The crossword tournament resumed at 11am EST with puzzle #8, which was the puzzle that would be given to the three top scorers to determine the winner. For us not-top-scorers it was just for fun and would not alter our final scores. It was a bear, I thought, and 25 minutes in I just gave up and clicked “submit”, getting 36 correct out of 90 words.
That left 3 hours before the final segment of the tournament where the top 3 solve a final puzzle. I wanted a walk, after spending all day yesterday in my room, so I walked to the farmer’s market on California Ave and got a pastry from The Midwife and The Baker’s booth, then walked home (4.1 miles, go me!).
It was quite astounding to watch the final showdown between the three top scorers. Their screens were recorded while they solved the same puzzle. They were not informed of their times right away. Instead, their work was replayed as part of a webinar with live commentary from a couple of NPR people.
So picture three crossword puzzle grids across your screen and you can see the letters as the three guys type them in, and their cursors sweeping back and forth, flitting from word to word. They filled in that 15×15 grid only a little slower than I could have typed it, if I were copying from the solution sheet. The same puzzle that I gave up on, half filled, after 25 minutes? The finished it in under 6! There were 8 seconds between the winner and second place. Actually one guy finished first by almost 20 seconds, but he had left a typo in the bottom right. That made two words incorrect, and by the scoring system they use, that cost him two minutes. He noted that if he had taken 30 seconds to check his work and fix the typo, he would still have lost to the guy who won.
How did I do? I came in at number 776, out of a field of 1,032 contestants. So, you know, not last. I think I could do better, maybe making it to the 600s with a little luck, but winning? No bleepin’ way! The people who ended up in the top 10, the top 50 even, are just in a completely different league. Seriously, like getting to play a little basketball in the backyard against Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
I had skipped the dining room for breakfast and lunch, but went down at 6pm as arranged, with Patty, Gwen, and Dr. Margaret. The dining room is trying hard to be classy. Tonight’s special was prime rib roast, and they had an actual cart with a shiny chrome hood that they rolled around to the tables to carve off a slice of the roast to your order. They still have a bit to work out though, as first, one cart was not enough to keep up with a full dining room, and two, they didn’t coordinate the cart with the delivery of the plates with our veggies and starch, which sat and got cold while the cart wandered around the other side of the room. Well, the new director and chef were making the rounds and we discussed it at length when they got to our table. Feedback.