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Puzzles, Mazes and Scrambled Comics Ensure a Confusing Event

June 17, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ It’s a-maze-ing - enough to make your head spin.

Games players from 19 nations will gather here next week to compete in the 1st World Puzzle Team Championship.

Teams of four players from each participating country will vie in solving a mind-bending array of 32 puzzles. The competition is organized by Games magazine and Random House.

″Japan seems to be taking this the most seriously. They’re coming with eight people and only four of them are competing. We already know of two Japanese networks covering it,″ said Games editor Will Shortz.

In Poland, 3,000 people tried out in two series of tests.

″I have a feeling they’ll be very, very bright. One is only 15 years old,″ he said.

Contestants will decipher mazes, scrambled comics, word searches and some things from school days such as what-wrong-with-this-picture? and which- picture-doesn’t-belong puzzles?

″There won’t be any connect the dots because there’s no way to make that an adult puzzle,″ said Shortz.

No prize money is at stake in the June 26-27 contest. Instead, medals and trophies will be handed out to individuals and teams accumulating the most points based on speed and accuracy.

Teams are coming from Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Spain, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Argentina, Japan, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

″I see it in a small way as being the mental equivalent of the Olympics, which tests physical dexterity. This does it through puzzles and mental play,″ Shortz said.

″It hit me that this is an international event and it’s really big stuff,″ said Nick Baxter, one of the U.S. contestants. The 35-year-old from Burlingame, Calif., is a software development director.

The American competitors were selected by an unusual contest. Shortz used the newest twist in fax technology on May 9 to send 240 contestants simultaneously a test of 32 puzzles. Their solutions had to be faxed back within 90 minutes.

″We also believe this is the first time there has ever been a national test by fax,″ Shortz said.

The other U.S. contestants are Daniel Johnson, 27, a software engineer from Terre Haute, Ind.; Andrew Brecher, 18, a high school senior from Lexington, Mass.; and Christopher Morse, 20, a chemistry major at Dartmouth College.

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