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WNY playwright involved in national crossword puzzle tournament


Crossword enthusiasts from across the country are converging on Stamford, Connecticut this weekend for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor and NPR’s Puzzle Master Will Shortz is the Director of the Tournament. Shortz also hosts weekly on-air quizzes and gives challenges to Weekend Edition listeners. Attending the Tournament this year is Western New York Playwright Donna Hoke. In 2011, Hoke wrote a ten minute play about a crossword puzzle and Sudoku puzzle competing against each other.

“The crossword puzzle is putting down the Sudoku most of the time in the play.” Hoke said, “And that is a reflection of my preferences. I don’t really like Sudoku. I just find them to be…I mean they’re a completely different thing. They’re basically a logic puzzle and crosswords are not.”

Hoke’s play first appeared in Chicago in 2011 and before long, it made its way to the Alleyway Theater in Buffalo. The play caught the attention of Shortz this year and he invited Hoke to the tournament in Connecticut, where a performance of the play will take place. More than a little bit of coaxing by Shortz was needed to get Hoke to accept the invitation.

“And I said ‘I can’t really come, my husband is touring in Poland right now and I don’t have anyone at home and its last minute, it would be very expensive,’ and he wrote back said ‘how about if I bring you in and pay for your air fare and put you up in a hotel?’ So that’s what we’re doing.”

The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament runs from March 23rd through March 25th.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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