Dan Feyer ’99, 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion.
Dan Feyer ’99, 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion.
Don Christensen/acpt

Solving a difficult crossword puzzle is challenging enough. Try doing it on stage, in front of hundreds of spectators — in less than eight minutes. Impossible? Not for Dan Feyer ’99, the 2010 Ameri­can Crossword Puzzle Tourna­ment champion. Feyer, a musician who plays piano accompaniment for off-Broadway shows, spoke with PAW’s Brett Tomlinson in late February, two days after his big win.

What do you do to prepare for the crossword tournament?

You have to do a lot of puzzles. That’s the way to improve at anything, really — practice — which was easy for me because I got hooked. I’ve been doing thousands of puzzles a year — not to train, but because it’s been a bit of an addiction.

How many puzzles do you solve in an average day?

Ten or 20, on the subway to and from work and at home in front of the TV. They go quickly. If I’m on the subway for half an hour or 45 minutes, that could be 10 easy puzzles right there.

Is there any connection between playing music and solving puzzles?