# Puzzle 277: Freestyle 242. You have to crawl before you can walk.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25

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Another staggered central stack, this time with 13-letter entries. Normally, that would force a stairstep-shaped chunk of 6 blocks on either side of the middle to prevent 15s from running down either side, but I found that I could include two interesting 15s to intersect the central stack. Since that gave me a little extra flexibility in terms of making word count work around the rest of the grid, I went for it.

Also, 27-Down is a shining example that I learn something every time I write clues for a grid. I was not aware of this until doing a bit of research on the answer entry…

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 276: Freestyle 241. Don’t be alarmed…

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.28

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It’s funny how things work out. There was a particular entry that I wanted to include in a recent grid… but it didn’t quite work out, so I had to slightly change the entry to make it a lot less interesting than the original. Come this grid, I wasn’t even trying to do this, but it just worked out that that entry, in its original, more exciting form, presented itself in this grid. Not only did it happen to make its way into this grid, but it’s at the same position that the entry occupied in the recent grid too! Maybe you’ll remember it, maybe not. But sometimes the cruciverbal gods work in funny ways.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 275: Freestyle 240. Have a ball!

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

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This grid went on a really, really wild ride before it saw the light of day here. I had originally planned to put another grid in this space, but realized that it had a very similar entry to one in the grid that I posted a week ago. Bear in mind that this was on a Thursday evening, and I send grids to test solvers a week in advance of their post date. I’ve been working ahead a little bit to complete two grids so I can post them while I’m on vacation, so I had two spare grids at the ready — problem is, neither of them were at all clued. So I had to go like a maniac and write all 72 clues Thursday evening and Friday to send out this grid. After I’d sent it out, my test solvers noticed an issue in one of the corners… so it went through still another revision to wipe out and reconstruct an entire corner (the upper left, in case you’re curious). Then I sent that revision to my test solvers for a quick turnaround… and so you see the result of all that here.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 274: Freestyle 239. I’ll take care of you.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46

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This was one of the few times when the seed was not just an answer, but a clue/answer pair. I almost never have a clue in mind for an entry before I put it in a grid, but I did for 8-Down — it was a big reason I wanted to use it in a grid, because I thought I had a pretty good clue for it. Helper square haters, look away — I have a whopping four pairs in this one! Well, don’t look away until you download the grid first, anyway…

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 273: Freestyle 238. Head for the hills!

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25

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It always causes trouble when I want 12-letter entries that have been gathering dust in my seed list to enter the party. I don’t like putting them in the fourth row, because that forces three 3-letter entries in each corner stacked together (which I normally want to avoid, except when I use 11-stacks), so they’re normally five or less rows apart. That has the effect of squishing the middle together… which, in this case, created the cluster of 3-letter entries in the middle that I wanted to avoid anyway! Sometimes you can’t avoid fate in the crossword world.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 272: Freestyle 237. OK, let’s do this!

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

I generally don’t like to compartmentalize grids too much, but the stacks I came up with in the lower left and upper right left me little choice — I liked them too much. I certainly wasn’t expecting to intersect my main horizontal 10-stacks with vertical 8-letter stacks — usually it’s 5- or 6-letter stacks — but somehow it worked out better to make them 8 letters long than 6. That’s why the grid is essentially split into two sections.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

# Puzzle 271: Freestyle 236. I’ve got a bone to pick with you…

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42

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This was an exercise in cruciverbal reminiscence, in a sense. I don’t often take a black square pattern, then fill it without changing the pattern no matter what, but I did here. There’s a reason for that — I wanted to take the exact pattern I used in my first-ever published New York Times crossword and re-fill it to see what I would come up with. (The original copy — well, the copy of the newspaper I bought for it, anyways — is framed for posterity and hanging up on a wall in my office.) The main trick was to build the “skeleton” of intersecting entries, with four long down answers and two long across entries. After that, the stacks in the upper right and lower left were fairly harmless to build because they’re fairly isolated.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.