Crosswords LA recap

Eric Maddy squeaked out a win at the Crosswords LA tournament today. Here’s Eric’s recap:

Damn near a photo finish, but I defended the title, winning by less than three seconds over John Beck and Jonathan Berman in the final.

The five prelim puzzles were from Monday 5/3, Tuesday 5/4, Wednesday 5/12, Wednesday 5/5, and Thursday 5/6, in that order.

The final was a Friday puzzle, but I didn’t catch the date. 5/7, I assume.

Jordan Chodorow, who was the fastest contestant in 2009 and the leader going into the final, looked like the pacesetter again, as he was three minutes ahead of the pack on the five prelim puzzles, but he had a letter wrong in Puzzle 3 and finished sixth (I think) overall.

With Jordan out of the running, John Beck set the pace with times of under 4, under 4, under 6, under 5, and under 6 minutes. Jon Berman and myself were a minute back with Eric Levasseur finishing fourth, two minutes behind Beck.

Final puzzle was a reasonably tough Friday. I had a tough time jumping in (when the first thing I enter is 52-Down, that’s a sign of trouble). Apparently, I ended up solving the “tougher” part of the puzzle first and eventually got into a flow. Once I got near finishing, I decided I was throwing my hand up as soon as I had my last letter in, because I had nothing to lose. I’m told Beck finished 10 seconds or so ahead of me, but he took a few seconds to check his puzzle and that was the difference, allowing me to sneak past him. Berman was less than six seconds behind me for third.

I asked Eric for more information on the two runners-up in the dramatic final competition:

John Beck has been at ACPT the last four years. He was 29th this year, but was 14th in 2008 (third among Bs, but a scoring error kept him out of the stage final) and 22nd (fourth among B’s) in 2009. He’s from Southern California.

Jon Berman was 48th overall and fourth among rookies at 2010 ACPT. He’s from the Bay Area. He was 12th in both the Alameda and LA tournaments last year, so apparently he’s just now hitting his stride (he’s been a crossword finalist at Silicon Valley Puzzle Day the past two years, but that tourney field isn’t nearly as deep as the others).

Congratulations to you, Eric! And congrats (with “better luck next year” wishes) to John, Jon, and everyone else breathing down their necks.

A special shout-out to Diary of a Crossword Fiend team member Jeffrey Krasnick, who placed 5th out of 78 entrants, and to PuzzleGirl, who was in roughly the top 20%. Nice going!

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5 Responses to Crosswords LA recap

  1. Jeffrey says:

    Awesome event. Started out with a glitch when the clock ran at double time on puzzle one but it got sorted out.

    Thanks to Elissa Grossman and all the volunteers. I’ll give a more detailed report in the next couple of days.

  2. joon says:

    wait, did the clock really run at double speed? was byron behind this?

    congrats to eric and all the finalists. wish i coulda been there.

  3. Elissa says:

    The clock really ran at double speed … or time sped up. Either way, it was all my fault.
    Sigh.

    – Elissa “remember to test the clock on the correct computer next time” G. (tourney dis-organizer)

  4. John Beck says:

    Boy, the whole day really felt like a time warp.

    Clock at double-speed in Puzzle One.
    Finishing the playoff puzzle ten (?) seconds ahead and losing by three (?) seconds… Seemed like I lingered more than 10 seconds and declared right after Eric.

    Regardless, I was just glad to get a Date With The Whiteboard™ after missing out at the ACPT 2008. Plus I ended up with the world’s largest gift basket for my runner-up showing.

    Thanks to Elissa (and all the judges and volunteers) for a great event. It’s always enjoyable to hobnob with the crossword cognoscenti—or, as my wife calls them, “your people”

  5. Jon Berman says:

    Fittingly enough, I ended up with the world’s second largest gift basket.
    I was just hoping to be in the top ten, so making the finals was a great surprise.
    Elissa and her team have created an event that is extraordinarily warm and inclusive. I met lots of really great people there. Can’t wait for next year

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