by Ross Trudeau
The time is nigh. In five short days, puzzlers from around the globe will descend upon–where else?–sunny Stamford, CT. I gather that ACPT ticket sales are something north of SRO, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, it looks like online participation is your only option short of gatecrashing. Their security budget is approximately $0, so…
Jessie and I are attending together for the first time. She’s been asking for insidery intel on what to expect, and I have to keep reminding myself that I … don’t know. ACPT is one of those long-running summer campish experiences that is always many different things to many different people *at the same time*. Part of the fun for me is always spending some time on the mezzanine above the lobby doing some dedicated people watching, trying to guess at the various emotional landscapes forming below.
The most immediately identifiable tournament-goers are often first-timers, carrying sharpened pencils just absolutely everywhere (into the bathroom–you never know!), heads on a swivel as they bid for a glimpse of Shortz, trailing puzzle swag and lanyards in their frenetic wake. For other attendees, it’s clear that the experience is a skosh melancholy. These folks are hoping to recapture of feeling that they associate with ACPTs of yesteryear. Sometimes they succeed, most times not. This will be my eighth year going, so this attitude certainly is starting to creep into the emotional mix for me.
As is inevitably the case with such things, it’s probably best to let expectations fall away and try to be present. Though, of course, good luck maintaining your presence of mind when you find yourself ordering a pint elbow-to-elbow with BEQ, when Robyn Weintraub throws a convivial arm around your shoulder, or when Sam E. of the Bee bounds past with an armload of rubber ducky yellow folders.
See you soon, dorks. Brief thoughts/spoilers for “Gaslighting” below.
Neither CONCORD RECORDS nor COCA-COLA COMPANY were in my wordlist before I set about building this grid. I figured the bit was only going to be as funny as the number of clue-interrupting BEEEEEEPs I could muster, so I went hunting. I was hoping for at least one 4x C-O, but alas.
Hey, maybe you should check your CO detectors today? You’ve been putting it off…
Happy solving, friends!