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Eighth Annual Finger Lakes Crossword Competition

Tompkins Learning Partners (Gary Weissbrot, Event Chair)

Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (EDT)

Ticket Information

Donation Type Sales End Amount
Event Registration - Individual Player
Suggested Amount: $50. Please read the Registration details below before registering.
Mar 13, 2020 Enter donation ($)
Event Registration - Team of Two
Suggested Amount: $90. Please read the Registration details below before registering.
Mar 13, 2020 Enter donation ($)
Event Registration - Team of Three
Suggested Amount: $120. Please read the Registration details below before registering.
Mar 13, 2020 Enter donation ($)
Event Registration - Team of Four
Suggested Amount: $150. Please read the Registration details below before registering.
Mar 13, 2020 Enter donation ($)
Be a sponsor!
Pay for an individual player ($50) or a team ($90-$150). All sponsors will be listed, unless otherwise requested.
Mar 13, 2020 Enter donation ($)

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Event Details

Please periodically check this site for any updates, changes or additions to the tournament!


Tompkins Learning Partners (TLP) announces the cruciverbalist event of the season, the Eighth Annual Finger Lakes Crossword Competition.


Before you go any further, we must thank the Underwriters and Business Patrons that have made this wonderful event possible. Please note their logos at the bottom of this page and their ads in our program.


This event is an important fundraiser for TLP, a LiteracyNY affiliated non-profit organization, which provides literacy tutoring, free of charge, for over 100 adults in our community.


Tompkins Learning Partners invites you to join your friends and neighbors and compete right here in your own backyard in the Finger Lakes’ only regional crossword event. 100% of all proceeds from the tournament will support adult literacy here in Tompkins County.


About the Event


Competition is open to individuals and teams (2-4 players). There will be three levels of competition: Easier, Trickier, and Toughest. All teams, regardless of number of players, will be competing against each other. Three levels of unique puzzles will be created by our very own “Puzzlemaster,” Adam Perl, constructor of numerous crosswords published in the New York Times, and past owner of Pastimes Antiques in the Dewitt Mall.  


Prizes will be awarded to the top three individuals and teams who complete a perfect puzzle in the shortest amount of time. Whether you are a casual, serious or advanced puzzler, you are invited to be part of the fun!  See the full schedulerules, and FAQ.


There will be practice games, a silent auction (see a list of our generous donors), and free coffee, tea and sweets. While checking out the items in our silent auction, be sure to play our “Other Games” before the competition starts and after you have submitted your finished puzzle.


Rex Parker

We will be joined by our special guest, the 9th Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe and possibly the greatest(!) NYT Crossword blogger in the Universe, Rex Parker

As he describes himself on his blog, "I am the Greatest Crossword Solver in the Universe (when I co-solve with my wife)! (2017 Pairs Division Champions, Lollapuzzoola Crossword Tournament)."



Once again, Adam G. Perl is offering his special crossword construction tutorial at the conclusion of the event.

For a preview, The New York Times ran an article on “How to Make a Times Crossword Puzzle.” Will Shortz has given us special permission to include the link here.

We will be continuing our very popular "Pay what you can comfortably afford." It guaranteed that anybody who wished to participate, could. So, again, to all who wish to play, join us!


On the next page, you can select your skill level, enter your team information (if applicable), donation amount and securely enter your credit card information. This is also the page where you can fill in any sponsorship information.


If interested in Underwriting, becoming a Business Patron, a Sponsor, or if you have any questions at all about this event, call Event Chair Gary Weissbrot at 607-793-8010 or email him at, for more information.

Puzzlemaster Adam Perl's triplet grandchildrenWhat has six feet and giggles?


Registration Information


Please carefully read the following instructions before registering.

In order to make this event more inclusive, we are leaving it up to each player to decide what they can comfortably afford to pay. We have included our “Suggested” amount but feel free to put the payment that is most convenient into the “Donation” box. (Please remember that this is a fundraiser for Tompkins Learning Partners.)


Online registration includes the entry amount and a fee for online credit card processing and handling. Your payment of this fee allows Tompkins Learning Partners to receive 100% of the entry amount for your registration.


In Person: If you do not want to register online, you can register at the door on the day of the event, beginning at 1:00 p.m.  However, to guarantee a spot, we strongly recommend pre-registering by March 7.  All players, even if pre-registered, must sign in at the door.

If you are pre-registered and do not want to participate in the pre-competition events, you may show up and sign in at 1:45 p.m. on the day of the event.


Barry Blitt Cartoon of Bob Dylan doing the New York Times Mini Crossword
Political cartoonist Barry Blitt has generously given us permission to reprint his artwork.



Skill Levels


How to determine your level of competition:  Practice on the following puzzles from past Finger Lakes Crossword Competitions to determine your level of competition:  


     Easiest Level Puzzle    
Easier Level Puzzle
(equivalent to NYT
Monday puzzle)

     Trickier Level Puzzle    
Trickier Level Puzzle


     Tougest Level Puzzle    
Toughest Level Puzzle



Just starting out or want to get better at crosswords? Check out this New York Times tutorial on how to solve crossword puzzles!

Adam Perl and Will Shortz

"Everyone who attends the Finger Lakes Crossword Competition,
and who solves Adam's puzzles, will have a terrific time."
-Will Shortz, pictured here with our Puzzle Master, Adam Perl


The Prizes


First Place Winners will receive:

  • Name inscribed on brass winners' plaque permanently on display at Tompkins Learning Partners.
  • A copy of Merl Reagle's Crosswords Book.
  • The 3 Individual Winners will receive a 1-Year subscription to GAMES Magazine.
  • The unique and highly coveted TLP Finger Lakes Crossword Champ Bracelet (FLCC), not to be confused with The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, which is considered the most coveted non-monetary prize a poker player can win.

The Top Three Individual and Team Finishers will receive:
A personalized Winner's Certificate (suitable for framing).

All Winners will receive:
Priceless bragging rights.

All players who complete a perfect puzzle within the competition time period will receive a Certificate of Perfection.

Fingerlakes Crossword Champ Bracelet
The tasteful FLCC bracelet


World Series of Poker Bracelet
Not the tasteful FLCC bracelet


This event would not be possible without the generous contributions of our
Underwriters and Business Patrons.




Cat's Pajama's Logo

CFCU Community Credit Union Logo 

Chemung Canal Trust Company

C.S.P. Management


Howard Hanna Real Estate Services


Tompkins Trust Company Logo



Business Patrons




Foster Custom Kitchens

KZ Design LLC

Mistate Basement Authorities Logo
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York    

True Insurance Logo - image of a house
True Insurance 

 Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk, LLP Attorneys at Law      
Solid Refreshment Sponsor
Ithaca Bakery

Liquid Refreshment Sponsor
Red Gimme Coffee! Logo

Our New Literacy Partner
Tompkins County Public Library Logo

Media Sponsor

Ithaca Times

Have questions about Eighth Annual Finger Lakes Crossword Competition? Contact Tompkins Learning Partners (Gary Weissbrot, Event Chair)

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When & Where

Boynton Middle School Cafeteria
1601 North Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (EDT)

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Tompkins Learning Partners (Gary Weissbrot, Event Chair)

Since 1976, Tompkins Learning Partners has been providing tutoring services, free of charge, to local residents who need help reading, writing, or speaking English. These services are provided through dedicated volunteer tutors who give their time to make a difference in students' lives. The knowledge that students gain allows them to achieve their personal goals, such as obtaining or improving their employment, continuing their education, or gaining citizenship. Tompkins Learning Partners is a not-for-profit governed by a board of directors of local residents committed to the cause of literacy in our community.

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