149. Merrell Books

November 12, 2011

Out Now:
A holiday section, plus TV detectives, celebrity chefs, movie cars, chick flicks, Bradley, Cee Lo and Soffffia.

240 pages and 6 types of puzzles, with crossword champ Dan Feyer pitching in.

Coming in 2012 (for kids):
• Bob the plunger and Rollo the toilet paper roll host a book packed with unusual trivia, gross recipes and over 80 pages of fun and funny puzzles. Color illustrations throughout.

CHICKEN GAMES & PUZZLES • 144 pages with illustrations throughout. Co-written by Helene Hovanec.

HAUNTED HALLOWEEN MAZES: A Maze Adventure • For beginning solvers. Zombie mice, walking eyeballs and a floor-eating furball.

HAPPY HOLIDAY MAZES: A Maze Adventure • For beginning solvers. When Santa’s away, the elves will play.

PUZZLED PENGUINS • For beginning solvers, starring Herbert and Martha Penguin. Scholastic book club reprint, early 2012.

147. Pleasantville Tourney Recap

October 22, 2011

Will Shortz’s annual fund-raising crossword tournament is history. A sizable flock of crossword fanciers ran a gantlet (or gauntlet, if you prefer) of flying Ping-Pong balls at Mr. Shortz’s newly christened hall of the white orb, with all appearing to have found refuge in a roomy, well-lit solving room specially outfitted for the night. A wall kept the fervent paddle-wielders at bay, but the threat was ever-present via soundproof windows. An imported Chinese table tennis table full of beverages and baked goods helped calm a few frayed nerves.

My contribution for the night was unplugging one of the three coffeemakers that had overloaded the wall outlets and disabled the official display clock for the first round. I then skirted the mayhem in the outer table tennis area, located the circuit breakers and restored power. Red, gleaming numbers greeted the solvers for the remainder of the night.

Solving ensued, with some familiar faces blazing through the NYT puzzles that will appear next Monday through Wednesday. Bob Mackey, Jeffrey Schwartz and Elaine Lippman posted the fastest qualifying times in 3:05, 3:05 and ~4:30 respectively. Another perennial ringer, Ken Stern, ended up just out of the running.

Solving on the oversized boards for the finals, Bob Mackey took top honors on next Thursday’s puzzle, with Mr. Schwartz nosing out Ms. Lippman by an eye wink.

A good smattering of the puzzle-sated faithful then found their way to Will Shortz’s house nearby. Awaiting them was a generous bounty of sodas, beer and wine to wash down inviting bowls of Doritos, Ruffles, carrots and white celery. Banter filled the house with merriment. Liniment was available for any who suffered Ping-Pong ball bruises.

CLICK HERE for a great video of the event.

The windows behind which we cowered are at the top right.

145. Pleasantville Crossword Tournament

October 14, 2011

The 15th Annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament will be held Friday, October 21, starting at 7:30. The venue has moved a few blocks from the Episcopal church to Will Shortz’s new Ping-Pong palace.

More info     • Directions

144. JeOpardy! cONtestant

October 12, 2011

Joon Pahk has been moonlighting on Jeopardy! this week and last. In the past several years he’s also made some appearances on the NYT crossword blog Wordplay, including an interview and a guest-solving stint. Links to those features, as well as to videos of his Jeopardy! performances (put together by Nancy Shack), can all be found on this Wordplay page.

And you can play Joon’s “Guess my word!” game by clicking HERE.

140. Tour de France Coverage

July 2, 2011

I’ll be filing daily reports chronicling the progress of Spaniard Sammy Sánchez and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal in this year’s Tour de France. The posts can be found on THIS NEW BLOG, starting with the first stage on Saturday, July 2, and running through to the finish in Paris on the 24th.

139. patrickmerrell.com

June 15, 2011

My official website can now be found at www.patrickmerrell.com. For years its home has been http://www.patrick.merrell.org, and you can still go there, but it’s just gonna tell you to go to patrickmerrell.com, so save yourself a trip.

133. Wordplay Moments

March 23, 2011

Several people at this past weekend’s tournament asked me where they could find the “A Day with Will Shortz” series I wrote last year for Wordplay, the New York Times crossword blog. A compilation of the six installments: CLICK HERE

Other Wordplay highlights: CLICK HERE

The lowlights from my Wordplay stint were too numerous to compile.


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