Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Puzzle Brother and The Puzzle Wife

As regular visitors to the site know, I've been involved with one of the greatest ladies I've ever known, Tracy Meyer, for quite some time. This past Friday, we became man and wife.

Another thing that we'll be linking to here is Robert's best-man speech, which I think wordplay freaks will enjoy. Our friend Harry McCracken will be putting it up on YouTube soon.

And please be sure to give Mrs. Mackey her congrats when you see her at the Brooklyn tournament, now just 61 days away!

Photo by Jennifer Malpass

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Samantha Who?" Star's Passion For Crosswords - REVEALED!

The yearend issue of Entertainment Weekly reveals that "Samantha Who?" star Christina Applegate is a newly uncloseted crossword freak.

The solve of choice for Christina, also well-known for her role as Kelly Bundy on "Married... with Children" and her co-starring role in the movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy", is the New York Times crossword, and she has gotten a number of her castmates and crew members involved in crossword solving.

We'd love to see Christina at the big tournament someday, the 31st edition of which is beginning nine weeks from today, on February 29.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Things To Do In Brooklyn

Hey, ACPT attendees! (Yeah, I know it's only December.) You don't have to be stuck in the hotel all weekend. There's a lot to see, do and eat not far from the hotel, whether it's a walk or a bus or subway ride away. Three Brooklyn denizens well known in the world of puzzling - Stella Daily, Francis Heaney and Ken Stern - have created a guide to Brooklyn (Adobe Acrobat Reader required!) with lots of tips on local eateries and even some cultural events if the Saturday entertainment proves to be not what you're looking for.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mr. Mackey Meets Mr. Simon And Mr. Schuster

I am pleased to announce that I have sold my first puzzle to Simon & Schuster. A 19x entitled "Stretching Reality" will be appearing in S&S's Mega Crossword Book #3, to be released in October 2008.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Crossworders & Politics: Not Such Strange Bedfellows

It's Commissioner Heller and Councilwoman Gamache.

In elections held today, Doug Heller, who assists Will Shortz with the administration of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, was elected Commissioner in Springfield Township, which is in Montgomery Township. Paula Gamache, a constructor who has recently done some great puzzles for CrosSynergy, was one of three candidates who ran unopposed for seats on the Rye, New York city council. Congrats to both successful candidates!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Watch Patrick Jordan on Crosswords

On Friday, in those cities that still get two episodes of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords", competition solver and top constructor Patrick Jordan appeared as a contestant. Nancy Shack has made this YouTube presentation possible. Here are the links to the two parts of his appearance...

Part One

Part Two

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Westchester Tournament Report


Nancy Taubenslag, Jeff Schwartz Take Second, Third Places

Bob Mackey unquestionably earned his place on the podium at tonight's 11th Annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, hosted by Will Shortz and held at the St. John's Episcopal Church in Pleasantville. Although he backed into his podium placing as a result of a first-finisher's gaffe on the Tuesday, October 30 puzzle, he did finish the third puzzle in record time. Nancy Taubenslag had the first puzzle nailed (Dave Mackey was a very close second), and Jeff Schwartz was the third puzzle's representative.

All three competitors did the Thursday, November 1 puzzle perfectly, but Mackey finished first to take his first-ever Westchester title. Taubenslag was second, Schwartz was third.

Other winners of stuff at the tournament, which benefitted the Pleasantville Fund For Learning, included:

Team Winners: 1. Alyssa Jacobs/Maria Pouvin; 2. Amy Berg/Mike Robinson; 3. Don Wasson/Susan Faber
Under 25: Oliver Hill (17-year-old who just had his first NYT puzzle published)
Seniors: Casey Julian
Pleasantville: David Bethian
Rookie: Jack Martin

The puzzles were constructed by Fred Piscop, Gary Steinmehl, Ken Stern and Larry Shearer.

Head judge Stan Kurzban headed a team which included three former winners at the ACPT: Nancy Schuster, Miriam Raphael, and Ellen Ripstein. Also aboard: Patrick Merrell, Adam Cohen, Paula Gamache, Mike Nothnagel, Patrick Blindauer, Frank Longo, Tony Orbach, David Kahn, Dave Tuller, Meredith Mennett of St. Martin's Press, and the aforementioned Messrs. Piscop and Stern.

A gallery of pictures is now up.

Photo by Dave Mackey - and yes, we doctored up that grid so we don't spoil the puzzles

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Snyder Bests 857 In Sudoku Championship

Dr. Thomas Snyder solved the final puzzle in a few ticks over 7 minutes to win the first-ever U.S. Sudoku Championship today in Philadelphia and the $10,000 grand prize. 857 contestants were involved in the one-day tournament, significantly more than the number that competed at last year's ACPT.

11th Westchester Tournament Next Friday

The Puzzle Brothers would like to remind you that next Friday, October 26, is the 11th annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which will be held in the community room of the St. John's Episcopal Church in Pleasantville, at 7:30 p.m.

The tournament will once again be hosted by the one and only Will Shortz, a resident of Pleasantville. Many important editors, constructors and solvers are expected at the event as either contestants or judges.

Again, the tournament will consist of the four New York Times puzzles from Monday-Thursday of the following week. The first three puzzles are played at tables and the fourth puzzle is used as a ACPT-style stage playoff for the individual championship.

Prizes including crossword books from The Village Bookstore will be given in several categories including individual (won last year by Dan Katz) and three awards for team play (winners included The Puzzle Brothers).

There will also be a dessert buffet afterwards, so come hungry. Be sure to say hello to The Puzzle Brothers and the future Mrs. Puzzle Brother!

UPDATE: Tracy, unfortunately, is not able to come tonight. She will however be at Brooklyn and you can congratulate her on becoming Mrs. Puzzle Brother at that time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Los Angeles Times Obituary For Barry Tunick

Here is the obit as run in the LA Times for its crossword creator, Barry Tunick. The longtime writing partner of Sylvia Bursztyn died on Saturday in Culver City, California at the age of 72. The obit also notes that Tunick had enough crosswords stockpiled to last through next February, at which time the credit will be solely Bursztyn's.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Barry Tunick dies

Contructor Barry Tunick, who for 28 years partnered with Sylvia Bursztyn on the sunday Los Angeles Times puzzle, has died of acute leukemia. According to reports, the diagnosis was relatively recent.

The following is a reminiscence to the Cruciverb mail list by Sylvia Bursztyn.

My friends,

Barry Tunick and I co-wrote the Los Angeles Times Sunday Puzzler for just short of twenty-eight years. Ours is not the syndicate puzzle. It is exclusive to the Sunday LA Times. Long story, for another time.

Barry told me only weeks ago of being diagnosed with acute leukemia, and just days ago told me he thought this weekend would be his last. John Suarez's report [another posting to Cruciverb] tells the story. Barry said the same to me, that he cherished his family and had had a fine life.

A partnership does not last twenty-eight years with just anybody. He has to be a thoughtful, patient, considerate, tolerant, agreeable man. In short, a thesaurus of fine qualities. In business, he was without guile or games. He dealt in a straightforward and honorable manner.

I was theme, grid and editing; he was clues and theme suggestions. I'm going to carry on the Sunday Puzzler and our Random House volumes, with his blessing and his generous confidence in me.

I will miss Barry, our collaboration and his excellence, forever. The loss is incalculable.

Sylvia Bursztyn

Monday, October 08, 2007

S&S Shutters Original Series, Yet Triples Output

It's the end of an era - but the start of an exciting new one - for the long-running Simon & Schuster "Crossword Puzzle Book" series, which began in 1924 with the original "Cross Word Puzzle Book", edited by Margaret Petherbridge.

It's been announced that this month's 258th volume is the final volume of the original Simon & Schuster series. But, in a happy turnaround to this seemingly sad announcement, Simon & Schuster announced the new Mega Crosswords series.

Edited by John Samson, these books will have 300 crosswords (100 of which will be 21x's) - the previous yearly output of the six CPB volumes - and be published three times a year, in January, June and October. The suggested price will be $13.95 which is a better value.

ADDENDUM: John Samson will again be accepting submissions for the newly expanded S&S offerings. Besides the usual assortment of 17's, 19's and 21's, he will now be accepting 15's. His updated spec sheet should soon be appearing on

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Crosswords" Is Great Fun!

Hey, we caught the first couple episodes of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" and we think it's off to a fine start. It's airing in good time slots in many markets (including New York) and has a lot of the old, traditional game show trappings that have gotten lost in recent shows, like announcer (Edd Hall), neat-looking set (by Bob Rang, who's worked on Merv's shows for over 30 years), and catchy theme music (actually an old stock theme of Griffin's which he wrote for a busted pilot called "Buzzword").

The contestants are apparently crossword-savvy, knowing to match case and tense in answering the definitions (even if the puzzle makers don't - we've already been hearing reports of inaccuracies in the puzzles) and understanding some answers are two words. The producers are expecting the audience to be, too, as a lot of this background information isn't really explained. Puzzles are pretty good so far; haven't seen any "writing" credits so I don't know exactly who the constructors are, other than "puzzle producer" Timothy Parker.

The one tricky part of the show is the introduction of "spoilers" into the second round of the game. These are people who can steal one of the two playing positions if the two active players can't come up with the correct answer.

We're hopeful of a nice run for this show, so please watch it and tell your friends to. This is a great advertisement for our hobby and profession.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Washington Post Crossword To Be Discontinued

The editor of the Washington Post Sunday crossword, Fred Piscop, has announced that the feature is being discontinued as of March 31, 2008.

In a statement to cruciverb-l, Piscop cites financial reasons for the discontinuance of the crossword.

Piscop has enough puzzles to cover the remaining time period so he is no longer soliciting contributions. Meanwhile, the Post will begin carrying Merl Reagle's puzzle on April 7.

EDIT: Talked to Robert about this today and his response was, "Sudoku has claimed its first victim."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"The Puzzle Sister" Breaks Into Print

Regular followers of The Puzzle Brothers will no doubt have noticed the name Tracy Meyer bandied about here. Today, Tracy has another reason to be proud (besides that diamond on her left-hand ring finger that's been there since last Saturday). She will soon be receiving her first credit on a published crossword and it's going to be for The New York Times! Tracy helped me with the theme for this puzzle (coming up with the majority of the theme entries, in fact), and I'm afraid I can't tell you much more about it until it's published. So congratulations to Tracy on her first puzzle!

What's even more fun is that Tracy's getting her two daughters involved in the puzzle world! So you might be seeing more Meyers (or more Mackeys, if they happen) at the big tournaments before too long!

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Wordplay" Set For October 16 PBS Debut

As part of its "Independent Lens" series, PBS will be broadcasting the Patrick Creadon documentary "Wordplay" on Tuesday, October 16. Please check your local PBS station schedule for airtime. I believe that this is the first time that "Wordplay" will be airing on television in any form.

"Wordplay", as you may already know, profiled New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, some of his colleagues, and solvers competing at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, at that time held in Stamford, Connecticut.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Get Your "Crosswords" Early

NBC has announced a special primetime network broadcast of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords". The show will air one time only on Saturday, September 8 at 8:30 p.m. (NBC publicity simply titles the show "Crosswords". Hmmm....

This is similar to a stunt MyNetwork is running to promote Twentieth Television's "Temptation", by giving that new syndicated show a network window.

"Crosswords" will begin airing in syndication on September 10, and syndicator Program Partners has announced that a whopping 225 episodes will be produced during the first season to keep repeats to a minimum.

UPDATE: Due to an NBC scheduling change, the prime-time broadcast of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" has been cancelled. It will still begin in syndication on September 10, but will just not have the primetime preview.

Meet Bonnie Gentry

Here's a nice article from the Arizona Republic about constructor Bonnie Gentry.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Two New Online Puzzles - Try Them Today!

One of the things that we're going to be ramping up as we head into the tournament season is our online puzzle offerings. I am kicking our new fall season off a little early with two new puzzles, "Abbott and Costello Meet..." and "ER Will Not Be Seen Tonight." Robert will soon be opening his archives as well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Crosswords" Creator Griffin Dead Of Cancer, 82

(Edited from a previous post)

Merv Griffin, the 82-year-old talk-show icon and game show creator who was rediagnosed with prostate cancer in July, has died.

Griffin's newest show, "Merv Griffin's Crosswords", with Ty Treadway as host, is set to premiere September 10 on stations around the country. The show reportedly will keep its name as a tribute to its creator.

Griffin, who started as a band singer with Freddy Martin's orchestra, hosted a late-night talk show for CBS that went up against similar offerings from Johnny Carson on NBC and Joey Bishop on ABC, then took his show into syndication where it did much better thanks to earlier time slots in most markets.

Griffin was responsible for creating two of the biggest game shows of all time - "Jeopardy!" in 1964 and "Wheel of Fortune" in 1975. Although they did well on network television, the syndicated versions - entering their 24th and 25th seasons in the fall, respectively - made Griffin a very wealthy man. He also had interests in closed-circuit racetrack betting very early in that game, and also owned hotels and other real estate, including (at one time) the Resorts hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, "Merv Griffin's Crosswords", presently in production at Tribune Studios in Hollywood, is still looking for contestants. Give the contestant staff a call at (323) 762-8282 if you think you've got what it takes to play the crossword game.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"Merv Griffin's Crosswords" Books Due In October

St. Martin's Griffin is going to be publishing five volumes of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" tie-in books, edited by Timothy Parker, who is going to be supervising the puzzles used on the show.

There will be three full-size volumes - 100 Easiest Puzzles, 100 Easy Puzzles, and 100 Easy To Hard Puzzles, and there will also be two pocket volumes. It is not known if these are going to be puzzles actually used on the show, or if they are from the Universal Puzzle archives.

Search on Amazon for these and other crossword titles, and anything you buy helps fund our activities.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Puzzle People People "People Puzzlers"

People Magazine has just issued a new compilation of People Puzzlers, the popular 13x crosswords that appear weekly in the magazine.

The book includes 100 puzzles, a staggering new 90 puzzles plus ten classics. Constructors are Stephanie Spadaccini, John Greenman, and Fran and Lou Sabin.

Look for this book on newsstands.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Definition For EDD

"Merv Griffin's Crosswords" announcer Hall

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Case Of The Missing Crossword

Anyone know the whereabouts of the print version of today's Wall Street Journal crossword - "Singling Out" by Alice Long - please comment. Robair says he can't find it in the print paper. I did the puzzle online this morning.

UPDATE: The puzzle in question was not in the print edition; instead appeared a blurb saying the print puzzle would be back next week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's Like A Crossword Tournament Without Letters!

The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced the first Sudoku National Championship, hosted by Will Shortz. It will take place from October 19-20 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Besides Shortz, who has overseen the production of almost as many sudoku books as New York Times puzzle anthologies, participants will include crossword creator Merl Reagle, World Sudoku Champion Thomas Snyder, and World Puzzle Champion Wei-Hua Huang.

The tournament will take the form of a compressed ACPT: games and social opportunities Friday night, then into the trenches on Saturday. Contestants will have the opportunity to choose their skill level in three rounds of competition plus a bonus round before the finals later that afternoon. The awards dinner will be early Saturday evening. The grand prize in the expert bracket is $10,000, the Intermediate champ gets $5,000, and the easy grand prize is $3,000.

Registration for the tournament and all activities is $50 for adults and $10 for children 17 and under. For more information, visit the web link in the sidebar.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My Summer Puzzling

Well, I have been writing puzzles, but I did a lot of solving this past week while relaxing at the beach (if you were on the 75th Street beach on LBI, that was me with the puzzle book and the Mets hat). I tore through a book of easy New York Times crosswords in just a couple of days, and have been working some Sundays as well. I've got about eight puzzles to do in S&S 255 and have just started the newest one (256). I've also been working out of Stanley Newman's 100th book and the big book of Maura Jacobson New York puzzles.

I also just got a new pair of reading glasses, as closeup vision is starting to go south a little with age. It's definitely helping and hopefully it will help even more as I start seriously training for the 31st ACPT (Feb. 29-March 2 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott) in the fall. Again, it's my aim to improve. I'd love to crack the top 50 in '08.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So What Was This "Cross-Wits" Like, Anyway?

Ralph Edwards Productions struck gold in the late 70's with the one-two punch of the weekly "Name That Tune" and the daily "The Cross-Wits". Based on Jerry Payne's busted "Crossword" pilot you may have seen online, it paired contestants with teams of two celebrities, solving crossword puzzles (more like kris-krosses) that all had a subject. If you or your celebrity partners guessed a word (off some really clever clues and sometimes daffy ones too) you got ten points per letter and additional points if you solved the puzzle. The winning contestant got to pick one celebrity as partner to try to guess ten words in a crossword to win a car.

The late Jack Clark hosted the program, which ran for five years and in many markets (including New York) replaced an earlier Clark-hosted show, "Dealer's Choice". The show was briefly revived in the 80's as "Crosswits".

Copies are very hard to find, but they're in Ralph Edwards Productions' vaults. The company has made brief clips from the program available; so go over there and watch some "Cross-Wits".

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Time Out New York" Intros Weekly Crossword

That's a crossword puzzle - or a third of it - on the cover of this week's Time Out New York magazine. The current issue of the NYC listings magazine - kind of a younger, hipper sibling to New York, which has featured a crossword by Maura Jacobson since the 1970's - has now added a weekly crossword puzzle, which will be constructed by the younger, hipper Brendan Emmett Quigley.

To herald the new weekly puzzle, there is a section of games (not unlike "Pencilwise" in Games Magazine) which features a lot of games-like puzzles, including a cryptoquotes, mazes, a cryptic by Cox & Rathvon, and a logic problem by 2007 Stamford finalist Francis Heaney.

The cover puzzle (also by BEQ) is actually a third of a crossword grid, although there is a diagram given on the inside as well as a set of clues.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"Ooooh! My show has a new name!"

First, it was "Let's Play Crosswords." Then, for a brief time, it was "Let's Do Crosswords."

Finally, it's now settled. The new name of the crossword game show soon to start taping in Chicago and on your TV's this fall is... "Merv Griffin's Crosswords".

Like the man says, "Oooooh!"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Will Shortz Raises The Rates Again

I just got word that Will Shortz has once again raised his rates for puzzle contributors.

The lucky person who constructs the June 3, 2007 Sunday puzzle will be the first to enjoy the new rates, which for Sunday puzzles will be a cool grand, up from $750. The daily rate is increasing too to $200. These once again put the Times at the forefront of the puzzle industry as far as contributor rates (until, of course, Peter Gordon decides to go his traditional one dollar more for Sun dailies).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Crossword Compiler 8!

Antony Lewis just emailed us advising us of the new release of Crossword Compiler, the popular construction program. Version 8 includes new types of puzzles, more robust word and definition lists, and more options for producing finished puzzles. Please get more information about Version 8 at and soon you'll be making puzzles that are almost as good as The Puzzle Brothers'!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Trip Payne's Site

We've long admired the puzzlework of Trip Payne. His work is now on display at his own website, Everything you need to know about Trip and where his puzzles are going to pop up next.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bill Clinton, Cruciverbalist

Is this going to be another partnership in the grand style of Cox & Rathvon? Tunick and Burstzyn? Venzke and Daily? Check out this special crossword from the New York Times with a grid by Cathy Millhauser and clues by former President Bill Clinton.

Monday, April 30, 2007

"Let's Play Crosswords" Solves Its Host Problem

Ty Treadway, a name more associated with soap operas as both actor ("One Life to Live") and talk host ("Soap Talk"), crosses over to game shows and has been named host of "Let's Play Crosswords". The show is set to begin production sometime this summer in Chicago.

Thursday May 3 LA Times

Seems like Robert's been making quite a few LA Times appearances lately, but this Thursday it's Dave's turn, with a themed 15x.

Download .PUZ file (must be a member of
Do Puzzle On LA Times Site

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Stamford Ink

David Lieberfarb of the Newark Star-Ledger was competing in the 30th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and filed this report. He did note the New Jersey top three finishers, but we think he got Robert's geography mixed up with another solver with the same last name. It appeared right alongside the Sunday Los Angeles Times puzzle in the print edition. Thanks to Tracy's mom for sharing the story with us!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

That Wacky Trip Payne

As April Fool's Day nears, the annual ritual of the Wacky Weekend Warrior is resurrected at the hands of Trip Payne, with Peter Gordon lurking somewhere about. I did it this morning and there's a few good chuckles in there. Available tomorrow in the print New York Sun, or wherever .PUZ files are kept.

Monday, March 26, 2007

New In Print...

If you click above, you can order this New York Times crossword book of 75 puzzles published during the spring and summer of 2006. The indicia usually indicates the date range of puzzles published and the ending date is July 26, 2006.

Thanks, Will! I belong to the ages now.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stamford - Final Report


In an eerie recreation of the movie "Wordplay", Tyler Hinman has again won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament title, at the expense of Al Sanders. Sanders finished the championship puzzle by Stanley Newman first, but had one letter wrong. Tyler won the trophy for the third year running and this year's prize check of $5,000. Francis Heaney (shown at right in the photo above) was a distant third, not even finishing the final puzzle.

In another development, the B class has an asterisk this year. Due to a judging error, Howard Barkin was awarded duplicate B prize money. However, he will stay in B class for next year's tournament.

The breakdown of winners:

Geographic: West, Al Sanders; Connecticut, Ron Osher; New England, Kiran Kedlaya; New York City, Francis Heaney; Long Island, Kathy Konarck; Upstate NY, Zack Butler; New Jersey, Howard Barkin; Mid-Atlantic, Dave Tuller; South, Trip Payne; Midwest, Tyler Hinman; Foreign, Fraser Simpson.

Juniors: Tyler Hinman; 50's, Ellen Ripstein; 60's, Doug Hoylman; Seniors, Arthur Schulman; Rookie: Eric LeVasseur.

Special $100 gift certificate prizes for the 100th, 200th, etc. finishers: 100 - Fraser Simpson; 200 - Sandy Fein; 300 - Kim Blanchard; 400 - John Reid; 500 - George Sneddon Jr; 600 - Francoise Kemp.

As for the Puzzle Brothers, Robert maintained 20th place finish while Dave improved to 65, but it's likely there was a mistake on the final puzzle that dropped him down from 44th and out of the C finals. We'll be back strong next year. For now, we're taking a few days off from puzzling. Good bye for a while.

Stamford - A Finals

Only 25 points separated Francis Heaney, Al Sanders and Tyler Hinman. Robert reports the A clues are very tough. Being busy blogging, I haven't had a chance to really solve this so there's no way to tell how I would have done had I made the C or B finals. Congrats to all those guys and gals by the way. I'll be up there with you next year, I swear.

The blank grids have been put up and Will is now summoning the three finalists into the room. Al will be at the left, Tyler in the middle, and Francis on the right. There is only a 2 second head start for Tyler. Al's been in 8 playoffs, Tyler three and Francis, one.

Shouts of "Go Al!" come from the room, hoping he doesn't repeat his ZOLAESQUE mistake of 2005. Francis is the last to put his headphones on. We begin the finals.

"Stanley made the clues up over a three-day 'Goodfellas' festival," jokes Neil. Tyler is working the right side center first, Al top left corner, Francis top left as well. Francis has 1-Across but has gotten into a trap. Al's making minimal progres, and Tyler seems stymied in the corner. Now he's writing fast. Tyler now has a mistake too. The last time Stan did a finals puzzle for a tournament we were at, no one solved it correctly. Merl with another anagram! Where does that gift come from?

Al has no mistakes so far and seems to be doing good so far. Tyler isn't doing a lot of writing right now. Francis has fixed one of his problems. Tyler now has the bottom left done. Al is working very carefully. Tyler has another mistake. He's fixed something. Doing finger erasing. Not very sanitary but it saves seconds. Tyler may be able to put something together here, and Al is still grinding away. Francis is still having some problems. "The trap door underneath the podium has opened up," says Neil. Al has now made a mistake. He's assuming a plural in -S. Not always. 8:00 left. Al finished 1-Across, which was his 2005 downfall. Francis is still a little slow. Tyler has one corner left to go and then a few spots to fill in. (Careful there!)

Al's got a letter blank in a corner - hope he checks it. No one seems particularly close to finishing after 10:00 of solving. This one could... go... all... the... way... down to the wire! Merl notes "'I hate you' has all the vowels once, including Y." Tyler has one corner to go but another mistake. Al's filled in that missing square I was worried about. Now he should find his mistake. Will he? Tyler is staring at his blank corner. Francis still in this thing? Al is now working the bottom. Still has one mistake though, so does Tyler. Tyler now has one less mistake. This is going to be a nail biter. 3-1/2 minutes left and they've all got the same mistake. Al is almost done and he's gotta find that mistake. Tyler is now working his bare corner.

Tyler has now fixed the mistake everyone had. Tyler is close to being done. Al is close to being done. Tyler has one square left. Tyler is now stuck with 2 squares done. Al is done with one letter wrong. Tyler is done perfect. Francis is still working. Al as given Tyler his congratulations. Francis has run out of time.

3rd - Francis Heaney
2nd - Al Sanders
1st - your 2007 ACPT champion, Tyler Hinman

More later!

Stamford - B Finals

In the B division, we have Bryon Walden, Eric Maddy, and Eric LeVasseur. They are now working with harder clues. And now, Neil Conan and Merl Reagle take their places at the mikes. Will explains the background noise tapes. "Someday I may sell it as a sleep inducer." The puzzle begins with Eric M, then Byron, then Eric L.

"It's a beautiful day for a crossword puzzle championship!"


Neil makes a really bad pun on referring to Eric as "Eric L." "By the way, Byron's clues are printed backwards for payback for last year's finals." Merl has some fun with anagrams. As always I can't talk specific puzzle details as these puzzles continue as saleable items. Eric L has a big mistake in the upper left so far but has recovered. Eric M. is working on the bottom. Byron seems to have a foothold in the upper left. More anagrams for Merl. "If you want to write these down for later..." and then also riffs on his tournament puzzle. Byron is working the left which is good because it gives starts of words. Byron's got some of the bottom done now and has begun attaching the right. Again, I can't see what Eric L. is doing because I am on the far left of the room relying on AC power. Byron still needs the right corners. Stan's written some nice clues for this puzzle. 9:00 left. Byron has must one corner to go. BTW, there is a word in the clue that's repeated in the grid. Ugh. Byron is finishing up. Byron is looking it over and declares done. Eric L. is getting closer now. Eric M. is lagging behind. Eric L. then finishes with about 7:24 but has gotten one letter blank. So Eric M. can take his time and doesn't know it. Eric M. finishes at 5:55

3rd - Eric LeVasseur (one letter missing)
2nd - Eric Maddy 8:13
1st - Byron Walden 6:50

As Bob Murphy once said, "Fasten your seat belts!"

Stamford - C Finals

The contestants in C are Gerry Tansey, Anne Erdmann, and Katie Hamill.

Will started by giving the contestants instructions while their headphones were on. 30 years and he'll get it right someday. The puzzle is by Stan Newman, who 25 years ago today won at Stamford. Anne starts first, then Gerry, then Katie. Anne has some words filled in at upper right so far. Gerry has a 1-Across then erases it. Hard to see what Katie is doing from my vantage point. Anne's got the upper left about done. So does Gerry. Katie seems to be working in the same part of the puzzle. Did I Mention a 15 minute time limit? Yes. Jerry has one of the long words. This is an 8/6 stack format. Anne has made progress into the left center of the grid. Jerry too is working his way diagonally. Nobody seems close to done yet. Gerry is working the bottom right now. Looks like Anne is the farthest along. Gerry has now finished the bottom right corner and has moved to the left center. Anne's wrapping up the bottom now. Who's gonna finish first? Katie's made some headway and she has indicated first done. Anne and Gerry are still working. Anne is next, then Gerry finishes with about 8 minutes left.

3rd - Gerry Tansey
2nd - Anne Erdmann
1st - Katie Hamill

Sunday Stamford - Puzzle 7

Whew! Most of us are now done with the tournament, but for nine, it will get more intense as the C, B and A division finals play out in the ballroom. Puzzle 7 was by Bob Klahn and Puzzle 8 will be by Stan Newman.

Unofficially (and since ranked stats were not available), Tyler Hinman and Francis Heaney were tied for first, with Al Sanders, Trip Payne and Ellen Ripstein also in the hunt.

Your Puzzle Brothers are doing well. Bob was 20th after the first six puzzles (one place ahead of Amy Reynaldo) and I was 44th, a vast improvement over last year with no mistakes going into the final round.

And that former talk show host? No threat. Phil Donahue placed 631st after the first six puzzles.

Our next dispatch will be LIVE from the finals. See you in a little more than a half hour!

Is It Sunday Already?

Neither Puzzle Brother felt like staying out late and playing games this year. So, we took the rest of the night off.

We did play some games while everyone else who hadn't seen "Wordplay" was watching a bonus screening. We got some great pictures of game playing, unfortunately we're having a little issue with FTP access and can't put any more pix up until we get back later tonight.

In the meantime, it's now time for breakfast and getting cleaned up, and at 9:00, we'll do Puzzle 7. Hopefully not the last one for either of us!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Saturday Night Almost Live!

First of all, we had the special puzzle by Francis Heaney. He constructed a 15x using words that should be in more vocabularies. Erin McKean, who has a great blog called Dictionary Evangelist, is actually making a documentary show about words and their usage for Discovery Channel, and there was a film crew taping the proceedings. The winner of the special puzzle was Patrick Jordan (Trip Payne actually finished first but had an error in his puzzle) and two others were chosen at random, j!m jen!sta and Mark Maximov.

We had three entertaiments tonight! First, Will ran by us the puzzle you'll hear tomorrow on the NPR show. You are given a definition for a 7-letter word, remove first and last letters, and you get a five-letter word that you have to guess the definition of.

Then, a wonderful skit: What if "Wordplay" were a musical? We were treated to the first few minutes of such a musical, featuring Stella Daily, Vic Fleming, Harvey Estes and Ben Tausig.

Finally, an hour long collection of "Wordplay" outtakes and promotional appearances, including Will's stints on "Late Show" and "Charlie Rose" and the joint appearance of Will and Merl Reagle on "The Oprah Winfrey Show". We got to see some of the contestants whose profile footage was cut out of the film, including Zack Butler, Scott Weiss and Doug Hoylman.

Right now, Patrick Creadon is hosting a screening of the film downstairs, but I think people want to play games, so at least a portion of the ballroom has already been converted back. We'll check back with you on Sunday morning with standings, and then later Sunday morning, our ALMOST LIVE coverage of the C, B and A division finals! You wanna know who won? Keep it here! We'll have it as soon as Blogger will let us!

The Quiet Man Speaks!

Unbelievably, this is my first post since landing on Planet Stamford yesterday evening. What took me so long? Maybe since I take the competition aspect of this thing a bit seriously, breaking each puzzle down into the time I expect to finish it in, anticipating whose puzzles will show up where (Paula Gamache first basically a given), monitoring the early returnees, getting feedback from those who have fallen. And bumping into the folks I generally see once or twice a year, with twenty old friends bumped into on the way to the registration desk alone.

I am doing very well on the competition front, having saved up 112 minutes in solving the six puzzles. The rough solves as advertised by Will Shortz weren't terribly Waldenesque, with Cathy Millhauser and Merl "The Evil Genius" Reagle providing the supposed brain strains. It looks very good at this point for me to carry that New Jersey trophy back to Eatontown, if not the bragging rights for all PathMark employees everywhere.

Talking to the constructors, now my merry mentors, has provided many colorful stories. Byron Walden told me a great story about how the clue Last character seen in "Casablanca" was a homage to a clue from a British cryptic (Joiner character in "Pyramus & Thisbe" (9)). Rich Norris talked of the traps laid and super clues placed in today's New York Times. And Merl Reagle, that jolly old elf, never stops being Merl Reagle.

Tonight is kick back mode, with "Wordplay" outtakes and a contest centered around a Francis Heaney puzzle which will include a combo words not seen since the dawn of Farrar and words Shortz hasn't even learned existed yet. The action will be videotaped for a Discovery Channel show focusing on words. Then comes a batch of great board games in the main ballroom, and an informal video program presented by the Brothers which will include three epsiodes of the 1986 version of "Crosswits" and some crossword-related surprises. Tomorrow, the final two puzzles, one by Stanley Newman, the other by Bob Klahn. And the awards -- and maybe some glory thrown in.

Six Down, Two To Go!

Hello all!

We are now relaxing after Puzzle 6. The 4-5-6 went down smoothly for me (a ACPT first!) and I'm fairly confident of good news tomorrow when the standings are released.

Mike Shenk did Puzzle 4, Merl Reagle did 5 (a sneaky but gettable one) and Maura Jacobson, as always, did Puzzle 6.

We're going to be uploading more pictures as the events of the next day or so unfold. For now, we're taking a well-earned rest.

saturday am @ Stamford

The morning session is now complete. Puzzle#1 was constructed by Paula Gamache. The people who seemed to do the best on it were:Tyler Hinman, Robert MAckey,Scott Weiss and Dave Mackey. Puzzle #2 was constructed by Patrick Merrell. Al SAnders, Stella Daily, Trip Payne, and Dave and Robert Mackey all seemed to put in their best efforts. Puzzle # 3 was constructed by Cathy Millhauser. Stella Daily, Trip Payne,Tyler Hinmna, DAve and Robert Mackey all seemed to put it their best. Look back for the afternoon results and more pics.

First Pics From Stamford!

Click here for new images every day. We have some images of some of last night's speakers and some of the contestants and judges. Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Greetings From Stamford

Okay, the cold hard facts.

As of just before 8:00 p.m. this evening, there were 682 contestants entered for the tournament. So much so, that we're using a second auxiliary ballroom and rotating contestants in and out of it (except for the A-listers, who must stay in the main ballroom). Will's capable associate Doug Heller will run the tournament in the auxiliary ballroom.

There are 250+ first timers this year including one man who gave his occupation as "former talk show host". Hmmmmm. We won't let the cat out of the bag on that one just yet.

Zack Butler won the Norwegian contest, and a crew that included Dan Katz (we couldn't hear all the names because of the poor sound system) won the 30 years timeline game so well executed my Mr. and Mrs. Scott Weiss.

Tracy and I are in for the night, and Robert is still downstairs playing games. Tomorrow we should see some pix. But for now, enjoy three new puzzles from us, just for you. (Tech problems precluded the uploading of the fourth puzzle.) Even if you're not at Stamford, it's our little way of saying "wish you were here". Click the names on the sidebar and they'll load into Across Lite. Have fun!

Good night until tomorrow from Stamford.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The 2007 Dysfunctional Crossword Family Reunion

This is the last year we kick it Stamford style. Next year we'll be cookin' in Brooklyn.

Within the next 24 hours, some 650-700 puzzlers and maybe a few non-puzzle types will be rendezvousing one last time at the Marriott in Stamford (except for those of you who booked late and must stay elsewhere) for the 30th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Will has confirmed the tournament site next year will be the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, which has a much larger space for the expected crowds as crossword puzzling continues steamrollering in popularity. (They have got one smaller meeting room named for Jackie Gleason, which is coolness itself.)

We don't have any official affiliation with the tournament, but we'd like to think we did a darn good job blogging about the tournament last year (including our Almost Live finals coverage), so we're going to do it again. Puzzle Brothers staff and management will be wearing their PB-T's on Saturday and Sunday morning, soon to be available through Cafe Press along with other items for all you acolytes.

Don't be strangers, folks. Say hi to any of us. Me, Bob, and Tracy. We'd love to hear your stories and perhaps maybe Tracy can take some pictures of you. We will have much more in the way of picture galleries (those 2006 galleries will soon be moving to our site, when we have some more time not occupied by training for Stamford and stripping bathroom wallpaper).

This is our last dispatch from here. Next time you hear from us, it will be Friday night in Stamford... one last time.

Stamford No More

Here's where the 2008 tournament is going to be held, according to an article in the Stamford Times.

Somehow "Brooklyn" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fresh New Puzzles Coming!

On Friday, to celebrate the beginning of the Tournament, the Puzzle Brothers will be posting up four new original crosswords! (Joy!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Interesting Article!

Here's an article from today's Newark Star-Ledger about the upcoming Stamford tournament.... and you'll never guess who they managed to wrangle an interview out of!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Stamford Habitue Helps Make Jeopardy! History

Stamford veterans and NPL members will immediately recognize the gentleman at left as Scott Weiss. You have him to thank for this history making moment on last Friday's episode of "Jeopardy!" - for the first time in 5,190 episodes, all three players wound up with the same exact score. All three men will return on Monday to play another game.

Using his vast store of knowledge honed from years of advising College Bowl at his school (Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, which took 4th place in the recent Region 3/4 Championship Tournament), Scott already has banked $61,001 in his three days on the program. He's also done well at Stamford, too. A scan of the last ten years or so shows him placing consistently in the top 30, with an 11th place finish in 2004.

We wish Scott all the best on "Jeopardy!" and at the tournament next week.

Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Record Number Of Competitors Expected For Stamford Tourney

The 30th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is already shaping up to be the biggest ever - and this is more than a week before Will Shortz gives the command to turn the papers over and begin solving.

We hear from one of our sources that there are approximately 620 registrations for the tournament so far; we're not sure if this includes non-competitors. It would almost certainly mean that this year's contestant pool will be the largest ever. Last year's tournament saw a record 498 contestants try their skill. I'm sure Will expected a bump in tournament attendance in the wake of "Wordplay", but you think he could have expected this many people coming to the tournament when he started it 30 years ago? (The earliest years of the tournament saw approximately 150 contestants per year, mostly from the New York metropolitan area.)

As a result of the huge number of people scheduled to descend on the Mariott, one change has been made to Friday evening, where Allie's Restaurant traditionally hosts the dinner party held by members of the New York Times crossword forum (the Cru). Marriott management has negotiated a buffet dinner in lieu of eating at Allie's. The menu will include grilled flank steak, lemon chicken breast and penne pasta. Additionally, reservations are not being accepted for the restaurant the two evenings of the tournament. My advice is to try to find some good food off site. (Paging Tim Zagat...)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Nobody Puts Nucky In A Corner!"

While we're counting now the DAYS until Stamford, I wanted to put in a plug for Simon & Schuster #254. As you well know, 7x7 corners are a very hard thing to pull off. Frank Longo's done it in a 19x called "Four Corners" which includes four 7x7 corners, and of course it's at a price - this creates four alleys of 3-letter words. But it's a nice construction nevertheless and there's not a lot to quibble with in the corners. Pick up a copy and give it a try.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

One Month To Go!

Exactly one month from today, I will wake up in a hotel room at the Stamford Marriott - probably off maybe three hours sleep from playing parlor games into the night - wipe the sleep out of my eyes, shuffle downstairs, and await THE STANDINGS.

Yep, that time is drawing near. We're exactly 26 days from the beginning of the 30th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and this is probably the final go-round at the Stamford Marriott as Will Shortz is looking for a new venue for the expanding tournament.

Yes, it's a tournament, and yes, it's competition. But this is perhaps the best time of year to meet and greet your favorite constructors and solvers you've seen in the movie "Wordplay", as practically everybody who's anybody in the world of crosswords comes to the tournament. There are lots of opportunities for public social gatherings and cliqueish room parties.

If you haven't already registered (and why haven't you?), go to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament website and join the fun.

As for us, our reportage of Stamford is going to be much improved over last year with the addition of a third correspondent, Tracy Meyer, on Team Puzzle Brothers. Additionally, we will be blogging live from the finals again, so if you can't make it to the tournament, point your browser right to the Puzzle Brothers and refresh to your heart's content as you get the latest updates direct from Stamford and fresh pictures of the goings-on.

Now, on a personal note, let me strike my own fear into the hearts of my competitors. My times have been improving. I have been training with such diverse materials as New York Magazine crosswords (as there is always a Maura Jacobsen puzzle in the tournament) and the most recent compilations of New York Sun crosswords (I just finished the Thursday volume). I haven't been doing as much online solving because I really don't want to get caught up in what other solvers are doing. I've gotta worry about my times. My goal this year is to get into the top 100. Considering I was 107th last year and 185th in '05, I can do it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

April 2007 Games Magazine

Now on newsstands, featuring the first solo 21x by Puzzle Brother Dave, "Presidential Portrayals." Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Last Tango In Stamford

As alluded to in our year-end wrapup (see sidebar for link), Will Shortz has sent out an e-mail to 2006 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament participants that confirms that this will likely be the final year for the tournament at the Stamford Marriott.

"After 30 years at the Stamford Marriott Hotel, the event is likely moving to a new and larger site in 2008," states Shortz in his mass e-mailing. Last year's tournament drew about 500 competitors,

In other tournament-related news, Shortz and ace constructor Merl Reagle help Oprah Winfrey kick off the February Sweeps on Thursday with an appearance on her talk show as part of an episode entitled "How'd They Do That?"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rex Parker Did The New York Times Crossword...

...his blog is a lot of fun and here's what he thought about the Tuesday, January 16 puzzle.

Also, I don't know what the land speed record is for getting paid, but I found a $135 check in my mailbox two days after my puzzle ran. Thanks, NYT!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

We're Here!

We are pleased to soft-open our new domain, It's all you've already come to know and maybe also love about The Puzzle Brothers.

The first thing I promise you is a much better picture of The Puzzle Brothers on our masthead. (We will get Tracy on it stat.)

You'll also notice that we're going to be featuring puzzles of our own design here. Please, please, please, do not distribute these puzzles. These puzzles are our creations, for some reason or another editors didn't want them, so you get them for free. We'll put a few up a month.

Robert has authored a little treatise on what we thought to be the best and worst in the puzzle world this year. Follow the link to your left to read it.

Tomorrow, Robert is going to be interviewed for a major New Jersey newspaper on being quite possibly the top solver from New Jersey these days. We'll definitely pass along word when it's published.

But for now, enjoy our new site, and our old blog, and please note we're still tweaking some design aspects of the site. We'll get it right yet.

Yours puzzlingly,
Bob and Dave Mackey

Times Has Come Today

Dave Mackey, that rakish Puzzle Brother guy, gets his third publication in the New York Times today. Have fun! (New York Times Premium Crosswords)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Merv Griffin Bringing New "Crosswords" To NATPE

How they'll resemble for-real crosswords is anyone's guess, but Merv Griffin's got some new ones up his 81-year-old sleeve.

Program Partners, the syndicator behind the recent success of anything with the name "DeGrassi" on it, has optioned "Let's Play Crosswords", based on a concept by the creator of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!", to this week's NATPE television programming convention in Las Vegas. We'll keep you posted on the success of this venture.

Crosswords and game shows have been blended before with varying success: some formats were hits, like "The Cross-Wits" (a celebrity-driven show featuring kriss-kross style puzzles, the more recent version of which boasted Merl Reagle as a writer) and "Scrabble" (which boasted some very clever crossword-style clues for its words), and some were flops (a 1960's pilot called "Crossword" which was hosted by perennial Groucho toady George Fenneman is as dull as dishwater).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

ACPT Registration Now Available

The registration forms are now available for the 30th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, to be held March 23-25 in Stamford, Connecticut. (The chances are mighty good you knew that already.) The Friday night games will feature a special "Time Capsule" contest with a $200 cash prize, a visit from a Norwegian crossword editor, and special Norwegian-style crosswords constructed (in English, thank goodness) by Frank Longo.

The Sunday luncheon awards presenter this year is Richard Maltby Jr., the Broadway composer and cryptic crossword constructor.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Site Expansion News

We are soon going to be moving to our own domain! We will soon be located at Bookmark us now so you don't be caught by surprise one day when we've moved out, leaving old, half-completed Harle crossword books with cover illos by John Langton in our wake. We will be expanding to include more blog coverage as well as some of our own original puzzles for you to solve gratis! (That's free, y'know.) Robert is going to be working on an all-new site design which will incorporate our blog and the galleries of the tournaments and events we have already covered.

Look soon for our take on the year in puzzles, including the puzzles that grabbed us the most and the events that helped make 2006 a memorable one for crossword fans. And of course, with Stamford looming near, the Brothers (along with the lovely Tracy, who will be blogging and shooting pix) are getting ready for another trip to visit "the dysfunctional crossword family", as Merl Reagle so nicely put it.