A slightly disappointing year, but not too disappointing. I was in 3rd place after puzzle 6, three minutes ahead of Trip Payne in 4th, so pretty much assured a place in the finals unless I screwed up massively. Unfortunately for me, that's just what I did, making an error in puzzle 7 that I really should have caught. The spread in solving times was enough that I only fell to 7th place, which is a pretty high finish for having an error, and is in fact my second highest finish ever. So, not a disaster, and my solving times were fast enough that I'm reassured that my finish last year wasn't a fluke -- which makes me feel fairly sanguine about my error, really, because now it feels like I'll be in contention for the finals again at some point or points, so I don't need to sweat one mistake.
And honestly, when I got my copy of the final puzzle in the audience, I was slightly relieved that I didn't have to solve it in front of everyone, because it was just as evil as last year's final. It took me 17 minutes to solve it without the stress of being on stage (and I had two squares wrong). So that also eased the sting a bit.
One of several highlights of the weekend: playing Aunt Millie's Millions after hours on Friday. It's a game in which players take the parts of one of eight money-grubbing heirs out to get the most valuable items from Aunt Millie's estate. (Backstories for each character get created on the fly at the very beginning of the game.) When two players want the same item, they select a judge and each try, in character, to convince the judge why they deserve the item. I played an entitled latte-swilling nephew in the first game, winning a grandfather clock with my impassioned description of how I talked my beloved Aunt Millie out of succumbing to heart arrhythmia by insisting she listen to the ticking of the clock, and Millie's 124-year-old uncle in the second, winning a $1,000 goldfish by declaring my willingness to kill for it ("I fought in a war! I killed a man who was standing no further from me than you are right now! It wasn't illegal! It was a war! I could kill anyone I liked!") Too much fun. Thanks to my friend Scott Weiss for continuing to introduce me to excellent games -- and congratulations to him for his 10th-place finish (his highest yet, I believe)!
Another highlight: Eric Berlin's multipuzzle crossword extravaganza from Friday night. It's not up yet, but I'm told he'll be posting it to his blog before too long.Posted by Francis at 11:20 PM