26 August 1952 |
Crawfordsville, Indiana, U.S.
|Education||B.A. in Enigmatology, 1974
J.D., 1977 University of Virginia
table tennis center owner
|Notable credit(s)||New York Times Puzzle Editor (since 1993), NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle master (since 1987)|
Early life and education
Will Shortz was born and raised on an Arabian horse farm in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Graduating from Indiana University in 1974, 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 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.
He says that his favorite crossword of all time is the Election Day crossword of 5 November 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".
Shortz currently resides in Pleasantville, New York, where he works from home. Shortz is an avid table tennis player; in May 2011, with Barbadian champion (and his long-time friend) Robert Roberts, he opened one of the largest table tennis clubs in the Northeast in Pleasantville.
The 2006 documentary Wordplay by Patrick Creadon focuses on Shortz and the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Various famous fans of his puzzles such as Bill Clinton, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart, Daniel Okrent, Indigo Girls and Mike Mussina appear in the film.
Shortz has been a guest on a number of TV shows, including Martha Stewart Living, Oprah, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. He has also appeared on Millionaire as an expert for the "Ask the Expert" lifeline.
He appeared in Dinner: Impossible as himself, challenging the chef to create dishes that mimic common English idioms at the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The episode aired on 6 May 2009.
He also appeared on an episode of How I Met Your Mother titled "Robots Versus Wrestlers", which first aired on 10 May 2010 during season 5. He appeared as himself at an upscale dinner party that included Arianna Huffington and Peter Bogdanovich, also playing themselves.
Shortz is a weekly guest on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday where he hosts the Sunday Puzzle, a cooperative game between the show's host and one of the show's listeners. The lucky player is picked randomly from a group of submissions containing the correct answer to a qualifier puzzle issued the week before.
Honors and awards
Shortz gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Indiana University, in May 2008.
- "About Will Shortz". NPR.
- "Puzzlemaster Will Shortz to present IU's 2008 commencement address". 1 April 2008.
- "New York Times crossword editor to give "puzzling" lecture at IU". Indiana University. 29 March 2000.
- Individualized Major Program
- University of Virginia news item
- "Puzzle pundit has a word", Australian Courier-Mail, 28 October 2006
- IMDB Entry for "Batman Forever"
- BarelyBad.com: " Theme Answers — Election Day 1996."
- American Crossword Puzzle Tournament: "Business Unusual: Will Shortz"
- New York Magazine
- Dewi Cooke; Chitrangada Choudhury. "Double Happiness".
- Reilly, Kathleen. "Weschester Table Tennis Center Debuts in Pleasantville". AOL Patch. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Stephey, M. J. "Puzzle Guru Will Shortz." Time 2 Mar. 2009. 15 June 2009 <http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1882455,00.html>
- Wordplay at the Internet Movie Database
- The Oprah Winfrey Show: "How'd They Do That?"
- Will on Millionaire Wednesday (YouTube)
- Sunday Puzzle
- A Puzzling Occupation from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
- About Will Shortz from NPR
- Opens New Table Tennis Club in Westchester 2011
- Bookologist Interviews Will Shortz About Crossword Puzzle Collecting
- American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
- New York Times crosswords some sample puzzles and crossword forums are free; access to the daily puzzle requires a paid subscription
- New York Times crossword editor to give "puzzling" lecture at IU
- Synopses of Will Shortz puzzle segments on Weekend Edition Sunday
- The Puzzle Master - Wired magazine interview
- WORDPLAY site for Independent Lens on PBS
- Wordplay The Movie at the Internet Movie Database