This weekend, 644 competitors vied to become the 2010 crossword-solving champion. (I came in 338th, way ahead of Ken Burns.) As solvers finished each puzzle, they filed out to the lobby to discuss triumph and tragedy.

Here are two crowd images, each moving east to west. The excitement, as they say, is palpable. With the mics at 120°, the chatter is diffuse, except when someone is directly in range. Most conversations are about finishing time, clever clues, or answers that might have been wrong. The post-puzzle mob is the main scene for gossip about the leaders.

The venerable, sagacious, and sleek-piped Will Shortz emcees the tournament. Here, he makes housekeeping announcements before the first puzzle begins. “Large-print clues for the visually-impaired?” “I was gonna get to that.”

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