Date: March 13, 2005
Student Becomes Youngest Crossword Champ
STAMFORD, Conn. The bookish world of crossword puzzle aficionados has a fresh-faced new champion.
Tyler Hinman, 20, became the youngest champion in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament's 28-year-history Sunday after beating 450 competitors.
"I can't even celebrate," said Hinman, a college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. "I'm not old enough to go to a pub and drink myself stupid."
In the final round, the top three scribbled furiously with big black markers in front of a crowd of hundreds in a hotel ballroom.
Al Sanders, a 46-year-old engineer from Fort Collins, Colo., finished the puzzle first, but missed the answer "Zolaesque" for the clue "stark and richly detailed, as writing."
Hinman said he will spend his $4,000 prize money on tuition.
"We thought it was a good way for him to learn vocabulary, then he started constructing puzzles and getting them accepted for publication in the New York Times," said his mother, Krista Hinman, of Hebron, Conn.
New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, who founded the event in 1978, hosted the tournament.
"I don't think it's a test of your intelligence or anything else but your crossword solving abilities," he said. "There are a lot of people who are very intelligent who cannot solve crosswords, but all good crossword solvers are smart."