Alzheimer’s Foundation of America - Alzheimer’s Disease and Caregiving Support

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National Brain Game Challenge

And the Winners Are* ...

Pros Division:
Grand prize winner—Jeffrey Harris, Norwalk, CT (33 minutes)
Second place winner—Tyler Hinman, San Francisco, CA (36 minutes)
Third place winner—Daniel Katz, Providence, RI (43 minutes)

Public Division:
Grand prize winner—Scott Weiss, Walkersville, MD (55 minutes)

Second place winner—Jeffrey Schwartz, New York, NY (58 minutes)
Third place winner—Eric LeVasseur, Seal Beach, CA (63 minutes)

Additional Prizes:
Pro Division:
10th— Daniel Feyer, New York, NY (1 hour, 9 minutes)

Public Division:
10th—Andrew Miller, Washington, DC (1 hour, 28 minutes)
25th—Connie McCrery, Seattle, WA (2 hours, 32 minutes)
50th—Richard Dobkin, Chatsworth, CA (4 hours, 20 minutes)
100th—Cynthia Bonini, Brooklyn, NY (18 hours, 31 minutes)

*This list is the correct list of winners of the National Brain Game Challenge. Unfortunately, our earlier announcement was in error due to a computer glitch. We apologize, and we congratulate all contestants who answered the puzzle correctly.

Thanks to all participants for doing Crosswords for our Cause—
and a special thank you to Merl Reagle, our top-notch puzzle master
and dedicated advocate for our cause!

Click here to go to players’ site to read a message
from Merl and to download the puzzle
(contest closed, but registrants can still download the puzzle).


What Is the National Brain Game Challenge?
The National Brain Game Challenge is an online game of skill created by renowned puzzle master Merl Reagle. The contest is designed to be fun, exciting and challenging for everyone, from puzzle novices to enthusiasts to puzzle professionals. Plus, it spreads the message about the importance of brain health. This exciting event is built around the concept that flexing and stretching your brain, just like flexing and stretching other parts of your body, is critical for successful aging. The National Brain Game Challenge is part of the ongoing efforts by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) to educate the public about successful aging and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. The contest puzzle became available on September 30, 2012 at 3 p.m. (ET), and participants had 24 hours to submit their responses in order to qualify for prizes.

How Will My Participation Support the Cause?
Participation in the National Brain Game Challenge supports the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a leading national nonprofit organization focused on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and their families. AFA’s programs and services and those offered by its 1,600-plus member organizations nationwide support the practical, emotional, financial and social needs of families affected by this brain disorder. Currently, as many as 5.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is expected to triple by mid-century. With advanced age the greatest known risk factor for the disease, the nation’s aging population is causing what has been deemed a “silver tsunami.” As a result of the growing numbers of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, demand for support services increases daily. AFA is “caring for the nation … one person at a time.”

Why Are There Two Divisions, Pros and Public?
AFA felt that it would help level the playing field; it seemed fairer to have crossword solvers and novices play against each other rather than against those who create crossword puzzles or who have won puzzle tournaments.

What Are the Prizes?
In each division, Pros and Public, the Grand Prize winner will receive $2,500; the second-place winner will receive $500; the third-place winner will receive $250; and thereafter, prizes of $50 (in cash or gift certificates—from bookstores, etc.) will be awarded to the 10th, 25th, 50th and 100th winners.

How Do You Register for the National Brain Game Challenge?
Participation in the National Brain Game Challenge requires a $25 entry fee. Each player will complete an online registration form and pay the entry fee online with a credit card. While the contest closes as of 3 p.m. (ET) on October 1, you can still register and download the instructions and the puzzle on the players-only site after that time… so you can still take the challenge—just for fun (not prizes)!  Your $25 registration fee supports the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. 

Who Is Eligible to Enter the Contest and Compete for a Prize?
The contest is open to all U.S. citizens aged 18 and older, except Alzheimer’s Foundation of America board members, employees and their immediate families. Players must compete in the Pros division if they (1) have ever won $200 or more in cash in one or more crossword puzzle tournaments, or (2) have ever earned $200 or more creating crosswords for professional venues such as newspapers, magazines or books. Players can compete in the Public division only if they have received less than $200 in lifetime crossword-related cash winnings or from creating crosswords for professional venues.

How Will the Instructions and Puzzle Be Made Available?
Upon registration, each player will be assigned an individualized passcode, which will enable him or her to access a players-only contest site now through the end of October, 2012. The players-only site will include information and reminders for participants only. At 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 30, 2012, the instructions and contest puzzle, in the form of a downloadable PDF, will become available on the players-only site so that all players can download the instructions and puzzle at the same time. Please remember to refresh your page in order to obtain the PDF. Once you print them out, the race is on. The contest closes at 3 p.m. (ET) on October 1. However, registrants may still download the instructions and the puzzle on the players-only site after that time… so if you didn’t access the puzzle in time for the contest, you can still take the challenge—just for fun (not prizes)! 

What Are the Rules of the Game?
This is a crossword puzzle contest, and will contain hidden answers in the puzzle. Players must send these hidden answers --  not the completed puzzle  -- by e-mail, along with his or her assigned pass code. The e-mail address that players must use will be revealed in the puzzle(s). Only e-mail submissions will be accepted and each registered player must submit his or her solution only once; multiple e-mails are not allowed. We will only accept the first entry from each contestant. An automated e-mail reply will let each player know that we received his or her entry.

How Will AFA Determine the Winners?
AFA will determine the Grand Prize , second and third place winners in the Pros and Public divisions based on accuracy and speed . For example, the first Pros division e-mail that AFA receives that is judged to be completely correct is the Grand Prize winner in that division; the first Public division e-mail that AFA receives that is judged to be completely correct is the Grand Prize winner in that division, and so forth. Additional prizes will be awarded to the 10th, 25th, 50th and 100th entries in each category with the correct response . Only the first entry from each participant will be accepted regardless of circumstances.  Solutions will be accepted until 3 p.m. ET Monday, October 1, 2012, 24 hours after the contest began. Winners will be announced on AFA's Web site at 12 noon ET, Wednesday, October 3, 2012. AFA will post the prize winners on its Web site, and will notify non-winning puzzle solvers of their standing in the contest by e-mail.

Who is Merl Reagle?
Merl Reagle is one of the nation’s most renowned puzzle masters; Games magazine’s World of Puzzles has called him the “best Sunday crossword puzzle creator in America.” His popular, often pun-filled Sunday crossword is syndicated in 45 newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and other major newspapers. Reagle constructed his first crossword at age six and sold his first puzzle to The New York Times at 16. Since then he has authored 15 Sunday crossword anthologies. In 2006 he was featured prominently in the hit documentary “Wordplay” and in 2008 he played a cartoon version of himself on “The Simpsons.” He was the mastermind of the innovative puzzles included in AFA’s inaugural National Brain Game Challenge in 2011. Reagle and his wife, Marie Haley, of Tampa, FL have a personal interest in the cause, having been caregivers for “1,000 days” for Marie’s mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. More recently, Merl’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year—making the cause even more personal. Click here to hear why Reagle is doing crosswords for our cause! 

Why Are Puzzles and Mental Activities Important for Brain Health?
Research suggests that regular mental workouts may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease—an incurable brain disorder that is increasing in incidence nationwide and primarily affects the older population. Flexing and stretching your brain, just like flexing and stretching other parts of your body, is critical for a successful aging workout—so much so that experts suggest that people of all ages exercise both their brains and bodies on a daily basis. Research suggests that regular mental activities might help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other memory disorders by:

  • enhancing cognitive reserve
  • stimulating growth of new brain cells, and
  • maintaining or strengthening connections between brain cells.

How Can I Help Promote the National Brain Game Challenge?
If you love crosswords, you probably know others who do as well. Let your friends, family members, colleagues, etc. know about the National Brain Game Challenge and encourage them to register. Also, please let your community know about this event by asking libraries, senior centers, Ys, community club houses, etc. to post a National Brain Game Challenge flyer. Click here to download a National Brain Game Challenge promotional flyer.

What Else Can I Do to Support Brain Health?

Local Brain Game Challenge:
Throughout the year, various AFA member organizations across the country host an on-site Brain Game Challenge in their communities. These local fundraising and educational events complement the National Brain Game Challenge. Designed to appeal to people of all ages, abilities and interests, the Brain Game Challenge is comprised of a series of games such as visual puzzles, math challenges and memory games. Anybody who would like to support a local AFA member organization, enjoys doing puzzles and playing other types of games, is committed to brain health or, simply, is up for a challenge is welcome to join the fun. Participating sites retain 90 percent of all funds raised during this event—so funds are staying in your own community! Click here to find a site.

National Memory Screening Day:
AFA will hold its 10th annual National Memory Screening Day on November 13, 2012, with local sites nationwide offering free, confidential memory screenings. This annual initiative promotes the benefits of early detection of memory problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, and educates the public about memory problems and successful aging. Anyone who has memory concerns or who wants to check their memory now and for future comparison can take a face-to-face screening administered by a qualified healthcare professional. The results do not represent a diagnosis, and individuals with below-normal scores are encouraged to follow up with their physician or other qualified healthcare professional. Click here for more information and to find a screening site.
Learn about successful aging on, AFA’s Web site dedicated to brain health. Here you can read about the latest research regarding the impact of lifestyle choices on brain health and tips regarding diet, exercise, stress reduction and other lifestyle modifications that may help reduce risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, as well as find resources and checklists that can help you on your journey toward successful aging. Click here to learn more.

Click here to ask a question about the National Brain Game Challenge.


(contest closed; access to puzzle only)