Date: April 3, 2007
Colo. Man Second Best In Crossword Tournament
(CBS4) DENVER, Colo. The New York Times crossword puzzle is one of the toughest to solve. But for a man from Fort Collins the puzzles don't puzzle him at all. Al Sanders placed second in last week's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Connecticut.
"I've done puzzles since I was a kid," Sanders said. "I slowly worked my way up. In college I started getting into the New York Times' puzzles."
The tournament hosted 700 competitors and Sanders was beat by a 22-year-old who has won the event three times.
"Everyone does seven puzzles on a whiteboard easel," Sanders said.
Speed and accuracy are the main components of the competition.
"If you make a mistake, you're out of it," he said.
He told CBS4 the puzzles can take anywhere from 3 to 13 minutes to complete. When training, he completes 20 to 25 puzzles per day.
His advice for wannabe crossword champs is, "do lots and lots of puzzles."
Some crossword puzzle authors use tricks to confuse the player. Sanders said the hardest clue in the tournament for him was "hood ornaments" which turned out to be "pinky rings."
Sanders was featured in the 2005 movie "Wordplay."
"The 2005 tournament ended very dramatically," he said. "Every now and then I get recognized. Someone at the Orlando airport recently recognized me."
He said he also like other paper games, like Sudoku.
"Some crossword folks don't like them but I like the logic," he said.
Next year's tournament is February 29 to March 8, in Brooklyn, New York.