Puzzle 349: Freestyle 312. You have to earn your keep!

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42

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One of the few times I have a grid spanner (8-Down, in this case) that wasn’t a seed entry. Usually, when I have an unplanned 15 or 13-letter entry, you’ll see the word count at 70 or less, because it means I found a pair of blocks I could take out to make it a grid spanner. But, this time, I added a pair in the upper right/lower left to compensate. Actually, the reason I had an unplanned 15 was because I built the upper left first and didn’t like the options for a five-letter word (the center column was originally 5-3-5)… so I found I could extend it to a 15 and have a much more desirable entry.

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Puzzle 348: Freestyle 311. Pay close attention…

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.22

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I just got back to sunny Berkshire County, Massachusetts, from a vacation last week in Southern California, visiting family and making an excursion to San Diego. This is a place where the highs were in the low 60s and people were complaining about being cold. Must be nice.

Not to brag, but I love it when I build a long stack with all nice entries (I mean, FRANKNESSES is an 11 that has never been used before, but that’d be, shall I say, a huge demerit) like the one in the upper right here, and none of the entries in the stack have been used before (according to the esteemed Ginsberg clue database). The same is true for the lower left, technically, but one of the entries is a plural and the singular form has been used before.

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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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Puzzle 347: Freestyle 310. Right back atcha!

Last Friday’s “Great Minds Think Alike” themed puzzle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.37

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Just giving a couple of 14s some love here. This grid has quite a good amount of interlock of a number of long answers — there’s a pair of 9-letter entries each intersecting a triple-stack of 9s, a 14, and a couple of 7s. I mean, that’s not the most impressive thing in the world when you compare it to some of the stunt grids and other wide-open grids in other publications, but it’s quite unusual for me. I didn’t mean the interlock on purpose, but, you know, 14s do some weird stuff to grids sometimes.

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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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Puzzle 346: Freestyle 309. How do you stack up?

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.61

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You’ll notice a number stick out here — 66. I wouldn’t quite call this a stunt grid — this 68-entry grid from quite a while ago is probably the closest to a stunt grid that I’ll ever post on this site — but it’s still a little… unconventional-looking. But 66 entries (though I have a rather high amount of black squares) is a rare number in these here virtual parts. It’s a little unusual in that this grid has only four distinct contiguous groups of black squares — of course I built this strictly for how it looks. I know I swore off full-length quad stacks in this interview with the great BEQ (which includes a bonus guest grid by yours truly!), but maybe someday I’ll do one. Starting a good amount of time after that interview, I’ve tried, I admit, to revisit the challenge of building a quad stack, but… yeah, that’s hard to do without some compromises that I’m not willing to make.

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 345: Themed Puzzle 6. Great minds think alike!

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 74 (themed)
Mean word length: 5.11

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The making of this grid was one wild ride. I had every intention of putting a freestyle grid today (let’s be honest, most of the time I never have any other thought…). But I thought on Wednesday, what the heck, I’ve got a theme idea here, let’s go through with it. And I was done with it, clues and all the next day… the theme worked like magic. It was a constructor’s dream. I was almost out of breath, though! I dialed down the difficulty of the clues a bit, but I think you’ll have fun with this one.

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 344: Freestyle 308. Keep it under wraps.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.51

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I went to the market to get a loaf of bread yesterday when I was intrigued by why the parking lot was a lot more full than usual for that time of day and week. Then I realized that we were forecast to get around 10″ of snow the following day. Is it bad that, even knowing all that, my thoughts were “This is the Berkshires, ten inches is just another normal snow event here… and everyone’s all shopping like it’s the apocalypse”?

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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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Puzzle 343: Freestyle 307. Let’s rock and roll.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.40

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This was originally intended to be a 72-word grid (imagine that, on Club 72!), but pure serendipity and luck enabled me to both better the grid and bring it down to 70. What are now 26- and 43-Across were once split into two entries, and the blocks ending 40-Across and preceding 33-Across were once one square farther from the center. I don’t usually intersect a long stack (like the ones in the upper left and lower right) with two long answers (26/37-Across, 37/43-Across) but it all came together with a bit of luck (and some skill, 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 Tuesday!