People share passion for puzzles at annual crossword contest
WESTPORT — The town’s favorite brain-teasing tradition took place Saturday afternoon when the Westport Library welcomed back Will Shortz to host its annual Crossword Puzzle Contest.
For the 21st year in a row Shortz, The New York Times’ crossword puzzle editor, came to town for the popular competition, supplying a sneak peek selection of next week’s puzzles to use in four 20-minute rounds of what could be called any cruciverbalist’s dream.
“We’re living in the golden age of crosswords,” Shortz said between rounds, when he mingled with many familiar faces that return to the competition from throughout the region year after year.
“It seems like everyone solves crosswords now,” he said, noting a surge in popularity nearly comparable to the crossword Renaissance of the 1920s.
Along with sharing his passion for puzzles, Shortz also led a trivia game for the 140 participants who took part.
Contest mainstay Glen Ryan, of Norwich, took the first-place prize, perfectly completing a puzzle on stage in only four minutes and 50 seconds.
Ryan, who enjoyed his third victory in this competition, went head to head against fellow finalists and friends Jesse Lansner, of Rochester, N.Y., and Ken Stern, of Brooklyn, N.Y.
For a fourth year, Kent Brody of Wilmette, Ill., took an unofficial prize for having traveled the farthest to be there.
“I like doing puzzles,” he said. “I like the people (and) I like the sounds of the pencils in a completely quiet room.”
Brody confessed, however, that the greater part of his joy was getting to see his three grandchildren in Westport.
“I will take any excuse to come back and visit them,” he said.