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.