BOB MACKEY MAKES HIS A DOUBLEBob 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.