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!