Shortz in October 2006
August 26, 1952|
Crawfordsville, Indiana, U.S.
B.A. in Enigmatology, 1974|
Indiana University Bloomington,
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. From an early age he was drawn to wordplay, and at 13 wrote to Language on Vacation author Dmitri Borgmann for advice on how to pursue a career in puzzles. He graduated from Indiana University in 1974, and is the only person known to hold a college degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles. Shortz achieved this 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), but 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. He is a member and historian of the National Puzzlers' League.
He has said 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". His favourite individual clue is "It might turn into a different story" (whose solution is SPIRAL STAIRCASE).
Shortz resides in Pleasantville, New York, where he works from home. He 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. In 2012, Shortz set a goal for himself to play table tennis every day for a year, but surpassed his goal, playing for 1000 consecutive days.
In March 2016, FiveThirtyEight reported on allegations of plagiarism regarding USA Today editor Timothy Parker's use of themes, clues, and grids previously published in the New York Times. The Times also reported on the story, in which Shortz is quoted as saying: "When the same theme answers appear in the same order from one publication to the next, that makes you look closer. When they appear with the same clues, that looks suspicious. And when it happens repeatedly, then you know it's plagiarism."
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 May 6, 2009.
He also appeared on an episode of How I Met Your Mother titled "Robots Versus Wrestlers", which first aired on May 10, 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.
In May 2018, Shortz was given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Indiana University, his alma mater.
- "About Will Shortz". NPR.
- Simmons, Mark (Winter 2006). "NPR Puzzlemaster Will Shortz". Games Quarterly: 24.
- "Puzzlemaster Will Shortz to present IU's 2008 commencement address". April 1, 2008.
- "New York Times crossword editor to give "puzzling" lecture at IU". Indiana University Bloomington. March 29, 2000. Archived from the original on October 26, 2005. Retrieved July 25, 2005.
- "Individualized Major Program". Indiana.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "University of Virginia news item". Virginia.edu. 2008-04-03. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Puzzle pundit has a word", Australian Courier-Mail, 28 October 2006
- IMDB Entry for "Batman Forever"
- American Crossword Puzzle Tournament: "Business Unusual: Will Shortz"
- Thompson, Clive. "New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Dewi Cooke; Chitrangada Choudhury. "Double Happiness".
- Reilly, Kathleen. "Weschester Table Tennis Center Debuts in Pleasantville". AOL Patch. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- Schwartz, Casey. "Puzzle Master Will Shortz Played Ping-Pong for 1,000 Days in a Row". Retrieved 2015-07-04.
- Stephey, M. J., "Puzzle Guru Will Shortz.". Time March 2, 2009. June 15, 2009.
- PennyPress official page for WILL SHORTZ' WORDPLAY
- Rosenberg, Eli (2016-03-05). "Crosswords Seemingly Copied From The New York Times Questioned". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
- Wordplay on IMDb
- The Oprah Winfrey Show: "How'd They Do That?"
- "Will on Millionaire Wednesday". YouTube. 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- TV.com (2009-05-06). "TV.com". TV.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Listings | TheFutonCritic.com – The Web's Best Television Resource". TheFutonCritic.com. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Sunday Puzzle". Npr.org. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "We asked: NYT crossword editor Will Shortz". Jeopardy.com. December 18, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
- "Wabash College: News Crawfordsville, Indiana". Wabash.edu. 2010-05-16. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Will Shortz.|
- A Puzzling Occupation from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
- 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 on IMDb