American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

34th ACPT • March 18-20, 2011
Return to 2011 Report Start Page

Friday Night's U.S. vs. U.K. Crossword Showdown


By Ranking | Alphabetical | B to E | C to E | D and E | E | Rookies | Juniors | Fifties | Sixties | Seventies | Seniors | West | Connecticut | New England | NYC | Long Island | Upstate NY | New Jersey | Mid-Atlantic | South | Midwest | Foreign | For Techies

See bottom of page for transcript of Ross Beresford's Presentation and YouTube video.

U.K. Cryptic by Don Manley

  1. Mark Goodliffe* — 4:03
  2. Jeffrey Harris — 5:53
  3. Peter Biddlecombe* — 6:20
  4. Doug Hoylman — 7:40
  5. Henry Blanco White* — 7:49
  6. Al Sanders — 9:04
  7. Katherine Bryant — 10:20
  8. Dave Tuller — 11:13
  9. Ross Beresford — 12:10
  10. Dan Feyer — 12:54

U.S. Cryptic by Richard Silvestri

  1. Mark Goodliffe* — 4:44
  2. Jeffrey Harris — 5:01
  3. Doug Hoylman — 5:59
  4. Joshua Kosman — 6:04
  5. Dave Tuller — 6:48
  6. Len Elliott — 8:24
  7. Katherine Bryant — 8:47
  8. Richard Kalustian — 8:55
  9. Anne Erdmann — 9:15
  10. Henry Blanco White* — 9:50

The top 5 solvers overall

  1. Mark Goodliffe* — 8:47
  2. Jeffrey Harris — 10:54
  3. Doug Hoylman — 13:39
  4. Peter Biddlecombe* — 17:01
  5. Henry Blanco White* — 17:39

*U.K. solver

Ross Beresford's Presentation

See YouTube video below transcript.

Thank you so much Will [Shortz]. I really needed Will to make that introduction. Without it, there are maybe five people in this room who know my sordid past ... that I used to edit, construct, and solve British cryptic crosswords! In fact, I had more name recognition from solving one particular weekly puzzle than anything else I did. One reason for that is the British celebrate the solver more than the puzzlemaker. (And you can forget the editors — British crossword editors toil in complete obscurity; no radio shows ... no endorsement deals ... no movies about them! Brits maybe imagine that Will Shortz edits all their puzzles — he's the one crossword editor they might have heard of.)

Brits solve cryptic crosswords almost exclusively. Cryptics are the daily puzzle in their newspaper. They also get several larger and even harder cryptic puzzles on the weekend. But for all that, solvers have no clue ... who actually makes their crosswords! Puzzlemakers either get no byline at all, or use a pseudonym. The tradition of crossword pseudonyms started in the 1930s with the Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada. What? ... you were expecting the Spanish Inquisition?! Torquemada was actually a poet named Mathers. (Hmm. Mathers? Torquemada? You begin to see his point — he pretty much set the standard for diabolical cryptic clues, but would anyone have been scared of a puzzle from Edward Mathers?) Since Torquemada's time, Brits have been tortured by the likes of Sabre, Machiavelli, Scorpion and Beelzebub. (Tonight's British puzzlemaker is Don Manley. He has a more Quixotic persona, using pseudonyms like Duck and Giovanni. See if you can work out why.)

With all those puzzles and all those puzzlemakers, British cryptics have more variation in clue style than you guys face in America. It's not just one definition and some wordplay. You can have a "twisted definition" clue, like 1-Across in the Boot Camp puzzle you have in your yellow folder. {Seeing red?} at 1-Across gives you owing. It's a clue you might see in the New York Times puzzle on a Friday or Saturday. That type of misdirection is much harder to deal with in a British cryptic because it could be another style of clue altogether. Brits are pretty libertarian about clue styles, which means even figuring out what you're looking at is a challenge. I've included some typically British trickiness in this puzzle. In 4-Across you need to abbreviate Illinois before anagramming it with the other letters. 5-Across has three definitions and no wordplay. 2-Down requires you to fill in the blank with the appropriate pun. 3-Down plays around with word breaks to disguise an element of the wordplay. All these tricks are permitted in the UK and not used here.

Ah, but I've saved the impossible for last! Even if you can untwist the definition, spot the anagram, fill in the blank — you Yanks still don't know cricket! It's hard to imagine a British crossword without some cricket references. I used no less than three in 1-Down. (The answer is overs by the way.) To solve it you need to know three things about cricket: than an over consists of a series of balls; that there's a fielding position called a cover; and that caught is abbreviated to C in cricket scoring. As a newly naturalized American, I know how hard it is to learn all the sports, politics, geography, TV, yada yada yada, in a foreign language puzzle. And take my word for it — a British cryptic crossword is written in a sort of foreign language. That's why it's going to be hard for the Americans here tonight to solve the British cryptic puzzle Will has commissioned. I just hope the American cryptic has lots of references to baseball and football (by which I mean gridiron football of course). That should level the playing field a bit!

As perhaps the only British American in the room, I'll finish by wishing all the teams — Canadians included — the very best of luck in the competition.

Tournament Sponsors

Games World of Puzzles AmuseLabs Will Shortz Games Try Hard Guides Crossword Answers 911 New York Times Ad stmartin

Return to 2011 Report Start Page

Write to Us