.
The themed and freestyle puzzle forms are two completely different art forms. I’ve had a few themed puzzles published, and I’m not at all averse to building themed puzzles if the mood strikes. But I’m a freestyle guy at heart. (Just check my history of published puzzles over at XWord Info if there’s any doubt.)
I used to put my puzzles together with an old piece of shareware called CrosswordPlus — a couple of my older puzzles that got published were actually created with CrosswordPlus — until I discovered Crossword Compiler. (CrosswordPlus didn’t even have an autofill or manual fill option — only a letter pattern search and a grid and clue editor.) If you are at all serious about construction, trust me, it is worth every penny. To me, Crossword Compiler was a revelation and a revolution in crossword construction when I uncovered it (or finally shook my miserly habits and sprung for it?). I started making a whole bunch of (mostly freestyle) grids, both of the high- and low-word-count variety, as if I were a kid who just discovered the concept of candy stores. However, when I was making those “stunt grids” mostly using autofill — I even got a few of those published — I discovered, after a time, that this wasn’t really “me”. Sure, there’s a good place for autofill, and some jaw-droppingly beautiful grids have been made in those super-wide-open white spaces, but that just wasn’t my style.
Enter Crossword Author. Crossword Author is an app for iPhone that, let’s just say, I went too long without. I could make my puzzles anywhere I went now. I could do manual fill inexpensively (a super-cheap add-on to the app), I could transfer my wordlist to the app, I could export and import my puzzles between phone and PC. The autofill feature is good to see if there is a fill for a corner, but slow enough that I wouldn’t use it too often. What more could a freestyle crossword constructor want? I had found my style.
This is what Club 72 is all about: you will rarely see a freestyle puzzle that doesn’t have 70 or 72 words. I will not go under 68 on this site, and 68 will be once in a great while. And I’m not afraid to use a pair or two of “cheater squares” (extra black squares that don’t affect the word count) if it’s going to make for better quality fill.
Will you see a few entries here that you won’t see in a mainstream puzzle? Sure, you will. I’ll try to put some in every puzzle you see here. Will they be forced into a spot that creates bad fill? I’ll sure prevent that from happening.
What will be the difficulty of the puzzles you’ll see on here? My aim is to provide a very tough but entertaining and ultimately crackable puzzle every time. I’m shooting for a Saturday New York Times level or harder. Sometimes, I’ll even post word puzzles that aren’t crosswords in any shape or form… those will be posted other days of the week. (There will always be a freestyle puzzle every Tuesday.) I aim to challenge and entertain.
So… what’s my style? My style, my philosophy is: the more words I have, the more good entries I can put in, and the fewer bad entries I’ll have to use. It’s that simple.
Now get your puzzle on!