Welcome to the 35th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament — our coral anniversary!
Lots of great things are in store this year, including a demonstration of Dr. Fill, Matt Ginsberg's brilliant new crossword-solving program. On Saturday night Matt will show Dr. Fill's real-time solving of the tournament Puzzles #1-#6. Anyone whose scores on Puzzles #1-#7 are higher than Dr. Fill's will receive an "I Beat Dr. Fill" button.
In addition, the weekend includes a palindrome-composing championship, a PuzzleNation team puzzle-solving extravaganza (courtesy of Eric Berlin and Jeffrey Harris), and a new pair of commentators on Sunday's playoff — Liane Hansen, former host of NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday," and Greg Pliska, composer and puzzle creator.
Contestants this year come from 37 states, D.C., five Canadian provinces, Denmark, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. The ages range from 15 to 87.
The constructors of this year's puzzles are listed at the bottom of the Schedule. The puzzles range in difficulty from easyish (#1, #4, and #6) to hard (#2, and especially #5).
As before, your papers will be marked by hand using green pens, scored electronically, and posted on the tournament website for you to view. If you have a question about any score of yours, put it in writing, and we will check it for you. Note: Please do not solve with a green pencil or ink.
If you're new to the event, please keep in mind that the contest is only one aspect of the event. Many people come primarily for the evening games and camaraderie. You can take the competition as seriously, or casually, as you wish.
As always, many of the country's top puzzlemakers and editors will be present as either officials or guests. They'll be happy to talk to you. Don't be shy about saying hello.
By law, there will be no smoking in the Ballroom or other public spaces of the hotel. Ten-minute breaks will be given between rounds. If you finish a puzzle before the time limit, you are free to leave the Ballroom quietly.
Please wear your nametag at all tournament activities, as you will need it to enter the Ballroom.
At the playoffs on Sunday you'll receive a complete set of the tournament puzzles to take home. Final standings will be posted at www.crosswordtournament.com soon after the tournament; or you may call Helene Hovanec (718-797-0264) anytime from Monday onward to find out your score and placement.
We would like to thank Penny Publications — publishers of Penny Press/Dell puzzle magazines, The Crosswords Club, and The Uptown Puzzle Club — for their sponsorship, which helps make this event possible. Thanks also to Gryphon Games and St. Martin's Press for their valuable support.
Now on to the puzzles. Good luck! And enjoy your weekend!