Date: March 15, 2004
Byline: The Associated Press
Scoring Error Spells Problem For Crossword TournamentPuzzlers Miss Championship Because Of Error
STAMFORD, Conn. A mix-up at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford has some contestants crying foul.
The contest had to be rescored after Saturday's sixth and final puzzle of the regular round. It was discovered that some Westhill High School students helping to keep score made errors.
The round was rescored during the championship round of the two-day tournament at the Stamford Marriott hotel. The delay caused some puzzlers to miss out on the championship round because they had to leave for home.
"I think that's grossly unfair to those people because they had to leave," said Sheila Gerstenzang of New Brunswick, N.J. "They were delayed for no fault of theirs."
The snafu is a first for the contest, held annually in Stamford for 27 years, New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz said.
The problem began Saturday when students from Westhill High School in Stamford helped with the scoring of the sixth puzzle by watching a big digital clock and jotting down contestants' finishing times. Students mistook the numbers that showed seconds for the numbers that showed minutes.
For example, when a contestant finished a puzzle and the digital clock showed a time of 20.48, or 20 minutes and 48 seconds, to spare, some of the students recorded it as 48 minutes. That would have meant that the contestant finished the 30-minute puzzle with 48 minutes to spare, not the actual 20 minutes.
About 500 contestants were told of the mistake Sunday and were asked to estimate how much time was left when they finished their sixth puzzle.