Sunday, March 09, 2014

DAMN, FEYER

Dan Feyer Extends Streak To 5 Wins In A Row

Michael Sharp put it best when he tweeted after the ACPT this year....


For the fifth year in a row, Dan Feyer was the fastest and smartest solver at the 37th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, ringing down the curtain on a seven year run at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott.

Dan's solve of the Mike Shenk finals puzzle was smooth as anything previously seen by the newly transplanted Californian, handily beating competitors Tyler Hinman (second place) and Howard Barkin (third place). All three solvers were perfect on the final puzzle.

Not so B division.

Benjamin Coe emerged triumphant over Kevan Choset and Andy Kravis, the latter two of whom made the same exact mistake on the puzzle. There's quite a difference between LAO and TAO, isn't there? Oh, WAO.

Your other winners:

Remainder of Top Ten: Joon Pahk, Anne Erdmann, Jon Delfin, Erik Agard, David Plotkin, Francis Heaney, Ellen Ripstein
C: Michael Megargee
D: Chris Popp
E: Maureen Kildee
Rookie: Megargee
Junior: Agard
Fifties: Erdmann
Sixties: Ripstein
Seventies: Doug Hoylman
Senior: Bob Rubin
West: Feyer
Connecticut: Glen Ryan
NE: Pahk
NYC: Delfin
LI: Thomas Weisswange
Upstate NY: David Heinick
NJ: Howard Barkin, then Robert Mackey
Mid-Atlantic: Agard
South: David Plotkin
Midwest: Erdmann
Foreign: Emily O'Neill

The handwriting award was noteworthy because for the first time it was won by a man - Jeremy Lin. (No, this guy wasn't the basketball player.)

The 2015 ACPT will be March 27-29, 2015 in Stamford, Connecticut. Beat you to the breakfast buffet!

UNOFFICIAL: DAN FEYER DOES IT AGAIN

Five time champion and the once and future king of Brooklyn!

Playoff Puzzle Participants

C - Matt Sandler, David Heinick, Michael Megargee
B - Benjamin Coe, Kevan Choset, Andy Kravis
A - Howard Barkin, Tyler Hinman, Dan Feyer

Talent Show underway....

Some good talent so far from the likes of Tommy Lee Cook, Ben Bass and Vic Fleming, as the final scores and rankings are computed. The play by play on the finals puzzles will appear on Twitter (@thepuzbros), with recaps here.

DAY 1 ACPT RECAP

The Saturday session of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament 2014 edition has ended. Here's how things are shaking out....

The six puzzles so far have shown three familiar names atop the leaderboard: Dan Feyer, Tyler Hinman and Howard Barkin, with the B leaders being Andy Kravis, Adam Cohen and Kevan Choset.

Not a lot of controversy with this year's puzzles, which in order of appearance, were authored by Kelly Clark, Patrick Blindauer, Merl Reagle, MaryEllen Uthlaut, Brendan Emmett Quigley, and Anna Shechtman, other than the usual bad crossings and general hard feelings about that fifth puzzle. Neither Puzzle Brother  successsfully completed that puzzle. Bob is presently in 34th place and Dave 121st.

The Saturday evening activities involved a game of  Clever Clues. Will had three words,  NEST, ELOPE and ARSON and had actual NYT clues with only the first letter of each given. If you got it off the first letter only you gave yourself 10 points. The second letter of each word was then added, and if you got it then, you scored 5. The winners of that contest were Doug Hoylman, followed closely by Thomas Weisswange and Jonathan Olsen.

David Steinberg was up next with a brief talk about the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project. David and his team of litzers have now completed the daily NYT puzzles (which began in 1950) and are as far back as 1948 with the Margaret Farrar-edited Sunday puzzles. "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel," noted David, who now needs proofreaders to make sure the litzing is accurate. The project has had some unexpected benefits such as confirming the first puzzle constructed by Bernice Gordon, which was litzed by Howard Barkin and included the first use of the entry MAMIEEISENHOWER. That was back in 1953. David also noted that during the Shortz era there has actually been a decline in the number of female constructors, mostly due to the adoption of computer construction software.

Finally, Matt Ginsberg presented an updated version of his Dr. Fill computer-solving software chalk talk, complete with a demonstration of all six tournament puzzles so far. Some of the puzzles were perfectly solved, some were not.

Festivities resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME with puzzle 7!

Friday, March 07, 2014

BYE BYE BROOKLYN

Greetings and welcome to the 37th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, almost live from Brooklyn.... for the last time. Will Shortz announced in an interview with the New York Times Wordplay columnist Deb Amlen that the tournament will return to the Stamford Marriott in Connecticut on March 27-29, 2015.

Lots of excitement around the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott as for the final time we look forward to two days of crossword competition. The big question remains (as it has for the last three years) "can Dan Feyer make it (number of tournaments won +1) in a row?"

Consider in the past decade, all the time I've been going to these tournaments, there have been only two champions: Tyler Hinman (2005-2009) and Dan Feyer (2010-2013). Will someone new come to the fore?

Be that as it may, here is your A-list of 28 contenders (of 555 pre-registered contestants):

Erik Agard
Howard Barkin
John Beck
Kathie Conarck
Jon Delfin
Len Elliott
Anne Erdmann
Dan Feyer
Peter Gordon
Katie Hamill
Francis Heaney
Tyler Hinman
Eric LeVasseur
Frank Longo
Robert Mackey
Eric Maddy
Joon Pahk
Doug Peterson
David Plotkin
Amy Reynaldo
Ellen Ripstein
Glen Ryan
Al Sanders
Jeffrey Schwartz
Ken Stern
Scott Weiss
John Wilson
Stella Zawistowski

The Carnival of Puzzles has concluded with co-winners Robert Mackey and Al Sanders.

For the latest on the tournament follow @thepuzbros on Twitter!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN - ACPT B Finals Replay Gives Bob Mackey His Fifth Westchester Championship

Bob Mackey realized early on that the finals of the 17th Westchester Crossword Tournament would most likely be a replay of the ACPT "B" division finals from this past March in Brooklyn and let everyone know it (the word "jinx" not being in his vocabulary). Scanning the room, he found Jeff Schwartz and Glenn Ryan, who harbored much the same desire. Nowhere to be found was defending champion Thomas Weisswange.

Glenn Ryan was the first clean finisher on the Monday NY Times puzzle from the forthcoming week, a construction by Ian Livengood. If not for one wrong letter, Bob Mackey would have qualified on the Tuesday puzzle of Joel Fagliano. Jeff Schwartz was the first eligible correct solver. And for the third puzzle, the Wednesday, October 2 by Paula Gamache, it was Bob as the last announced finalist, finishing just behind the already-qualified Jeff. The finals were set.

In spite of an early pen problem, Bob steadily worked through the Thursday puzzle - a nice rebus from first time NYT contributor Evan Birnholz - while the other two lagged behind, with Glenn out in front first, and Jeff eventually overtaking him in what little drama the finals had. Bob finished clean in a little over eight minutes, even with the pen mishap, to capture his fifth Westchester Crossword Tournament title (sixth if you count the doubles title in 2006).

Kudos to Will Shortz for keeping this tournament lively and interesting with the addition of a table tennis playoff for the top finishers on the Gamache puzzle. Afterwards, Westchester Table Tennis Club co-owner and resident pro Robert Roberts treated us to a demonstration.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WESTCHESTER TIME AGAIN

The cooler weather and turning trees mean only one thing - Westchester time is upon us! Will Shortz is again hosting his hometown Westchester Crossword Tournament at his Westchester Table Tennis Club, in Pleasantville. The 17th tournament, to be held Friday, September 27 beginning at 7:30 p.m., will again benefit the Pleasantville Fund For Learning.

Donationa to compete are $30 for single, $45 for doubles pair, or $5 if you just want to watch.

Competitors will tackle the next three Monday-Wednesday New York Times puzzles, then the top finisher on each puzzle (perfect in the quickest time) will solve the Thursday puzzle on stage using the familiar white boards.

Additionally, this year there will also be a crossword/table tennis biathlon. The top four finishers at crosswords who sign up for the biathlon will face off in table tennis to determine the biathlon champion.

Last year's singles champion was Thomas Weisswange. More information available at www.pffl.org.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Al Sanders Takes Lollapuzzoola 6 Express Title

The image most people have in their brains of Al Sanders is the overconfident man who raises his hand to indicate "done" at the 2005 ACPT, only to realize he's left two squares blank in 1-Across, throwing his headset to the ground in frustration. We've all seen that movie before. (Except maybe for Oscar Cimmet.)

Yesterday, the ACPT perennial flew in from Colorado to participate in Lollapuzzoola 6 in New York City, and wound up besting another cross-country commuter, Trip Payne, and Francis Heaney in the onstage finals of the "Express Division", roughly equivalent to A- and B- class ACPT contestants.

Jonathan Brown wound up the winner of the "Local Division", defeating Erin Milligan and Angela Halsted (who was found to be the tournament's sole 6-time participant and the analogue to Jay Kasofsky at the ACPT). The extremely tough finals puzzle was constructed by Joon Pahk, who was unable to attend to defend his title from last year.

The tournament was under the capable supervision of co-creator Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer, who replaced co-creator Ryan Hecht a few years ago, and over the six years of its existence it has steadily attracted more top solvers around the country, including fourth place finisher Amy Reynaldo, the aforementioned Payne and Sanders, and Katie Hamill from Boston among others. This year's tournament set a record with over 150 solvers, including past ACPT winners Jon Delfin and Ellen Ripstein. The judges included the likes of Dan Feyer and Anne Erdmann.

In keeping with the tournament's irreverent streak, prize trophies featured figurines from such unrelated disciplines as karate and gymnastics (but were engraved for the first time) as well as leftover ACPT trophies. Clever word games helped fill the time and there was a metapuzzle that was related to the five crosswords solved by everyone.

More tournament information and pictures may be found at http://www.bemoresmarter.com.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ACPT Returning To Stamford?

After the ACPT's contract with the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott expires with the 2014 tournament, Will Shortz is seriously considering a return to the tournament's original home, the Stamford (CT) Marriott.

We encourage you to leave your comments on that page, so much so that we've disabled comments for this post. Bob has yet to weigh in on the matter, but my vote is for a return to Stamford.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

FANTASTIC FEYER

Dan Feyer does it again, but it was no walk in the park this year. Dan snagged his fourth American Crossword Puzzle Tournament championship in a squeaker over second place finisher Anne Erdmann, but third place finisher Tyler Hinman did not finish the puzzle in the alloted 20 minutes (yes, the puzzle was THAT TOUGH this year, so Will tacked on an extra five minutes.)

Dan was consistently on top of his game throughout the tournament, increasing his lead on the final three puzzles he solved to solidly take the first berth in the tournament. All three puzzlers found the bottom left corner particularly sticky in Kevin G. Der's tournament puzzle, but Dan was able to conquer it on the heels of a faster-moving Erdmann. Tyler finally finished his puzzle after the time was up, but the five-time champion had the crowd pulling for him to finish.

B: MOST SMARTEST

Robert Mackey returned to the B finals for the first time since 1998 and became only the second repeat B champion - the only other one was Randy Ross, who won in 1992 and 1996. Robert beat a consistent Westchester Tournament nemesis, Jeffrey Schwartz, and rookie Glen Ryan, who's still trying to find the number of that truck that hit him. Robert's win was quick and convincing, with one Twitter commentator noting that "he made it seem like a Tuesday puzzle".

Other winners today:
C: Benjamin Coe
D: Vegavahini Subramaniam
E: Matthew Paranto
Junior: David Plotkin
50's: Erdmann
60's: Ellen Ripstein
70's: Len Elliott
Senior: Bob Rubin
West: Hinman
Connecticut: Ryan
New York: Feyer
New Jersey: Barkin
Long Island: Thomas Weisswange
New England: Joon Pahk
Upstate NY: Michael Sharp ("Rex Parker")
Mid-Atlantic: Eric Agard
South: Plotkin
Midwest: Erdmann
Foreign: Emily O'Neill
Handwriting: Judy Cole

The 37th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be the same weekend next year - March 7-9.