March 24, 2007

Quick report from Stamford

Hail, hail, the gang's all here! Having a great time at the crossword tournament so far, with the first six puzzles down the hatch. Struggled through the first trio of crosswords, finishing two minutes behind the leaders of the pack on each one (and one really can't expect to make up a six-minute deficit). So I'm out of contention for a spot in the finals, definitely, but I fared better this afternoon (a minute behind the leaders on each puzzle, I think). Whether I have a shot at the top 10, I can't say. And my mind was strewn about the floor in pieces this morning, so I might well have made a boneheaded error somewhere along the way. Sunday morning, we shall see.

Puzzle 1, by Paula Gamache, kinda beat me up. Puzzle 2, by Patrick Merrell, was slightly less painful. Cathy Millhauser's puzzle 3, I felt a little better about—I did a bunch of her crosswords on the flight here on Friday.

Puzzle 4 was by Mike Shenk, and it was easier (for me) than puzzle 1. (Though really, puzzle 1 was easier. I just had a brain freeze, that's all. Omigod, I was writing in incorrect letters and erasing them so often! Tsk.) Puzzle 5, usually so feared, proved to be much more tractable. Merl Reagle is too nice a man to slaughter everyone via crossword. Maura Jacobson constructed puzzle 6, her 30th straight year of making puzzles for the ACPT. All three of these puzzles felt breezy compared to the morning's challenges.

It looks like Tyler Hinman, Al Sanders, and Francis Heaney are occupying the top three slots so far (barring any unnoticed errors they might've had, or any unknown rookies who have snuck up there). The pre-puzzle 7 standings will be posted at 8:30 Sunday morning. I wait with bated breath, crossed fingers, and a little angst. I fervently hope I will not then learn that I made careless mistakes along the way because, frankly, that would suck big time. Puzzle 7 and the finals puzzle will be by Stan Newman and Bob Klahn (not necessarily in that order). Both have a knack for wickedly tough clues, so puzzle 7 may be a little bit of a workout. Which would be fun! I do like hard crosswords.

Am off to the local brewpub for dinner, which will be followed by Wordplay outtakes (never before seen! What could they be??) and random mingling.

P.S. Liked Rich Norris's Sat. NYT—tough clues! I read through half the across clues before anything seemed remotely gettable. Turned out to be fun, didn't it? (Didn't time myself.) The answer to that pipe clue was my favorite—wasn't quite expecting that...