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.