I should also mention today's puzzle was Puzzle #5 in the 2010 ACPT. So for those who did last year's batch, it's a rerun. For those who have never competed, this should give you a sense of how tough the "bitch mother" puzzles are. That is to say the ones that separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Now, onto the recap.
I am still exhausted and more than a little bit puzzled-out after another stellar ACPT weekend. Even though I retired from the competition end of things, it's still an all-puzzles (that's either talking or solving) getting no sleep ultramarathon for me. Well, duh. Where else am I going to dork out about puzzles? So yeah, right now I feel a as bad as Charlie Sheen looks. Bi-un-winning.
Speaking of bi-winning, "Steely" Dan Feyer won his first back-to-back ACPT. Just going to throw it out there folks: he looks unbeatable. It's scary because Tyler Hinman looked unbeatable for a long time, and the beast that finally beat him is "Steely." I cannot imagine what the person who will eventually beat Dan will look like. Cuz right now it looks like the only way it's happening is (a) someone is going to have to take on an even more insane training regimen, say solving something like 60,000 puzzles a year or (b) assassination. Though I'm pretty sure Feyer would win even if he took a bullet and started bleeding all over the place Mr. Orange in "Reservoir Dogs"-style. He's that good.
Puzzle of the Tournament, IMHO, was #5. Surprise, it was by Mike Shenk, one of the Crossword Jesuses. "Crossover Hits" was a stellar test not only in the theme department: eight songs whose titles literally crossed over a black square and into either the previous or next consecutive answer. But also the cluing was insane. Mike told me the version he sent to Will Shortz was intentionally too hard and that Will would dial it back to what was ACPT-appropriate. Very little was changed. So clues were so unhelpful and trivia-laden that solvers essentially had to guess which tired proper noun that usually appears in crosswords went with which new never-before-seen clues. A crazy solve.
Close second was Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan's 21x: "Kangaroo Phrases." I'm not a big fan of puzzles with circles in them, but I'll take this one. The eight themed clues were essentially blank as the the circled letters was the "answer" to clue that was the longer answer. Ashish told me that Narayan's last name contains his first and that was the impetus behind the puzzle. While I'm talking about Ashish, while were out pulling pints with "Miracle" Matt Gaffney, Ashish casually dropped when he was a teenager he played World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand to a draw (to be fair Vishy was a teenager too). Why I didn't know about this mind-scrambling fact until this past weekend is a mystery to me. If that were me, I'd put that on my business card.
As always the big joy of the ACPT is seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I'll throw out one: Andrew Ries of St. Cloud, MN. Andrew's been doing some quite impressive Patrick Berry-inspired Rows Gardens on his own site, so if you're not already going to it, I suggest you do.
Also, thanks to all who came over and said how much you like the site. And if there are any photographs that are worth sharing (more than a few were ruined by my uncanny knack for looking very uncomfortable in every photograph), please send them on.
Now, back to bed. Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday. Though don't quote me on that. I might do a rerun.