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.


barrywep said...

I echo Bob's comments (particularly to Bonnie for making this happen). I would like to add a thank you to all the contestants (most were Stamford vets) who helped make this so much fun.

pmerrell said...

Congratulations, Bob -- and Dave, too! How do you people do that (solve a puzzle so quickly)?

I brought one of the little spongy "blood drop" characters home for my daughter, and we've christened him Bloody Buddy (whether that's his name or not).

Patrick Merrell

pmerrell said...

Hey, and congratulations to Barry, too, while I'm at it.


Howard B said...

Just doing a quick post before work. Congrats to all of you, Rob on the A win, Barry on the B, and Dave for a hell of a good run as well.

Thanks for the enjoyable puzzle, Patrick, I enjoyed that along with the other constructors' creations on Saturday. (Yes, even Stan's little slice of a sadistic Saturday Stumper). Someday I'll try my hand at the consrtucting thing, but it always amazes me how you come up with both theme and fill. (Bloody Buddy, aw, that's cute. Perhaps a seed for a future theme?)
Incidentally, someone left a poor little extra blood drop during cleanup, which I adopted and soon hope to find a good home. If not, maybe he'll pay a visit to Stamford.

Thanks again, and have a good one (whatever 'one' may be).

Orange said...

Congrats to Bob and Barry! And to Howard, who I thought would win this tournament.

I want a crack at this Stan puzzle with the A clues—anyone know how I might come by a copy?

Howard B said...

Thanks to all the people I forgot earlier, I echo Barry's echo of Bob.
A toast of glögg* with extra umlaut to you all.

Not sure what they do with those puzzles. I have a hard copy but no scanner here, but maybe someone else has a way to send over a copy, unless you'd like one snail-mailed. Let me know if there's some way to get that to you, or if someone else can pass it along.

For what it's worth, from what I heard I think we were pretty even on that last puzzle, and Bob as well as Elaine broke through to a corner at the end somewhere (correct me if I'm wrong).
When I looked over the solution and my solving afterwards (as I'll do when I run into a really tough one), I only found one other clue that I should have solved. I think my puzzle stayed basically the same from about the 7-8 minute mark until the end; just over half-done. Started off OK, and just had nowhere to go, blocked in all directions.

Crunchy Stan Newman goodness; very specific clues about movies, actors, and songs before my time which I didn't know, along with nice vague clues for the other words. I had no chance at that point :). (I'm terrible at his puzzles, although normally I do at least break through them). Given another hour I would have had only one more word.

Anyway, my original question here was, I wonder how this puzzle would have compared to the Stamford A/B/C final puzzles in terms of difficulty. I don't have enough knowledge to make a judgement, but I am curious.

* part of one of the final puzzle clues.

pmerrell said...

Nancy Schuster asked me to post this for her:

Bob, thanks so much for your very kind words of praise! I think the judges and constructors did great. The solvers were terrific, as shown by your scores. We thank Bonnie too for providing the opportunity of another tournament, and for the best cause!

Please pass the word that I have all the puzzles in PDF format in my computer and I'll gladly e-mail some or all to anyone who asks. (

"Nancy -- an example of living crossword history." (that's good, right?) :-)

barrywep said...

Certaily the "living" part is better thn the alternative.