A sizeable flock of contestants braved the clammy weather Friday night to test their wits at the 11th annual crossword tournament in Will Shortz’s hometown of Pleasantville, NY. The room was filled with both individual and doubles team competitors, puzzlemaker types who hovered as judges, and enough baked goods to feed the town’s middle school. Next week’s Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday NY Times puzzles winnowed the field down to three finalists — Nancy Taubenslag, “Jeffurry” Schwartz, and the eventual champ at solving Thursday’s puzzle on the big easels, Bob Mackey!
Afterward, a small parade of the crossword faithful made their way over to Will’s house for more snacks. A fine spread of Doritos, Lay’s potato chips, dip, carrots, cookies, soda, and beer were laid out. I assume Will provided his traditional house and puzzle collection tour for the uninitiated, but since it’s so close to Halloween, I headed home before the witching hour. All in all, another highly successful installment of this very friendly and fun annual event, with proceeds benefiting the town’s Fund for Learning.