Navigate to News section

Senior Crossword Mavens Puzzle NYT Readers

Upper West Side crossword course gets Will Shortz’s seal of approval

Stephanie Butnick
January 09, 2014

There’s a lot of news out there, and sometimes you just want to read about an awesome seniors group coming up with clever crossword puzzles that make it all the way into the New York Times, that hallowed beacon of crossword puzzling. Thanks to DNAinfo, we can. The site profiled the Jewish Association Serving the Aging’s lively weekly class, ‘Get a Clue! A Comprehensive Course on Crossword Construction,’ which is taught by Ian Livengood. Livengood previously worked with Will Shortz, the man behind the Times crossword, so he knows his stuff.

The class sounds like fun—attendees, many of whom are crossword devotees, learn how to craft the puzzles themselves, a particularly difficult and brain-bending endeavor. And they’re good at it: several of the classes’ puzzles have been selected out of the nearly hundred weekly submission to run in the Times.

Class members took particular pride in their most recent conquest: placing a puzzle in a Friday slot on Dec. 27. Typically the difficulty of the New York Times puzzle increases as the week progresses, with the hardest one published on Saturday, Livengood said.

After seeing the byline “J.A.S.A. Crossword Class” in the paper, the thrilled members immediately go to see the reaction within the robust online puzzler community, they said.

“One of the reviews said that Ian’s and his students’ puzzles are really clean,” said Carol Schachter, 69, a class member who lives in Gramercy.

“Our class is kind of like hot shots, or at least we like to think we are,” she added.

Puzzle on, team. You can read the full piece here.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.