September 17th, 2020

storyteller doll

Lollapuzzola 13

Catch-up is going slowly because I am busy with pre-retirement things to do. Here is a bit of an overdue write-up from last month.

I’m not a huge fan of doing crosswords on-line, since most of the time, I have issues with the interfaces. (The NY Times is an exception, as their interface doesn’t annoy me too much.) But Lollapuzoola has long been my favorite puzzle tournament, so I couldn’t resist giving it a go. Which is why I found myself spending August 15th (i.e. a Saturday in August) hunched over my computer solving crosswords.

Bottom line is that I was right to avoid doing on-line tournaments. There were some practice puzzles and I found myself frustrated enough with the interface during those. But I soldiered through and on to the actual tournament.

Puzzle #1 was by Brooke Husic and was straightforward enough. I managed to solve it cleanly in 8:06, which was not quite as quickly as I would have liked. At the end of that puzzle, I was in 267th place, out of something like 1250 participants.

Puzzle #2, by Sid Sivakumar, had a weird grid, of 12 x 25. That’s significant because I couldn’t see the whole thing on my laptop screen. Which means that I didn’t notice a stupid typo and ended up with one error, as well as being slow (16:57). I dropped down all the way to 976th place.

That might have been okay, had I solved the rest of the puzzles cleanly. On puzzle #3 (which had a cute theme by Rachel Fabi), I accidentally hit something that resized the grid, losing way too much time figuring out how to fix that. It took me 20:26 and, with the stress of that screw up, I missed a typo and slipped even further in the standings to 984th place.

Puzzle #4 was by Joon Pahk and I am fairly sure that it wasn’t the interface that made that one difficult for me. At least the one error I made on it was something I legitimately didn’t know, especially since grasped the theme about 30 seconds after I turned the puzzle in. I solved it in 29:55 (with one error). At least enough other people had trouble that I went up to 772nd place.

I did grasp the theme of Puzzle #5 by Stella Zawistowski quickly, but still managed to make an error, while solving it in 23:46. So I ended up in 716th place, which was decidedly mediocre.

Despite doing so poorly, I did enjoy the puzzles themselves, which were, in general, interesting ones. But I finished the day with a sore back and a sore ego. And, of course, I missed the social aspect of a real tournament. (There was an opportunity for conversation on a twitch channel, but that was too much for me to keep up with.) Can this pandemic please come to an end already? This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.