We are enjoying Netflix. It’s cool to always have a movie we want to see hanging around the house, waiting for us.
Helaine has been nice enough to indulge me a few documentaries. Tonight it was Wordplay, the story of the 28th Annual Crossword Puzzle Championship held at the Marriott in Stamford¹.
Wordplay itself refers to the practice of styling the answers in themed crossword puzzles.
I’ll get to the competition in a second.
To legitimize the whole process, a few celebrity crossword addicts were interviewed, including Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, Ken Burns, the Indigo Girls and Jon Stewart. Interestingly, Stewart is the only one who seemed consciously affected by the camera.
They all do their puzzles in pen.
The movie followed a handful of favorites through the contest. If you’re looking to fill your quota of stereotypes, they’re there! Everyone was a nerd. No one could be thought of as physically attractive. And yet, it was fascinating to watch.
To see these contestants breeze through puzzles, solving clues in 10 or 15 seconds was mind boggling. Sure, they know the obscure puzzle words, those chestnuts which are used and reused because they alone solve certain problems of puzzle design, but it’s more than that.
The contestants are analytical. They are organized… anal if you wish. It’s almost as if they have to do puzzles. In fact, maybe they are driven by an unseen force to do just that.
SPOILER ALERT – In the end, a rookie error from an established contestant allows a 20 year old college student (from Hartford, as it turns out) to win. I like him and was pleased he won. – AS YOU WERE
I finished the movie and immediately headed to a website where you can attempt to solve crosswords online. I bailed before the halfway point, though I was doing fine on a reasonably easy puzzle.
I like the movie and really cared about the folks involved. How often do you get to say that?
¹ – The 30th Annual Championship takes place next weekend in Stamford.