Will Shortz


Will Shortz (b. 1952) is the long-time crossword puzzle editor for ‘The New York Times.’ Shortz was born and raised on an Arabian horse farm in Indiana. He is the only person known to hold a college degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles.

Shortz achieved this feat by designing his own curriculum through Indiana University’s Individualized Major Program. He also earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (1977), though he forewent the bar exam and began a career in puzzles instead. Shortz began his career at ‘Penny Press Magazines,’ then moved to ‘Games’ magazine for 15 years, serving as its editor from 1989–1993.

He has been the crossword puzzle editor for ‘The New York Times’ since 1993 (the fourth in the paper’s history, following Eugene Thomas Maleska), and has been the puzzle master on NPR’s ‘Weekend Edition Sunday’ since the program was started in 1987. He hosts the ‘Sunday Puzzle,’ a cooperative game between the show’s host and one of the show’s listeners. He is the founder of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (1978), and has served as its director since that time. He founded the World Puzzle Championship in 1992 and is a director of the U.S. Puzzle Team.

Shortz is the author or editor of more than 100 books and owns over 20,000 puzzle books and magazines dating back to 1545, reportedly the world’s largest private library on the subject. Shortz is a member of the National Puzzlers’ League. He is currently the league historian. Shortz provided the puzzle clues which The Riddler (Jim Carrey) leaves for Batman (Val Kilmer) in the film ‘Batman Forever.’

He says that his favorite crossword of all time is the Election Day crossword of November 5, 1996, designed by Jeremiah Farrell. It had two correct solutions with the same set of clues, one saying that the ‘Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper (!)’ would be ‘BOB DOLE ELECTED,’ and the other correct solution saying ‘CLINTON ELECTED.’ He has declared that his favorite crossword clue of all-time is ‘It might turn into a different story’ (whose solution is SPIRAL STAIRCASE). Shortz is an avid table tennis player; in 2011, he opened one of the largest table tennis clubs in the Northeast in Pleasantville, New York where he lives and works. In 2009, Shortz helped introduce the KenKen math puzzle into ‘The New York Times.’

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