Monday, March 23, 2009

New Blog Examines LA Times Puzzles

And with these new inroads the Los Angeles Times puzzles is making, there is now a new blog focusing on them: L.A. Crossword Confidential.

The names are all familiar there: Rex Parker, PuzzleGirl, and Amy Reynaldo will be on rotating shifts, examining each day's LAT entry in great detail.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicago Tribune Puzzle To Be Discontinued

Tribune Media Services has announced the discontinuation of the Chicago Tribune Crossword, effective March 22. This daily and Sunday puzzle series was edited by Wayne Robert Williams. TMS has announced that papers currently receiving the Tribune crossword will now be serviced with the Los Angeles Times crossword, edited by Rich Norris.

Last month, the New York Sun puzzles were very quietly discontinued after an attempt by editor Peter Gordon to self-market the remaining puzzles after the newspaper folded. And last year saw the end of the Fred Piscop Washington Post crossword, with its clients now served by Merl Reagle's Sunday.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


It's not clear from this picture if Tyler Hinman knows that the two grids on either side of him have errors.

But he probably already knew that he is the luckiest son of a bitch on the face of the earth. Tyler Hinman, for the fifth straight time ACPT champ, and again at the expense of faster mistake-makers. I guess slow and steady does win the race!

Both Trip Payne and Francis Heaney made the same exact error on their grids. What made this extremely nailbiting was that Tyler was stuck on a word at lower right, and finally broke through and solved it with maybe 1:30 left to go in the 20:00 puzzling period.

Pictures from the awards banquet are now up and you can check for all the rest of the standings.

As for us, I finished a very disappointing 66th. (Disappointing considering I could have done much better, but it still ties my best finish ever.) Bob finished 24th. Oh well, maybe next year.


This is it! The final showdown between (from left to right) Trip, Tyler and Francis. This is the first time all three have had the same starting time. There is an issue with the contestants' headphones that the judges are trying to resolve. Sound check lines: "You're really handsome, Tyler." "You're really handsome, Trip." "Dumb dad sorry for his bet." "1-Across is ZOLAESQUE." "RPI sucks."

Liane Hansen in the house. She, of course, hosts the Weekend Edition Sunday for which Will has been providing puzzles for the past several centuries.

Ready, set, go! All three race out of the starting gate. "A LeMans start, everyone racing for their cars." There is an answer about a key and Francis and Trip both write in _M__OR, smartly. Trip has a little edge so far. 15-A is a very tricky clue that Tyler has nailed. Tyler is almost finished with the upper left. Now he is finished. Both Trip and Tyler have the last Across-clue. Tyler has now pretty much finished the middle. Francis has gotten a lot of the top left done now. Trip has bottom right. Tyler is now working bottom left. Francis has made some progress on the bottom left. Trip has a lot of the bottom right done. Francis is now working upper right. Trip is working for the middle and is now going to the lower left corner. Tyler has about half the puzzle solved. Trip working upper right now. Francis now has half the puzzle solved too. This could be a photo finish. Trip now has a mistake upper right and he's moved away from that corner. Tyler is now working top right. Tyler now has a mistake upper right. Tyler is fixing his mistake now. "Nobody thinks as fast as Tyler does, when backed into a corner. Except maybe Spider-Man." Trip signals done. The crowd reacts to the mistake and Trip says, "You're kidding me!" Now Francis has made the same mistake that Trip has. Tyler is checking his grid... he doesn't look happy. Francis is finishing up. Tyler is rewriting in the bottom of his grid. Tyler is shaking his head. Francis looks to be finishing up. Francis signals done. He's wrong too. Tyler still checking his board. He's AT SEA. He doesn't have a clue! First time in five years, not perfect? He's got some blanks to do. This could come down to what Tyler does in the next five minutes and it could come down to wrong squares!."I don't know," says Tyler. This is nail biting! Tyler has one wrong square and one blank. He knows he has a few more minutes left. Tyler is now jogging in place, doing the Rocky thing. TYLER HAS FOUND HIS MISTAKE AND FINISHED PERFECT! HE WINS!

3rd place - 2 squares wrong - Francis Heaney
2nd place - 2 squares wrong - Trip Payne

ACPT 2009 - B Finals

Right to left we have Katz, Feyer, and Len. Since we have two Dans, we're going to call em by their last names. Hope they don't mind. Feyer will have a large head start, :50 over Katz and an additional :05 over Len.

Neal Conan is back on mike this year with Merl. Welcome back, Neal. Hopefully they can say funny stuff that we can tell you about this year. Will did mention that this year, the white noise is on iPods for the first time.

Feyer begins. "It's a beautiful day for a crossword puzzle tournament!" "LET'S PLAY TWO!" Food Network cameras are starting to catch this action as well. Feyer is scattershotting the grid. Katz and Len begin. Katz is working the upper left very rapidly. Len is working on the middle. Feyer has maybe 60% of the puzzle done in less than 4 minutes. Katz and Len are working bottom left. Feyer has most of the left side done so far. No one has made any errors thus yet. Katz has a stray "A" in the upper right. Len's doing quite well on the bottom of the puzzle. If I say "Dan" you'll know who I mean. Feyer just has upper right to do at this point. Katz has significantly more squares to put in. "I've been rehearsing my adlibs all morning," says Conan. Feyer is rapidly finishing. Feyer is checking his completed grid and signals done. Katz is headed to a solid second and Len is lagging behind with a lot of the top still to do. Katz signals doe with about 12:48 left on the clock. It's down to Len now, finishing up to the top. "So you think constructors have an advantage here." "No." "Why?" "Weren't the C finalists all non-constructors?" Len finishes at about 11:00.

3rd place - 8:55, 2 letters wrong - Len Elliott
2nd place - 7:12, perfect - Dan Katz
B DIVISION CHAMP - 6:38, perfect - Dan Feyer

ACPT 2009 - C Finals

The contestants left to right are Jerry, Roberta and Mark.

Roberta has a huge 39 second head start. As always, there is no commentary during this round. Roberta begins with 2-Down, then 21-Across. Jerry is given the signal to begin, with Mark starting third. Roberta pretty much has the upper left corner filled in. Now she begins working the middle. Jerry's got a lot of the upper right done, but not the topmost word. Mark is working the upper right as well and is now migrating lower into the right center. Roberta's got some right center action going too. Jerry is beginning to work further down into the puzzle. Mark has nothing on the left side of his grid yet. It appears that Roberta now has the top half of the puzzle. Mark is starting to go to the left. Jerry now has the entire top half filled in too. Roberta is working lower left. Mark has lower left finished. Jerry is erasing something. Roberta is now working the last section of her puzzle. Mark is in the upper left. Jerry is filling in the center square section. Mark signals done first. Roberta finishes second (the head start apparently doing her no good) and Jerry will finish third.

3rd place - one letter wrong Jerry Cordaro
2nd place - Roberta Strauss
C DIVISION CHAMP - 5:46 - Mark Dixon

ACPT 2009 Finals - Meet The Finalists

3rd place - 10,435 - Mark Dixon
2nd place - 10,560 - Jerry Cordaro
1st place - 10,955 - Roberta Strauss

3rd place - 11,380 - Len Elliott
2nd place - 11,430 - Dan Katz
1st place - 11,930 - Dan Feyer (tied for A)

There was a four way tie in the A Division. Due to tiebreakers, here are the three who will compete.

3rd place - 11,930 - Francis Heaney
2nd place - 11,930 - Trip Payne
1st place - 11,930 - Tyler Hinman

My Tournament Is Over

This is our first blog post from outside the Jackie Gleason room, which for years was our standard haunt.

My happy ending didn't happen this morning. I made one mistake on Puzzle 7, and I did have the time to check it over and fix it. I saw the clock reaching xx:00, raised my hand, realized I had two squares unfilled, and filled them in, one wrongly. Ugh. There goes my Top 50 goal.

Puzzle 7 by Mike Shenk. Puzzle 8 will be Patrick Berry.

Stay tuned as we live blog the finals and hopefully maintain our standards of getting you the big news out there as it happens!

Chef Revealed

Will Shortz and Robert Irvine - the Food Network chef who will be creating today's luncheon menu - commandeered the ballroom for an interview this morning. The filming is for Irvine's series, "Dinner Impossible".

Sunday Morning In Brooklyn

Snow, foreboding a larger storm this evening and tomorrow, is starting to fall outside the Marriott. The Puzzle Brothers went to bed around 1:00 a.m. after playing some Fluxx games with the likes of Joni Dashoff and Doug Hoylman and members of his crew.

We understand that there was filming at 3:30 a.m. this morning for a Food Network segment related to the luncheon this afternoon. We still don't know who the chef is that is concocting our meal, but Will Shortz noted that it's going to be revealed sometime this morning.

Game Show Night

We'd like to thank the three ladies who joined us on our "Family Feud" team, including Susan Boardman, Harriet Geller and Fiona Newman (our scribe from Canada). Although we didn't get on stage to play the game we thank you for your enthusiasm!

The "Chain Reaction" game was actually the show's current endgame, which has been used in various forms on other Bob Stewart shows like "Go". Two contestants alternate words in asking a question to get a third player to say a word, name or place.

Stan Newman's trivia games were a lot of fun; he says he'll be asked back to do the next one in about ten years.