Westchester's Will Shortz Marks 100th Anniversary Of Crossword Puzzle

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New York Times crossword editor and Pleasantville resident Will Shortz. Photo Credit: Contributed

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- New York Times crossword editor and Pleasantville resident Will Shortz will be celebrating the 100th birthday of the crossword puzzle on Saturday.

Shortz discussed the history and enduring popularity of the crossword puzzle in an interview with "Q with Jian Ghomeshi" on Canada's CBC Radio. The first crossword puzzle appeared in the December 21, 1913 issue of New York World. It was created by editor Arthur Wynne, who first dubbed it the word-cross. The first book of crosswords was released in 1924.

"It became a national bestseller and then an international craze, and crosswords have been with us ever since," Shortz said.

He said that part of the puzzle's popularity is the fact that it deals with language, as well as the appeal of filling in the blank spaces.

"There's something intriguing about them. I think as humans we like to fill empty spaces, and if you have the right mindset it's very difficult to turn the page on a crossword without filling in the squares."

He also said that the crosswords have a wide appeal because they can be flexible.

"It can be made easy or hard, large or small, tricky or straightforward, thematic or just plain," he said. "There's a crossword for every person and a crossword for every mood."

Shortz used to hold the annual American Puzzle Crossword Tournament in Stamford, Conn., before moving it to the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott six years ago. Earlier this year he said he is considering moving it back to Stamford in 2015.

In his CBC interview, he said that more and more people are doing crosswords online, but he still believes the puzzle is ideally suited for the print medium.

"To me, it's still more satisfying to do them on paper," he said, adding that he likes to do them in pen.

You can listen to the whole interview with "Q with Jian Ghomeshi" here.

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