Chris in Connecticut writes:
Are there any crossword compilation books you recommend for ACPT prep? I think I’ve done all the Friday-Saturday Times books. While I’m not the fastest, I can invariably complete them correctly. At this point in my puzzle career, the only one that gives me big problems still is the Saturday Stumper. Anything else you’d recommend from Amazon? I still prefer pen and paper.
The best books for training are Will Shortz’s past collections of ACPT puzzles, but unfortunately those are out of print. (I’d love to see the publishing rights to those books and Patrick Berry’s Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies revert to Will and Patrick, respectively, and for these gents to be able to release the books again.)
For $20 per year, you can buy a packet of ACPT puzzles from 2005 to 2014. I don’t see many people springing for $200 for 80 puzzles, but if you’ve never done ACPT puzzles, you’d do well to solve a couple of recent years’ packets. (And Will, how about another book collection with 2005+ ACPT puzzles? Or a discount on buying multiple years’ worth from the ACPT site?)
I know some people plow through Simon & Schuster crossword collections, for two reasons. First, the books contain puzzles in those in-between sizes seen at ACPT—the 17×17 and 19×19 formats. Second, some of the puzzles have kinda rough fill, and it’s good training to learn how to muscle through seemingly impossible crossings.
People used to also train on Maura Jacobson’s New York magazine puzzles, but Maura has retired from making an annual ACPT puzzle. Merl Reagle often makes a big ACPT puzzle, so any of his various volumes of Sunday crosswords is a good bet.
What are you folks relying on for your ACPT training? Please tell us what’s worked for you in the comments.