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Will Shortz, The Times's crossword editor, answered questions from readers July 20-24, 2009.
Mr. Shortz has been crossword editor of The New York Times since 1993. He is also puzzle master for NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" and is the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which has been held annually since 1978. Mr. Shortz founded the World Puzzle Championship in 1992 and was its host in 1992 and 2000. He will be the host of the Fifth World Sudoku Championship in Philadelphia in 2010. Before joining The Times, Mr. Shortz was the editor of Games magazine. He holds the world's only college degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles, which he earned in the Individualized Major Program at Indiana University in 1974.
Other Times staff members have answered questions in this column, including Executive Editor Bill Keller, Managing Editor Jill Abramson, Managing Editor John Geddes, Deputy Managing Editor Jonathan Landman, Assistant Managing Editor Glenn Kramon, Obituaries Editor Bill McDonald, National Editor Suzanne Daley, Living Editor Trish Hall, Entertainment Editor Lorne Manly and N.B.A. reporter Jonathan Abrams. Their responses and those of other Times editors, reporters, columnists and executives are on the Talk to The Times page.
These discussions will continue in future weeks with other members of the Times staff.
Were You a Puzzler at an Early Age?
Q. Did you like puzzles even as a little kid? I like puzzles. And I have puzzle books. What were your favorite puzzles growing up? I like "who ate the cake" (Clue Jr.), hidden pictures and PBS Kids (Web site) puzzles.
— Ella Fajardo-Wilde, age 4 1/2
A. I started creating puzzles when I was 8 or 9, so I must have been solving puzzles even earlier. I sold my first one when I was 14 — to Venture, my national Sunday school magazine. I became a contributor to Dell...