This weekend’s going to be a quiet one for me, but it didn’t have to be. For most of the winter I pondered over the thought of participating in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this year, led by New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz (who also has a pair of excellent magazine titles available through Penny Press). Those who read the blog have seen my previous posts about how I love solving puzzle books, and this would be a fun extension of that hobby. I didn’t even have travel as an excuse: The event is taking place this weekend at the Stamford Marriott. I walked by it on my way home from the train station last night. I could have easily been there right now.
But yet I found myself held back. The predominant reason is that I’m very rusty with Crosswords, and they’ve never really been my favorite puzzle. I generally lean towards puzzles in the math and logic category. Right now my primary books are a book of Ken-Ken that’s been driving me absolutely batty in a good way – they’re challenging! (I’m nearly a year in and still have about 40 puzzles left out of 300.); the latest edition of Logic Lovers’ Math & Logic Problems, a staple for me for more than 20 years and whose March issue I successfully solved every puzzle in for the first time, a feat I’m hoping to repeat shortly with the May issue; and a sudoku book. On the side I’m working a couple of variety puzzle books, but crosswords remain a low priority. So entering a competition, even if just for fun, seems a stretch just yet.
They’ve got recent years puzzles on the website that can be accessed and played for a small fee, and I’ve got plenty of puzzle books that have a crossword focus, so I’m contemplating putting a bit of an effort into crossword solving again (I did alright with them when I was younger) and see if I feel more confident going into next year. I may also just do it next time just to have the experience – I think that’s where I’m kicking myself the most. I don’t know why I was worried about it – the worst that’d happen is I’d struggle (the struggle is REAL), and just not do that well, but I’d be around other people who share the excitement around a well-crafted puzzle or game.
I similarly got excited about a group of Boggle players that I found in New York City a couple of years back, but for whatever reason just opted not to go to an event. It’s a common habit for me – I like my me time and struggle a bit around a big group of new people – but it’s one of those areas I’m working on. A couple of years ago I started to truly conquer my fear of roller coasters, and perhaps this is next.