Sunday, March 01, 2009

So crosswords

Friday: The plane leaves half an hour late; but due to a tailwind arrives on time. Bit of a scrum at the cab rank, as the family two spots ahead of me got a cabbie unable or unwilling to take her to the Bronx, and got back in line and the cabbie wouldn't leave without a fare. They (the dispatcher and the cabbie) were still arguing when I left. Arrived without incident, wandered a bit, sat down for the Friday night puzzles. A late arrival took the seat next to me just before starting, and a glance at his packet revealed him to be Justin "" Smith. During the panel, which was hard to hear because the hotel didn't bother to turn the speakers for the PA system on, I started working on one of his puzzles instead, which got his attention, and so we started talking about puzzles in general.

Then the puzzle contest happened; it was a two-fold Pick Your Poison competition. The first round you were stuck with KenKen (eh); either four 4x4 puzzles or 2 6x6. In the second round you could choose between a cryptic, a diagramless, and a split decision. The 6x6 KenKen I finished, but not very speedily; the cryptic was fun (by Cox and Rathvon) and apparently I was #42 to finish overall on that round. Of course since Tyler Hinman also chose 6x6 and cryptic....

Saturday: Ended up sitting next to people I had sat next to before (a father-daughter pair) and Erin McKean. Puzzle 1 went well (it was hard for a #1, I felt, but then it was Byron Walden). Puzzle 2 I liked, by BEQ of all people, and I think I would have voted it for puzzle of the tournament if we were doing it again this year (did they only have money for a constructor prize for one year?). Puzzle 3 was Merl, and it was what you would expect from that. I managed to talk myself out of a pun on this puzzle, causing my error. I don't know how you talk yourself out of a pun on a Merl puzzle, but I did.

Instead of lunch, I had a nap. (It was while I was falling asleep that I realized my error, actually.)

The afternoon found me in the same place with all the same neighbors. Puzzle four was by ACMe and Myles Callum; a straightforward puzzle with a straightforward theme. According to the results, a reasonably large number of people broke three minutes on this puzzle; I was not one of them. Puzzle 5 is what it is: the least amount of theme Will will let you get away with, non-straightforward cluing, etc. I got stung by one blind cross (I had thought I had seen the across clue and the down clue before and remembered the answers, but they were inconsistent. I went with the across, but the down was right) and the scoresheet says one other error that I will update when the scans are up because I don't know what it is. And then the palate-cleanser that is Maura. (Staying one minute off Tyler et al. on this puzzle makes me feel good.)

Instead of supper, I had a nap.

This night's entertainment was game-show themed: first there was Pliska and Chaneski's "Crossword Clue Family Feud" (they would give an answer and the teams on stage had to come up with the most popular clues in the last however many years of puzzles. Not a bad idea, the execution could have used a little work, and it ran about fifteen minutes too long. Then Stan Newman did his trivia game, which was interesting, even if, as he claimed, the point was to eliminate people as fast as possible. Last, the man himself had put together chain reaction (I was hoping for the main game, but it was the "Go" bonus round instead). After one memorable round of some hilarious, but painful, playing, Will pretty obviously stuck with choosing people he already knew and thought would do well, or at least two-out-of-three.

Sunday: somehow our row mostly reassembled itself, surprisingly (Lorinne who had been on the other side of Erin somewhere ended up across the aisle). In proof that flattery will get you everywhere, the father-daughter next to me actually asked me to solve a puzzle for them during the break and discuss how I tended to solve a puzzle, which I did. Nobody ever watches the C finals (we were all doing whichever version of the puzzle we wanted; I did the B version in 8:15). The B finals were pretty quick; after all, Dan F. was tied for the overall lead, had a huge head start and more-or-less demolished the puzzle. Dan Katz wasn't far behind; Len Elliott limped in for third with an error. And then the A finals. Yeah. No head start, for the first time ever. Some pretty hard clues. And the stereotypical Tyler win: you don't have to be first, if you can be right. I can kind of, but not really see, how they made the error (I've been desperate before too) but I would have thought that the right word would have been much easier to spot than the word they used. (I'm being vague just in case (a) anybody even reads this and (b) they want to do the puzzle later. This is probably very silly.)

Played some cards during the break. Then came the banquet, which was actually pretty good; it was a Food Network chef I've never heard of, but apparently has a show where he is booked to do banquets but isn't told about it. The story apparently is that he arrived at the hotel at 5am, told that he was cooking for a crossword tournament, and that each dish had to embody a cliche, which the top solvers had to guess from pictures. The food was good, ranging from pate to barbecued ribs, served buffet style. Probably the best banquet we've ever had at an ACPT.

Left and got to split a cab five ways to LGA. Sat around LGA for four hours; the AirTran board was all red delays/cancellations except for one, which conveniently was the flight to Newport News. I have no idea whether the Emory Symphony Orchestra, which somehow I got in the middle of during check-in, ever got back to Atlanta.

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