Friday, March 7, 2008

An evening at the puzzle tournament

More notes from a rookie contestant at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held Feb. 29 to March 2 at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

(Previous posting below)

Evenings are social times at the tournament. On Friday night, in the same room where we worked on the puzzles, the get-acquainted event involved splitting up in teams of three to solve a series of puzzle with clues related to Brooklyn. The idea is to get through the puzzles and thus be the first, within one hour, to come up with the Big Answer, which was, appropriately enough, "Fuhgeddaboutit." (But please don't hold me to that spelling.) My team eventually solves it, though quite a bit past the deadline.

On Saturday evening, Will Shortz, who each week appears on NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" with a different puzzle (and a contest for listeners), presents that weekend's radio puzzle. (He'd taped his segment earlier in the day.) He also tries out a puzzle he says is too hard for the radio. The crowd rises to the occasion.

Next is a short movie made by Ed Stein, who has been in the tournament for more than 20 years. The film, "Wordploy," is a parody of "Wordplay," a documentary about the tournament that was made several years ago. The parody focuses on Stein's efforts to finally win the tournament, and it's pretty amusing, largely because of Stein's self-deprecating sense of humor.

After that, there's a tournament version of the TV show "1 vs. 100," pitting the audience against past tournament winners. It's a clever idea, but it's been a long day (not to mention that I have a cold that keeps hanging on), so I escape early.

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