That right there are my unused Google tickets from this past Saturday's Lollapuzzoola. Lolla, if you've never been or in case you forgot, is the only major crossword tournament that allows for cheating. Heck, they even give out an award for the best cheater. So yeah, if you're stumped, you can cash in one of these Google tickets and boom, an answer is given to you. But whatever, I didn't need 'em and as such the ole' Biz Quig came in at the very respectable 28th out of 143 competitors. Just imagine how I'd do if I solved crosswords on paper in pencil more regularly. I think 24th or 23rd is not entirely out of the equation. Anyway, if you have any interest in solving them, they're available here for the princely sum of $10. You might also want to stop reading too as there will be some spoilers in the text.
I sat in between Messrs. Jon Delfin and Francis Heaney and let me tell you, those guys are crazy fast. No surprises, they came in 1st and 2nd respectively (Scott Weiss who took third ... I don't know where he was sitting). Now, is it I possible that I was drafting behind them like cyclists in the Tour de France in hopes of gaining speed? It's possible. But probably unlikely. They're just really good. In fact, when the hardest puzzle was being passed out, a doozy by Patrick Blindauer, Jon took a look at the title "Change of Heart," looked at the high word count for a daily-sized puzzle (all of this information was given on the back of the paper, BTW), and then looked at the grid which could faintly be made out through the sheet. He turned to me and said, "read the title again and then think cryptically." Sure enough, the puzzle's clues were easy enough, but a lot of the crossings didn't work. When I got stuck, which didn't take long, I went to the bottom and worked my way up, like how I solve all cryptics, but wrote the answers in smaller letters. In a short time I saw the Downs were all clued correctly, while the Acrosses were all clued wrong. Specifically, their middle letter was incorrect, hence "change of heart". How Jon was able to quickly piece all this information together before the puzzle was even begun demonstrates just how damned good at puzzle solving he is.
The other puzzles were good, although I'd be hard pressed to mention any specific themes right now. I guess that's a problem with speed solving, you kind of get the theme, but can't recall any of the answers. Though two were worth mentioning: Mike Nothnagel's puzzle involved a bit of theater of the absurd where Blindauer's phone kept rining ridiculous and recognizable ringtones while people were solving a puzzle (the song titles were the theme answers). Didn't quite catch that until I saw that SMOOTH OPERATOR fit in the grid shortly after I vageuly remember hearing that song. And when RAINBOW CONNECTION came on, I thanked him for the 17 letters. (How they'll do this for the play-at-home is a mystery to me). Also worth mentioning is Patrick Berry beautiful playoff puzzle. But then again, that's like saying water's wet and Kanye West is an blithering idiot.
So thanks again to Brian Cimmet and Pat for putting on the event. And it was great to meet those who came over to say hi. Let's do this again soon, okay? If not at the ACPT, then hopefully at the Boston tournament that we've been toying with the idea of resurrecting. And maybe now that I've mentioned that, it will force us to make it a reality.
Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday.
UPDATE: I fat fingered the puzzle while exporting the files this morning. As a result, two clues were non-existent. They're fixed now.