Monday, July 7, 2008

National Puzzlers' League 2008 Convention

I'm off to Denver for the 2008 convention of the National Puzzlers' League. The NPL is the world's oldest puzzle organization and both the convention and the League itself are a blast. The League is for aficionados of word puzzles and has it's own native puzzle type that you'll see nowhere else -- the flat, which is a puzzle in the form of a poem, sort of a modern version of Anglo-Saxon riddles. They're an acquired taste, but I really enjoy both solving and constructing them, though I'm much better at the latter.

In most circles, I'm one of the best, if not the best, puzzle solver and perhaps game player. But the NPL is different. I'm positively middle-of-the-road. There are NPL members who solve the Saturday crossword from the New York Times (the hardest of the week) in less time than it takes me to solve a Monday (the easiest). My record time for a Saturday (under 20 minutes, which I happen to be proud of -- can't you tell?) is slow in this crowd.

This year's convention is in Denver. It rotates around -- it was Ann Arbor last year and will be in Baltimore next year, and we're hoping to bring it to Seattle for 2010. Tour the country and solve puzzles! The convention agenda varies from year to year, but always includes healthy does of word games and puzzle competitions, and even a panel discussion of experts on a relevant topic, such as constructing cryptic crosswords or trivia quizzes, games, and TV shows (this year's topic). Plus, great people, great discussions, and after-hours games until dawn.

I do hold my own in some areas -- I'm a pretty good constructor, after all. But, overall, it's a humbling experience. And a hell of a lot of fun.


Derrick said...

One of these years I'll make it to NPL con. But this year would have been out anyway thanks to a crazy work schedule. They always sound like fun.