March 14, 2004

The thrill of being 13 places away from victory

So I didn't do that badly at the crossword tournament after all (despite my ungodly slow solving time for the extremely unsatisfying puzzle 5) -- I placed higher than I did in 2003, in fact. By a hair. Last year I was 15th; this year I was 14th.

Now that the standings have been posted, one of the tournament mysteries is cleared up, though not especially satisfactorily. Jennifer Turney, you see, was leading the C division by a wide margin after 5 puzzles. (Normally, on Sunday morning, the scores for the first 6 puzzles are posted, but since we had the high school student problem, the round 6 scores got delayed.) After puzzle 7, when the C division finalists were announced, she wasn't mentioned -- not even after two finalists turned out to have left already and were replaced in the playoff round by the 4th and 5th place finishers. I almost said something about it, but I thought -- well, she's not saying anything, maybe she made mistakes in the last two puzzles and knows it. And anyway -- we had already waited an extra hour and a half in a very claustrophobic room for the scores to be tabulated. It was a horrible concept that we might have to wait still longer while yet another problem was sorted out -- so I didn't fuss. Now I guiltily wish I had, as it turns out that the problem was that no score was entered at all for her sixth puzzle. I feel like the Supreme Court or something. The recount must be stopped because it would throw the tournament into turmoil! Sigh. Kind of a fiasco. Maybe Daniel Okrent (73rd place) can investigate.

Posted by Francis at 11:00 PM

I made the same assumption you did... if she didn't get announced, she must have bombed a puzzle. In restrospect, I really wish one of us had said something; Jennifer would have had enough of a head start to smoke me in the C*-finals, but I'd feel much better with a 2nd Place amidst one controversy (the replacement of people who'd left) than the doubly tainted "win" I ended up with.

*crossword season consisted of fewer games this year

Posted by: Dan at March 14, 2004 11:56 PM

A belated thought -- this is another situation that is directly traceable to the 6th-round scoring screw-up. If the scores for all six puzzles had been posted as usual, it would have been obvious that her score was never tabulated, and something would have been done about it.

Posted by: Francis at March 15, 2004 12:23 AM

There were fewer (incorrect) 0's this year than in the year when I won the D division and then had to sit and wonder whether I really deserved the award (turned out that with the adjusted rankings I still was at the top of the Ds), but, man. That was the year that a good quarter or so of the scores didn't get entered. I just do not understand how it is that they don't have something in the program that "flags" an unusual score--one that's much lower than one would expect from the person's other scores, factoring in the possibility of a mistake or a slightly harder puzzle. They'd've caught the zeroes, they'd've caught my seven-minutes-slower-than-actual marked time a few years ago, they'd've had a slightly better idea of which puzzle 6's were wrong (not helpful for someone who finished in 23:20, but helpful for someone who finished in 23:02)....

I know there's a lot of metaphorical machinery that needs changing, but there's a whole year to plan the changes. Start planning. Make this thing work for next year. Stop pretending it's still a 100-person tournament. Well, not you, but the organizers, I mean.

Posted by: Lance at March 15, 2004 01:28 AM

What a mess. I begin to think really should have thrown out puzzle 6 altogether, though that would have pissed off people who did well on it.

Posted by: Kath at March 15, 2004 08:20 AM

(Er, put a "they" before "really" in that last comment. Bad editor! No biscuit!)

Posted by: Kath at March 15, 2004 08:20 AM