Shortz thrills audience at Ted Mann

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Will Shortz, the New York Times and National Public Radio puzzle master, thrilled about 700 people at Ted Mann Concert Hall last night with his tales about the history of crossword puzzles, his favorite puzzles, and more.

He answered a number of questions from the audience, including one that asked what is Shortz’ favorite word. The answer: It’s “ucalegon” and it means a neighbor whose house is on fire, he said.

Shortz finished up by leading a “Beat the Champ” puzzle contest that involved dozens of willing audience members.

The event was sponsored by the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries.

(Photos by Paula Keller)


  1. It was a wonderful event, and it was my privilege, along with some friends of mine (, to construct the following companion puzzle: “Crosswords with Friends … of the University of Minnesota Libraries” ( that appeared in the printed program. After solving the puzzle, be sure to click on the “More reading” ( which is a free-wheeling essay on how the puzzle came to be, discussion of some of the answer words, and assorted additional esoterica. GB


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