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Chappaqua Resident To Compete In 21st Crossword Puzzle Tournament

Stan Kurzban
Stan Kurzban Photo Credit: Facebook

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Words are partly what keep Stan Kurzban, of Chappaqua, so young.

The co-author of "The Compleat Cruciverbalist," or "How to Solve and Compose Crosswords for Fun and Profit" and its successor, "The Random Hose Puzzlemakers' Handbook," is an avid crossword puzzler who, at 73 will be among the 700 or so participants at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) being held at the Stamford Marriott this weekend.

"I figure I have a small chance of finishing in the top three in my age division, but I go mainly for the joy of solving competitively and to socialize with a hundred or so of my closest friends, puzzle solvers whom I see in person no more that three times a year at best," he said. 

Kurzban has competed in the tournament 20 times, though he skipped a few years when it was held "at the very expensive Brooklyn Bridge Marriott."

He's excited to attend ACPT, the nation's oldest and largest crossword competition, and is glad it's closer to home.

The event runs this weekend beginning with a warm-up competition on Friday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with pioneering Multimedia Crosswords, solved on iPads, in which more than half the clues contain video, audio, or picture elements, followed by a wine-and-cheese reception.

The tournament officially begins Saturday at 11 a.m., with three crosswords in the morning, three in the afternoon, and one more on Sunday morning. The puzzles are all from top puzzle makers and range from easy to hard.

Contestants score points for accuracy and speed and prizes are awarded in 21 categories -- for skill level, age, and geography -- with additional prizes for the top rookies. First prize is $5,000.

On Saturday night, the directors of "Wordplay," the hit 2006 documentary about New York Times crosswords puzzle editor (and Pleasantville resident) Will Shortz and the ACPT, will discuss the movie and show outtakes. 

The Stamford Marriott was where the first competition was originally held back in 1978 but grew so big after "Wordplay" debuted that it was moved to Brooklyn. 

"Attendance has declined about 15 percent since ACPT's post-'Wordplay' peak, so we can now squeeze into the Stamford Marriott again, which we couldn't do in 2008-09," explained Shortz.

Go here for event details including ways to play online or by mail.


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