Date: March 21, 2007
Byline: Mark Nelson
'Wordplay' tourney begins Friday
Can't make it to Stamford, Conn.? You can play along online
One weekend each year, Stamford, Conn., becomes the capital of America's crossword puzzle subculture as Will Shortz hosts the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. For three days the Stamford Marriott is abuzz with participants solving puzzles, buying puzzle paraphernalia and sharing their enthusiasm with like-minded compatriots.
The tournament marks its 30th anniversary this weekend with events running Friday through Sunday, and is expected to draw a heavier turnout than the usual 500 or so participants.
Dallas Morning News solvers who can't make it to Stamford but want to see how they measure up against the rest of the country can register at crosswordtournament.com and play along.
Three competitive brackets are based on skill level, age and geographic location, with prizes in each division.
Entrants have two ways to compete at home: They can solve the same puzzles used in the tournament and submit solutions by mail, or compete by computer at the same time as the tournament group in Stamford. Puzzles are scored and remote entrants find out how they would have fared had they been present at the tournament.
The 2006 documentary Wordplay raised interest in crosswords in general, as well as in Mr. Shortz, the witty leader of American cruciverbalists.
Mr. Shortz received his college degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles, and has achieved renown in his field.
While The New York Times' crossword puzzle has been a favorite among American puzzle solvers since 1942, Mr. Shortz is credited with breathing new life into the somewhat stodgy feature after taking the role of editor in 1992. His innovative weekly difficulty ladder, which culminates with the notoriously tough Saturday puzzle, has solidified the puzzle as a favorite among fans.
Mark Nelson proofreads The New York Times' crossword for The Dallas Morning News.