It's here again! The dates that many members of the National Puzzlers' League circle on their calendars are just about upon us. On Wednesday, we will gather in Providence, Rhode Island for four days of puzzles, games, and socializing. It's our annual convention, which goes simply by Con or the punny name specific to that year and location; this year's groan-inducing edition appears in this post's title.
What makes this gathering so enjoyable for the couple hundred who will attend? Well, much like the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, it's one of the biggest gatherings of puzzle-loving people to be found. While there will be plenty of opportunities for attendees to match wits with each other, the event is free of the pulse-pounding high-pressure competition you'll find at the ACPT, creating a more relaxed atmosphere. We'll solve the slew of puzzles people will bring (including a Sunday-size crossword I co-constructed), take part in homemade rounds of Jeopardy! and other creative games, dine together, and chat. Retiring to one's hotel room at any time before the wee hours of the morning is too early for most.
And that's just what goes on in our unscheduled time! There's also an official program. We'll get packets with cryptic crosswords and our flats (puzzles in verse); this year the latter will be based on children's rhymes. We'll gather in our big room to play games involving trivia and wordplay. There will even be a "hidden contest", special instructions lurking somewhere within some other material at the convention. The culmination of the official solving is the traditional extravaganza, a series of interconnected puzzles culminating in a final answer. (It's bigger than what's in an issue of Puzzles & Answers Magazine, but much smaller than an MIT Mystery Hunt.) This year, the brilliant Mike Shenk is the designer, so we should be in for a treat.
Well, now I just want Wednesday afternoon to hurry up and get here. See you soon, puzzlers!