Puzzle 101: Freestyle 72. The start of a new century.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

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I was going to construct another grid with a gaping middle stack like I did a couple of weeks ago, but that didn’t go as well as this one. I tried to make it even more expansive than that, but it didn’t come together. Maybe another time.

Believe it or not, 40-Across was not initially a seed in this grid! I am by no means a fan of that book series, but I know a seed list entry when I hear one. I put it in my seed list, but didn’t intend to use it… until the opportunity miraculously (sorta) presented itself in the southwest. 38- and 39-Down were, as you might surmise, the starters for this grid; generally, I constructed this one from bottom to top on the right, then from bottom to top on the left.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was in 34-Down… I think that’s a factor of awful luck more than anything. Didn’t seem to hurt their success, tho.

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

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

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Puzzle 100: Freestyle 71. A round number for a square grid.

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!

***GEEKY CROSSWORD CONSTRUCTING CONTENT TO FOLLOW***

The original form of this grid was a bit different than the one you see here. Originally, it wasn’t two 10s stacked with a 15; the two black squares that now divide 14-Down from 25-Down and 6-Down from 26-Down had been stacked below the black square between 1-Across and 6-Across. With the original arrangement, I found that I didn’t have as much room for sparkly longer entries, so I changed it. It would have had the same mean word length, but the word length distribution would have been more even; there weren’t as many longer entries. (I never considered taking out the black square between 1- and 6-Across, though.)

***END OF GEEKY CROSSWORD CONSTRUCTING CONTENT***

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was in 44-Down… nothing should surprise me about that man at this point, though.

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

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

Puzzle 99: Freestyle 70. Fresh out of the can.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.54

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!

Before I say anything else, I would like to offer a big hearty congratulations to Devil Cross’ own Evan Birnholz for getting Merl Reagle’s old gig at the Washington Post! We all know you’ll knock it out of the park, Evan!

1-, 17-, and 61-Across were the starting points from which this grid emerged. (16-Down and 39-Down were from the seed list but they ended up being happy bonuses that I found could fit in where they did.) The part of the grid with which I had the absolute damnedest time was, believe it or not, the section just left of the middle and going up into the upper left corner (the ends of 1-, 2-, and 3-Down). It may not look like it now, but I had a tough time with it. The problem was that I had a lot of options, but none of them seemed to work to my satisfaction (until, obviously, I reached the one you’ll see). The helper squares in the upper right and lower left might have suggested that those would have been the toughest to construct, but I knew early on that I needed those to get what I wanted, and those corners came together nicely after the addition of that pair of squares.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was at 18-Across — that cannot be a good mark on a reputation. A close second was 28-Down; that’s gotta be brutal for the other birds!

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

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

Puzzle 98: Freestyle 69. 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: 5.51

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!

I liked the double-stack format so much that I did it again for this one! This time it was planned from the start. It was a little more challenging this time, though, because the pairs of double stacks are intersecting each other. Sometimes it gets ugly when long stacks have to intersect like that, but I’d like to think that I took care to keep the bad stuff out. (I suppose you’ll be the judge of that, though… right?) Seeds for this puzzle were 17-Across and 31-Down… obviously, I built the two pairs of intersecting stacks and worked from there.

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

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

Puzzle 97: Freestyle 68. It’s a gas, gas, gas!

Last Friday’s Schrödinger’s Words solution

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Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.62

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!

Of course, the thing that’ll hit you in the face when you look at the puzzle is the wide-open middle. Actually, it had been a little LESS wide-open than that. There were five cascading 9’s stacked in the middle originally in my completed grid, but my crossword scruples kept eating at me on one of the 9-letter entries (at the position that’s now 27-Across). I had even clued about half the entries… but I just couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily, I could change it fairly easily — but that involved lengthening the answers in the middle stack. So, instead of 9-9-9-9-9, the stack then became 10-10-9-10-10. Redoing the corners was no big deal, either. Sure, the grid becomes more like three mini-puzzles in one, but I liked the challenge of the wide-open middle stack such that I didn’t mind that sacrifice. I hope you won’t mind it either.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is at 6-Down. It’s amazing, the size of that thing (and what it was used for was pretty cool, too).

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

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

 

 

Puzzle 96: Freestyle 67. And the beat goes on.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42

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!

The reason for this grid was 18-Across. It hadn’t even been on my radar until I went shopping, and saw the book misplaced (or, likely, put there by someone who decided they didn’t want to buy it anymore and was too lazy to bring it back) on the impulse-buy rack near the cash register. It was as if the crossword gods said, “Here. You want a seed entry? Well, here’s one for you right here.” What an amazing story (the actual book, not the story of how I found it).

If you suspected that this grid started life with triple-stacked entries in each corner, you’d be right; how that pair of blocks ended up in the upper right/lower left was purely an accident. I had what are now 15-Across and 18-Across in place, and went to place the cursor in that position without realizing I had the “blocks” button highlighted. So I accidentally put a block there… then I decided, “why not?” and kept it there. It worked out for the better anyway… I hadn’t really been getting anywhere with that corner anyway. I liked that format so much that I put a similar pair of blocks in the upper left/lower right, too.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is at 54-Across. Regardless of where you stand on the eating-meat issue, you’ve got to admit that’s pretty funny.

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

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

 

 

Puzzle 95: Schrödinger’s Words. A crossword with superfluous letters… sort of.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Hey, look! A variety puzzle! Ironically enough, actually, I came up with this idea as I was writing clues for a freestyle crossword that you’ll see soon. I was typing in a word pretty fast on my tablet and must’ve made a typo, because autocorrect kicked in. It wasn’t a groundbreaking discovery, for sure, but I noticed that the word to which the typo was autocorrected had the same spelling as the original word I wanted, but minus its first two letters. So, just like that, I had my idea!

If you’re familiar with Schrödinger’s cat, you’ll understand the title for this puzzle. I’ve given you a grid of interlocking with the only clues inside the grid itself: a bunch of letter pairs. The puzzle is to fill in the grid such that each word is a word whether it’s spelled with or without the given letter pairs. The example I gave inside is this: if you’re given __ __ __ __ (IT) __ within the grid, you could fill in GRAVITY, since it’s also a real English word without the IT (GRAVY). There are multiple ways to fill in some of the words, but the interlock is such that there is only one unique correct solution.

I would call this puzzle on the tough side, but I’ve been wrong before. I think it’s a good challenge for all of you wordsmiths out there.

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

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 66 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

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