Date: March 17, 2003
Puzzle enthusiasts meet in StamfordSTAMFORD, Conn. Jon Delfin is spelling C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N after taking home the title at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament for the seventh consecutive time.
Delfin, 38, a pianist from New York City, solved a 104-clue puzzle in seven minutes and three seconds at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford.
The easiest clue? It was 32 down, he said: P-I-A-N-I-S-T.
Delfin joined about 500 other enthusiasts at the annual event. The 26th tournament drew crossword crunchers from all around the world. Contestants were judged on accuracy and speed.
"Only a small percentage of participants are winners," said Helene Hovanec, tournament coordinator. "Most people come for the friendship and the mental stimulation."
Eileen Berton of Port Jefferson, N.Y., a 79-year-old who has been attending the tournament since 1991, said puzzling keeps her mind sharp.
"I feel like I'm staving off Alzheimer's disease," said Berton, a longtime crossword puzzle devotee. "I come here for the camaraderie and to see if I can do as well as I did last time."
Another winner on the day was Tyler Hinman, 18, of Hebron. He took first prize in the Division B category, for contestants who have not previously won a prize.
"I've been doing crossword puzzles since ninth grade, when my history teacher shared with me his stockpile of old crosswords during a boring study hall," said Hinman, a freshman majoring in information technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
He solves an average of six crossword puzzles per day and constructs his own, Hinman said. He said he sold one to The New York Times when he was 15 and dreams of becoming the newspaper's crossword editor.
In the Division C championship, which is for contestants who have not finished in the top 20 percent in their past three tournaments, Frank Colangelo, a physician from Murryville, Pa., took first prize.
The tournament was sponsored by Kappa Publishing Group Inc., St. Martin's Press, Franklin Electronic Publishers, New York Times Digital and Merriam-Webster.