Anna Shechtman '12
Debuts Crossword in Today's NYT
by Alisa Giardinelli
Anna Shechtman '12 is not yet 20, but she realized a life goal when her crossword puzzle appeared in the New York Times. "My relationship with the Times' puzzle verges on addiction," she says. "It's the perfect break in my daily routine, escapist but challenging."
Shechtman, an honors English major with minors in art history and interpretation theory from New York, began constructing crosswords in high school, after seeing the documentary, Wordplay. "I identified with the film's word-nerds and essentially had an 'I can do that' moment," says Shechtman, who also writes Swarthmore-themed and wordplay-laden puzzles for The Phoenix.
Over winter break with the encouragement of friends, Shechtman sent a puzzle to Times' puzzle editor, Will Shortz. "It is a true honor to be admitted to the group of cruciverbalists who have been published in the Times before turning 20," she says. It's a group, she notes, that includes Shortz himself.
"Swarthmore prides itself on its lack of grade inflation," she says of her puzzle's theme. "I thought that turning the B's of a puzzle into A's - à la grade inflation - was puzzle-worthy, so I racked my brain for words that still made sense with A's in the place of B's. I really like this puzzle, especially because the theme resonates so strongly with me and what I love about my school. It's challenging; professors have high expectations."