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Timothy Parker (puzzle designer)

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Timothy E. Parker
Born (1960-04-07) April 7, 1960 (age 64)
Occupation(s)Puzzle editor, author

Timothy Eric Parker (born April 7, 1960) is an American puzzle editor, games creator, author, and TV producer.[1]

Puzzle career[edit]

In November 1996, Parker started writing a "Daily Crossword" feature. By early 1997, Parker’s puzzle became the "Universal Crossword" syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate to newspapers and clients worldwide. In 1999, together with Universal Press Syndicate’s Uclick division, Parker founded The Puzzle Society, and is the founder and senior editor of the Universal Uclick line of crossword puzzles and games.[citation needed] On May 19, 2003, Parker became the second crossword editor of USA Today following Charles Preston.[citation needed] In summer of 2003, Parker created the "Family Time Crossword".[citation needed]

Plagiarism scandal[edit]

On March 4, 2016, the website FiveThirtyEight, in an article by Oliver Roeder, reported that "a group of eagle-eyed puzzlers" had found similarities between 1,537 of the 15,000 puzzles Parker had edited and published through USA Today and Universal Uclick and ones published by The New York Times and other publishers.[2][3] Ninety-two were similar to ones published by The New York Times and in 699 cases, the previous publisher was either USA Today or Universal.[2]

Parker said he had not deliberately copied any puzzles, and that the repeated themes were coincidental.[4] On March 7, Universal Uclick and USA Today issued statements saying that Parker had temporarily stepped down from his role as senior editor while an investigation into the plagiarism allegations was underway.[5][6]

On April 18, 2016, Universal Uclick announced that it had confirmed some of the allegations and that Parker would take a three-month leave of absence. He would "(use) the best available technology to ensure that everything he edits is original."[7] On May 10, 2016, USA Today announced that it would not publish any future puzzles from Timothy Parker, although it would continue to use vendor Universal Uclick.[8] This came after a social media campaign pressuring USA Today to take action against Parker.[9] At the end of 2018, Universal Uclick declined to renew its contract with Parker.[10]


In 2006, Parker became the puzzle producer for Merv Griffin's Crosswords. According to a press release from Parker, he wrote all questions for 225 episodes singlehandedly.[11] In 2008, Parker contributed to the ABC prime time television show The Mole.[citation needed] In addition, Parker has created puzzles that have appeared on The View, Access Hollywood and others.[citation needed]


Parker has written or edited over 50 books, a series of puzzle books for the For Dummies brand, 25 digital games, the annual USA Today Crossword Calendar, and the syndicated Family Time Crossword.

In 2014, Parker co-wrote The Book of Revelation Made Clear with the co-creator of the Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye. In 2016, Parker wrote Bible Brilliant, a Bible trivia book published through Baker publishing.[12]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In May 2000, Parker said he was named "World's Most Syndicated Puzzle Compiler" by Guinness World Records.[13][14]


  1. ^ David, Post (15 March 2016). "Crosswords and copyright". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Plagiarism Scandal Leaves the Crossword Community Puzzled". Atlas Obscura. 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  3. ^ Roeder, Oliver (5 March 2016). "A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2016-03-06. More broadly, 1,090 Universal puzzles and 447 USA Today puzzles were at least a 75 percent match to an earlier puzzle in the database.
  4. ^ Connor, Alan (2016-03-07). "The great US crossword 'plagiarism' mystery". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  5. ^ "Crossword World in a Ruction (n: 'Uproar') Over Plagiarism Allegations". NBC News. 8 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  6. ^ DeMara, Bruce (13 March 2016). "Crossword plagiarism scandal sidelines puzzle editor". The Star. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Andrews McMeel Syndication - Home".
  8. ^ Timothy Parker, Accused Of Plagiarism, Is Out As USA Today’s Crossword Puzzle Editor
  9. ^ Puzzle Company Calls For Boycott Of USA Today, Uclick Over Alleged Plagiarism
  10. ^ "Reader puzzled over crossword writer change".
  11. ^ "Black History Month Profile: The Puzzle Brain Behind 'Merv Griffin's Crosswords'". prweb.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  12. ^ "TIMOTHY E. PARKER Guinness World Records ′Puzzle Master". biblebrilliant.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  13. ^ Smiley, Tavis (2003-05-22). "Interview: Timothy Parker discusses being the most syndicated crossword compiler in the world and his career creating puzzles". NPR (subscription required). Retrieved 2016-03-06.[dead link]
  14. ^ Parker, Timothy E. (March 2007). "King James Games: Study Puzzles Crafted for the Learning and Memorization of God's Word". ISBN 9780740765018. Retrieved 6 May 2017.