Sunday, August 24, 2014


The 18th edition of the Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be on Friday, September 19, and the tournament is moving back to the St. John Episcopal Church in Pleasantville, once again to benefit the Pleasantville Fund for Learning. As always, the tournament will feature the four New York Times puzzles from the following Monday through Wednesday, with the Thursday puzzle serving as the playoff puzzle for the top finisher on each of the three puzzles. $30 to compete singly, $45 as a team, or $5 just to watch.

Last year's tournament finals involved the same three solvers from the 2013 ACPT "B" finals, Glenn Ryan, Jeffrey Schwartz, and Robert Mackey, which culminated in Mackey winning his sixth Westchester trophy - five singles and one doubles title with Dave Mackey.

The tournament was held the last three years at the Westchester Table Tennis Club, which is owned by New York Times crossword guru Will Shortz. No reason was given for the change, although a Facebook post by perennial Westchester finalist Elaine Renner noted "the acoustics are better" in the church.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


(Updated 8/11/2014)

Jon Delfin showed he can still run with the puppies when he proved victorious at the seventh installment of Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer's Lollapuzzoola, held on August 9 (a Saturday in August) at the All Souls Church on the upper East Side of Manhattan.

Delfin, who will begin competing in the Sixties age bracket at next year's ACPT in Stamford (and who has won that tournament a record seven times), defeated the decades-younger Francis Heaney and Scott Weiss in the Express bracket. None of the three made any mistakes on the championship puzzle by Patrick Berry.

L-R: Scott Weiss, Patrick Blindauer (holding Weiss' clue sheet for him), and Patrick Heaney
In the Local bracket, Simon McAndrews finished first but had one void square. Patti Varol, who finished second, was crowned Local Champion and Sara Nies was third.

Rounding out the top 10 overall finishers in the Express division were Jeffrey Schwartz, Andy Kravis, Joon Pahk (who solved using only Down clues - the only other competitor to do so was Peter Gordon), Andrew Feist, Ellen Ripstein, Robert Mackey and Thomas Weisswange. Pahk also won the Worst Handwriting Award.

For the second year in a row, Marcia Hearst and Julian Ochrymowych won the Pairs title.

The only competitors to solve all five competition puzzles cleanly were Heaney, Delfin, Schwartz, Pahk, Ripstein, Weisswange, Elaine Lippman, Matt Sandler, Richard Hovan, Dave Mackey (who finished 25th, an improvement of 100 places from last year), Brendan Emmett Quigley, Patty Buethe, Amy Goldstein, Sasha Shapiro and Josephine Quinones.

The rest of the top 10 in Local was Rebecca Moody (who also won the Rookie award), Martin Davis, Vegavahini Subramaniam, Thomas Perretti, Finn Vigeland, Aaron Riggio and Amy Paepke.

The slogan of the tournament this year was "It Ain't Over Till It's Over", which was of course a phrase coined by Yogi Berra, the great baseball manager and coach, and some of the puzzles - including a very accessible meta by Blindauer - had a baseball theme. In fact, Blindauer (who probably has a closetful of St. Louis Cardinals jerseys) led TWO singings of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game", and at least one Puzzle Brother was familiar with the first rendition...

The finale version was the conventional singing, a la Harry Caray. Of course, the cheese ball snacks (joined by a blue Cotton Candy version) and other familiar trappings of Lollapuzzoola returned, surrounded by some great puzzles that included audio and visual clues and other tricks you would never think of. The puzzles, in order, were by Cathy Allis (14x16), Mike Nothnagel (17x), Tony Orbach (21x), Blindauer (15x) and Doug Peterson (21x).

More information and final standings are available at