Date: April 1, 1996
Byline: Judy Colbert
Pencil in the No. 2 prize for Trip Payne, ace 'puzzler'Stamford, Conn. -- Trip Payne of Atlanta spent the weekend locked in verbal combat with 250 other puzzlers from 23 states and Canada and emerged with second place in the 19th annual American Crossword Puzzle tournament.
Payne, 27, won the competition in 1993. "It's good being back in the top three," he said. "Placing 30 seconds behind Doug Hoylman [this year's champion from Maryland] is no shame. It's like finishing right behind Superman."
Payne said he began "puzzling" when he was 3 or 4 and now constructs puzzles for publications such as Games magazine, The New York Times and Newsday.
In the month before this tournament, he started serious training, working an average of 10 puzzles a day. Maura Jacobson, a puzzle constructor who has contributed a puzzle to each of the 19 competitions, says Payne creates "tricky, mind-bending puzzles."
The final round on Sunday morning was the toughest. Here's an idea of the level of play:
Clues for 1 Across (nine letters) were:
C level: Sudser
B level: Radio, e.g. "The Romance of Helen Trent"
A level: Spelling project
Shellee Soliday, an auditor: from Smyrna, also competed- as much for the camaraderie at the puzzle marathon, she said, as for the wordplay.
Judy Colbert is a Maryland-based writer who puzzles in her spare time.
If you have access to the Internet and want to find crossword puzzles, we recommend http://www.primate.wisc.edu/people/hamel/cp.html