So, it turns out that my newest Onion puzzle is running this week, not next week as I originally thought. Have fun with it.
But more important matters are at hand. This weekend, at last, is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which again returns to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott. I say "at last" because this year's tournament was shifted back to March after sneaking into February over the course of the last few years, so about thirteen months have passed since the last event. Top solvers around the country are surely eager to get the competition rolling.
Everyone knows about the main tournament, but the extracurriculars this year include a cryptic crossword contest featuring a few British solving champions and a puzzle adaptation of The Amazing Race in addition to a few creative exploits. Full disclosure: I'm not attending the Friday night program in order to save some money, but the promise of some quality cryptics made it a difficult decision. Should be a good time.
New in 2011 is the early release of the constructors for this year's event. It's a mix of the usual suspects (Jacobson, Reagle, Shenk, etc.) and some new names. Speculation over who made which puzzle (particularly the notorious Puzzle #5) gets a big head start this year.
The favorite this weekend is surely Dan Feyer, who took my crown last year after a dominant performance. His insane solving regimen has continued apace, so there's no reason to believe he should be any less difficult to beat than in 2010. I must admit that it's rather nice not to have the target on my back anymore.
So how do I like my own chances? Honestly, I don't. This will be my tenth tournament since my debut in 2001 (I missed 2002) and the level of competition has only increased in that span. Meanwhile, my own preparation has decreased dramatically in the last few years; the only speed-solving I've done on paper in recent months is going through the competition puzzles at the Alameda tournament and Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest. I'll bring my Maura Jacobson book on my trip and get in a bit of practice that way, but overall life has done a pretty good job of knocking speed-solving back in my priority queue. Of course, I still have a chance to win, I'm going to try like hell to win, and I'll be disappointed if I don't win. My primary goal, though, is to stay loose and enjoy the company of my puzzling family.
It's on, folks. See you soon!