New York Times Puzzle Editor Will Shortz Suffers Stroke

“I had a stroke on Feb. 4 and have been in rehabilitation since then,” he shares with NPR “Weekend Edition” Sunday Puzzle listeners

A man with a mustache stands smiling, pulling a covering over a large board revealing the answer to a crossword puzzle. The man has light-toned skin and appears middle aged.
Will Shortz on June 18, 2006 (Credit: Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images)

New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz, 71, suffered a stroke last month and is currently in rehabilitation, he shared Sunday on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” He has been absent from his regular appearances hosting the show’s Sunday Puzzle segment but shared in an audio message this week the reason for his absence.

“I know our listeners have been wondering about Will, our beloved puzzle master,” “Weekend Edition Sunday” host Ayesha Roscoe said near the end of this week’s segment, introducing the message from Shortz.

“Hey guys, this is Will Shortz. Sorry I’ve been out the last few weeks. I had a stroke on Feb. 4 and have been in rehabilitation since then, but I am making progress,” Shortz said, giving fans and colleagues reason for optimism. “I’m looking forward to being back with new puzzles soon.”

Rascoe went on to tell listeners, “We here at ‘Weekend Edition,’ we love Will, and I know that everybody at home does, too. And we are rooting for him, and we are so hopeful, and know that he will feel better soon.”

Freelance puzzlemaker Greg Pliska has stepped in to lead the Sunday Puzzle segment in Shortz’s absence. “I know I speak for the whole puzzling community in wishing Will the best,” he said Sunday. “He’s been a great friend to me for many years. And as much as I love playing the puzzle on air with you, Ayesha, I look forward to getting to play from home with you and Will again in my Sunday morning pajamas.”

“Yeah. I mean, we all can’t wait for that,” Roscoe said.

You can listen to Shortz’s message at the end of this week’s edition of the Sunday Puzzle here:

Shortz has been the Times’ crossword puzzle editor since 1993. He previously worked for Games magazine for 15 years and spent time as the magazine’s editor. He’s been the puzzle master for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” since 1987 when the show first began, both dishing out puzzles and working with listeners to solve them. Shortz’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament was featured in the 2006 documentary “Wordplay,” along with famous fans of his puzzles including Bill Clinton, Ken Burns, Jon Stewart and the Indigo Girls.

The acclaimed editor has also faced some controversy, including criticism for a lack of diversity in the team that creates the Times’ puzzles and for offensive terms and shapes that appeared in crosswords over the years.


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