American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

 Crossword Tournament

In the News

Source: Miami Herald
Date: March 11, 2005
Byline: unsigned

Crossword Trivia


If you were a New York Times crossword fan a few years ago, you quickly would have become familiar with the clue "Asian nursemaid."

Its answer was "AMAH."

Like "Celebes ox" ("ANOA"), it sometimes appeared more than once a week, a teasing bonus among such vexations as "Year the Ostrogoths were defeated at the Battle of the Taginae" or 'It `is nothing but perception' wrote Plato."

But, surprisingly, "good puzzle constructors try not to use words like that," says Trip Payne of Boca Raton, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament's reigning champ and a professional puzzle-maker.

'Ideally, you only want to use words that the average person on the street will know. If somebody's coming to a crossword for the first time, if they can't solve something, you want it to be because maybe there was something clever going on, and that they just couldn't figure out how the clue worked. Not because they didn't know the word. It's not fun to look up an answer and say, `Oh, gee. That's the French spelling of a Swiss river.' You want it to be because they didn't parse something right, because the answer is 'Tree,' but the clue was 'Leaves home.'"


To see the first-known published crossword puzzle — which appeared in New York World on December 21, 1913 — go to

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