Puzzle 5: Freestyle 3. It’s nice to have options.

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the “harder clues” PDF here!

Get the “harder clues” PUZ here!

Get the “easier clues” PDF here!

Get the “easier clues” PUZ here!

Word count: 71
Mean word length: 5.86

Before I get to talking about the puzzle, a big hearty thanks goes out to George Barany for the link to Club 72. Go check out the work of George Barany and Friends (I am a proud contributor to that site too!), as well as everyone in the sidebar!

This one I expanded to 16×15 for, I hope you’ll see, quite obvious reasons. Those two 16s were just asking to be put in a freestyle… I don’t think you need to ask what the seeds for this one were!

So… here at Club 72, I aim to please! As promised in my “about my puzzles” page, this is the first of many times where I’ll provide an “easier” set of clues to go with the normal “harder” difficulty set. As usual, the “harder” set aims for a New York Times Saturday or harder level, but I aimed for a hard-Tuesday or easy-Wednesday strength with the “easier” set. My suggestion for everyone: if you’re a pen-to-paper solver, even if you don’t think you’re at Saturday solving level yet, print out the “harder” clues on one side of the paper and the “easier” clues on the other side. Start with the “harder” side, see how far you can get with it, and refer to the “easier” side when you need a boost. Or, if you prefer, download both the “harder” and “easier” Across Lite files, have them both open at the same time, and only refer to the “easier” set when you’re stuck. And, when you’re done, compare the “easier” clues with their corresponding “harder” clues. I promise, I toned down the “easier” clues quite a bit, but there’s still a bit of a challenge.

Since I wanted to still keep this under 72 despite the extra column, this was at the outer limits of my manual construction skill. I swear I needed the corner cheater squares, because I swear the upper left, for some odd reason, had only one way to fill from 39-Across, 20-Across, and the ends of 5- and 6-Down without partial phrases. I spent a LOT of time trying to make things work in that corner. That was the limiting factor: I had no trouble filling the lower right, no matter the square configuration (as long as I had one square dividing the answers at 28- and 45-Down). The upper left… that was a big problem for some reason. You wouldn’t think that, with 20-Across, the last letter of 5-Down, the last letter of 6-Down, and the first three letters of 39-Across in place, it would be that difficult. But it got to the point that I even had THREE squares lining the first column at one point (the one in the middle that you see, plus one on top of it and one on the bottom of it) before I decided to relent and put one in the corner. (That was my last option before ripping that whole half out.) I’m glad I did, because I was getting nowhere until I put that black block in the corner. I probably should have started in the upper left and lower right corners and worked from there, but things kinda rolled along from the Northeast and I ended up constraining the corners instead. Well, it worked out in the end anyway.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is that both of those quotes, in the easier and harder levels, came from that particular source in 39-Across.

A couple of things about the cluing: I was SO HAPPY to find another angle to clue 21-Down (in the harder clues), because I really wasn’t so thrilled initially to put that answer in the puzzle. After I discovered the clue, I’m glad I did. 31-Down’s clue caused Christine to have an aha moment, and it’s probably my favorite of the harder clues. I hope it creates an aha moment with you. Also, I found the juxtaposition of the clues for 16-Across and 17-Across interesting and fortunate, because it says something very interesting about the English vernacular. I liked that so much that I kept both clues in both the easier and harder versions.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight? What difference does it make whether I take out the trash now or later? What gift can you get for the proctologist in your life who has everything?

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

Puzzle 4: Going Numberless. Because, in crosswords, location is everything.

(When I get a chance like this to plug my favorite band, I’ve got to do it, no?)

Last week’s A Capital Idea solution

Get the PDF here!

Call me crazy, but I think this just might work. Now, a regular crossword does require a bit of logic to complete, but I’ve upped the ante on the logic with this. As you’ll see, I’ve given you two (small, 9×9) grids, I’ve given you the clues… but I haven’t given you any numbers. You’ve got to figure out not only what the answers are, but also where the answers go. The point of these puzzles is to use some logic to hammer away at the interlock until all the answers fall into place. I intend for this to be a tough but fair challenge. Let me know… was this unfair? Or was it too easy? Did things fall into place? How did you do?

I downgraded the difficulty of the clues (I pretty much had to) and I didn’t include any obscure words or other crosswordese that you wouldn’t find outside of crossword puzzles. As you’ll see, I gave you two different puzzles with two different levels of difficulty, in which the clues are listed in alphabetical order two different ways: one by their answers, and the other by the clues itself.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday (this time with clue numbers!). The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 2 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Can I refill your beverage? Who do I call if our house has a broken grazzlewhacker? What do I do if I adopt a dog, but find out that it only communicates in Russian?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 3: Freestyle 2. So what’s the buzz?

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.44

Before I get to anything else, I would like to thank greatly Chris King, Evan Birnholz, Sam Ezersky, and Todd McClary for their generous pluggings and links on their respective websites. Go visit them and all the other fine crossword sites you see on the left!

Thanks for the feedback I received over multiple forms of communication about last week’s puzzles. I appreciate all of it!

The first thing I can say about this puzzle is that, no, BuzzFeed didn’t actually publish something called “12 Amazing Things Ferrets Do For The Ecuadorian Economy”. Somebody, please write that parody article on Clickhole. *beginning slight potential spoiler alert* This was obviously one of the seed entries, although, ahem, a certain other popular indie constructor known by three names (though I won’t mention the name) beat me to it by ONE DAY. *end slight potential spoiler alert* The only other seed was its symmetrical opposite at 63-Across. I was shocked to find that the entry at 35-Down hadn’t been used, according to the Matt Ginsberg clue database.

This puzzle’s construction went along very smoothly in three of the corners and the middle but then GOOD GOD THE NORTHEAST. I don’t know why it was so hard to build that corner, but it didn’t seem like any of the eight-letter stacks I tried were meshing quite right with any good six-letter stacks, and THEN… I discovered that I had a duplicate INTERSECTING WITH ITS OTHER DUPE (7-Down and 15-Across had dupes for the longest time, and for some ungodly reason I didn’t notice the dupes staring me smack in the face)! So I had basically spent all that time on a corner that bled into the middle, and now I had a bad entry in that middle that caused me to rip out a whole already-built corner (the southwest) to fix. Luckily, I added a cheater square, which actually made the southwest better than it was before and enabled me to build the dreaded northeast more easily.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is a tie: I don’t remember at all that Dominos tried to make a pizza with… well, that… and that the character at 56-Across was a Bon Jovi fan. Maybe you knew both of those things, but they were oddly fascinating to me.

Also, there might be one answer in this puzzle that I have a feeling my aforementioned indie crossword colleague Sam Ezersky might just get right away… amirite?

One more thing… the clue for 38-Across, like the rest of this puzzle, had been set in stone for days, until I had another one of those roll-over-in-the-middle-of-the-night epiphanies the night before this post that forced me to write it down and, in the morning, change the doc, PUZ, and PDF that I had already gotten set and uploaded. I was so excited about that clue that it was totally worth the effort for me to change that one clue and re-upload both files just to have that new clue. I won’t tell you what the original one was (I liked that one too, just not as much) because I just may use it again sometime.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Did I forget to turn off the light in the basement? What’s a good pet name for a parakeet who doesn’t shut up? How could you call that pass interference when he barely touched the guy?!

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 2: A Capital Idea. Because I’m more than just acrosses and downs.

Get the PDF here!

Here at Club 72, we’re (which is to say, I’m) not all about the crossword puzzle. Mostly… but not all. I aim to entertain, puzzlically (puzzlewise? puzzlifyingly?) speaking, in multiple ways and on multiple levels. From time to time, and they’ll usually be posted on a Friday evening, you’ll see other puzzles of the wordplay ilk here. (Who knows, you may even see a stray crossword pop up on Fridays, too.) Case in point, this.

Remember that blurb there in “about me” where I say that I don’t know how my wife is putting up with this? Well, this is one of those times where I was lying awake and had a thought. I noticed that Berlin, Germany had a word hidden inside of it: linger. I rolled over and wrote it down, probably awakening Christine in the process. I then went scouring through the list of world capitals (the next day, of course) and listed every one that had a “linking” word like this that I thought that at least someone might know. I left out the really obscure ones, so you won’t have to worry about struggling to remember the capitals of Papua New Guinea or Swaziland. Unless you’re from there, of course. Still and all, it would be VERY impressive to get all 35 of these.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 1 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Who is that masked man? Where do babies come from? Which tie goes better with this vest?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 1: Freestyle 1. I’m goin’ indie, man.

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.57

Welcome, one and all! I’ll save the intros; you can read all you care to know (and some stuff you don’t care to know) about me and about my puzzles on the links up there in the upper right (right there? no, higher… little bit to the right… no, you’re too high now… yup, you found ’em).

I’m hoping for my personality to come out in my puzzles, and what better way to do that in my first one on this site than with this 15-letter spanner? I just couldn’t wait to put that one in the puzzle from the moment I realized it was 15 letters long. The seeds were that one (35-Across) and 64-Across… not to say there weren’t some other happy entries that came along in the process. And no… the adjacency of 30-Across and 33-Across was not planned; I didn’t even realize it until well after the whole thing was completed and I clued that area.

I honestly didn’t need all four corner black squares in building the puzzle; I only really needed the ones in the NE and SW, and then decided that it didn’t look quite right without the other pair. I consider crossword building an art in and of itself; that kinda gives it that nice “framed” look. My favorite thing that I learned from making this puzzle (I hope to have at least one of these things I can share with you in every puzzle) was the factoid I used for the clue at 26-Across. Nonhuman animals think of the darnedest things.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Why did God invent hashtags?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!