There are 2 ways to do the New York Times crossword puzzle:
- By yourself
- In a room with a couple hundred other people, racing the clock and all those other geniuses who know that frybread is a “Naan-like Native American food,” epee is a “sword’s name with two accents,” and that shandy is a “beer and lemonade drink.” They also know who Danny Ainge, Joni Ernst and Gotye are, plus tons of other random stuff.
All those people who enjoy option #2 gathered this afternoon at the Saugatuck Congregational Church. They competed — good-naturedly, but fiercely — in the Westport Library’s 20th annual Crossword Puzzle Contest.
For the 20th year, it was puzzle-master-minded — and presided over joyfully and cruciverbally — by Times crossword editor (and NPR star) Will Shortz.
Contestants came from as far as North Carolina and Illinois. Ages skewed older, though there were enough younger faces to make Gotye a legit question.
After 3 rounds of increasing-in-difficulty Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles, the top 3 contestants (based on speed and accuracy) faced off for the title. They stood on stage, solving a tough Thursday crossword as the crowd watched.
Glen Ryan finished in 6:50. However, he got one answer wrong.
Jesse Lansner was 2nd, in 7:30. But he got one wrong too.
So Ken Stern — slow, steady and perfect, in 11:37 — was declared the winner.
It was a fast, fun day. I know, because I was one of those solvers
I did not make the finals. But I was one of a few dozen to complete all 3 Monday through Wednesday puzzles perfectly.
Though I still have no idea who Gotye is.