# Puzzle 70: Freestyle 44. We have reached cruising altitude.

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.44

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For some reason, I was in a mood to put my major stacks in the upper right and lower left instead of the usual opposite. It was a new way to approach things, if nothing else. The two main seeds were 16-Across and 60-Across, with 27- and 44-Across manifesting themselves over the process of construction. It’s different putting the stacks on the opposite side of the grid as usual, because the intersecting stacks are in different places than I’m used to doing — in the top stack, the intersecting 7-stack was at the end, as opposed to the beginning with how I usually have done it. I’d hazard a guess that most freestyle stack puzzles begin with the stack in the upper left/lower right; I think this is because the marquee answer tends to be at the top of the stack and many constructors like to put the marquee answer at 1-Across.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was all about 27-Across. Without giving too much away, this football club is pretty interesting to learn about, and I recommend you read up about it (after you solve the puzzle, of course).

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 freestyle puzzle on Friday!

# Puzzle 69: Word and Variations. Your chance to play “word detective”.

Last Friday’s Freestyle 42 solution

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Get the “harder version” PDF here!

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Did you ever have one of those “déjà vu” moments where you come up with an idea, but you swear you’ve seen something like that before and yet you just can’t place it or even find it on Google? Anyway… whatever it is, wherever the idea came from, I’ve got what I think is an interesting puzzle for you. The crux of the puzzle is this: I’ve thought of 25 “mystery words”, each one of which has an anagram, a synonym, and a rhyme. I’ve given the anagram, synonym, and rhyme of each of the 25 individual words (not in sequence, of course) and your goal is to figure out each of the 25 mystery words.

There are two versions, an “easier” and a “harder” version. In the “easier” version, 75 words are split off into three columns, with each column arranged in alphabetical order. Using your linguistic logic, pick the one word from each column — one of them is the anagram, one the rhyme, and one the synonym, whose order is for you to determine — that leads to each “mystery word”. In the “harder” version, the same 75 words are all arranged in alphabetical order, not with any particular columnar arrangement. That is, instead of picking one word from each column as in the easier version, you’ll have to find the three words for each “mystery word” somewhere in the list, in no particular order. In both cases, each word listed will be used exactly once. The directions for each will explain in more detail… I just want you to know what you’re getting into before you choose “easier” or “harder”.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 43 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 68: Freestyle 43. I don’t mean to be upfront.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46

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 seed answers for this grid were 21-Across, 49-Across, and 3-Down. This was a little bit more difficult to construct not because there are two fewer words than usual, but because there are more three-letter words than usual. I had to be very careful that there weren’t too many, if any, clunkers in the threes. It had been a 72-word puzzle, but then I happened to discover that I could take out a pair of black squares (where 18-Across and 56-Across are now) and make perfectly good 15-letter entries from the 8s that were already in place! I don’t usually willingly reduce the word count, but this made the vocabulary in the puzzle definitely more interesting… so why not?

Oh, and I couldn’t resist… I live in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, so I just had to namecheck Berkshire County, England with the clue at 50-Down.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is in 35-Across. I was looking at a map and happened to notice this town, and my foreign language classes from way back kicked in.

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 67: Freestyle 42. It just got real up in here…

Last week’s Double and Nothing solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

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The original seed for this puzzle is at 17-Across (believe it or not, it wasn’t 1-Across, though that was one of the seeds).  You probably know what they are, you’ve seen them all over the place, you’re probably familiar with the concept, but you may or may not know that they had a name.

The night before this post, I actually saw a (very well-acted) “Shakespeare in the Park” version of “Romeo and Juliet”. When I heard the line at 16-Across, the light bulb went off in my head because I remembered that I used that line in the clue. What’s more is that this wasn’t even the reason that I picked that puzzle for this post. It’s always whatever grid I have in my queue that strikes me the most at that particular moment, unless I have a more time-sensitive topic. So it really was pure coincidence.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is at 6-Down. Well, it wasn’t from this puzzle, it was from a feature I watched a while ago on one of those science stations with the high channel numbers. That fact I included in the clue isn’t the only fascinating thing about that parrot by far.

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 66: Freestyle 41. You won’t have to look far to find the truth.

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.28

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 unusual structure of this grid owes to a step I had to take when I was not satisfied with the way things were going in a previous arrangement of the black squares. Specifically, I’m talking about the zigzag in the middle. Originally, the black square in the dead center of the grid and the one above and below it weren’t there — it was two “T” shapes that made the middle three rows 6/8, 15, and 8/6 in length. At that point, all four corners, 3-Down, and 10-Down were fixed. I just wasn’t finding a grid spanner that made the rows above it and below it work. Actually, I spent way too much time trying to make it work, truth be told, until I slapped my forehead (not metaphorically… I really did) and formed the zigzag shape you see.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is in 57-Across. Sometimes company names are named after their founder, but this takes it a step further.

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 65: Double And Nothing. The score of this puzzle is two to nothing.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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It’s another one of these puzzles that tests a different area of the brain from the crosswords. We’ve got the “two missing words” style of puzzle here again, and the relationship between the words this time is that one of them is the other minus its pairs of double letters (like, in the example I gave inside, SUppREss and SURE). The pair that I was most amused in finding was the one in #10; I was also particularly amused that the pair in #21 could be used in either order with the meaning of the sentence unchanged.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 40 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

# Puzzle 64: Freestyle 40. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

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!

First and foremost, I’d like to give a nice shout to Andrew Ries for his review of (and links to) several other independent puzzle sites, including mine.

Two 14-letter entries form the backbone of this puzzle. 14s constrain the structure of a grid so much, one way or another; they force either a whole bunch of black squares or a significant crossing stack of at least seven letters. Fortunately, I found two 14s that were worth using enough that I didn’t really care what I had to do to make them work.

I had two other interlocking seeds at 7-Down and 27-Down — well, I started with something different at 27-Down, but, luckily, I was able to change the first four letters of that entry because the middle section just wasn’t working out with my original seed entry. Usually, it takes a crowbar and the world’s strongest man to pry constructors away from their seed entries, but I would have had to make some pretty bad not-worth-it (to me, anyways) sacrifices to make the middle work with my original seed.

On that same topic, the same decision of whether or not to use that crowbar came into play elsewhere in the puzzle. I discovered a dupe (a minor dupe to me, a three-letter word) in the puzzle, but removing it would necessitate removal of a really nice (to me) entry. Weighing my options, I decided to keep the dupe, because I like the corner I have quite a bit better than any alternative corner without that dupe. You’ll see when you solve it.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is in 42-Down, of course. I saw it in one source and I just didn’t believe it until I confirmed it by seeing it in several more sources.

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!