Note: This is a slightly revised version of the cryptic I brought to the 2001 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, CT; this version originally appeared in the May 2001 edition of the Enigma, the main publication of the National Puzzlers' League. "En's big finish" in the instructions refers to Ellen Ripstein ("En")'s much-hailed victory in the 2001 ACPT. A description of the tournament format can be found here.

The tags "[NI2]" and "[NI3]" are standard notation in the NPL; they indicate words that are in Merriam-Webster's second/third New International Dictionary but not in their tenth Collegiate Dictionary.

Rite of Spring

by Kevin Wald

Once again Stamford plays host to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament -- and to the ardent competition between crossworders Don W____ and Cora S. S____. To find out how they did on Saturday's puzzles, consult the grid; 19 answers have to be modified to fit, and these modifications within the row/column for a given puzzle will indicate how many minutes early each finished that puzzle, or (if they ran out of time) which letters they left out. If you arrange the answer modifications by type in the same order as the clues whose answers they modify, you can also find out how Don and Cora did in their final match-up the next day (and why they missed En's big finish).


3. Big chunks of ice striking lady's enemies
8. Touches muscles around gut after midnight?
12. Startle ape from the east
13. Less-than-noble people ordered "yam on rye"
14. Conflicts about whips
15. Belgian city's exiling some jerks
16. Outspoken star is lazy
17. Darling, I circle around French dessert (2 wds.)
18. Nadirs of bovine communication
20. Groovy treaty organization includes English
22. Flying solo in Norwegian capital
25. Holding on to us, carrying imaginary stick around
28. Don't open Ethics exams
29. Happening character from Old Testament and New Testament
30. Ness is a disaffected third-generation American, folks [NI3]
31. Bronx university had form destroyed
33. Eliot, cutting Chaucer short, disembarks (2 wds.)
36. Formerly cone-shaped
38. Get disorganized sample of impromptu NPL anagrams [NI2]
40. Frail, feeble, and thready
41. About fifty-one hundred venerated object
42. Ox rejects true prophet
43. Must Newton ground those who let Xena defy gravity?
44. Nice to be tree-crazy
45. Heard puzzle concerning quark and antiquark
46. What is left in peace


1. Latin relative hugs car decorator at wedding
2. Elysium is placid; the endless toss-and-turn ended after Sunday (2 wds.)
3. Fill utterly empty lorry, using petrol primarily! (2 wds.)
4. Start dropping off -- every other loony slept
5. Canine is also piercing, but piercing what?
6. Outspoken star is dedicated
7. Flatfoot disheartened this Egyptian church's following
9. Those who transfer property out of sewers after making the first billion
10. Detaches nethergarments when one is essentially through
11. Yes, sin's confused with grammatical inconsistency
19. Iron pumpers' fit legs wither strangely (2 wds.)
21. One with dash and keenness
23. String of devices that might snag marlin's gill -- none worked
24. Scottish bit confused Thea
26. Conclude number one poem by Dante
27. Start some large red needlework
29. For example, love is originally misinterpreted as self-involvement
32. Comedian Philips wearing the Princess Royal's flower
34. Relaxes and stops after 100
35. Republican candidate is cut off in favor of Truman
37. Agent's automobile getting use
39. Was up in the basket

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