Friday, November 1, 2013

2,355 Puzzles Litzed During Litzstarter, Nancy Kavanaugh Wins ACPT Grand Prize, Mark Diehl Tops 4,000, New Litzer Extraordinaire Ralph Bunker, November Litzer of the Month C. G. Rishikesh, and In 1957

Litzstarter is now officially over, and it's been a tremendous success!  With an ambitious goal of reaching 13,000 on the litzing thermometer in just two months, we not only met that goal but surpassed it, hitting 13,363 by 11:59 p.m. PDT on October 31.  A total of 2,355 puzzles (counting 97 of my own, which weren't listed in the contest totals) were litzed—an astounding achievement!  Thanks so much again to everyone who participated—awesome job!

And many thanks again too to our generous sponsors:  the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT), American Values Club Crossword (AVCX), Crossword Nation, Fireball Crosswords, Puzzazz, Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle, and XWord Info.  The awards were terrific incentives and helped make this the most successful Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project contest ever!

The winner of the Grand Prize drawing for free admission to the 2014 ACPT was Nancy Kavanaugh—congratulations, Nancy!  Contest litzers were assigned numbers between 1 and 2258 based on the number of puzzles they'd litzed during Litzstarter, and a random-number generator produced the winning number.

Now for a recap of Litzstarter's final six days:  Ralph Bunker got us off to a fast start on Saturday morning with 28 puzzles.  Late that night, Mark Diehl sent in 25 more.  Then Sunday morning, Ralph sent in another 28, putting us over 13,100 on the litzing thermometer (and his personal totals at more than 500!)!  Sunday night, Denny Baker sent in 7 puzzles, which were followed by 20 more from Mark.  Monday evening, Vic Fleming sent in 21 puzzles.  Then Tuesday afternoon, Brian Kulman sent in 7, which were followed by 28 more from Ralph that night, putting us over 13,200 on the litzing thermometer!  About half an hour later, Mark sent in 35 more puzzles (putting his contest total at more than 600!).  On Wednesday afternoon, Tracy Bennett sent in 7 puzzles, which were followed a little over an hour later by a mega-batch of 42 from Nancy Kavanaugh.  That night, Mark sent in 28 more puzzles, putting us over 13,300 on the litzing thermometer (and his contest total at 650 and regular total at more than 4,000!)!  Very early Thursday morning, Todd Gross sent in 11 more proofread puzzles, then later, Brian sent in 7 litzed puzzles.  Thursday night—the last night of the contest—Todd McClary sent in 7 more puzzles, which were followed by 24 more from Mark about an hour and a half before the midnight deadline.  And Howard Barkin sent in an additional 21 puzzles this week as well!  Great job, everyone—thanks so much again!

As I mentioned, Mark Diehl reached a major milestone this week in his regular total, which now comes to 4,036—nearly one-fourth of the total pre-Shortzian puzzles!  Congratulations, Mark, on this amazing achievement!

And many of you may have noticed the sudden appearance of new litzer extraordinaire Ralph Bunker, who first contacted me on September 14 (two weeks after Litzstarter had begun) about litzing and who has since litzed an astounding 539 puzzles—in just six weeks!  Ralph has written programs to speed up his litzing, and next week I'll be publishing a fascinating piece he wrote about that.  Thanks so much again, Ralph!

In other news, we have a new Litzer of the Month:  C. G. Rishikesh (Rishi)! Rishi lives in India and is a prolific constructor of cryptic puzzles.  His response to my question about which aspect of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project database he was most excited about was particularly eloquent:
To be able to go to old puzzles and see those old references.  To marvel at some things that are still fresh.  To mourn over things that have died a silent death.  To recall a half-forgotten quote, to be reminded of a movie that you saw years ago with a cousin who is no longer alive, to find an echo from a distant song. . . .  The possibilities are endless.
To read more about Rishi, click here or on the Litzer of the Month tab above.

With all this litzing, we've whizzed into another year:  1957.  This was a year of many major historical events, but in honor of the speed at which we've zipped through the litzing, I've decided to highlight the record-setting run by British race car driver Stirling Moss on August 23, 1957, in the MG EX181.  Reaching a speed of 245 mph—almost as fast as litzers!—Moss broke the class F world land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  Here's a picture of the MG EX181:

Photo courtesy of Auto Heritage

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