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When Daniel Larsen was in middle school, he started designing crossword puzzles. He had to layer the hobby on top of his other interests: chess, programming, piano, violin. He twice qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., after winning his regional competition. “He gets focused on something, and it’s just bang, bang, bang, until he succeeds,” said Larsen’s mother, Ayelet Lindenstrauss. His first crossword puzzles were rejected by major newspapers, but he kept at it and ultimately broke in. To date, he holds the record for youngest person to publish a crossword in The New York Times, at age 13. “He’s very persistent,” Lindenstrauss said.
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