A Newbie from Nowhere at the National
By BOB NEWELL
This last weekend I participated in the 20th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Connecticut. While my final standing was way down in the pack, I did achieve the distinction of being the first entrant in history from the state of North Dakota.
As a prospective tournament rookie participant, and not a particularly strong solver, I had a lot of doubt about going to Stamford, and a fair amount of negative anticipation prior to getting on the airplane... "I just know I'm going to finish last" ... "everyone will be so much brighter they won't want to talk with me" ... I began to feel a bit like a teenager asking for a date for the first time.
Well, I did go and I did compete, and I'd like to advise any other Newbies from Nowhere or Rookies from Remotesville: Go to Stamford! I haven't had as much fun in a weekend for many years. The people there were friendly, from the lowliest of solvers (that's me) right on through the very best. The top players, the puzzle constructors, the tournament officials--- all of them took the time to say hello, to chat for a while, and even to wish me well and make me feel extraordinarily welcome.
The event itself was smoothly run and calculated not only to provide a challenge but maximum fun as well. The tournament puzzles were top quality, elegant constructions; the team games and special presentations were interesting and entertaining; and the food and accommodations were excellent.
So, will I go back again in 1998? Try to keep me away!