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Pomona College Hosts 5th Annual New York Times Crossword Puzzle Contest

Update 04/06/11: Twenty-four students competed in the contest this year, including about nine freshman. The winners of the contest were Ben Fish '13 (third place), Julia Ringo '13 and Scott Jesperson '12.

Pomona College, a haven for crossword people, will host its 5th Annual New York Times Crossword Puzzle Contest for students on Tuesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. This year, the contest will feature unpublished puzzles from the New York Times, courtesy of Will Shortz, the Times puzzle master. The puzzles used in the contest will be published the following week.

Pomona College has been building a reputation with Shortz for some time. Joel Fagliano '14, who is helping coordinate this year's contest, has had three puzzles published in the New York Times. Xan Vongsathorn '09 had a puzzle published the weekend of his graduation. And, Michael Sharp '91 has a blog, Rex Parker Does the NY Times Crossword, where he solves the daily puzzle and rates its difficulty and expounds on the answers. His first memory of doing a crossword is finishing a Sunday puzzle with three friends in the Coop at Pomona.

This year's contest will have three rounds. The top scorers after two rounds advance to the finals. According to Associate Dean Neil Gerard, another Pomona puzzle aficionado, "The final puzzle is the Wednesday puzzle, and puzzle solvers get 15 minutes. The total of the three puzzles determines the top three prizewinners.

The New York Times provides the contest prizes for Pomona's contest, through its College Readership Program. Among the prizes are New York Times imprinted material (messenger bags, coffee mugs, golf shirts, etc) and iPods for the top three prizes.

For more information on Pomona puzzlers, read our Fall 2010 Pomona College Magazine article "Puzzling Future."