Monday, June 22, 2015

Puzzle #13 - Solution (Placeholder)

This post is a placeholder for the solution to Puzzle #13, which will be posted next Tuesday. Feel free to leave your comments or hints below.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Puzzle #12 - Solution

RG2015.12 Hardest/Harder - Solution

RG2015.12 Easier/Easiest - Solution

For the second time in four years, I made it to the finals of the Minnesota Crossword Puzzle Tournament. For the second time in four years, I took second place. Congratulations to Carl Voss, who thoroughly dominated the final themeless puzzle (constructed by Victor Barocas), and handily beat myself and third-place finisher Mike Weepie.

It was a fun time, and the itch of competitive speed solving seems to have returned. I hadn't competed in a tournament since Lollapuzzoola in 2013, but apparently I shook the rust off enough to lead the room going into the finals. I've booked my flight for August to return to Lollapuzzoola this year; now, mind you, I don't expect to get anything close to a top finish there, as some serious speed solvers will be present there. My approach this year was not to "rush" - i.e., make sure the grid is completely filled in, double-check questionable crossings, etc. - and that seemed to work, so I'll approach Lolla in the same manner.

The most important thing, especially when you're in the speed-solving purgatory that I'm in (that is, good enough to qualify for the expert/highest solving division, but nowhere near the top 10-20 solvers that actually have a chance at making a major-tournament final), is to just have fun. The stakes are already very low, so just enjoying the experience, meeting some fellow puzzlers, and solving some great puzzles are the things I most cherish about these tournaments.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Puzzle #11 Solution

RG2015.11 Hardest/Harder - Solution

RG2015.11 Easier/Easiest - Solution

Clue/entry pair at B2 was the seed. I was a little worried that I was a little too sports-heavy in the top half and a little movie/pop culture heavy in the bottom few rows; I hope I didn't inconvenience solvers too much if I probed a bit to much on individual knowledge weak spots.

I had the opportunity to solve the Indie 500 puzzles over the weekend and was really impressed by the quality of the work presented there. It was a shame that I couldn't make the tournament in person (too far, money, etc.), especially so because the puzzles were so enjoyable and I respect each of the constructors greatly. It's a fool's exercise to pick the best of the bunch, because they all were so good, but I will say that Neville Fogarty's stumper had the quintessence of a  Puzzle 5 at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament - a puzzle that puts up great resistance, even when the theme is uncovered. Great stuff there. And as a constructor, I really appreciated both Peter Broda and Finn Vigeland's puzzles from a technical standpoint. I won't go any further and divulge any particulars of the puzzle - to keep with the tournament runners' wishes - just to say that you should order them right now. $10 well spent. Here's the link to purchase: Indie 500 (Click on the Register tab and scroll to the bottom)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Puzzle #10 Solution

RG2015.10 Hardest/Harder - Solution

RG2015.10 Easier/Easiest - Solution

Not much to say about this one, largely because it'd been an eon since I wrote it. It was accepted by Will Shortz's WordPlay last August and was planning to run in the Summer 2015 issue. Unfortunately, the magazine folded after the Spring issue, and all puzzles in the pipeline were returned to their creators. Though it's a tragedy that such a great magazine went by the wayside, it actually meant that I got an "off-week," so to speak. I did edit some of the clues - most notably added the creative angle on the clue for D2, which a number of solvers stated was their favorite part of the puzzle. WordPlay's editorial preference, at least for Rows Gardens, was slanted to the Easier side of things, so I did made a conscious effort to ease up the difficulty on the clues when I submitted. Now that the puzzle was mine again, I toughened it up in places, but for the most part retained its "easier-than-most-weeks" personality.

If you're a fan of variety crosswords (Marching Bands, Some Assembly Required, etc), cryptics (variety and standard), and logic puzzles, you should check out my friend Nathan Curtis's Patreon campaign. Nathan emerged on the puzzle scene through his site Tortoiseshell Studio (where you can find some stellar free examples of his work, including a couple of Rows Gardens), and now he's going semi-pro through Patreon. Consider throwing some money Nathan's way if those types of puzzles please you.