Longtime ‘NYT’ crossword editor Shortz to share love of, delight in puzzles


Kaitlyn Finchler
Staff Writer

Puzzle master. Engimatologist. Crossword editor. These are all words to describe Will Shortz’s self-made degree and career. The only one in the world to hold his official title, Shortz graduated from Indiana University with his one-of-a-kind degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles.

He will deliver his lecture at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater to close Week Two of the Chautauqua Lecture Series theme, “Games: A Celebration of Our Most Human Pastimes”

The hope for the lecture is for Chautaquans to realize games “are not only fun, but there’s a value to them,” said Jordan Steves, interim Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education. 

“That was our intention to have this week, where families are gathering for holiday celebrations, to have a lighter (and) more fun theme, but certainly not lacking in substance,” Steves said.

Shortz sold his first professional puzzle at 14 years old; at age 16 he became a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications. 

“In the eighth grade, when asked to write a paper on what I wanted to do with my life, I wrote on being a professional puzzle-maker,” Shortz told The New Yorker. “That was always my dream.”

An author and editor of more than 500 puzzle books, Shortz was editor of Games magazine for 15 years as well as the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the co-founder of the World Puzzle Championship and program director of the National Puzzlers’ League convention.


The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.