Marbles Chicago Crossword Tournament wrap-up

We had about 50 competitors at the April 17 Marbles Crossword Tournament in Chicago, twice as many as last year. For next year, the host, Marbles: The Brain Store, may well seek out a bigger space to hold the event, and might move to whiteboards for the finals for a more ACPT-like experience (and a more dramatic finals for everyone who’s watching by that point rather than vying for the top prize). The east and west coasts have hogged the competitive crosswording glory for too long!

At an amateur tournament, published constructors and people who work in the crossword field as editors and proofreaders can’t compete. This means I’m there to help out, not to race against you. And 2009’s winner, Anne Erdmann, super speed demon from the ACPT, also served as an official this year rather than competing. So if you like the idea of going to a crossword tournament but the ACPT eats you alive because you’re no Anne Erdmann, have no fear. And even if you’re not competitive, you can still have a grand time fraternizing with puzzle people. So Chicagoland crossword fans, watch for an announcement of 2011’s tournament next spring.

I reported the final standings before:

  1. William Hall, 8:14
  2. Marty Howard, 8:20
  3. Scott Orman, 9:02

Here are more detailed preliminary results:

Round 1 (Monday, 4/19 NYT crossword)

  1. Marty Howard (qualifier), 3:59
  2. William Hall, 4:15
  3. John Milne, 4:40
  4. Scott Orman, 4:50
  5. Ben Bass, 4:58
  6. Kent Brody
  7. Bob Listrid
  8. Bobby Shepherd
  9. Robert Morton
  10. P.D. Wadler

Round 2 (Tuesday, 4/27 NYT crossword)

  1. William Hall (qualifier), 4:54
  2. Scott Orman, 5:04
  3. Peter Kelso, 5:09
  4. Ben Bass, 5:15
  5. Alison Howard, 5:40

Round 3 (Wednesday, 4/21 NYT crossword)

  1. Scott Orman (qualifier), 5:22
  2. Ben Bass, 5:44
  3. Kent Brody, 6:03
  4. P.D. Wadler, 6:15
  5. Marty Howard, 6:30

The penmanship prize went to Katrina Bowman, whose beau Artillery was also competing. She had just been exhorting him to write more neatly, so when her clear printing was recognized after Round 2, it was a classic “I told you so” moment. (Artillery made a concerted effort to be neater in Round 3.)

Many thanks to Marbles for hosting the event and handling all the logistics, and thanks to Bob Petitto, Anne Erdmann, and Katje Sabin for joining me and the Marbles staff as tournament officials. An extra thanks to Bob for bringing his collection of antique crossword books and memorabilia, and giving a ’70s reprint of the very first crossword book to the tournament’s winner.

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6 Responses to Marbles Chicago Crossword Tournament wrap-up

  1. Pauer says:

    Sounds fun. Thanks for the write-up.

    Personally, I don’t think letting constructors compete would change much. Speaking for myself, my abilities are no threat to the speedsters. I suppose I could act as a competitor and just not turn in my paper, but I don’t really see the point of the exclusion in the first place.

  2. ktd says:

    I agree with Pauer. Plus, don’t they let constructors compete in the other regional tournaments (Boston, LA etc.)?

    Unless it is one of your own puzzles in the tournament, I don’t see how there could be any unfair advantage.

  3. joon says:

    i think the point of the rule is not actually to exclude constructors, but to encourage participation by others by providing the appearance of “we’re all amateurs here.” still, it’s probably misguided.

  4. Anne E says:

    In which case perhaps “anyone who’s won $ before in a crossword tournament” should be excluded…

    Besides, ACPT is open to everyone, right? Plenty of constructors compete there.

    (I loved officiating, but it was hard not to compete! My choice, though.)

  5. Joanne Sullivan says:

    Thanks for bending the rules and letting me participate. I enjoyed the tournament even though I had no chance of winning.

    If you attract enough speed solvers and don’t want to alienate casual solvers who are intimidated by them, you might consider dividing the competitors into “Express” and “Local” divisions as Ryan and Brian do at Lollapuzzoola. If it’s feasible, including “professionals” might attract people who want to see speed solvers like Anne Erdmann in action.

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