I first met Btnirn (Sandy Kutin) in high school. We both competed in Mathletes, the Nassau County math league. Although we were competing together at the same meets during my first year of high school, we didn't really meet until my sophomore year, when we were together on the Nassau Mathletes all-star team. Mathletes was truly a bonding experience for both of us (sometime when Btnirn and I are together, ask us about the Rock Hill story.)
I met Squonk (Scott Weiss) while I was working as a Summer Student at Grumman Aerospace, during the summers of 1991, '92, and '93. Most of the Summer Students would eat lunch together, and play cards, and so at some point, the conversation topic turned to puzzles (for a shorter story, ask Squonk and me about the time we ran through a hurricane to play bridge.)
I mention these stories simply because I find it interesting that when I met my recruiters, neither one of them was a member of the NPL. Upon graduating from high school, Btnirn and I remained friends, and during some college break, he showed me an NPL mini-sample. Similarly, Squonk gave me a mini-sample during a Grumman lunch. Since I received the mini-samples over a year apart, I didn't even realize that they were the same thing at first.
I didn't decide to join the NPL until March of 1995. Quag (Nick Meyer) and I were both attending Princeton University at the time, and were both big GAMES magazine fans. We even used to race at solving crossword puzzles, just for fun. Finally, we decided to attend the Stamford tournament, which, in 1995, occurred right at the end of our spring break. While at the tournament, we encountered Squonk, who told us about the convention in Portland. I decided to take my graduation trip out to the west coast, and attended the convention, after which I was hooked.
First Issue: Jul 1995
Al DeSuda is a transposal of the name of the creator of the most famous example of my earliest favorite puzzle type.