Friday, March 7, 2014
By Ray Routhier firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND — One down: Oldest organization for puzzlers.
Nine across: Longfellow's hometown.
The answers – in case you don't speak crossword – are the National Puzzlers' League and Portland, Maine. The two will come together for the first time next July.
Word puzzle fans from around the country will be heading to Portland, which has been chosen as the site of the 2014 National Puzzlers' League Convention.
The convention is expected to draw some 175 to 200 people, and is scheduled for July 17-20, 2014. The convention will be held at the Westin Portland Harborview hotel (formerly The Eastland) on High Street.
The event will feature word puzzle competitions, lectures and a chance for the public to find out what the NPL is all about, organizer and Portland resident Jennifer Braun said Monday.
There will be celebrity appearances – celebrities in the word puzzle world, anyway – including Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times and a regular contributor to National Public Radio.
The NPL -- founded in 1883 and recognized as the world's oldest puzzlers' organization – is holding its annual convention in Portland on the recommendation of Braun. Members nominate cities for the conventions, usually two years in advance.
"Everyone thought Portland would be great," said Braun, 32. "Maine in the summer is amazing."
The NPL's 2013 convention just ended Sunday in Austin, Texas, so very few details of the Portland convention have been firmed up at this point, Braun said.
She said details -- including prices, a schedule and public sessions -- will be listed in the future on the NPL's convention website: Con.puzzlers.org/ portland.
This convention attracts some hard-core puzzlers. Braun said many of the attendees will be folks who do "cryptic" crosswords, where each clue is a word puzzle within itself. Solve the puzzle in the clue, then solve the clue.
Still, Braun said there will be some times set aside for beginners or non-puzzlers to attend the convention, too.
She said the NPL has about 600 members, and people who attend its convention often stay in the host city a week or longer, visiting nearby sights, eating at restaurants and generally spending money.
The folks at the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland have been in contact with the puzzle conventioneers, and are obviously glad the NPL event is coming.
The visitor's bureau has recently been working on a campaign called "Bring Yours Home!" It encourages local residents to help bring to Maine any events they attend or help organize or know about, said Elissa English, who handles sales and marketing for the bureau.
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: