Sunday, April 03, 2016


Howard Barkin wins first ACPT

Don Christensen; from ACPT website

In a year where the impossible seemed within reach - Dan Feyer steamrolling to a possible seventh consecutive American Crossword Puzzle Tournament trophy - the unthinkable happened. Howard Barkin, longtime bump in the road whenever Feyer or his predecessor Tyler Hinman would win tournaments, now has an ACPT soup tureen to call his own, along with $7,000 in cash for a nice dinner out with the family.

Barkin, who also won the New Jersey state title, defeated Feyer (second place) and David Plotkin (third). Going into the final round, Feyer was first by three minutes over both Barkin and Plotkin, with Barkin seeded second due to a better time on Saturday's Puzzle 6.

Doug Peterson won the B division title over Michael Megargee and Emily O'Neill, who did win for top foreign solver (she is from Canada).

Rookie winner Miriam Sicherman finished third in the C finals. The champ there was Christopher Baker, with a perfect solve in 8:45, nineteen seconds ahead of Sam Donaldson.

Other division and regional winners:

D: Claire Rimkus
E: Dean Romano
Junior: Sam Ezersky
Fifties: Al Sanders
Sixties: Jon Delfin
Seventies: Neil Singer
Senior: Thomas Hennessy

West: Feyer
Connecticut: Ron Osher
New England: Joon Pahk
New York City: Francis Heaney
Long Island: Thomas Weisswange
Upstate New York: Arnold Reich
Mid-Atlantic: Megargee
South: Plotkin
Midwest: Anne Ellison

Puzzle Brother Bob Mackey placed much lower than usual this year, 52nd, due to multiple errors. Dave Mackey did not attend the tournament this year.

The 40th ACPT will be back in Stamford the weekend of March 24-26, 2017.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Per Brendan Emmett Quigley, puzzle maker Henry Hook, who spent the last few years in extremely ill health, which included the amputation of one leg, has died at the age of 60. Developing...

Friday, September 04, 2015

New Tournament For Long Islanders

Long Island residents will get a chance for some crossword action on October 3, 2015, when the Oceanside Library hosts its first annual Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The event will take place at 11 a.m. at the library, which is at 30 Davison Avenue.

Competitors will be solving three unpublished New York Times puzzles with the top three scorers competing in the finals. Refreshments, prizes and free entry. For more information or to register, call the library at 516-766-2360, extension 302.

Westchester Tournament Cancelled For 2015

The annual Westchester Crossword Tournament, benefitting the Pleasantville Fund for Learning, has been cancelled for 2015, owing to a busier than usual fall for Will Shortz, tournament organizer and host. The tournament should return in 2015; meanwhile, the Pleasantville Fund for Learning has other fundraisers lined up for the fall season. Please visit for more information on those events.

You may remember that the 2014 Westchester Tournament was won by Bob Mackey in a very close finish over Ken Stern, with Glenn Ryan finishing third.

Monday, March 30, 2015


On the 10th anniversary (plus a few days) of the first ACPT championship won by Tyler Hinman in a heartbreaker over Al Sanders, Hinman almost regained the crown he has watched Dan Feyer walk away with for the past five years. But it was not to be as Dan Feyer sneaked in by a margin of about 1/2 second to win his record sixth consecutive ACPT title, as the tournament returned to its original home of Stamford, Connecticut after a seven-year run in Brooklyn, NY. Watch and see. (The "official" video is still being edited; that will be posted here when available.)
The value of banking time on Puzzles 1-6 became apparent this year as Dan Feyer's four-second head start enabled him to win the title, in spite of Tyler actually solving the Byron Walden-constructed puzzle faster. On his way to establishing that cushion, Feyer set a new tournament record this year when he solved Puzzle 1 in less than two minutes. Mike Nothnagel runs the numbers on that...
Dan's 7:13 is also the fastest winning solve time ever for A clues in the finals... with an asterisk noting Tyler's faster solve. For his efforts, Feyer won $5,000, a sixth bowl-shaped trophy, and a free roll into next year's tournament.

Andrew Feist won the B division finals over Elaine Renner and this year's top rookie, Vic Chandhok. Your other division, demographic and geographic winners....

Official Contestant Count: 567, off 13 from last year

4. Kiran Kedlaya
5. Anne Erdmann (who would have made the finals if not for one mistake on Puzzle 2)
6. Francis Heaney
7. Joon Pahk
8. Al Sanders
9. David Plotkin
10. Jon Delfin

19. Robert Mackey (one square wrong in puzzle 2, retaining his A ranking)
124. Dave Mackey (one square wrong in puzzles 2 and 4, six squares wrong in puzzle 5, so will be demoted to C next year)

C: David Steinberg - youngest division winner ever in the ACPT at 17 years of age
D: Jamie Womack
E: Susan Cocalis announced as champion; however a scoring change made John Morgan the actual champion

Junior: David Plotkin
Fifties: Anne Erdmann
Sixties: Jon Delfin (who just turned 60)
Seventies: Doug Hoylman
Seniors: Arthur Schulman

West: Feyer
Connecticut: Glen Ryan
New England: Pahk
NYC: Heaney
LI: Peter Gordon
Upstate NY: Jennifer Turney
NJ: Howard Barkin (Robert Mackey 2nd in NJ due to a mistake by Renner on her Puzzle 7... thanks Elaine)
Mid-Atlantic: Scott Weiss
South: David Plotkin
Midwest: Erdmann
Foreign: Emily O'Neill (from Vancouver, BC... all the Foreign contestants were from Canada this year)

The 2016 ACPT will be held in Stamford once again at a date yet to be determined.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Afternoon Recap

The results are in from all of today's puzzles at the ACPT. In A division, Dan Feyer continues to enjoy a three minute advantage over Joon Pahk and Howard Barkin after the first six puzzles. Tyler Hinman and Kiran Kedlaya are also in the top five, four and seven minutes behind Feyer respectively. Anne Erdmann is in sixth place, hobbled by a mistake on Puzzle 2.

Rookie Vic Chandhok (all rookies start as C-level solvers) would be bumped up to the B final along with Elaine Renner and Jesse Lansner if those standings hold to form when Puzzle 7 is solved tomorrow. The other division leaders:

C: Rob Tricchinelli, David Steinberg, Mike Weepie
D: Jamie Womack, Ron Humpolick, Sandy Lawrence
E: Susan Cocalis, Alice Grun, Hannah Wezorek

In order, your constructors today have been Tracy Bennett, Joel Fagliano, Merl Reagle,Paula Gamache, Jeff Chen, and Lynn Lempel. That leaves the formidable duo of Patrick Berry and Byron Walden for the two Sunday puzzles - the 9 a.m. 21x, and the tournament finale.

A weird scoring anomaly took place when the Puzzle 1 results were announced, when a solver named William Hall appeared to have solved Puzzle 1 a full four minutes before Dan Feyer did. Since Dan solved the puzzle in less than two minutes - believed to be an ACPT first - that meant that Hall would have had to do some serious messing with the time-space continuum to finish the puzzle TWO MINUTES BEFORE HE EVEN STARTED.
Hall's score on puzzle 1 has since been adjusted.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Greetings from the Stamford Marriott. And if you told me three years ago that I would be ever saying that again you'd think I was crazy. At this moment we are waiting in the Friday night games which are going to include Multimedia Crosswords by Henry Hook and Joel Fagliano. And an update to the Pre-Shortzian Project by David Steinberg in which he will talk about anonymous constructors.

Tournament host Will Shortz estimates about 560 contestant so far. As it has been for the past four years the big question is "can Dan Feyer win again". 

For the latest on the tournament follow us on Twitter @thepuzbros.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

By The Skin Of His Teeth, Bob Mackey Wins His Sixth Westchester Trophy

What a final round of the 18th annual Westchester Crossword Tournament. Two puzzlers finished. Bob Mackey looked over his whiteboard for mistakes. Ken Stern looked over his whiteboard for mistakes. Neither knew the game of Chicken that was being played. Bob was looking for something that would complete a specified number of thematic elements in a future New York Times puzzle. Ken's puzzle was clean.

Finally, Bob found the final missing piece and broke the tense silence.


One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Misissisppi. Ken echoed...


It could have gone the other way if Ken had signaled "Done" just seconds earlier, or if Bob had done the same without checking his work, but the final outcome of the 18th annual Westchester Tournament was the same as five of the previous installments, with Bob Mackey taking home the championship trophy.

(SPOILER ALERT: You may not want to look at the picture if you have not yet solved the puzzle to be published on October 2, 2014.)

Although Glenn Ryan was the third man in the scenario working the left board, all the focus was on the two solvers at center and right, with Bob taking an early lead and Ken steadily catching up, when finally the two solvers had no more blank squares. To some it looked like Bob was being super cautious, but the puzzle's notes had indicated that there were six thematic quirks. Bob kept counting, and counting, and counting, but could only find five. He finally found the final crossing that completed the theme requirements, a mere four seconds before Ken Stern threw up his hands in surrender. All three solvers completed the puzzle with no errors.

In the first of a year of homecomings for tournament emcee/host Will Shortz, the Westchester Tournament returned to its prior home, the St. John's Episcopal Church in Pleasantville, after a three year residency at the Westchester Table Tennis Club. Next spring, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be once again in its birthplace of Stamford, Connecticut. One wag noted that perhaps Will will bring Games Magazine back from the dead next.

Bob's qualifying puzzle was the Tuesday, September 30 puzzle by Andy Kravis, who was the only constructor present at Friday's tournament. Judges for the tournament included perennial head judge Stan Kurzban, Ellen Ripstein, Mimi Raphael, Frank Longo, Hayley Gold and Pat Merrell.

As always, proceeds from the tournament benefitted the Pleasantville Fund For Learning.