That Puzzle Guy's Blog ...And Clarkson still sucks

4Mar/13Off

Games in the grid

I can't imagine how or why you'd have the thought that there aren't enough Kickstarter projects for quality puzzles, but really, I'm not sure there's such a thing as too many highly-regarded puzzlemakers setting these things up. The newest one is from Neville Fogarty; he's promising a suite of crosswords based on board games. I've eagerly thrown in my tenner and look forward to the results. Between this, Patrick Berry's cryptics, Lone Shark Games' puzzle novel, Trip Payne's extravaganza, Puzzazz's year of hunt-style challenges, David Millar's logic puzzle book, and Double Fine's adventure game, there's gonna be a lot of puzzle payoff later this year! (Late addition to this entry: Millar has released the PDF of his book to his backers! Hooray!)

Thomas Snyder alerted me to a fun contest from Logic Masters India. Solvers have a week to finish the test, doing a puzzle at a time as their schedules suit them. It's set up this way because every puzzle is big; solving them in one go would be a pretty big undertaking! Hopefully I'll find the time to do this this week, but I feel like I have something to do this coming weekend...

...oh, look at that; the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament has snuck up on us again. I'll again make a quick 48-hour trip to Brooklyn in pursuit of my sixth championship. Once again, though, I don't really like my chances for a few reasons. One is the strength of the field; in addition to favorite Dan Feyer, there are at least a few people poised to make their first big push towards the top three, in addition to the crowd already clamoring for spots in the final. The number of serious title contenders very comfortably reaches double digits. Secondly, the hunger I spoke of in last year's wrap-up hasn't really manifested itself. Life remains busy, and when I've had chances to practice, I've decided I'd rather just play Super Mario Galaxy (64 of 120 stars found so far) or something instead. I'm realizing more and more that speed-solving, especially on paper, just isn't something I particularly enjoy. Lastly, because of the Pacific-Eastern time change and the tournament coinciding with the Daylight Savings change, I'm going to be solving Puzzle 7, the final opportunity to charge at a spot in the final, at what feels like 5 AM. Adrenaline will get me through it, but it's no substitute for genuine rest, especially when it comes to avoiding careless mistakes.

The good news for me is that, for whatever reason, I pull out my best solving when trying to win this tournament, and I've exceeded my low expectations with second-place finishes the last two years. Also, though most of them are on the computer, I still solve a ton of crosswords, so I have no reason to think my clue-solving skill has lapsed. And, as I know better than anyone, luck plays a hefty role in this event, from the variables in the puzzles to the knowledge gaps every solver has to the crucial difference between times of 3:59 and 4:01. To sum up, I can't say I think it'll be me lifting the bowl, but it could be. See you by the Bridge on Friday!

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  1. I actually find I do better when I haven’t slept. But I try not to reproduce those results, as they’re not doubt unreliable. :)

  2. Ditto that, Tyler – I discovered this year that I don’t really like speed-solving, either, and I’ve done almost none of it since the last tournament. My equivalent of your Super Mario Galaxy is Sporcle, to which I’ve become addicted, and pretty much all the time I used to spend speed-solving has gone into Sporcle time (why on earth continuing to improve my scores on the baby-name quizzes is so appealing, I have no idea, but there it is). So… I might get lucky… but if so, it isn’t going to be because of a ton of preparation, as it was in a couple of years. People like Plotkin are hungry. I’m not. Travel safely, see you there!


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