Okay, I am going to give you my provisional scores (provisional because I might still change my mind) and write a short recommendation for all the ones I liked. So this post will contain quasi-spoilers for many of the games, but real spoilers for none.
But first some overal remarks. I think the average quality of entries was quite high this year: some games were deeply flawed, of course, but only a few were without redeeming qualities. I seem to remember that I felt more frustration than other years as I waded through one bad entry after another.
Emily tells us that "every year people gripe about the comp, to the effect that the best games are not as good as the best games of past years", and I must admit that I don't think there was a Nightfall or a Violet among this year's entries. (Though it is possible that the frustration that those games gave me--I'm particularly looking at you, Violet, game that I loved for the narration and story but hated for the puzzles!--has somewhat faded from my memory, I do think they were fun and broke new ground at the same time, which I haven't really seen here.) Still, there were enough recommendation-worthy games to make me feel positive about this competition.
Also worth mentioning again: I loved following all the blogs. I wonder how it is for the authors, but as a judge I must say that my feeling of being part of a community has been greatly strengthened by this communal experience. And I got to post about pumpkins and Tom Lehrer. How cool is that?
Anyway, here are the provisional scores:
Not rated: The Believable Adventures of an Invisible Man; Beta Tester; Star Hunter.
Rated 3: The Hangover; Trap Cave; zork, buried chaos.
Rated 5: Eruption; GATOR-On, Friend to Wetlands!; Gleaming the Verb; Spelunker's Quest.
Rated 6: The Ascot; The Grand Quest; Grounded in Space; Interface.
Rated 7: Byzantine Perspective; Condemned; The Duel in the Snow; Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort.
Rated 8: Broken Legs; Earl Grey; Resonance; Rover's Day Out; Snowquest.
Rated 9: The Duel that Spanned the Ages.
And here, for all games that scored 6 or higher, a short recommendation, in alphabetical order.
The Ascot (6): Quirky CYOA with a bizarre sense of humour. Shallow, but short enough to be enjoyable.
Broken Legs (8): Varicella in musical land. Good writing, brilliant protagonist, but the puzzles are hard and hardly clued. Potentially a very good game, given enough patience and time. Should probably have been released outside of the competition.
Byzantine Perspective (7): One-trick puzzle game. Very satisfying if you solve it on your own; obviously rather frustrating if you don't. Be sure to use the feelies provided.
Condemned (7): Deeply flawed game, in terms of gameplay, fictional integration and writing. However, is has ambition and a seriousness and willingness to grapple with dark themes that I sorely miss in most IF.
The Duel in the Snow (7): A melancholy piece that raises the question why the protagonist would strive for survival at all. Mood and detail are often more developed than story and backstory, which is a pity.
The Duel that Spanned the Ages (9): Not terribly innovative, but solid puzzle design, great pacing and violence that often is the answer create a piece of IF that those of us who also enjoy Half-life will have a very good time interacting with. Especially if you don't worry about the backstory too much.
Earl Grey (8): This game needs a lot of tweaking before it becomes as much fun as it could be, but it is already interesting because of its central puzzle mechanic, and enjoyable because of its tone and the comments in the bottom window.
The Grand Quest (6): A sequence of puzzles, most of which you will probably hate. But I had fun with the playing cards and linear algebra, so I have a weak spot for this little game.
Grounded in Space (6): Geometry puzzles are not such a hot idea in IF, and the story makes me think I wouldn't like Heinlein, but it is a pretty capable game made with enthusiasm and technical proficiency (especially that geometry puzzle which almost everybody disliked).
Interface (6): Old-school but forgiving, this little solve-puzzles-in-a-house adventure is saved from being totally forgetable by the fact that the protagonist is trapped in a robot and cannot perform some of the most basic actions.
Resonance (8): A rather bad plot and some dubious design choices (a riddling police officer?), but the constant forward motion, the humour and the multiple paths make this a very entertaining if somewhat shallow piece.
Rover's Day Out (8): Innovative piece with some good story and implementation manages to surprise and impress, but often repetitive and frustrating gameplay mars the experience.
Snowquest (8): Almost certainly doesn't achieve what it sets out to do, but story, implementation and puzzles are still solid enough to make Eric Eve's latest piece easy to recommend.
Yon Astounding Castle! of some sort (7): Utterly silly piece has estranged a lot of people by its faux-medieval English, but is actually a well-designed and forgiving puzzle romp filled to the brim with silly jokes. Very enjoyable, but not when you're in a serious mood.
And finally, some wild predictions. I predict that the top three will be Rover's Day Out, Broken Legs and The Duel that Spanned the Ages, with the duel coming third. I also predict that the golden banana of discord will be won by Yon Astounding Castle!, with Condemned as a close runner-up. Snowquest will have most votes, and Trap Cave least.
I invite anyone to make alternative predictions. Could be a fun little contest of our own. ;)