Date: March 6, 2009
Byline: Robert Whale
Crossword connoisseur Elliott takes 3rd in national tourney
Len Elliott, the Auburn Reporter's Crossword Man, recently returned from the 32nd American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., after taking third place in his skill group.
Each of the 684 contestants worked seven timed puzzles of varying size and difficulty. Judges awarded points for accuracy and speed, with the emphasis on accuracy. The top-three finishers in each of the three skill groups then solved a special crossword on large easels in front of the entire group.
Elliott did not make a single error and finished 21st overall. Competing in the "B" skill group finals, he placed third. He also picked up a third-place trophy in his age group and was tied for fifth place among competitors from the Western States.
"This is the fourth time I've been there, but the first time I've been to Brooklyn," Elliott said. "It used to be held in Stamford, Conn., but it got so big because of the movie 'Wordplay' that I think, 700 people showed up. They they didn't have room for them. Now they can have all 700 people in the same room working the puzzle."
Elliott said his goal had been to take third in his age group in the B level skill group, which is just below the top.
"Saturday night I was 18th and second in the B group and I didn't sleep too much," he said. "They did one more puzzle Sunday morning and that determines the final standings. I took my time to make sure everything was right, because you get bonus points for getting everything right. Next thing I knew I was third in the B group. Two years ago I took 28th place," Elliott said.
What's his secret?
"I work a lot of crosswords, which was what they tell you to do," Elliott said.
The overall champion was 18-year-old Tyler Hinman, who now has won five consecutive tournaments.