Washington and Lee alumnus Neville Fogarty, of the Class of 2010, finished in 69th place at last weekend's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) in New York City. It was a personal best. And it would have been even better had it not been for his continuing adherence to W&L's Honor System.
As Neville has explained in a comprehensive post on his website today, judges failed to detect an error that he had made on the second puzzle he solved. It should have cost him about 200 points.
"But when scores and scans of the completed grids were posted online later, it was clear that the judges had missed the error," Neville said in an e-mail. "There's no question as to what to do in a situation like that — you let an official know. I filed an appeal as soon as I could."
At the ACPT, all contestants solve seven puzzles — six on Saturday and one on Sunday. The three highest-scoring competitors in the A, B and C Divisions (which are set based on prior performance) advance to the finals on Sunday for an eighth puzzle.
The 200 points that Neville was docked kept him out of the C Division finals. He did, however, finish fifth in both the C and Junior divisions and was third in the South.
"Had my error not been caught, I would’ve been in the finals," Neville wrote. "But we all know that wouldn’t be right."
As it happened, Neville was one of two competitors who self-reported errors. Both of them received the George Washington "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Award: a small cherry pie.
Neville, who is studying mathematics in grad school at the University of Kentucky, has been an avid cruciverbalist for many years, both solving and creating crosswords. He's published puzzles in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Coincidentally, he co-authored Tuesday's New York Times puzzle.
One of Neville's latest ventures is a crossword puzzlefest based on classic board games. He reached his funding goal on KickStart in the first day and is now offering more puzzles as stretch goals. Here's his explanation: "This will be a collection of 10 interconnected crossword puzzles (also known as a puzzlefest), where each puzzle is inspired by a classic game. Each of the first nine puzzles will lead you to an appropriate 'meta-answer'; the tenth puzzle will help you use those nine intermediate answers to solve a larger conundrum." You can play along by going to this link: http://kck.st/YX0tCM