American Crossword Puzzle Tournament


 Crossword Tournament

In the News

Source: ABC News
Date: March 19, 2001
Byline: Diane Sawyer

Good Morning America

ABC NEWS
SHOW: GOOD MORNING AMERICA (7:00 AM ET)
March 19, 2001, Monday
TYPE: Profile
LENGTH: 1241 words
HEADLINE: ELLEN RIPSTEIN WINS AMERICAN CROSSWORD PUZZLE TOURNAMENT AFTER 19 YEARS OF COMING CLOSE
ANCHORS: DIANE SAWYER; JACK FORD
REPORTERS: TONY PERKINS

DIANE SAWYER
co-host
Well, after 19 years of coming close, but never winning the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, yesterday Ellen Ripstein changed all that! She took the top prize for puzzle-solvers. And Ellen Ripstein and Will Shortz, who's the founder of the tournament and puzzle editor of the New York Times, join us here now. Congratulations to you!
Ms. ELLEN RIPSTEIN Thank you.
SAWYER So I want to show everybody, you're up there doing the puzzle. First of all, tell us, on average, how long does it take you to do a New York Times' crossword puzzle?
Ms. RIPSTEIN Probably in the week, about three minutes, and Saturday, six to eight minutes, and Sunday is about 10 to 15 minutes.
SAWYER Ten to 15 minutes...
Ms. RIPSTEIN Yeah.
SAWYER ...is the longest you've ever taken?
Ms. RIPSTEIN Well...
SAWYER And those of us who spend days with our books, looking through. OK, and then I want to see the moment at which you won.
Ms. RIPSTEIN Yeah, I haven't seen this yet.
SAWYER You haven't? Oh, take a look at yourself. It's just great. It's great.
Ms. RIPSTEIN Yes.
SAWYER You did it!
Ms. RIPSTEIN I didn't believe it.
SAWYER What worked this time?
Ms. RIPSTEIN My competitor made a mistake. That helped a lot.
SAWYER Listen, that's--that is the road to victory, true. It's not to be scoffed at. So, Will, you do these puzzles. How many do you review in a week in order to come up with the ones you put in the paper?
Mr. WILL SHORTZ
(New York Times Puzzle Editor)
I get 60 to 75 puzzles a week for the seven that appear.
SAWYER Sixty to 75? And how long does it take you to go through each one and decide if it's the one for you?
Mr. SHORTZ It can be anywhere from 15 seconds to an hour.
SAWYER And these are people who send them in to you?
Mr. SHORTZ From all over the country.
SAWYER And your favorite one, I gather, was one that had two different possible answers in it?
Mr. SHORTZ It was on Election Day, 1996. The answer could have been either Clinton elected or Bob Dole elected. Either solution worked.
SAWYER That's sweet. That's pretty. OK. You think you've had competition before, I mean you haven't met the big guys here.
Ms. RIPSTEIN Uh-oh.
JACK FORD
co-host
Bring your pencil with you when you come.
SAWYER All right. I'm going to let you run this, Will. We have our own competition going on. Everybody at home scream out the answers if you know them here. Help our guys.
FORD You guys especially scream out the answers for us, all right?
SAWYER And you, too. OK. Take it away.
Mr. SHORTZ All right. The clock has started. Turn your papers over and here's a starting clue. Jack and Tony, 10 across, King Kong star, four letters.
FORD Faye Wray.
Mr. SHORTZ There you go.
FORD W-r-a-y-?
Mr. SHORTZ W-r-a-y is right. Good.
FORD All right, Tony.
Mr. SHORTZ Next is 20 across, try Glaswegions' negative.
TONY PERKINS
reporting
What?
Mr. SHORTZ It's sort of a--you know, someone from Glasgow, what do they say? How do they say no? And this is a word that comes up in crosswords often. Oh, skip that.
FORD Let's skip that.
Mr. SHORTZ Twenty one, caravan maker.
PERKINS Dodge.
FORD Dodge?
Mr. SHORTS All right.
FORD What is that, 21?
Mr. SHORTZ Yeah, 21.
FORD All right, Tony.
Mr. SHORTZ Excellent, excellent. Try 26 across. Hoped for trait in a spouse. Eight letters.
PERKINS I'll try...
Mr. SHORTZ What do you want?
FORD Faithful?
PERKINS Loyalty, loyalty.
Mr. SHORTZ In--in eight letters.
FORD Eight letters.
Mr. SHORTZ We'll come back to that...
FORD Come on you guys, you're not doing anything here! All right. Let's do another one.
PERKINS We'll come back, we'll come back to that.
FORD We'll come back to that. How about...
PERKINS What else?
Mr. SHORTZ Thirty one, try 31. They may be caught off base.
PERKINS Runners.
FORD Runners?
PERKINS Runner? No.
Mr. SHORTZ They may be caught off base. That's good. Think military, though.
FORD AWOLs.
PERKINS Hey, AWOLs.
Mr. SHORTZ Excellent. Very good.
FORD AWOLs?
Crowd (In unison) AWOLs.
FORD Very good, very good.
Mr. SHORTZ All right, try 42 across. This is a word that comes up too often in crosswords. It's Nanchang nanny. It's a word for...
FORD Yikes!
Mr. SHORTZ ...a nursemaid from China, in other words.
FORD Have you got that one?
PERKINS You got me.
FORD Hey, Tony, she's the pro here.
Mr. SHORTZ Apologies for that one.
FORD Hey, Tony, we're getting smoked over here, I want you to know. We are getting smoked.
PERKINS What--what?
Unidentified
Woman #1
Amah.
PERKINS What--what is it?
Woman #1 A-m-a-h.
PERKING A-m-a-h?
FORD What one was that? Forty-two across.
Mr. SHORTZ Forty-two across.
FORD Tony, which one--42 across.
PERKINS Forty-two, 42.
Mr. SHORTZ Right here.
PERKINS I've never heard of that.
FORD A-m-a-h.
PERKINS What else?
Mr. SHORTZ Try 60 across. Tony, I understand you're a Beatles' fan.
PERKINS Yeah. The Beatles had them?
FORD Beatles had them. Sixty across. That's a lot of letters, Tony.
PERKINS Yeah.
Mr. SHORTZ Give you a hint, it's three words. And think about what's on top of their...
FORD Mop top.
PERKINS Mop top, mop top.
FORD Mops of hair?
Mr. SHORTZ Yes, yes!
PERKINS Mops of hair!
FORD All right.
Unidentified
Woman #2
Come on, guys, let's go.
FORD We are cooking here.
SAWYER We are about--what, we have about 30 seconds to go.
PERKINS OK.
Mr. SHORTZ All right. Try two down.
FORD Two down?
PERKINS Wawa. Baba wawa.
FORD Wawa. We know that one.
Mr. SHORTZ Try 10 down.
PERKINS Ten down is...
Mr. SHORTZ Chimes as Robert Frost might. Now, this is a theme answer. We have mops of hair, and I'm just going to tell you, it's 'waxes poetic.'
SAWYER You're just going right to it.
Mr. SHORTZ Waxes poetic.
FORD We knew that one. We knew that one.
Mr. SHORTZ Ellen already has that one.
SAWYER OK. I want everybody to take a look at Ellen here. Just over here without saying very much. Look at this.
FORD My goodness! Come and look at this. Tony, come look at this.
SAWYER She's just about completed half of this puzzle. Look at you guys with your...
PERKINS Oh, my goodness! We got...
SAWYER ...AWOLs and mops of hair. Anyway, we're going to let her continue during the commercial, and we'll tell you how long it takes. We'll be right back. It's now 46 minutes after.
(Commercial break)
SAWYER She did it! She did it! She did it! Congratulations. Wow!
FORD Look at mine.
SAWYER We made the thrilling discovery that Jack can't copy hers as fast as she can do it originally.
FORD That's just it. She can do it faster than I can copy it.
SAWYER He's leaning over and trying to do like this, that's the way he did his.
FORD Look at that.
SAWYER Wow! Congratulations!
Ms. RIPSTEIN Thank you.
SAWYER Five minutes, awesome. Really is impressive.
Ms. RIPSTEIN And there were a few distractions.
SAWYER And a few, I can imagine. Again, congratulations...
Ms. RIPSTEIN Thank you.
SAWYER ...after all these years for your victory.


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