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Wordplay (2006)Wordplay (2006)

           "The excitement is palpable!" gushed NPR's Neal Conan. He was right; I would not let my wife interrupt while I watched. It was the championship round of the 28th Crossword Puzzle Tournament at the Marriott in Stamford, Connecticut. Wow! This whimsical documentary introduces you to the world of word nerds who are addicted to the NY Times crossword puzzle, people like Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, the Indigo Girls and pitcher Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees. But the best takes are those about ordinary people—there are 50 million puzzleheads out there—who compete every year in Stamford, and also the "crossword constructors" who create the puzzles with their dastardly clues (the Times uses about 110 puzzle constructors in a year). Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor for the NYT, looms large throughout the film; thirty years ago at Indiana University where you could create your own major he specialized in "enigmatology." If you want to compete at Stamford, sharpen your pencil; it takes only 3-4 minutes for the champion puzzlers to solve that bugger in your morning paper.

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