Monday, June 11, 2018
puzzle 59: "home at last (freestyle 29)"
finally home from the indie 500, which was a lot of fun. saw a lot of old crossword friends, made some new crossword friends, had a stupid error on the fifth puzzle that knocked me out of the finals, and overall had a lot of fun. if you haven't already solved the puzzles, ten dollars will get you a lot of fun. for what it's worth, my favorites were the final puzzle, by lily silverstein and erik agard, and puzzle three, mall shook up, by laura braunstein.
speaking of laura, she blogged my fireball meta from last week, which i'm pretty sure i forgot to plug last week. if you're a fireball subscriber, i'd love to hear what you thought of the puzzle, good or bad; if you're not, you should be.
now, for some thoughts on this puzzle, which was a long time in the constructing. as you can probably guess, the center stack was the seed for this. the main problem with building around themed stacks is that there is no flexibility in switching out words, so you have to work with all the letter combinations that you're given. and odds are, with two long entries, that they won't all be nice. in this case, the first pair constrained a lot of things, and quite a few of the rest had few options given the length + two letters already present. (as a side note: i had the same challenges in my themeless in the queer qrosswords pack.)
and i'll be honest: i did not expect this grid to work at first. it didn't work when i had triple eights in the upper right and lower left corners (fun challenge: figure out what that first down entry in the lower left would've been), and making hard corners bigger rarely works. usually you change the square pattern: move them around, add in more, or both. but, somehow, going to triple nines worked, and the rest came together, and here we are. i hope you enjoy it.