ACTUARY Doug Hoylman, a 47-year-old crossword puzzler from Chevy Chase, won third prize Sunday in the 14th annual American Crossword Puzzle Contest in Stamford, Conn.
Hoylman solved the standard size 15 by 15 square puzzle, created especially for the finals by Trip Payne, in 12 minutes, 21 seconds. Winner Jon Delfin, a 36-year-old musician from New York City, completed the puzzle in 10 minutes, 16 seconds. It was Delfin's third consecutive victory at the national tournament, according to competition director Will Shortz. Second place went to attorney George Henschel of Springfield, Va.
The prize money was $1,000, $250 and $150. The three top finishers also received dictionaries and subscriptions to a puzzle magazine.
Shortz picked Number One Across as the most difficult clue in the finals. The solution to "Spot bites" was CAVE CANEM, the Latin phrase for "Beware of Dog." All three finalists answered correctly.
Puzzler Jinny Jones, a 64-year-old computer consultant from Bethesda, placed second in the tournament's Seniors Category. She missed winning by 10 points -- 10,505 compared to the winner's 10,515 -- which is about as close to a photo finish as you can get in the puzzling world, Shortz says.
The tournament attracted 149 competitors from around the country.