Puzzlemaster plays Ping-Pong at MC

-Abbie Walker, Editor

Will Shortz is an enigmatologist, the world’s only academically accredited puzzlemaster. Since 1987, Shortz has been the puzzlemaster for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” as well as the crossword editor of The New York Times since 1993. On Wednesday, Apr. 15, Shortz will be visiting Mississippi College, but it’s not to teach students about puzzles—it’s to school them at Ping-Pong.

Will Shortz, Puzzlemaster

Shortz’s puzzle career has been a diverse one. In 1974, Shortz created his own major of Enigmatology (study of puzzles) at Indiana University. He has also been the editor of Games magazine for the past 15 years, as well as the founder and director of the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament that began in 1978. In 1992, he founded the World Puzzle Championship and co-founded the World Puzzle Federation in 1999. Shortz also owns the world’s largest puzzle library, numbering more than 25,000 puzzle books and magazines, some as old as 1533.

But puzzles aren’t Shortz’s only obsession. He also has a deep love of table tennis. He is the owner and director of the Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., which is the largest table tennis facility in the United States. On Apr. 15, the Yankee will be traveling to Mississippi College to play against the MC table tennis team.

“One of my goals in life is to be the first person ever to play at table tennis clubs in all 50 states. At the moment I’m missing just two—Mississippi and Hawaii,” said Shortz. “Mississippi has several table tennis clubs, but I picked MC’s because of [its] famous team—#2 in the county. It seemed like the place to go.

Shortz has a speaking engagement in Tulsa, Okla., on Apr. 17, so he decided to combine the two trips into one. He will fly into New Orleans and play there before visiting MC on the 15th. His friend and three-time Caribbean table tennis champion, Robert Roberts, will also be joining him.

“It’s going to be a treat to have the National Public Radio Puzzlemaster Will Shortz and his friend Robert Roberts visit Mississippi College. The New York Times crossword puzzle editor loves words and table tennis,” said Andy Kanengiser, the MC table tennis team sponsor. “Will’s got millions of crossword puzzle fans across the nation, but many don’t know he’s a terrific table tennis player. Will’s hoping to scratch Mississippi off his bucket list.”

The MC table tennis team will return to the Clinton campus following their three-day appearance in the 2015 national college championships in Wisconsin. While the exhibition with Shortz does not affect the national standing of the team, it is expected to be quite a show. “No doubt, our awesome players should be up for any challenge,” Kanengiser said. “I’m predicting the mighty MC Choctaws will prevail on their home court, Alumni Gym. Shortz will take on all comers after playing the MC team for 90 minutes. We hope to see a good crowd of people on hand to welcome the New Yorkers, but root for the Choctaws.”

Shortz will be signing copies of his books at the Leland Speed Library reception that Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. There will also be finger foods, cookies, and other refreshments for visitors who stop by.

Learn more about Will Shortz at willshortz.com or check out his puzzles in The New York Times.


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