This weekend was the third annual Silicon Valley Puzzle Days, a benefit for the Morgan Hill Library Foundation. It was held at the Morgan Hill Library, and this was the first year I wasn't traveling and was able to attend. Saturday was all seminars about crossword puzzles, sudoku, cryptics, and the fascinating Japanese puzzles found on Nikoli's web site. I purchased a book of variety sudoku and had it signed by the authors, Wei-Hua Wang and Thomas Snyder, both of whom gave excellent presentations. There was also a panel discussion on crossword puzzle construction led by Andrea Carla Michaels, who has had a number of early-week puzzles published in the venerable New York Times and who co-authored today's puzzle with Tony Orbach.
Today was the day of the actual tournaments, sudoku in the morning, which I skipped, and crosswords in the afternoon. We did three crosswords from next week's New York Times, donated by Will Shortz, and though I came in only two minutes behind the third finalist, I had two errors in puzzle 2. This surprised me somewhat, but I haven't really been at the top of my game lately with all the cat troubles and Amy being gone for so long. I'm hoping to turn in seven more perfect puzzles at the ACPT next month, even if I don't better my times.
The final puzzle, which will be published in the Times on Friday, was not all that difficult, and I finished it (sitting in the audience) only a couple of minutes behind the first-place finisher, Eric Maddy. Considering that he had about a one-minute head start before the puzzles were handed out to those of us in the cheap seats, I was pretty pleased. Eric won the Alameda tournament in 2009 and consistently places in the top 3-4% at the ACPT, though I don't think he's ever been a finalist. He's also the first person to register for the Alameda tournament (which I run) this year, having handed me a $20 bill this afternoon. Thanks, Eric, and congratulations on another well-deserved victory!