Sunday, August 11, 2013

Al Sanders Takes Lollapuzzoola 6 Express Title

The image most people have in their brains of Al Sanders is the overconfident man who raises his hand to indicate "done" at the 2005 ACPT, only to realize he's left two squares blank in 1-Across, throwing his headset to the ground in frustration. We've all seen that movie before. (Except maybe for Oscar Cimmet.)

Yesterday, the ACPT perennial flew in from Colorado to participate in Lollapuzzoola 6 in New York City, and wound up besting another cross-country commuter, Trip Payne, and Francis Heaney in the onstage finals of the "Express Division", roughly equivalent to A- and B- class ACPT contestants.

Jonathan Brown wound up the winner of the "Local Division", defeating Erin Milligan and Angela Halsted (who was found to be the tournament's sole 6-time participant and the analogue to Jay Kasofsky at the ACPT). The extremely tough finals puzzle was constructed by Joon Pahk, who was unable to attend to defend his title from last year.

The tournament was under the capable supervision of co-creator Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer, who replaced co-creator Ryan Hecht a few years ago, and over the six years of its existence it has steadily attracted more top solvers around the country, including fourth place finisher Amy Reynaldo, the aforementioned Payne and Sanders, and Katie Hamill from Boston among others. This year's tournament set a record with over 150 solvers, including past ACPT winners Jon Delfin and Ellen Ripstein. The judges included the likes of Dan Feyer and Anne Erdmann.

In keeping with the tournament's irreverent streak, prize trophies featured figurines from such unrelated disciplines as karate and gymnastics (but were engraved for the first time) as well as leftover ACPT trophies. Clever word games helped fill the time and there was a metapuzzle that was related to the five crosswords solved by everyone.

More tournament information and pictures may be found at