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If a computer can beat a grand master at chess, how would one do at crossword puzzles? Not well, decided New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz, who challenged programmers to a match against humans. That was in 1997, and Duke University scientists accepted. Fast-forward now to last March and the 22nd Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The Duke program wasn't actually entered. But it worked the same puzzles as the 254 human contestants ... and would have finished 147th.

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Tthe British Tomato Growers Association has determined the best way to turn out the juicy produce is with ... rock music. Growers who once hired workers to shake their plants, thus increasing pollination, have found it's more effective to blast them instead with bass-heavy tunes.

Plays that were nominated for season's Tony Awards

Tony Award nominees for this season's best Broadway plays were announced Monday. The winners - to be revealed June 6 in a televised ceremony - will be chosen from the following:

Play: "Closer," "Not About Nightingales," "Side Man," "The Lonesome West"

Musical: "Fosse," "It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues," "Parade," "The Civil War"

Book of a musical: "Footloose" by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie; "It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues" by Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Ron Taylor and Dan Wheetman; "Marlene" by Pam Gems; "Parade" by Alfred Uhry

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Original score: "Footloose" by Tom Snow, Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, and Jim Steinman; "Parade" by Jason Robert Brown; "The Civil War" by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy; "Twelfth Night" by Jeanine Tesori

Revival of a play: "Death of a Salesman," "Electra," "The Iceman Cometh," "Twelfth Night"

Revival of a musical: "Annie Get Your Gun," "Little Me," "Peter Pan," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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