A Short Volley with New York Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz

We couldn’t resist a little Q&A with the puzzle master, who also happens to own Pleasantville’s unique table-tennis center.



Q: You mentioned that your goal in 2013 was to play table tennis every day (and as of press time you are a few days away from reaching this goal). What will be next once you have accomplished this?

A: I’d like to be the first person ever to play table tennis in all 50 states. So far, I’ve played at table-tennis clubs in 43. Is that obsessive? I’m missing just Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. It may take me a few more years to get to all these places. My ultimate goal is to become national champion for my age.

Q: What do you think your club has done for the community?

A: Part of the reason I opened the club was so I could play anytime I wanted and to help [Roberts] have a career in something he excels at. But I’m also aware that the club is good for Pleasantville, the area, and the table-tennis community as a whole. The sport is healthful, social, and fun. It’s good for the brain, builds coordination, and fosters good sportsmanship. It’s cheap and can be played year-round. Most of my best friends now come from the table tennis world. Our club is a very special place.

Q: What are your future hopes for the club?

A: One goal of mine is for one of our members to represent the United States at the Olympics. So far, four young players at our club have advanced into the top 25 or so for their age. If they keep improving at this rate, there’s no telling how good they can get.

Q: Crosswords or table tennis, if forced to choose?

A: Crosswords, of course. They’re my profession. I think I’m the best in the country at what I do. But if I had to switch to a second career, maybe it would be table tennis—although there’s hardly any money to be made in it. 

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