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!