"Crossword people tend to be interesting, funny, well rounded and I just love everything about them," said New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz.
Over 500 crossword puzzle enthusiasts from across the country returned to the Stamford Marriott Hotel on Saturday to compete in the 38th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
"We have contestants this year from 37 states, the District of Columbia, three Canadian provinces, and someone came from Budapest, Hungry," said Shortz.
"I'm thrilled that we're back particularly in Stamford," said Colorado resident Jim Jenista. "It's just a wonderful accommodation here and there's such of a history of the tournament here in Stamford."
The tournament was founded at the Stamford Marriott Hotel in 1978 by longtime New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz.
"This is the 38th year and I've been here each year," said Nancy Shuztler.
Nancy Shutzler won the first year it began, beating over 100 contestants.
"It's a place that makes me happy," said Shuztler. "I still do crosswords, I work with them, why should I not come back, there are so many old friends here."
Since its first tournament, the event slowly gained popularity and for the past 7 years was hosted in Brooklyn. Now back in Stamford, Shortz says the location is once again a great fit for the increasing number of participants.
"People like it here because it's less expensive," said Shortz. "It's more 'homey', the hotel just lets us take over the hotel."
Paricpants competed in 7 rounds on Saturday and finalists come back for another round on Sunday, where the first place winner will be awarded $5,000.
In his 13 years participating, Colorado resident Jim Jenista has been dressed up in various costumes to celebrate his love for the crossword.
"This year I'm Pope Crosswordis I," said Jenista. "And of course I'm going to win the tournament because my answers are all infallible and if not, I can erase three times faster than anybody else."
What goes into editing good crossword puzzle, especially one for the New York Times?
Shortz says accuracy is key.
"It doesn't matter how clever or interesting or colorful the clues are, if they're wrong," said Shortz. "So everything is fact-checked by me or another person later and every puzzle is tested by six people before it appears in print."
Shortz also says each week he gets about 75 to 100 crossword puzzle submissions from across the country.