It's that time of year again. The 30th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be held in Stamford, Connecticut on March 23, 24 and 25.
I already have plans for that weekend, so I will solve at home. For $20, you can do the competition puzzles at home and mail them in. They'll be hand scored and returned to you with your ranking in the skill divisions you qualify for (age, region, experience).
If you have seen the documentary Wordplay, it was about this tournament.
For the first time, you can compete by computer and solve the puzzles online the weekend of the tournament if you prefer. I personally like to solve puzzles by paper and pencil. For some reason, computer crosswords and sudoku just never grabbed me.
There are eight puzzles, from easy to agonizingly hard. I'm pretty good and can usually finish about six of them pretty easily, one with difficulty, right around the time limit, and one I won't be able to get at all, throwing my scores into the toilet. We'll see how I do this year.
My Dad and I attended in person a few years ago. It was a lot of fun. Marring the experience was the long, expensive bus trip from LaGuardia Airport to Stamford, and having our return flight cancelled. You know how tedious that is. Get on the plane, get off the plane. Get back on, get back off. Stand in line to get a reservation for the next day. Get to a cheap hotel right after the restaurant has closed. Call work to say you won't be in the next morning. Bus back to the airport the next morning. Fly home.
I might try it again some time as part of a long leisurely car trip.
If cruises are more your thing, you can attend the Crossword Puzzle Cruise with Stanley Newman on the ms Westerdam. This weeklong cruise will sail for a week leaving Feb. 3, 2008.
[Image from Crossword Puzzles by Ray Hammel]