This week, approximately 1,000 crossword enthusiasts will flock to Stamford, Conn. to participate in the 42nd Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) hosted by Puzzle Master and The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz, a former resident of Stamford. The event, to be held from Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24 at the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, is expected to draw more than 700 competitors from 40 states, Canada, and Europe, resulting in a big economic bonus for the city. All guestrooms at the Marriott – the event’s headquarters hotel – have been sold out for weeks. With 2019 marking the 36th time the ACPT has been held in Stamford, Mayor David Martin is declaring Sunday, March 24 “Stamford Crossword Puzzle Day.”
“The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament means a lot to the City of Stamford,” said Tom Civitano, director of sales and marketing for the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, managed by Meyer Jabara Hotels. “It means widespread exposure for our city; not only are there hundreds of participants annually, but the tournament has been featured on ‘60 Minutes,’ ‘Nightline,’ ‘Today,’ and HBO’s ‘Real Sports’ with Bryant Gumbel. It also is an exceptional revenue-driver for businesses Downtown. A fun fact that most people don’t know is that this competition was the brainchild of Marriott Stamford Director of Sales Mike Dolan in 1977. To help increase business on a slow winter weekend, Dolan approached Will Shortz with the tournament idea. At the time, Mr. Shortz was editing crosswords for Penny Press puzzle magazines, and he jumped at the opportunity.”
The first American Crossword Puzzle Tournament was held at the Marriott Stamford in 1978, and there were 149 contestants. The event remained in Stamford for 27 years until it moved to Brooklyn in 2006 after the ACPT documentary “Wordplay” appeared in theaters around the country.
“As you can imagine, attendance in ACPT exploded in 2006…so much so, that the following year the tournament was moved to Brooklyn to accommodate the large group of puzzle solvers,” Civitano said. “Thankfully, Will Shortz brought it back to Stamford in 2015. The City and our hotel owe a lot to this Puzzle Master. Prize money for this year’s tournament is now more than $10,000. First prize is $5,000.”
“Stamford’s pen-and-paper crossword competition is a keystone event for our City, and we’re thrilled to continue hosting crossword enthusiasts in our great city,” Mayor David Martin said. “The Marriott is an ideal venue for this competition and its thoughtful planning and management have led to the growth and popularity of this competition in the Stamford community. I thank them — and the organizers of this event — for bringing crossword enthusiasts from around the world to Stamford for so many decades, and I hope they continue this event for many more.”
“We are delighted to have people from all over the world come to participate in this tournament and experience the best that Stamford and State has to offer,” explained Thomas Madden, the Director of Economic Development for the City of Stamford. In his role of Chair of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB), the State’s official meetings and sports event sales and marketing organization, Madden reports that the weekend event is projected to result in: more than $825,000 in revenue for the Stamford area as visitors stay in hotels, dine in local restaurants, shop, and enjoy nearby attractions; close to $51,000 in Connecticut Sales Tax; and support for over 325 hospitality industry jobs.*
Shortz on Stamford
A former Stamford resident, tournament founder Will Shortz says he is happy to hold the annual ACPT in Stamford, noting that the Marriott “feels like home” for the event.
“This year, the Stamford Marriott sold out on guestrooms five weeks before the tournament,” Shortz said. “Having to direct contestants to other hotels nearby is a good problem to have. I’m eager to see everyone again – many puzzle solvers return year after year. It’s a reunion of some of the most quirky, flexible minds in the world. I’m honored the tournament has become such a huge success.”
Marriott Rallying for Downtown Participation
Civitano said he is encouraging Downtown businesses to join the Stamford Marriott in catching what he hopes to become “American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Fever” and hopes that neighboring companies will come up with some clever Crossword promotions.
“What is most exciting about the ACPT is seeing people enjoying putting pen to paper and challenging their cognitive thinking, rather than burying themselves in digital media,” Civitano said. “It’s been said that doing crossword puzzles is good for a person’s mental and physical well-being. They can improve your mood, lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, reduce stress and expand verbal skills. They’re also a great way to socialize, as puzzle solvers like myself often rally family members and friends to assist. These health and social benefits, combined with the financial boost that ACPT will bring to Stamford this month, are reasons enough for businesses to rally together and get Stamford residents excited about this event.
To register for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, go to www.crosswordtournament.com/info/brochure.htm. Participants can also register at the door. For more information on the championship, contact Michael Smith at 215-266-2802 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More details can be found at www.crosswordtournament.com. *Destinations International calculator FY 2017-18