The Championship Speed Contest

The Championship Speed Contest

Here's another recap of the First National Cross Word Puzzle Convention of May 18, 1924, this one from the skeptics at The Boston Globe. "We vacillated," writes "Cross Ed" in the May 25th edition of the Globe, "as to whether or not we should go, until suddenly it dawned on us that here was our everlasting chance to settle that burning question over which there is so much controversy—Are Puzzlers People, or Are They Nuts?"

Those amassed evidently passed the test:

"... not a Nut could we see. To tell the truth they were the brightest looking crowd it has been our good fortune to meet for many a day. They had an alert expression, a keen, intelligent glance, and cheerfulness, contentment and self assurance radiated from them all. Especially did they express good will and expectancy as they faced the platform on which were the presiding officers and the speakers of the evening.

Ruth Hale, founder of the Lucy Stone league and feminist icon — she advocated for women to be able to legally keep their names after marriage — spoke out against bad clues, ones in which it seemed

puzzle makers look up a word in the dictionary, take the very last synonym given, look up that word and again choose the most remote meaning, perhaps even repeating the process a third time, and then gleefully put down the result, saying with vicious pride, "I guess that'll stick em!" 

Then the championship puzzle, which William Stern II solved in "10 minutes 10 and two-fifths seconds," winning, of course, a coveted dictionary. The full puzzle is below.