We're a little down on Mr. Quigley just now, because his puzzle in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament derailed us terribly. It was horrible. We both kept checking the clock, panic set in, and everything fell apart. I think that when time ran out we had fifteen or twenty blank squares left. Of course, after that, when we were at our leisure again, we completed the remainder in about five minutes. But that's the thing about tournaments and tests, eh? Time is an issue.
Really, though, Brendan, we appreciate the challenge. And your clue/answer pair "Evening aid (PLANER)" is one of the only things that I remember clearly from any of the puzzles. Well, that and Mr. Blindauer working in the names of all five boroughs across answers in his grid. They were both things of beauty.
Overall, our first experience with the ACPT was a lot of fun, but it also taught us (ok, mostly me - Frannie argued for prudence, but I was impulsive) a few lessons. One is, check to make sure that all the squares are filled in before you submit your puzzle. Duh. (We left one square open in Puzzle 2, dammit!) The second is, a correctly completed puzzle is more important to your score than a quickly finished puzzle with an error (We could have caught our one bad letter in puzzle 7!). There's a 150-point bonus for having no errors, and only a 25-point bonus for each minute by which you beat the limit. So, one error is worth six minutes. Plus, there's a 25-point deduction for each error, so really you can spend seven minutes checking things over (way more than you ever would spend checking things over) before you are doing yourself any real harm.
We finished in the middle of the pack, a little below the middle, actually, but as I said, we had fun getting nervous and trying to imagine ourselves actually in the room with everyone else. We're not even sure how it works at the tournament. Do people solve on paper? Do they all sit at computers? And if it's on paper, how is the timing worked out with so many people? These answers will hopefully be answered next year when we attend for real! It's moving back to Stamford, CT, and it will happen just before my birthday, so the stars are definitely aligning. I can't wait!
So, anyway, let's see… today's puzzle was pretty good. The "add the -sy sound and clue wackily" theme produced some fun answers. HAZYSAILOR (36D: Barely remembered seaman?) (The clue wasn't perfect, but I like that he chose to use "Hey, Sailor" as a base), BOISEWONDER (103A: Marvel from Idaho's largest city?), and so on.
Mr. Quigley loves his French. Today there was a lot, including DEUX (40A: Haitian couple), MOI (83A: French 101 pronoun), 64A: Billet-doux recipient (DEAREST), CERISE (93A: Bright red), ARGOT (95D: Specialized talk), and the kicker, ETRE (75D: "Fûmes" is a form of it). As Frannie said, "He went there." That's passé simple! And that's not simple!
FRESHEN (1A: Top off, as someone's drink) and LARYNXES (16D: Talking points) were good, and what's up with EMUS (76D: Birds with inflatable neck sacks)? Really? Also, I bet Dad would know STEPTOE (8A: Isolated hill surrounded by lava), but we didn't.
Decent, but overshadowed, at least for us, by the weekend, and his puzzle in the tournament.