All posts by Tim Croce

Puzzle 593: Freestyle 537. Just my two cents here.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33


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It’s really interesting how I come across entries for my seed list. It would read as a completely random, disparate list of sources. There’s one from the list in each of these four corners — one came from a Twitter exchange back from before I quit social media, one came from a Reddit thread, one came from an email I got at work, and one came from a TV show about the incredible story about a crash of a helicopter all of whose occupants miraculously survived. (I don’t usually watch anything on TV besides sports, game shows, “Shark Tank”, and animated sitcoms, but on occasion, I’ll watch something about air disasters. Go figure…)


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 592: Freestyle 536. There’s a method to my madness.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.51


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!


It’s fun when you find two entries that stack so well (33 and 36-Across) that you have so, so many options for the bottom of the stack. They pretty much have to stack really well, because 13-15-13 stacks pretty much force you to have a lot of long intersecting answers (unless you do those big stairstep-shaped chunks of black, which I don’t want because it takes up a lot of my precious maximum block count in two small places). Lots more options means lots more fun options, of course, and I do say that it’s a rather fun stack…


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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

Puzzle 591: Freestyle 535. Opening the floodgates.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.43


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!


This grid, obviously, was totally all about the grid art. It was meant to be eye-catching from the start. Plus it was meant for me to have a little easier time constructing, though it definitely didn’t turn out that way. My plan was to choose the two 15s and it would be easy from there to knock out each of the four corners. Let me tell you, 7x7s with three letters already fixed, which I did four times, isn’t as easy as it might seem.


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!

Puzzle 590: Freestyle 534. I’ve got the world on a string.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.40


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!


If only people who worked with me knew that their emails have provided me with seed answers like the one across the center of this grid. I mean, I don’t just trawl work emails for seed answers for my grids and nothing else — there are other important things in there sometimes. I don’t know whether I want those people to know they’re doing that — do you know how often I get “You should put that in one of your crosswords!” as it is?


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 Friday!

Puzzle 589: Freestyle 531. If you say so…


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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!


You’ll see quite a few musical references in the grid today. I do like my music, but I didn’t mean for this many references around the grid (except for 1-Across, which was one of my secondary seed entries). At least they cover a wide range of eras and styles. Also, yes, I play poker, hence 13-Down was another secondary seed. I had another poker-related entry, but I decided to take it out because more than one poker reference in long entries of the grid is a bit much to me. I don’t even remember what that other one was anymore.


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.


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Puzzle 588: Freestyle 530. Hold my messages.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.34


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!


You know well that, when you’re stuck solving, putting it down and coming back to it often leads to a light bulb. Heck, I’d wager that many of you have done that with some of my grids here. But the same is true when constructing, and I had to use that technique twice with this. It almost always goes like this: I have a fill that works just fine. There’s a so-so entry, though, that keeps nagging at me to the point where I say “There has to be a better way to fill this.” I struggle to think of something right away. I shower, go run an errand, play with my son, something like that, then I come back to it. Then something clicks. The first was in the left center in the big stack, and the second was in the upper right.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 587: Freestyle 529. I really appreciate it.


Last Friday’s Double Shifts solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19


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!


You know that I don’t generally care about block placement and how it looks, but this one was all about the block placement and the visual effect from it. The only time I changed any blocks was the pair of singlets in the 4th and 12th row. I moved it back and forth among three spots depending on how the stack I was working on in the upper left was working. The hardest parts to construct by far were the upper right/lower left, which was a byproduct of my not wanting to have a whole boatload of 3-letter entries.


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!

Puzzle 586: Freestyle 528. Lovely day for a stroll.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.40


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!


Funny how the tiniest tweaks can make me feel so much better about a grid. There were two entries in this grid that I didn’t have in the original completed grid. Admittedly, they weren’t even in my word list (though they should have been), so I didn’t even think about them. I was ok with the original entries, but changing them was SO much better.


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 Friday!

Puzzle 585: Double Shifts. Shift into another gear.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the Easier PDF here!

Get the Harder PDF here!


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!


Happy Fourth to all my American solvers, and Happy Friday to everyone else! You can do lots of interesting stuff with anagrams, as you know, and as you know that I know. The reason this is called “Double Shifts” is because the principle of this puzzle is manipulating words twice. In this case, I’m taking common two-word phrases, anagramming each one of them, and replacing the anagrams with synonyms. The example I gave inside is DIVINITY SPUD: I took “dog treat”, anagrammed the words to “god” and “tater”, and changed them to their respective synonyms “divinity” and “spud”. It was harder than you think to find two-word phrases in which (a) both of the words have anagrams, and (b) the anagrams themselves each have rock-solid synonyms. The difference between the Easier and Harder versions is simple: the Easier version contains the lengths of each word in the object phrases, and the Harder version does not.

I never underestimate my solvers, and I don’t usually arrange by difficulty, but be forewarned: the last few of these are tough as nails. I will be very duly impressed with anyone who gets all of these, but I know you all are up for the challenge.


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.


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Puzzle 584: Freestyle 527. Let’s see some action.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


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!


Outside of the central stack, one of the seed entries is seeing the light of day after being in my seed list for almost as long as I’ve had this site — 59-Across. I’ve probably had opportunity to use it before, but passed over it for some reason or another. I mean, it was in my list because I really liked it, and I obviously still like it enough. Things happen sometimes, I guess.


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 Friday!