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Will Shortz, puzzle master for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987, is also the crossword editor of The New York Times. (Getty Images)

Will Shortz: Aging Gopher Maracas

Jul 19, 2012 (Ask Me Another)

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Puzzle master Will Shortz on the Ask Me Another stage. Will Shortz, puzzle master for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987, is also the crossword editor of The New York Times.

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Ever heard of "enigmatology"? It's the study of puzzles, and there's currently only one person who holds a degree in it — Will Shortz. The ultimate puzzle guru visits Ask Me Another as this week's Mystery Guest to discuss his all-time favorite crossword clues and exceptional love of table tennis. Host Ophira Eisenberg discovers that Shortz owns a crossword puzzle suit, which we hope to see him wear outside his home one day.

Since Shortz is a puzzle legend, we felt wrong about pitting him against a contestant of the civilian sort. So for Shortz' Ask Me Another Challenge, we call upon our own puzzle guru, John Chaneski, to step up to the mat for a game called "Aging Gopher Maracas" — otherwise known as "Geographic Anagrams." The competition heats up as the puzzle grasshopper takes on his puzzle master, but all bets are off in this word-twisting trivia match.

About Will Shortz

Will Shortz has been the puzzle master for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987. He's also the crossword editor of The New York Times, the former editor of Games magazine, and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (since 1978).

Shortz sold his first puzzle professionally when he was 14 — to Venture, a denominational youth magazine. At 16 he became a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications. He is the only person in the world to hold a college degree in Enigmatology, the study of puzzles, which he earned from Indiana University in 1974.

Born in 1952 and raised on an Arabian horse farm in Indiana, Shortz now lives near New York City in a Tudor-style house filled with books and Arts and Crafts furniture. When he's not at work, he enjoys bicycling, movies, reading, travel, and collecting antique puzzle books and magazines.

Watch a clip of Shortz talking about his other love — ping pong — below.

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