That one, an hour-limit, 23 x 23 grid, contained a complete limerick, running across five separate horizontal lines. Those lucky enough to solve it had:
On and on they lettered, these participants in a possibly semihistoric event. Would Stamford go down as the Cooperstown of modern competitive cross-wording? Probably not. There have been puzzle derbies in Great Britain for years. On the other hand, American crosswords and the eccentric British version are as dissimilar as baseball and cricket. And who knows what the Cyrillic-alphabet nations may have invented along these same lines? Also, there is a claim from the past.
The past attended in the person of venerable Margaret Farrar, octogenarian grande dame of puzzledom, who innovated the Times puzzles and edited them from 1942 to 1969, launching the careers of many constructors. "This is where I came in," she said, rising to address the solvers at their postpuzzle banquet. "In 1925 we put on a lot of crossword tournaments." Farrar reminisced about speed contests held on blackboards in the old John Wanamaker department store, one of which attracted the poet Stephen Vincent Ben�t.
Then she announced the 1978 winner. It was Mrs. Schuster, who received a silver bowl and $125; the second-and third-place winners got $50 and $25, respectively, and bowls, too.
Mrs. Schuster was immediately accosted by reporters and TV cameras and asked to reveal her secrets for puzzle solving. A lefty who works the grids wearing glasses, she handled the questions with aplomb, confessing that she had come "to see how good I was, I guess. It's just a kick." Her husband had bought a ticket to attend the banquet, she said, only after the morning standings showed she could win if she held her lead.
And it was over. Nary a cross word had been heard. Mike Dolan said he was looking forward to the second annual. Will Shortz said, "I think this is a fantastic collection of brainpower" and allowed that he wouldn't be very surprised if the phenomenon spread. It could. There are many apt locales in which crossword buffs would feel at home—the solvers at the first championships had just uncovered such potential tournament sites as Aydin (western Turkish city), Adak (island of the Aleutians) or just about any town on the banks of the beautiful Uele (African river).