Wednesday, December 03, 2008

WIE Update

A favorite of 3-letter word aficionados, golfer Michelle WIE is still not yet in the LPGA, so please don't clue her as "Michelle of the LPGA" just yet, 'kay?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Will Watch

Heads up for "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" fans: Will Shortz will be appearing in the role of Expert on the program next week. The "Ask the Expert" lifeline is new to the show this season and the experts rotate roughly every week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Merl's NYT Simpsons-Related Puzzle

Transparently, it is your basic Merl Reagle puzzle... but I recommend you do this puzzle before watching the show to enjoy all the surprises of this puzzle. (Subscription to NYT Premium Crosswords required)

Monday, November 10, 2008

FOX Publicity For This Week's "Simpsons"

I'll leave it to you to figure out which one is Merl and which one is Will.

And does Matt Groening still draw all these himself after 450 or so episodes?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Reworking Galleries

We are reworking the galleries plus adding a few events we didn't have galleries before. We are now in the process of publishing these and if you see little red X's, don't worry, we're taking care of it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"The Simpsons" To Spoof The Crossword World

In an episode airing on Sunday, November 16, "The Simpsons" will delve headlong into the world of crosswords. "Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words" casts Lisa as a whiz at crosswords, so she enters a local tournament. Meanwhile, Homer sees the seamy side of crossword tournaments with its underworld betting scams, and winds up having to bet against his daughter in another tournament. Will Shortz and Merl Reagle will provide their own voices for the episode.

According to some reports, there will be a tie-in with that day's New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Huang Crowned Sudoku King

Veteran puzzler Wei-Hwa Huang has won the second annual Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship. He bested first-year champion Thomas Snyder on the final puzzle by a margin of 26 seconds. Here's a report from Marketwatch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

S&S 3 Now Out

Simon & Schuster has just now published the third volume of the Mega Crossword Puzzle Book. The Puzzle Brothers (well, one of them, anyway) have now entered the pantheon of S&S creators, with a puzzle by Dave called "Stretching Reality" - it's a 19x, which is a size unique to S&S. Buy it, if not for Dave's puzzle, but the 299 other puzzles you get in the book. There will be more puzzles to come from both Dave and Bob in future volumes of the Mega.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Sun" Subscriptions Now Available

Hot steamin' deal! The New York Sun crossword puzzles are now exclusive to the Web, and the first flight of puzzles, through late February, is only $12.50 at the newly-designed Cruciverb website.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

12th Westchester Crossword Tournament


Bob Mackey makes room for another trophy on his increasingly crowded mantel as he has taken his second straight Westchester Crossword Tournament. Jeffrey Schwartz placed second, and Elaine Lippman was third.

Elaine finished the stage puzzle - next Thursday's New York Times puzzle, constructed by Doug Peterson - first, but left one letter blank, giving Bob, who finished perfectly in second place, the win. Jeffrey Schwartz finished not soon after Bob.

Taking a cue from past ACPT winners, Bob didn't react to Elaine's call of "Done" - he just kept plugging away at his puzzle. Even after he walked over and saw the one blank square on Elaine's grid, he still didn't realize he was the winner until Elaine was announced in third place.

The tournament program was the same as in previous years - the first three puzzles were the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday puzzles from the ensuing week's New York Times. (Brace yourselves for an unusually shaped grid for Monday's puzzle by Patrick Blindauer - that's all I'm going to say.) The first place finisher from each puzzle goes on stage to complete Thursday's puzzle. Elaine was first on the Monday and Tuesday puzzles; Bob got to the podium by finishing second on Tuesday by the slimmest of margins. Jeffrey was in third place on Puzzle 3, getting in by benefit of first-in finisher Ken Stern having one wrong square, and second place on that puzzle was Bob. (Thanks to Ellen Ripstein for the correction.)

Stan Kurzban acted as head judge, and other judges included Pat Merrell, Ellen Ripstein, Nancy Schuster, Frank Longo, Patrick Blindauer, Tony Orbach, Deb Amlen, Ashish Vengsarkar, Mike Nothnagel, Caleb Madison (who became the youngest NYT constructor ever this past year), and - much to the relief of the elite solvers - Howard Barkin.

As always, the tournament was held for the benefit of the Pleasantville Fund For Learning, with our hosts supplying coffee and pastries for our enjoyment. All in all, a great night - and we're already looking forward to next year.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Westchester Tournament Tonight

Just a reminder... this evening at 7:30 is the Westchester Crossword Tournament, at St. John's Episcopal Church, 7 Sunnyside Avenue, Pleasantville, New York. The tournament is run by Will Shortz and benefits the Pleasantville Fund For Learning. $30 to compete as a single, $45 for a team, payable at the door. Bob and I hope to see you there tonight.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

"Sun" Puzzles Will Continue!

According to Kevin McCann's Cruciverb website, the New York Sun puzzles edited by Peter Gordon will be available free for the next few days, then by subscription thereafter. This comes in the wake of the cancellation of the Sun print newspaper, which as of today (October 1) is no more. I hope you continue to take advantage of Mr. Gordon's skills as an editor, which are quite enormous.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sun Done?

Unless something miraculous happens - and frankly, there's a lot in New York that could use a miracle right now, right, Mets fans? - The New York Sun will publish its last issue on Monday, September 29.

Crossword? Right now, there's nothing on their crossword pages on their website. That can't be a good sign. However, if you access the Sun directories via Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers, Peter Gordon has puzzles locked and loaded through the end of next week (Friday, October 3).

I suggest you pull down these files while you still can before The Sun takes its servers offline. And please show your love for Peter and his very hard work by making a donation to Peter Gordon, 15 Shadow Lane, Great Neck, NY 11021, or Thank you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Sun" Going Down?

According to this media report, the New York Sun newspaper - home of one of the most challenging daily crosswords in the country - may fold within weeks, if new cash is not found.

The modern incarnation of the New York Sun, based on the name of a newspaper that folded in 1950, began publication in April 2002. Soon afterward, the paper began its daily crossword, edited by Peter Gordon. The newspaper itself has a smallish paid circulation and gives many of its copies away, but Gordon's crosswords have become known far and wide as one of the only worthy challengers to Will Shortz' daily dominance - and many find Gordon's work as editor to be top notch and the most challenging daily solve of all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Second US Sudoku Championship Announced

Thomas Snyder will try to regain his title at the 2nd Annual U.S. Sudoku Championship, sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer and hosted by Will Shortz. It will take place from October 24-25 at the Philadelphia Conference Center. Top prize in the expert bracket will be $10,000. More information in the link at the sidebar.

12th Westchester Tournament Announced

The Pleasantville Fund For Learning has announced its annual evening of crosswords, and this year it's a little earlier (shades of the ACPT!). The 12th annual tournament hosted by Will Shortz on his own turf will be Friday, October 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Format should be the same as in years past - three preliminary puzzles (October 6, 7 and 8 NYT puzzles) with the podium puzzle being Thursday's.

Last year's tournament was won handily by our own Bob Mackey. Will he repeat? Come on out to the St. John's Episcopal Church on October 3 and find out - and if you can't be here, we'll be sure to let you know.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

An Eight Letter Word For Table Tennis....

An April 5, 2008 peek into the world of competitive table tennis, featuring a man who claims to play table tennis for the same reasons many solve crossword puzzles.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Undersung Crossword Hero

Clearly, the constructors get all the glory. But what about the undersung heroes of crossword making? Such as the guys who ink in the diagrams?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

NYT Black Square Record Broken

Kevin G. Der broke the record for fewest black squares with Friday's New York Times puzzle. The new low-water-mark is 18, beating Manny Nosowsky's old record by one.

NYT 8/22 puzzle (requires subscription to NYT puzzles)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Lollapuzzoola" This Saturday

"Ryan And Brian" of the blog "Ryan And Brian Do Crosswords" ( are throwing their own crossword tournament. "Lollapuzzoola '08" will be held on Saturday, August 23 from 12-4 at the Community Church, 81-10 35th Avenue, Jackson Heights. The constructors will include Mike Nothnagel, Brendan Emmett Quigley and Ashish Vengsarkar.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What The...

Few extol the virtues of Stan Newman's Sunday Newsday puzzle, but it's a good workmanlike puzzle that is a relatively easy solve.

Most of the time.

There was one answer in today's puzzle (by Shirley Soloway) - in four letters, "Phnom ___."

PENH, right?

WRONG... the answer they were looking for was PNOM.

Ever hear of Phnom Pnom? I tried Googling it (with quotes) and got only 21 hits, most of them nonsense search peeks.

Please strike that word from your databases, kids.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THE END for "Crosswords"?

According to this article, it may be curtains for "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" - the show has gone on indefinite hiatus. Repeats along with a smattering of new, unaired shows ("Crosswords" produced 225 episodes this season) will begin in September.

What do you thinK? Will you miss the show? Did you think the puzzles were too easy? Too hard? Too Timothy Parker?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


We apologize for problems with this blog. We will be back soon. Honest.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New York Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We are sorry to give you late notice on this but our web hosting provider - who we are considering dumping over this - would not let us update our blog for the past several days, and we were unable to promote Wednesday's New York Times puzzle in a timely manner. Anyway, we sure hope you enjoy this puzzle.

Across Lite Puzzle File - for New York Times Crossword Subscribers Only

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's a Will Thing

Mr. Shortz will pop in this Friday (2) on the syndicated "Martha Stewart Show." We'll see if Martha is more of a crossword lady or a sudoku girl. But hey, Shortz gets a sweeps episode! Good work.

Also, a very nice job on the 25x in the July Games magazine. Harvey Estes has put together a winning puzzle that does not contain any words shorter than five letters.

Monday, April 07, 2008

New York Times Puzzle Today!

By Dave Mackey of the Puzzle Brothers

Here is the puzzle - available to New York Times crossword subscribers only.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Merl Reagle Presents: The Washington Post Crossword

Yesterday, Merl Reagle appeared live on "Talk of the Nation" (with Neil Conan) to talk up the Washington Post crossword, which he is overseeing beginning this weekend. The slot had previously been occupied by puzzles edited by Fred Piscop and others. Expect the same quality of puns, wordplay and good humor in Merl's Washington Post puzzles.

Here is the link to the NPR story page.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How's He Do That?

Tyler Hinman at work.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Mistake

Yes, I did screw up Puzzle #7. Two squares wrong, one a careless mistake, and one of the rebus squares was wrong.

Well, there's always next year. Maybe.

More Tournament Stuff

* The inaugural Marilyn F. Munro Memorial Award, which was established by the tournament veteran's surviving husband and children, was given to Merl Reagle for his tournament puzzle, with the equally as revered Maura Jacobson given an honorable mention.

* The tournament did not have the cachet of a big celebrity solver this year. Last year, if you will recall, Phil Donahue made his maiden voyage into the tournament, and didn't exactly burn up the track.

* Jay Kasofsky participated in his 31st tournament this weekend, the only person to be in all 31 tournaments so far. The only two 30-timers are both former champions who added to their stash of tournament trophies - Mimi Raphael (who won the Seniors trophy this year) and Ellen Ripstein (who won the New York City trophy).

* The Puzzle Brothers did indeed participate as Mob members - along with everyone else in the room - in the "1 vs. 700" game staged by John Chaneski and Greg Pliska. The "1" players were all former tournament champions, which included Trip Payne, Tyler Hinman (who, come to think of it, has never been a "former" champion), Nancy Schuster, Jon Delfin and David Rosen. Those on the panel of champs who did not participate in the game included Ellen Ripstein and Stanley Newman.

* Solvers had more time than usual to recover from puzzle #5, David J. Kahn's toughie - one contestant needed medical attention after the puzzle and there was almost a 30-minute gap between the "pencils down" of #5 and "go" of #6.

New York Sun Article...

...on this past weekend's festivities, right here. You will learn why we linked to this one.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

ACPT 2008 Final Recap


He did it again. Tyler Hinman steadily maneuvered the final puzzle by Bob Klahn and again took advantage of a competitor's misstep to capture his unprecedented fourth straight American Crossword Puzzle Tournament title.

This year, Tyler's victim was Trip Payne, who finished first, then realized his mistake and watched as Tyler slowly finished the puzzle. Some noted that Trip, with a little more careful checking, would have taken the title.

Howard Barkin, suddenly promoted to A division due to his top-3 finish, wound up in third.

Other major division winners:
B: Anne Erdmann (NOTE: John Beck awarded duplicate "B" prize money due to a scoring error)
C: Dan Feyer
D: Steve Poris
E: Patrick Blindauer
Rookie: Doug Peterson
Senior: Mimi Raphael
70's: Bob Rubin
60's: Doug Hoylman
50's: Ellen Ripstein
Juniors: Tyler Hinman

A complete list of winners and all rankings are now up at the tournament's website.

By the way, Bob finished 23rd, Dave finished 75th (I have an inquiry out to find out why I dropped).

This Is IT! The A Finals!

Contestants left to right - Howard, Tyler, Trip

Tyler, followed by Trip and Howard, enter the ballroom. It's been a long wait for them (mostly thanks to Peter Gordon). This is the culmination of this pursuit's entire year. Tyler and Howard will have a three-second head start over Trip, due to their tie.

The clock begins and Tyler and Howard start together. Now Trip begins. All three contestants are wearing the same black t-shirts. Tyler is now working the UR corner. Trip is reading over the clues and writing a few things. The solving strategy is to build long words from the shorter threes spanning the longer columns. Howard is down in the LR corner. Tyler has the UR pretty much done. Only about 3 minutes down so far. Howard seems to be struggling a little, jumping around. Trip is now working down in the right but has made a mistake there. Tyler is now shaking his head a little. Trip has a mistake. He's working the LL corner now. Tyler is using good solving strategies for working this type of puzzle. Trip's made another mistake. Tyler is erasing some squares. Howard is working slowly and carefully. The A clues are particularly tasty. Tyler is now stuck a little. Trip has to fix his mistake. Trip has now fixed his mistakes. Tyler has yet to finish the upper left. The crowd gasps. Trip is clearly out in front. Trip signals done, but he has a mistake. 9 minutes down. Tyler still has a shot. Howard is still chugging along, still has a mistake in the LR. Tyler is now starting to make a charge. Tyler is not aware that Trip has screwed up his chances. Howard sort of knows he's lagging. This could still be anyone's game. It's very rare time runs out in an A finals, but this could be the year. About 7:30 left. It looks like the two remaining contestants are about even. Tyler still has a bunch of blanks, and just put BEATSME in one of the answers, to the amusement of the crowd. Howard is now starting to wake up a little and work on the LL. This could STILL be anyone's game! Tyler is shaking his head. This is a tough corner in the UL. Trip could still win this thing! Tyler has now broken through, and is starting to complete the UL. Howard has just a few words in that corner. Looks like Tyler is pulling away. Tyler is done with no errors. Howard still writing. Howard, now clearly playing for second, is writing with about 3 minutes left on the clock. Upper left completely shot. 2:10 left. Howard could still nab second. 1:20 left.... tick tick tick... time is running out for Howard. Now he's fixing some things up top. Less than a minute to go... desperation sets in. :30 left, he's figuring some things out... five... four... three... two... one... time's up.

3rd place - many errors, 20:00 - Howard Barkin
2nd place - 2 wrong letters, 9:52 - Trip Payne

B Finals

Contestants left to right: Doug, Anne, Peter

Anne has a 25-second head start over the other 2 contestants. "These are the new winter headphones, from J. Crew," jokes Merl Reagle. All three contestants are now at work. Doug is tackling the middle of the puzzle first. Peter already has a misspelling in his puzzle. Anne is working the UR quad of the puzzle. We'll try to pass along some of the hosts' bon mots. It's Merl Reagle and Grant Barrett this year; Neil Conan sends his regards. On his knees now, Doug is tackling the LL corner. Great joke... too bad I can't share it because it would give the puzzle away. Peter is doing scattershot solving, now with three wrong answers. Anne is working the UR still. Doug got 2-D correct, which Peter still has a mistake in. 18-Across is one of the toughest words, if not the toughest, in this puzzle. They've now been working for about three minutes. Anne has about half the puzzle done so far. Merl's found another expression in the puzzle that has all the vowels, once. Anne's doing the UL from the back end in, which is said to be very tough. Doug now has the LL done. Anne doesn't yet have 5-Down completed, because she hasn't done the UL yet. 39-D may be a problem. Peter is still pretty much throwing darts at the puzzle. Anne is now finishing the UL. Still has the LL to do, now on her knees. Doug is now working up to the top, but still hasn't done the UR. Peter is now going for the harder words. Anne still has a few squares to fill. Now she's signaling done. Peter is now fishing for more answers, while Doug is now checking the LR. Doug is now done. Peter still working. "What do we do to speed this up?" says Grant. Peter's still got the UL to work on. More great jokes I can't share! About 10:00 left now. He is milking his third place moment, but you gotta keep going! Peter is now taking a drink. I think he knows his place now. "Nine friggin' minutes," grumbles Merl. Now, Peter has fixed one of his errors. "I know my Henry Gibson, but I don't know my Henrik Ibsen", jokes Merl. (Wow! Finally one I can share with you.) Peter has fixed his another error, and is now making some headway. Peter's last mistake is corrected and he'll "whip them right in" - and after a looooooooooooooong idiot check ("he's an editor", notes Merl), and we still wait. (You never know - he might be the only one right... But we know better.) Peter takes a big gulp of his water. We still wait. And wait. And wait. At 5:21, Peter FINALLY signals "Books for sale! Done!"

3rd place - 14:35 - Peter Gordon
2nd place - 8:42 - Doug Peterson
B Division Champion - 7:42 - Anne Erdmann

C Finals

Contestants, left to right: Dan, Emily, Adam

Emily immedately attacks the upper left, a typical 1-A move. All three contestants are on the upper left. I finished about half this puzzle in three minutes, so there, all you B stage players. Emily has finished the top left and is now working the middle. So is Dan. Adam is working pretty much the same. All three have pretty much the same strategy. They also started within three seconds of one another so, as Will said, "Use the extra time wisely." There is a 20-minute time limit on this puzzle. All three contestants have smallish handwriting so it's hard to see exactly what is being written. Emily has most of the upper right now done. Adam is now working the same UR quadrant. Meanwhile, Dan has just laid waste to the LL corner. The words themselves don't seem to difficult; unfortunately I can't offer specifics as these puzzles are being solved online and via mail also. It looks like Emily has one blank square in the UR! Dan has finished the left side of the puzzle. Adam is now in the UR corner. Dan is working the UR now too. Adam still has LL to do, while Dan needs his LR filled in. Emily is now working the LL corner. About 14:00 to go, but they probably won't need it. Dan is almost finished. This looks like Dan's race to win. Dan has just signaled done. Emily has filled in her missing square and now signals done. Adam is still working on his LL. Adam is now done. And the results...

3rd place - 1 letter missing, 7:59 - Adam Gale
2nd place - 6:50 Emily O'Neill
C Division Champion - 6:10 - Dan Feyer

Live From The FInals!

I've taken my seat in the main meeting room here in Brooklyn and we are waiting for the event to start. There seems to be more media here than before, partly because this event is now taking place in the City.

The C finals will be conducted in total silence, while B and A will have commentary by Merl Reagle and Grant Barrett.

So now, out of a just-record-nudging 699 contestants, it has come down to these nine who will compete on a 15x themeless by Bob Klahn.

So here now are your finalists!

10,790 pts - Adam Gale
10,800 pts - Dan Feyer
10,820 pts - Emily O'Neill

11,215 pts - Peter Gordon
11,315 pts - Doug Peterson
11,570 pts - Anne Erdmann

11,865 pts - Trip Payne
11,990 pts - Howard Barkin
11,990 pts - Tyler Hinman

Save The Date

32nd Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

February 27-March 1, 2009

Marriott New York at the Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday Morning

As expected the Sunday Puzzle 7 was by Oliver Hill, believed to be the youngest constructor in ACPT history at 17. This means that Bob Klahn will be the championship puzzle.

Top-tier solvers finished Puzzle 7 anywhere between 9 and 11 minutes. The official A, B and C standings will be announced when the final round begins just under a half hour from now.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Games Time

Hello from my perch just outside the Jackie Gleason room at the Marriott. Right now, the Saturday evening festivities have ended and it looks as though the game time will be a little more participant friendly than last night.

The standings are up on the website now and here's how the top 10 stack up after 6 puzzles:

1 Tyler Hinman
2 Howard Barkin
3 Francis Heaney
4 Trip Payne
5 Ellen Ripstein
6 Roger Barkan
7 Al Sanders
8 Katherine Bryant
9 Jon Delfin
10 Kiran Kedlaya

19 Robert Mackey

58 Dave Mackey

Through Three Puzzles

Greetings from just outside the Jackie Gleason meeting room. The standings are up for the first three puzzles and here's what's been shaking.

1 Trip Payne
2 Al Sanders
3 Howard Barkin
4 Francis Heaney
5 Tyler Hinman
6 Bob Mackey

30 Dave Mackey

"And You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four, Five And Six"

And boy, were they. As is the custom in the ACPT, Puzzle #5 separated the wheat from the chaff. The puzzle was courtesy of David J. Kahn, who caused the wrath of over 500 of the 700+ solvers who still held papers at the end of the time limit.

Puzzles Four (Paula Gamache) and Six rolled as expected with little drama or surprise, but much love to the constructors. And when Maura Jacobson's name was announced as the Puzzle Six constructor, the solvers produced an ovation as loud and as long as any the ACPT has ever experienced.

We are still also waiting for official standings to be posted. As soon as we know, you will know. Remaining constructors are Oliver Hill (the youngest ACPT constructor ever) and Bob Klahn, with the latter the heavy favorite to provide the themeless crusher that will decide the champions.

First Three Puzzles Down

Through the first three puzzles, the consensus is that Trip Payne is a minute ahead of the pack. Bob, by the way, is squarely in that pack with the top solvers.

(EDIT: Bob was actually two minutes behind Trip.)

Puzzles one through three were pretty good, with constructors Andrea Carla Michaels, Mike Shenk and Merl Reagle making early statements.

Puzzles four through six kick off at 2:30 p.m.

This is being posted without regards to what Bob may have already posted, so please bear with us if there is duplicate information.

Halftime, Day 1: Unofficial Report

With the first three puzzles more or less in the books, unofficially (and assuming no mistakes) it appears that Trip Payne is aching to get back to his first ACPT finals in three years, with a total "banked minutes" count of 56 for the first three grids. The difference maker for Payne: a 20-minute count on the second puzzle (Mike Shenk). Many of the A threats are hanging back at the 55-minute mark, with a handful two minutes behind at 54.

Puzzle One was the first entry by first-time tourney attendee Andrea Carla Michaels, and Puzzle Three was by tournament fixture and all-around good guy Merl Reagle. More news as these standings become official.

We Begin Anew

The 2008 ACPT is just one half hour away from kicking off. This year, the organizers are promising a streamlined scoring system, in which running scores will be posted after each session of three puzzles. At those intervals we will report on who the frontrunners are, and who the constructors are as well. No actual answers or puzzle material will be divulged in deference to off-site solvers. Best wishes to all competitors, and may the best man win.

Saturday Morning

Hello from a little hallway just off the lobby at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Bob and I are right now doing some blogging stuff, and I've also just tried to put up a blistering time on Brendan Emmett Quigley's Saturday NYT puzzle. (Unfortunately, the applet choked and wouldn't accept my time of 11 minutes or so, which would have made me the fastest applet solver. Many of the regulars are here, in fact.) I've been dilligently working the other puzzle handouts, which included a very twisty Friday offering from The New York Sun.

Name dropping: just ran into Vic Fleming.

Games looked very sparse last night, with a few groups at the few tables they were. The downside to this location is that the ballroom does close at a definite hour, and the all-night games are only permitted in the hallway outside. I went to bed early last night; perhaps I'll change my tune tomorrow.

I forgot to mention about last night's Brooklyn Crossword Extravaganza - although Eric Berlin was the author of the puzzles, he could not attend in person, so Scott Weiss - who with his wife wrote last year's Friday night contest - hosted this year's festivities.

The Saturday game show is going to be an homage to the NBC show, "1 vs. 100", which will actually be called "1 vs. 100+". This event is said to involve past champions from the ACPT as part of the Mob. Perhaps Bob and I will be tapped to be part of the Mob? We'll see tonight. For now, gotta find some breakfast. And get my shoes. Maybe take a subway ride. Couldn't do that in Stamford now, could we?

Oh, we added some more pix (this time by Bob) to the Image Gallery. It was a comedy of errors trying to get that picture of Stella Daily, so we included some of the outtakes. We'll continue to snap on Saturday, and then perhaps you'll see even more pictures.

Image Galleries!

Did you get your picture taken by a Puzzle Brother? Check and see!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Game Results

The Brooklyn Crossword Puzzle Extravaganza, a set of interlinked puzzle challenges by Eric Berlin, was won by the team of Roger Barkan, Chris Morris and Justin Smith. Five other teams of three won prizes of a puzzle book from St. Martin's Press.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and his wife briefly addressed the crowd before the games began. Markowitz then presented Will Shortz with a proclamation.

Games in progress - we'll be playing soon. Pictures, soon, too, as soon as we get them off the camera!

Puzzle Authors at ACPT

Paula Gamache, Oliver Hill, Maura Jacobson, David J. Kahn, Bob Klahn, Andrea Carla Michaels, Merl Reagle, Mike Shenk

We Are Here

Greetings from Brooklyn. Bob and I rolled in about an hour ago. We've already run into Fred Piscop (our prize winner for first contact at the tournament), Stan Newman, Merl Reagle, Rich Norris, j!m jen!sta, Helene Hovanec, Tyler Hinman and Amy Reynaldo. We just got our web access all fired up, and this is looking to be one for the ages.

My first impression of this hotel is its vastness. You could probably fit the whole Stamford ballroom in the lobby here in Brooklyn. Rooms are nicely appointed, too. Hopefully the ballrooms will be as big and nice.

The Puzzle Brothers Present, For Your Entertainment...

We have two puzzles that we will be deploying free of charge at the tournament. They are called "In Old New York" (by Dave) and "Soap Box Derby" (by Bob). Copious amounts of copies will be available and sometime this weekend, we will have the puzzles available online for you.

ACPT Bloggage, with Heaney

Michelle Bialeck has written a nice essay about the 2007 ACPT, with a great picture of one of last year's finalists, Francis Heaney. The wonderful thing about this tournament is that every competitor, however skilled they may (or may not) be, has a story to tell. This is mostly the story of one of last year's rookies, Carmen Banta.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Okay, it's only 11:xx or so the night before, but the day has arrived. The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will launch its 31st edition in New York City, some 41 miles and eleven months removed from its longtime home of Stamford, Connecticut.

The substantially higher prices for tournament accomodations and lodging, coupled with a first-time spectator's fee of $30 for the finals (if you want to read Will's defense of this year's prices, read Stella Daily's blog) have not deterred almost 700 of the world's best crossword solvers from coming to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott for this weekend's festivities, kicking off formally Friday evening at 8:00 with a rather informal game and puzzle session.

Then, late Saturday morning, the for-real puzzling begins as the competitors will flip over the first of six puzzles to be solved that day. We do not know at this point exactly who the puzzlemakers are (with the exception of Maura Jacobson, who always provides Puzzle #6, much to the crowd's eternal delight), but they're usually the men and women at the top of their game. Who will do the killer finals puzzle this year? Who will have the "puzzle of death" that almost always seems to be slotted in #5?

We are looking forward to seeing all 700 or so of you in Brooklyn tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Count Now Stands At...

655, according to an article in Bloomberg today. By the weekend, we will know if a new ACPT record for participants have been set.

Also, if you're planning on attending the Cru dinner, check your e-mail for an important update.

Tyler's New Blog

As we await the weekend and whether he will win an unprecedented fourth ACPT, we call your attention to Tyler Hinman's new blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

American Idol Contestant Is A "Word Nerd"!

During this evening's Fox network broadcast of "American Idol", contestant David Cook, one of the top 10 males, said that he was a self-professed "word nerd" who enjoys crossword puzzles and word searches. The show even showed him working a USA Today crossword. He didn't sing too badly tonight, either. Let's hope he sticks around.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In Five... Four... Three... Two... One

It's hard to believe, but it is almost Tournament Time. Of course, we all have to get used to the fact that we're now convening in late February instead of March, but I rather like the new schedule... and I'm most grateful that I didn't give up solving crosswords for Lent.

Anyway, I have no idea at this point how many people are going to be showing up in Brooklyn, but it's my gut feeling that this tournament is going to again set a record.

Our gift to the Brooklyn solvers is going to be a special Tournament puzzle which will be posted on the first day of the tournament, and I will also make print copies available to those traveling without computers. Bob and I hope you enjoy it. And like we always say, come over to our table, say hello, use our pencil sharpeners, whatever. We're looking forward to seeing you.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two Weeks To Go...

...and no room at the inn.

The Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge has out the NO VACANCY sign for Saturday, March 1. So much so, that two other Marriotts have had to clear rooms for tournament attendees. Clearly, there is some interest in the tournament again this year.

With over 600 guest rooms totally booked and counting the possibility of multiple solvers per room, this is shaping up to be the biggest American Crossword Puzzle Tournament yet. If you recall, last year's tournament set a record with 698 competitors, up exactly 200 from the 498 in 2006, and the Brooklyn move was formally announced that weekend.

If you haven't registered yet - and goodness sakes, why haven't you? - go to the official ACPT website and send in your fee, and join the party. Of course, you can also register on site. A mere $275 gets you into the tournament and all ancillary events.

In spite of the fact that the Puzzle Brothers team will be a little short-handed this time - Tracy can't make the tournament this year due to not one, but two family-related conflicts - make sure you bookmark us. No other website comes close to our live, on-scene coverage (and live final-round blogging) of the ACPT. We will have plenty of photos and bloggage from the tournament this year (as long as Tracy lets me borrow her camera).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

True Story

I'm in my local book store, and I pick up a relatively new New York Times compilation called "Crosswords for Two". Hmm, let me see what it's all about, I think to myself. I pick up the book and turn to a random page, and the very first puzzle I see is a puzzle I had in the NYT several years ago! What are the chances? I mean, I've only had four puzzles in the Times so far. I've got a greater chance of hitting something by Trip Payne or Manny Nosowsky or one of those dudes.

That's cosmic, smacking of eerie.

As a result, we're no longer noting appearances by the Puzzle Brothers in NYT compilation books, as they're bound to become ubiquitous the more puzzles I sell to the NYT.

Another Crosswordy "Crosswords" Player

This past Wednesday, Amy Reynaldo, author of "How To Conquer The New York Times Crossword Puzzle", appeared on "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" - did she conquer Timothy Parker's daily stumper? Watch and find out!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Westport Report Wanted

The ninth annual Westport Tournament was held on Saturday. If you wish to write up a report for us, please leave a comment, and we'll move it to the main entry. Thanks!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

New York Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

Solve the puzzle by Dave and Tracy! (NY Times membership required.)

NOTE: The timed applet is working now as of 4:30 a.m.

Friday, February 01, 2008

"Merv Griffin's Crosswords" Renewed

Promising a "bigger and better" Season 2, host Ty Treadway has revealed on his blog that planning is now underway for the second year of "Merv Griffin's Crosswords". With very few syndicated game shows now making it past the first year, this is an accomplishment.

Program Partners, the show's syndicator, has confirmed that the show is a "firm go" for Year 2, and has already begun work on expanding their program portfolio by announcing a new talk show for Marie Osmond, set to premiere in Fall 2009.

The show's New York outlet, WNBC, has already renewed the show and possibly will pair it with a new syndicated daytime edition of "Deal or No Deal" with Howie Mandel.

Here's the link if you want to be a contestant.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

ACPT Registration Open, Programs Announced

"41 Days and Counting!" says the banner atop the home page of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And with that, Will Shortz has announced the evening events and opened registration.

The Friday games will feature Eric Berlin's "Brooklyn Crossword Extravaganza" brainteasers.

Saturday will be Game Show Night, and also featured will be a film by Ed Stein called "Wordploy". (Hmmm...)

For Sunday, Grant Barrett, co-host of the radio program "A Way with Words", will be taking over from Neil Conan as co-commentator of the Sunday B and A finals along with the ever-stalwart Merl Reagle. Barrett and his radio co-host Martha Barnette will hand out the prizes at the awards luncheon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"The Cross-Wits" Rides Again

An incredible find over on YouTube: someone has posted a nearly-complete episode of the final season of the original version of "The Cross-Wits". This episode looks to be from 1979 or 1980 and boasts celebrity guests including Elaine Joyce and Nipsey Russell. Jack Clark hosts, and Jerri Fiala points at things with a stick. If you've never seen the original, it's worth a look, and if it's been awhile, have fun.

Here is the link to the first part, and from there you can access the other three parts.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Important Medical News!

Well, that's what they say in commercials, but this may hold some water. It's been long thought that mental exercises such as crossword puzzles help keep the brain active and may help ward off later-life dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Now, the author of "The Memory Cure", Dr. Majid Fotuhi, has teamed up with Will Shortz to present "The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program".

This was one of two new NYT books issued by St. Martin's Griffin last week. The other, "Crosswords for Two", compiles 200 puzzles (including, I hear, one by yours truly) designed to be shared.

Friday, January 04, 2008

It's MEGA-Tastic!

Just got my copy of the new Simon & Schuster MEGA Crossword Puzzle Book, Volume 1. This just came out in bookstores today. Wow! This is enough to keep me busy for weeks on end. For the list price of $13.95, you get 300 original crosswords, including a healthy selection of 75 15x's, 75 mixed 17x's and 19x's, and 150 21x's. Many of your favorite authors in the old Crossword Puzzle Book series are represented here, and there are some new names too (including - and correct me if I'm wrong - the construction debut of Amy Reynaldo).

John Samson still continues as editor, now with three times the workload, as there will now be 900 puzzles used per year - approximately three times the amount required by a New York Times or Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

While I'm plugging things, I must put in a word for the 2008 New York Times Sunday Puzzle Appointment Book, from Pomegranate Press. It's a neat compilation of all the Sundays from October 2003 to October 2004, including a neat Leap Day puzzle by Patrick Merrell. One puzzle is misattributed to Kyle Mahowald instead of Joe DiPietro, but that's just a minor quibble. Neat package, nice paper that takes my favorite gel pen quite well. Got it for a gift in '07, bought it for myself in '08.