Seven DaysJohn Haber
in New York City
With the annual crossword contest coming up, those who cannot go may miss last year's electronic version. New Yorkers, though, are tough competitors, and, hey, guys, our tournament goes right on without that dumb bridge & tunnel crowd anyhow. Better plan on an entire week.
Monday: Puzzles are handed out in the office. You may take as long as you can pretend to be working. Judges collect ballots by knocking on bathroom stalls sometime before noon.
Tuesday: Puzzles are handed out to those who find their way to the N or R train from the west-side IRT. (Hint on puzzle theme: go in the opposite direction from the signs.) You have until you reach the Lex, whether or not you find elbow room to write, much less a seat. Trains will be stuck between stations with no announcement, giving you the extra time until you grow too impatient and claustrophobic to concentrate.
Wednesday: Puzzles are sent from your HMO. May require a referral and pre-cert. You have 35 minutes, including filling out two pages of forms saying exactly the same thing. You will receive a substantial bill anyway in order to submit your puzzle and be placed on hold indefinitely before you can resolve it. Be very sure to make use of the extra time.
Thursday: Puzzles never make it at all. Error 47 in sector 438. Mac users do not even receive an error message; Macs are too user-friendly.
Friday: Puzzles are handed out in a bar at happy hour. House lights are lowered, making solving more difficult, and you have until drink prices go back up. Points off for any square discolored by spills; extra points depending on who you get to work it with you, especially if you get a phone number. Those doing a crossword will definitely not look hip; points off already.
Saturday: You must complete the ordinary Sunday second puzzle by 7:00. I know a newsstand that may have it by 6:45, but you are on your own.
Sunday: Puzzles are given out at noon at the best bagel place in New York and collected before dinner at the best thin-crust pizza joint. Those who do not agree with the judges on both counts may take the whole day to debate the question.
Closing party: you already missed it, but it was way cool.