Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pleasantville Tournament

Dan Katz Wins Tenth Pleasantville Tournament

Dan Katz proved to be the best puzzler at Friday night's Tenth Annual Pleasantville Crossword Tournament, hosted by Will Shortz and benefitting the Pleasantville Fund For Learning. All three finalists (chosen from the best times on each of three upcoming New York Times puzzles) completed the puzzle for Thursday, November 2 - and I know you will all be talking about this puzzle on Friday, November 3 - in under seven minutes, and Katz had the fastest time.

The Puzzle Brothers also made a statement as team solvers, winning one of three pairs of trophies in the Team competition. (Dave and Bob actually had the best team time on all three puzzles, finishing the Tuesday, October 31 puzzle by Patrick Blindauer ahead of all other competitors.) The two other pairs of trophies were awarded to the runner up solvers on two of the other puzzles. All winning contestants also won their choice of puzzle books from St. Martin's Press, publishers of the New York Times crossword puzzle books.

Among the crossword luminaries acting as judges were former Stamford champions Nancy Schuster and Ellen Ripstein, and ace constructors Jim Page, Paula Gamache, Fred Piscop, Pat Merrell, Frank Longo, and Patrick Blindauer.

Dan Katz photo by Dave Mackey; Puzzle Brothers photo by Tracy Meyer

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Pleasantville Way To Spend An Evening

Pleasantville, New York is best known for being the headquarters of two things: Reader's Digest and Will Shortz.

This Friday, Mr. Shortz runs a puzzle tournament in his own backyard as the 10th Annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament is held at the St. John's Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Avenue. The tournament puzzles will be advance copies of the New York Times puzzles for Monday, October 30 through Thursday, November 2. (This will effectively recuse The Puzzle Brothers from the timed applet for four days.)

The tournament, said to be friendly and informal, will benefit the Pleasantville Fund for Learning. It costs $30 to enter as a single competitor, or $45 to enter in the team competition. Your Puzzle Brothers will be in the team competition.

The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. and for more information, call the Village Bookstore at (914) 769-8322$

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Welcome Back, Cruciverb

After what seemed like an eternity, Kevin McCann's indispensable website is back online. He had been having some major connectivity problems that have just now been rectified.

I would encourage you to give Mr. McCann a little something for your troubles, if you're not already a member. Being a member gives you access to the incredible database of puzzles as well as access to Los Angeles Times puzzles as .puz files, among other niceties.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Robair's Weekend Thank-You's

Now that the dust has settled on the second Community Blood Services Crossword Tournament, it's time for me to publicly thank some people who make events like this the high points of my life.

BONNIE SIROWER: Our gracious, word loving presenter, whose tireless work organizing events like this for CBS is appreciated by not only the folks who help her but most importantly the folks who need the help with anything blood related.

WILL SHORTZ: His presence at these events ultimately give them weight and importance, and we couldn't have a more enthusiastic cheerleader for the formal and informal events he presides over.

NANCY SCHUSTER: One of the many examples of living crossword history we have, full of great stories of her battles with Farrar, her days at Dell, and the bad old days of the ACTP...and as we saw with the six puzzles this weekend, still one hell of a super editor.

HELENE HOVANEC: Though not as hands-on as she is at Stamford, we are comforted by her presence at Ridgewood as well.

ADAM COHEN, PAULA GAMACHE, LIZ GORSKI, PATRICK MERRELL and MICHAEL SHTEYMAN: For crafting a stellar set of first-round puzzles, each with their own winning personality and style.

STAN NEWMAN: For what turned out to be a particularly brain-busting finals -- so much so, in fact, that if you superimposed the three finals boards over each other there would still be letters missing.

HOWARD BARKIN: He was my odds-on favorite to take this thing, as his ascent in competitive solving has been particularly rapid...close to me minute by minute and just squeezed me out of the first-place spot in the finals by one minute. A job well done, Howard, and you will be one to watch in the future.

ELAINE LIPPMAN: Another fantastic solver and returnee to the finals, always brings it every finals. Congratulations on your second-place finish.

ERROL FLYNN: I needed you to unlock that top corner, still barren with two minutes left. Tally Ho, Robin.

THE FIELD: Too many to name by name, but a special huzzah to Barry Weprin for taking the B title.

BOOKENDS: I was not sure that this bookstore would be an apt place to hold this, but apparently it is a heavy hitter in the world of celebrity bookings and maybe one of the last great indie book sellers in the East. Thanks for giving us a nice place to solve.

And all the sponsors who supplied us with food, drink, wine, cheese, wraps.

Two special thank-yous end this thing. A big shout out to my fellow Puzzle Brother Dave, for notching his best-ever finish in a tournament, the first where he did not make an error on a puzzle.

And finally, big thanks to BLOODY, as we have called him, the omnipresent smiley-faced blood drop who pretty much symbolized the weekend and gave us plenty of opportunities for prop comedy. More importantly, he represented the real aim of this weekend: helping people who have had medical problems with their blood, which can often debilitate the entire body. We hope that Bonnie Sirower and her troops can stage this event again next late summer/early fall, because it's a good time for a good cause.