Friday, March 20, 2015

1959 Puzzles Done (35 Years!), American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in the Pre-Shortz Era, Nancy A. Corbett, and Three-peat Winner Barbara Hindenach

Project Update

Great news:  I just sent the proofread 1959 puzzles to Jim Horne at XWord Info, which means we've now finished 35 years of proofreading!  There are only 17 left, and starting in late 1950, all the remaining years will be Sunday puzzles only, so those should go even more quickly!

We made terrific progress again this week, starting off on Saturday morning with 30 puzzles from Mark Diehl.  Sunday night Dave Phillips sent 31 puzzles with 76 mistakes, which were followed by 31 more from Mark five minutes later.  Monday evening Mark sent another 28, and then Tuesday morning Todd sent 10 with 9 mistakes.  That night Mark sent 31 more, which were followed by another 30 from Denny Baker.  Wednesday afternoon Todd sent 10 more with 172 mistakes (yes, 172—probably the all-time high!)!  Just over an hour later Mark sent another 31, then later on 30 more.  Thursday afternoon Mark sent another 14 and then later that night 19 more.  Finally, late Friday afternoon he sent another 11.  Awesome job, everyone—thanks so much again!

I'll be attending the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) next week, so the next blog post will be in two weeks—hope to see many of you in Stamford!

Barbara Hindenach Three-peat Blast! Winner

Congratulations again to Barbara Hindenach, who on Wednesday sent in the first correct answer to last week's Blast! challenge, making her a three-peat winner!  The clue, which was from the May 28, 1955, puzzle, was "One of the new wonders of the world."  The entry:  ELECTRONIC BRAIN.  I think this referred to robots back then, but nowadays there might be some technological brain implant that would make this clue and entry just as current!

The next Blast! challenge is in the sidebar, and I'll announce the first correct solver (if there is one!) in two weeks!

American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in the Pre-Shortz Era

New York Times March 6, 1978, story on first ACPT.

This year marks a major change in the ACPT, which for the first time since 2007 will be held in its original venue in Stamford, Connecticut!  As the above photo shows, the very first ACPT took place in 1978 and had 161 "enthusiasts."  The $20 entry fee included "luncheon, plus a cut-rate room," Will Shortz was 25, contestants ranged in age from 15 (Michael Miller) to 69 (Ruth Emini), and the winner was Nancy Schuster!

In honor of the ACPT's return to Stamford, I've posted two articles from the pre-Shortz era about the tournament and its competitors on Scribd.  Both were written by the amazing Helene Hovanec, and the first—"The Nation's Top Solvers:  Carol Barboni, Jon Delfin, Doug Hoylman, and Ellen Ripstein"—originally appeared in the May/June 1991 issue of CROSSW RD Magazine, which you can see here.  The second—"Competitive Aficionados:  Miriam Raphael and Ed Bethea"—was published in CROSSW RD Magazine's March/April 1993 issue and can be seen here.  "Life on the Circuit," Helene's account of what happens at the ACPT and why it's so much fun appears in this issue as well, and you can read it below too:

Copyright 1993, 2015, Megalo Media, Inc. Reprinted by
permission of Stan Chess and CROSSW-RD Magazine.

Nancy A. Corbett Born in Stamford

Finally, a few days ago I heard from litzer, proofreader, and historian Todd Gross, who had found an obituary of constructor Nancy A. Corbett.  Todd pointed out that not only had Nancy published two puzzles in the Times, one in the pre-Shortz era and the other some six weeks later after Will Shortz became editor, but she was also born in Stamford, Connecticut!  Thanks so much again, Todd—onward, Stamford!


  1. I love that line in the NYT article: "Did you notice that almost everyone here is a smoker? That's unusual in most groups today." I'll say!

    1. I thought that was interesting too—good thing times have changed!