I other numbers, when I searched for any 6-letter word, here are the
time outputs:

Ruby:
ruby/crosswords.rb  2.38s user 0.12s system 21% cpu 11.486 total

Python:
python/crossword.py  1.65s user 0.14s system 15% cpu 11.364 total

I do not mean to diss Ruby here, but if speed is your concern, maybe
you would be better off with Python.

Vince

-- 

Vincent Foley-Bourgon
Email: vinfoley / iquebec.com
Homepage: http://darkhost.mine.nu:81