Report on the 2006 Crossword Tournament, by Sue Gleason

Answers to the double crostic puzzles on my handout:

layiton, by Mel Taub humorartist , by Bron Burwell


Sue Gleason and Ken Jennings, all-time Jeopardy Champ

Eric Reinhardt at Crossword Tournament

Senior champ, Eric Reinhardt (DC member)

Sue Gleason and champ Tyler Hinman at Crossword Tournament

Sue with the champ, Tyler Hinman

Vic Fleming, Sue Gleason and Will Shortz at Crossword Tournament

Vic Fleming, Sue, Will Shortz, and a young attendee

Sue Gleason and 7-time champ Jon Delfin at Crossword Tournament

Sue with 7-time champ, Jon Delfin

Last year, at the ice breaker event, I was on a team with Jon Delfin. Watching his blazing thought process close-up was quite extraordinary. And in the movie Wordplay which we saw on Saturday (all about crosswords, especially last year's tournament), we see Jon at his job playing piano accompaniments for female jazz vocalists, with no preparation time. Wow!

Now that Pru Borland and I have each attended the ACPT four times, it is beginning to seem like old home week. There are a lot more people we recognize, and more who recognize us.

This year, Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy Champ, and Wayne Gould, the primary Sudoku impresario, attended and spoke. The atmosphere is quite party-like, and I found I was able to chat with anyone I wanted to approach.

The only other dedicated member of present, Eric Reinhardt, won the award for highest scoring Senior. I felt like a proud mother! We met last year, and I know that Eric, like me, is a computer programmer from the early days of the industry. Joseph Kartheiser, who likes to do our DCs on paper, and Andy Silikovitz, a LyriCrostic fan, were also participants.

This year we managed to meet up with Tony Orbach, the only other resident of Glen Ridge, NJ - Pru's place of residence, which is adjacent to mine- Montclair NJ. He was accompanied by high-school student daughter Sarah Kate, the granddaughter of the late Law and Order star, Jerry Orbach.

I met many interesting puzzle fans, including Bonnie Sirower, who runs a crossword tournament in Ridgewood NJ; Alice Grun, who helped me polish up my Yiddish; Brent Harzell of the US Department of Education; poet Ed Conti; newspaper editor Lynn Feigenbaum; and Ray Hamel, who has long listed me on his terrific puzzle links site. Pru and I were interviewed by a local Stamford reporter. Pru, a bit fractured, was mentioned in the article by Lauren Klein " 'People come because it's fun. They talk word puzzles,' said Pru Boland, 65, of Glenn Ridge, N.J. 'It's a weird little nerd convention and here they are rock stars.'"

I discussed prediction of the difficulty level of Sudoku puzzles with both Wayne Gould and an Operations Researcher. I was not at all surprised to see that the observation by our member Alex Morris, attributing his own success in our Sudoku contests to relative youth, was borne out in the Sudoku Smackdown contest. Three of the youngest-looking attendees were first in the contest. Of course, in the primary crossword contest, first place again went to young Tyler Hinman. In case you haven't read about the tournament elsewhere, first place in the C division, which includes all rookies, went to Ken Jennings.

A few of the puzzles were quite easy, some medium, and some difficult. I heard some grumbling among participants about puzzle fairness in regard to the infamous puzzle 5. One asked: "is it possible that a puzzle which is completed correctly (within the time limit) by only 35 of 500 participants... can be considered a good puzzle?" I did not check the accuracy of that statistic, and I do not have an answer to the question: it seems to me to depend on the consent of the governed, so to speak.

Photos by Pru Borland and Karl Reinhardt.

Copyright © 2006 Sue Gleason      Last updated: April 26, 2006     Home