American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

 Crossword Tournament

In the News

Source: The Oregonian
Date: May 7, 1998
Byline: Paul Duchene

In contest of words, champ fills in wins

When Matt Jones of Milwaukie went back East for a spell in March, the trip agreed with him to the letter. Jones, 22, entered the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Conn., and came away with podium finishes in three categories.

"He was the highest-ranking finisher from the West," said crossword guru Wayne Williams, himself a keen observer of the so-called "young turks."

Out of 251 contestants, Jones placed second in the Juniors division (25 and under), second in Rookies (making their first appearance) and third in C Division, which he led until the final "puzzle-off."

"It was a very interesting aura," Jones said with a laugh. "People would solve contests right away and go into the lobby to relax. It was fun to talk shop with people who are like-minded." A graduate of Rex Putnam High School, Jones attends Willamette University in Salem, where he's studying music education and considering going into teaching. But he's a 10-year puzzle constructor, part of a collective group called the CrosSynergy Syndicate, which supplies online puzzles for newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Diego Tribune and Washington Post. He's also the sole provider of puzzles for Open Spaces magazine and has constructed for The New York Times.

Jones said the real crunch at the puzzle tournament came in the C Division final when entrants were given a dry erase board and a 15-by-15 themeless puzzle by hotshot constructor Merl Reagle--and had to race against the clock.

"You just get to hammer out the puzzle while people stare at you. You have to be cool under pressure. I was leading the division coming into that playoff--but I wound up third."

You can find Matt Jones' puzzles through, which links to CrosSynergy.

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