Date: November 23, 2009
Byline: Amy Bowen
SCSU student makes crossword puzzles with local touches
Andrew Ries had completed The New York Times crossword by 1 p.m. Friday, and he was planning to complete a couple more puzzles before day's end.
Ries of St. Cloud readily admits he's addicted to solving crosswords. Jumble doesn't cut it. Word finds are pointless. The 24-year-old St. Cloud State University history graduate student has been seriously doing crosswords for 10-12 years. He has become an avid puzzler during the past two.
He even wrote his own crossword book, "Minnesota Crosswords," which comes out this week. The book features 40 crosswords, all with Minnesota themes. That means solvers, as he calls crossword puzzle players, can find clues referring to the Granite City, The Red Carpet Nightclub and the St. Cloud State Huskies.
"A lot of people do crosswords," Ries said. "But not too often do you see your hometown mentioned."
The crosswords vary in difficulty, Ries said. The New York Times' puzzles get harder as the week progresses, Ries said. His book's difficulty will range from a Times' Monday puzzle to a Wednesday puzzle, he said.
Ries learned about crosswords from his grandmother, Verna Kleinschmidt, 82, Hastings. She always completed crosswords when he was a child, Ries said.
He started to complete them to expand his vocabulary.
Ries even dedicated his book to his grandmother, who, by the way, completed half of one puzzle. "He's a smart cookie," Kleinschmidt said. "Maybe I'm prejudiced. ... He can create all that."
A love for crosswords runs in the family, Kleinschmidt said. Both of her brothers were crossword buffs, she said.
Ries now completes 25-30 puzzles a week, he said. He also placed 165 out of about 700 competitors at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this year. He will compete again in February in New York City.
He hopes to break into the top 100 this time.
Ries also has submitted 40 puzzles to The New York Times during the years, and one was published in 2007, he said.
"The New York Times is considered the crème de la crème of the crossword market," Ries said.
Ries plans to continue publishing crossword puzzle books. He plans to complete a trio of Minnesota-themed books.
"A lot of people love Minnesota and are nuts about crosswords," Ries said. "I combine the two."