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Rye Puzzle Solver Readies For Crossword Competition

Carol McMillan of Rye Brook will compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
Carol McMillan of Rye Brook will compete in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Photo Credit: Submitted

RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- Carol McMillan calls herself a "middling solver," meaning doing the crossword puzzle in the New York Times is a part of her daily routine.

Five years ago she took it to the "next level" by attending the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn.

She's now getting set to compete but this time closer to home at the Stamford Marriott.

"I found it really fun and challenging and am so hooked that a couple of years when I had a conflict, I ordered the puzzles and had my own self-monitored contest," she said.

Her goal: To place in the middle of the pack, which she's achieved every year, moving up just a percent or two overall.

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

The tournament officially begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with three crosswords in the morning, three in the afternoon, and one more 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 the film "Wordplay" will discuss the movie and show outtakes.

The Stamford Marriott was where the first competition was originally in 1978, but the event became 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," said Will Shortz, the founder of the tournament and the Crossword Puzzle Editor for the New York Times (he's also a Pleasantville resident).

From 600-700 partipicants are expected to attend.

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

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