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.