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Trip Payne

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The end [Nov. 13th, 2012|10:52 pm]
Trip Payne

So, I haven't posted to this journal since a friends-locked post in January. The more I think about it, the less likely I think it is that I'll ever post here again. I simply have no reason to. For better and for worse, I've migrated to Facebook; even long posts can be done there as Notes.

I'll keep this journal alive, just so I can continue to read the posts of my few dozen friends who post here occasionally, and occasionally refer back to my own old entries.

But if you want to continue to follow me, please send me a friend request at Facebook; my username there is trippayne. (Or, if you refuse to join FB, feel free to send me your email address if I don't already have it, and we can try to keep up occasionally that way; I'm trippayne at gmail period com.)
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Log out [Sep. 13th, 2011|09:45 am]
Trip Payne

After a year or so of the Puzzle Log, I've decided to end that little experiment. Its pros are still there for me -- it makes it easy to remember where I've left off with puzzles I solve irregularly, it gives recommendations about puzzles I really like, and so on. But the cons are getting to be a bit much:

* Whenever I solve any kind of a puzzle, I have to make a literal note about what and when I solved, so that I can add it to the list later. Adding this much record-keeping to a pastime makes it less fun for me.

* It's getting repetitious. Sure, most months have a few unusual things (a book I've picked up, or something), but it's generally the same stuff every month.

* I'm beginning to solve a lot less. Partly due to a lack of time, partly because I'm leaning strongly toward retiring from ACPT, I am currently not feeling the urge to solve a lot. I've solved very little in September at all. So the list is losing its point.

Things I expect to continue solving regularly: Washington Post Puzzler, Fireball, the WSJ variety puzzle, Mark Halpin's Sondheim cryptic, puzzles self-published by friends (like Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris, and Kevin Wald's cryptics). I'll do P&A most issues (though I had no time in September); I hope to start solving it more socially with a few other people, though. Merl's puzzle -- I'll probably continue solving it, at least for a while, but it might end up back with "wait till the collections come out" status. Anyway, with those puzzles, plus Sporcle and Learned League, that's still plenty for me in terms of puzzly pastimes.

I have already cancelled my on-line NYT subscription (though it continues till next summer); Patrick Berry has told me I can test-solve his submissions there, so I won't be losing those. In addition, I've decided to stop solving The Master Theorem.

I plan to move a lot of the other puzzles back to "solve in airports" status: CHE, Onion, BEQ, the WSJ crossword. I still enjoy all these, but something has to go.
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Puzzle log: August 2011 [Aug. 4th, 2011|10:34 pm]
Trip Payne

New puzzle sources: Ben Tausig's 2007 crossword collection "Gonzo Crosswords", Todd McClary's crossword postings.

Favorites for August include Todd McClary's "Unthemely #1", Jeffrey Harris (Jangler)'s "Cryptic #1", Byron Walden's 8/10 Onion, Merl Reagle's 8/14 crossword "Refills", Patrick Berry's 8/19 NYT.

August 4
Gonzo Crosswords (10 puzzles)
8/3 TMT (5 minutes, 1 hint)
McClary Unthemely #1
Jangler Themed #2
Post Puzzler #77
7/30 Newsday

August 5
8/6 WSJ variety
8/6 Newsday
Post Puzzler #78
McClary Unthemely #2

August 7
Post Puzzler #79
8/3 Fireball
BEQ (#354, 355)
Labor Day extravaganza (3 puzzles, test-solved)

August 8
NYT (7/30, 8/5)
Labor Day extravaganza (1 puzzle, test-solved)

August 9
Labor Day extravaganza (1 puzzle, test-solved)
8/3 Onion
8/6 NYT
August Spirit (harder crossword)

August 10
Labor Day extravaganza (1 puzzle, test-solved)
8/11 Master Theorem (25 minutes)

August 11
Labor Day extravaganza (2 puzzles, test-solved)
Jangler Cryptic #1
BEQ #356

August 12
Labor Day extravaganza (2 puzzles, test-solved)
8/13 Newsday

August 13
Labor Day extravaganza (meta, test-solved)
McClary Unthemely #3
8/13 WSJ cryptic
NYT (8/12, 8/13)

August 14
Jangler crossword "Five Guys"
7/29 CHE
8/5 WSJ
8/10 Onion

August 15
BEQ #358
8/12 WSJ
Lollapazoola 4 (7 puzzles)

August 16
BEQ #357
Reagle (7/31, 8/7. 8/14)
NYT (7/31, 8/7, 8/14)

August 17
7/18 Master Theorem (2 minutes)

August 19
8/17 Onion
8/19 NYT
8/20 Newsday
WSJ (8/19 crossword, 8/20 variety)

August 20
McClary Unthemely #4

August 21
8/21 Reagle

August 23
Jangler Themeless #1 (test-solve)

August 24
BEQ (#360, 361)
Wald cryptic "Restaurant Week"
8/25 Master Theorem (6 minutes)
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Puzzle log: July 2011 [Aug. 4th, 2011|09:55 pm]
Trip Payne

New puzzle source: www.janglerspuzzles.com (henceforth "Jangler" in these lists).

Since the NPL convention exists in a world where time does not exist, I have just grouped all of those puzzles together in one place; I've tried to weed out "games" and just record the pure puzzles.

Tons of favorites for July, mostly cryptic: Kevin Wald's cryptic "Canton Junction", Patrick Berry and Eric Berlin's crossword "Double or Nothing", Kevin Wald's mini-cryptic "Southern Style Swap", Dave Shukan's mini-cryptic "Watery Weekend Workout", Rick Rubenstein's word puzzle "A Suitable Diversion", Mark Halpin's Sondheim Review cryptic "Brek-Kek-Kek-Kek!".

The listCollapse )
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Puzzle log: June 2011 [Jul. 3rd, 2011|11:23 pm]
Trip Payne

Favorite puzzles solved this month: Jeremy Newton and Tony Orbach's 5/29 NYT, Kevin Wald's cryptic "A la recherche du mot perdu", and Patrick Berry's Post Puzzler #71.

The full listCollapse )
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Puzzle log: May 2011 [Jun. 1st, 2011|10:24 am]
Trip Payne

Favorite puzzles of the month: Francis Heaney's "The Final Crossword", Mike Shenk's 5/13 WSJ, and Patrick Berry's Post Puzzler #65.

Favorite clues of the month (and as usual, please don't spoil unencrypted in the comments): from the above Berry crossword, "Awfully entertaining?" (12); and from Bob Klahn's 5/22 NYT, {Alphabetical order?} (3).

New puzzle source: I won a copy of Joe Edley's "Scrabble Puzzles, Volume 1" at a Scrabble tournament, and will probably use that as something-to-do-on-an-airplane material for the foreseeable future.

The listCollapse )
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2011 Arden Cup [May. 31st, 2011|06:44 pm]
Trip Payne

If you'd told me in advance that I'd be in first place after round 17 and would still be well in contention to win in the final round, I'd have been thrilled. Of course, I can't help being a bit disappointed about being so close and then losing the last three games -- especially when I feel like I played the final two pretty well -- but still, that's one of my best results in a while, and I'm very happy to take the $300 and the rating points (back to my comfy home in the mid-1800s at last).

Behind the cut: Challenge grid! Stats! Game-by-game details! Self-flagellation! A vow to learn some freaking words!

...you know you can"t resist that setup!Collapse )
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Scrabble Meme, Why Not [May. 7th, 2011|12:14 am]
Trip Payne

Most Played Opponent: Howard Pistol (34-15)
Most Rating Filched: +141 from Ron Tiekert (27-19)
Longest Current Unbeaten Streak: Among people I've played in recent years: 5 against Bob Linn. Among people I'm not likely to play again anytime soon: 6 against Tracy Cobbs and Sally Starr, 5 against Jacqueline Camper and Rose Kreiswirth.
Most Rating Donated: -62 to Robert Kahn (17-20)
Longest Current Winless Streak: 5 to Steve Polatnick (19-21); if we include inactive players, also 5 to Chris Lennon.
Total Tournament Games: 1419
Total Different Opponents: 410
Average Games per Opponent: 3.46
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Puzzle log: April 2011 [May. 1st, 2011|12:52 pm]
Trip Payne

New puzzle site in the rotation: www.themastertheorem.com. I'll include theorem solutions in this list, but not seals.

Aside from that site, I didn't solve much outside of the usual puzzle diet this month. I actually timed myself on a puzzle this month because an interviewer wanted to watch me speed-solve. Luckily it was the (Friday) 4/15 Patrick Berry NYT, so it went smoothly.

Faves of the month: Patrick Berry's 4/16 WSJ Rows Garden, Ben Tausig's 4/27 Onion, and [unnamed constructor]'s NPL mini-cryptic.

Herewith the listCollapse )
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April 2011 Fort Lauderdale tournament [Apr. 30th, 2011|06:19 pm]
Trip Payne

Short version: I won, 7-1 +519, scores ranging from 400 to 456. Won the first 7, was Gibsonized, then lost to the last seed. (I have still never had a tournament where I went undefeated.) Won $60, so a net of $25 after the entry fee; hopefully my rating will end up within spitting distance of 1800. [UPDATE: 1811, whoo!] I have two tournaments in May, so maybe I can get back to the mid-1800s soon.

I didn't feel like I got especially lucky this tournament (for example, I only drew 5 out of 16 blanks); I just didn't get really unlucky, at least till the final game.

Oh, that final game. I had four racks with no vowels, and one rack where the only vowel was a U; in four of those cases, I played off 3-4 tiles, and in the other, I exchanged 5 to NS, and I *still* couldn't draw any vowels out of a balanced bag. But the interesting thing: before the game, I was telling my (1400ish) opponent about a tournament game from the other year where I was down by around 100 at about the 2/3 point in the game, so I put down a ridiculous bingo knowing that my lower-rated opponent would have no idea but would do the math and decide to keep it; it was the last turn where I could attempt a desperation bingo without it obviously looking like one. So what happens this game? You got it. With six tiles in the bag, I'm down 296-388 with a rack of LOORSTU. I spend a few minutes vigorously shuffling my tiles, putting on quite the performance, and eventually decide on which phony to play. (What would you try? It has to end in L or S. I'll give my answer at the end of the post.) She held on it, realized she would certainly lose if she challenged and it was good, and took it, exactly as I figured. Unfortunately the tiles in the bag weren't quite what I needed, so I still ended up losing, but by 18 rather than 100+ (and I did break 400).

The other good thing about this tournament: part of the reason I'm playing these one-days is to try to increase my stamina. In the past, I've found that my mental toughness really waned by the 6th or 7th game, and playing these 8-gamers is definitely forcing me to learn how to focus for longer. I'm still exhausted when it's over, but I don't feel like I'm on autopilot at the end anymore.

(My phony: TUROSOL*.)
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JumbleTime [Apr. 17th, 2011|03:27 pm]
Trip Payne

What's up with JumbleTime? Does anyone know why it's down and when it will go back up?
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ACPT Scoring Analysis [Apr. 7th, 2011|09:09 pm]
Trip Payne

Incredibly wordy analysis; skip it unless it"s your kind of thing, for real.Collapse )
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Puzzle log: March 2011 [Apr. 1st, 2011|02:18 am]
Trip Payne

Favorites for this month include Kevin Wald's cryptic "Various Types", Julian Lim's Fireball "Alias Smith and Jones", Mike Nothnagel's ACPT final-round puzzle, and Patrick Berry's Post Puzzler #54. I didn't solve the 3/31 NYT by Tyler Hinman and Jeremy Horwitz, but I can say that it was nicely done as well.

Favorite clue of the month, from Berry's Post Puzzler #54: {Game that you lose on your first turn} (7). Since it's an upcoming puzzle, I won't give the answer, and if you want to guess in the comments, please encode it.

SiS = Francis Heaney's "Sudoku in Space".

And, the listCollapse )
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Game show warning [Mar. 3rd, 2011|08:44 pm]
Trip Payne

I am on the verge of being hired to write for a game show that I shall not name. I would be working remotely, which means that I would not see any of the contestants who go on the show.

Once I get hired, I'm going to discuss the situation with the producer. For now, let's just assume the following: as long you don't know that I work for the show, and I don't know that you're going on the show, there's no issue.

Let me stress this. IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO GO ON A GAME SHOW THIS YEAR: (a) DO NOT try to learn what show I work for, because if it's my show, you would be ethically bound to tell the producers that you know me; (b) DO NOT announce (anywhere that I might see or hear) that you are going on a game show, because if it's my show, I will be ethically bound to tell my producer that I know you. In either case, you would be disqualified from appearing on the show.

If this changes -- e.g. if I don't get the job, or if my producer says that I will be given a list of contestant names in advance, thus I might as well save everyone I know the trouble of trying out -- I will immediately announce it. For now, though, I beg you to be discreet about any game show plans you might have.

Puzzle log: February 2011 [Mar. 1st, 2011|11:17 am]
Trip Payne

AiP = Patrick Berry's "Adventures in Puzzling"; SiS = Francis Heaney's "Sudoku in Space".

Favorites from this month included Mike Shenk's 2/4 WSJ, Mike Shenk's Post Puzzler #48, Daniel Finan's 2/9 Fireball. From AiP, I'll single out "T Squares", "Boxcars", "Exorcise Machines", and "Hardly Working", though there's a lot of great stuff throughout.

Favorite clue of the month: {Capital O?} (7 letters) from Patrick Berry's 2/5 WSJ variety.

List behind the cutCollapse )
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Scrabble position [Feb. 17th, 2011|01:40 pm]
Trip Payne

Last night at club was pretty fun. The first game, I got demolished by Greenspan. Second game, I beat a low-rated player 600-317, with the bingos GRUNGER, DAI(S)IED, and a 221-point BEDQU(I)LT. But the third game is the one that was the most interesting.

I'm playing someone currently rated 1483 (but who is typically in the 1600-1700s). He's been ahead the whole game; he drew the 4 S's and a blank, my bingos (like AEONIAN) never seemed to go down, etc. So we're on our last racks, and he's up 361 to 312. It's my turn, and I have about five minutes on my clock (while he has about two minutes).

The position is at [link removed]. My rack is ?EEIJOY, and his is AEU.

I won this game, though with proper play by my opponent I don't believe it's winnable. How did I do it?

Note: I have now deleted the page that contained the diagram.
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Puzzle log: January 2011 [Jan. 31st, 2011|09:55 pm]
Trip Payne

I won't be breaking down the list of MIT Mystery Hunt puzzles I solved, because it's a long list, and it's too hard to say which ones I "solved". Ones I found the final answer on? Ones I was part of a solving group for? Ones where I came in after someone else did 95% of the work and saw the one thing they needed to finish? By my count, ignoring metas, I was one of the main solvers on about 8 puzzles, provided some help on about 5 more, and spent a lot of time fruitlessly on about 5 more.

Puzzles I particularly enjoyed: Stan Newman's 1/1 Newsday; David Levinson Wilk's 1/2 NYT; Gary Whitehead's 1/7 CHE; the Mega-Man and Civilization metas (from MIT); Aaron Dinkin and Noah Snyder's "Hints, with a bit of love!" (from MIT); and Mark Halpin's "Cups of Tea, and History" from the next Sondheim Review.

Special shout-out to the best clue of the month, {Get on with it} (12 letters), from Stan's 1/1 Newsday.

The full listCollapse )
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2011 Mystery Hunt, Part II [Jan. 21st, 2011|10:20 pm]
Trip Payne

I've finally looked through all the puzzles and will comment on just a few of them, with a few general remarks first. Long and spoileryCollapse )
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2011 Mystery Hunt [Jan. 18th, 2011|12:58 pm]
Trip Payne

I'm afraid this post is going to seem redundant to anyone who has been reading other Mystery Hunt reviews, so I'll try to keep it short -- well, short by MIT Hunt review standards, anyway. (Also, I haven't yet looked through the puzzle solutions -- for example, to find out how I kept repeatedly breaking the Scrabble puzzle -- so I might do a later post about individual puzzles.)

In two words: fabulous hunt.Collapse )
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Puzzle log: December 2010 [Dec. 31st, 2010|05:03 pm]
Trip Payne

It was a good puzzle month; it's hard to limit my favorite puzzles (keeping in mind that the puzzles I solve in a given month may include those from the past [e.g. the Reagle collections] and the future [e.g. test-solved Post Puzzlers], and I'm including all of them). Anyway, among the many puzzles I really enjoyed solving this month were BEQ's bonus 21x21 themeless, Frank Longo's "Post Puzzler No. 41", Merl Reagle's "House Detective", Kevin Wald's two cryptics, Kevin Der's 12/19 NYT, Jay Kaskel & Daniel Kantor's 12/24 NYT, and Derek Bowman's 12/31 WSJ.

Also, a special commendation to my favorite clue in a long time, 1-Across in "Gabriel Stone"'s 12/24 WSJ puzzle: {"15-Down is TAT", e.g.}.

Herewith the listCollapse )
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My 2010 in Scrabble [Dec. 16th, 2010|08:10 pm]
Trip Payne

Tons of numbers behind the cutCollapse )
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What I'm doing in 2011 [Dec. 16th, 2010|11:38 am]
Trip Payne
[Tags|, , ]

Heck if I know.

I've seen Scrabble and puzzle people posting their plans for next year, so I guess this is A Thing. Right now, I'm in the awkward position of not wanting to make plane flights too far in advance in case the house sells all of a sudden. (I figure a month in advance is safe, due to how long it should take to close on the house after we get a buyer; more than that is a little risky.)

Also, the things I would like to go to will change once I'm in Los Angeles -- I really can't see me flying out for the DC Hunt anymore, for example, but tournaments like the California Open will become much more likely, as will the LA and Berkeley puzzle gatherings. Also, if I get gigs in game shows that are for a few months at a time (which seems likely), that will limit my ability to take trips anywhere; there are only two events that I consider absolute musts.

But here's a partial wish list.


* MIT Mystery Hunt in January (booked)
* ACPT in March (a must)
* NPLcon in July (a must)

* Washington Post Hunt in June (if I'm in Florida, if it exists, if I'm available)
* Vegas NPL minicon (if I'm in LA, if it exists, if I'm available)
* Various West Coast puzzle things that I need to learn more about from Tyler or Selinker or someone (if I'm in LA, if I'm available)

SCRABBLE (all "would like to go, but not a crime if I miss it")

* Charlotte in February
* Arden Cup in May
* Nationals in August
* California Open in October

And various local events, both one- and multi-day, wherever I am. (And by "local" I mean "drivable"; e.g. if I'm in LA, Phoenix and Reno are suddenly a whole lot more likely.) Once I'm in LA, I'll need to find out more about the local club and tournament scene -- looking at cross-tables, it seems like there's not a whole lot of tournament action in LA itself. Also, I'd like to go to at least one larger tournament that I've never gone to before; I've been trying to make a point of that in recent years. Atlantic City is too close to MIT Hunt, Dallas Open usually conflicts with a Lauderdale tournament, Oregon Tile will be much likelier once I'm in in its time zone -- but hopefully I can come up with something.
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Word search theme help [Dec. 9th, 2010|02:10 pm]
Trip Payne

I'm putting together a word list of "novelty candy" for a puzzle in "Pop Culture Word Searches". Novelty candy is like art: I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. (Sorry, lots of different websites, but Now & Later is not novelty candy.)

Here are the ones I have so far. Please add other examples! They can be current or discontinued. I'm probably not going to include more than one of any particular sort of wording (e.g., GUMMI ___), even though for now I may have several such on the list (___ POP). Also feel free to disagree with any of my own choices or suggest improvements thereupon.

(Oh, and because it's inevitable: I'm not using 3-letter words, hence no PEZ.)


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Puzzle log: November 2010 [Nov. 30th, 2010|11:43 am]
Trip Payne

Favorite puzzle this month: Patrick Berry's 11/27 WSJ variety.

Gave up early on P&A this month -- I was struggling with a lot of puzzles, and it looked like the meta was going to be a bear (though I didn't spend enough time with it to figure out specifically how it worked). Figured I just wasn't going to have enough time to devote to it, so I bailed.

Herein lie the puzzles I have solvedCollapse )
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Puzzle log: October 2010 [Oct. 31st, 2010|12:35 pm]
Trip Payne

Faves from this month include David Quarfoot's guest puzzle as the 10/15 BEQ, Mike Shenk's Post Puzzler #33, Patrick Berry's Post Puzzler #35, Mike Shenk's 10/30 WSJ Marching Bands, and "Tetris Sudoku" from "Sudoku Masterpieces".

I have reformatted the list; it's now more readable but takes up significantly more room.

Behind the ever-more-necessary cutCollapse )
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