An in-depth look at The New York Times' long-time crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fan base.

Director:

Patrick Creadon
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Will Shortz ... Self
Merl Reagle Merl Reagle ... Self
Tyler Hinman Tyler Hinman ... Self
Trip Payne ... Self
Al Sanders Al Sanders ... Self
Ellen Ripstein Ellen Ripstein ... Self
Jon Delfin Jon Delfin ... Self
Jon Stewart ... Self
Ken Burns ... Self
Amy Ray ... Self
Emily Saliers Emily Saliers ... Self
Daniel Okrent ... Self
Mike Mussina Mike Mussina ... Self
Bob Dole ... Self
Bill Clinton ... Self (as William Jefferson Clinton)
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Storyline

A documentary that focuses on the world of crossword puzzles: those that construct them, those that love to solve them, those that compete in the annual Crossword competition in Stamford and also on Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword since the early 1990s. Shortz actually has a university degree in games and organized the first crossword championship in 1978. Some of the contributors to the Times puzzle explain how they go about building them while some aficionados, including former President Bill Clinton and comedian Jon Stewart talk about their love of solving them. The film also introduces several past champions and near champions competing in the 2006 tournament and it takes you from the preliminary rounds to the final where the top three contestants compete in front of a room full of admiring contestants. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Discover a world that thinks inside the box See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some language and mild thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tyler Hinman would eventually work for Google for a few years. See more »

Quotes

Norman Payne: I've always been intrigued by the letter "Q".
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Connections

References Tomb Raider (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Without Words
written and performed by Gary Louris
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User Reviews

 
I Feel the Need, The Need for Spaces
10 July 2006 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Pretty interesting look behind the curtain of the world of crosswords ... in particular the New York Times crossword editor, Will Shortz.

What is not really surprising is the combination of ego and insecurity that plague the top contenders in the annual contest. These traits rear their head at any and every competition, regardless of topic or sport. What is surprising is the sportsmanship involved when there is an apparent major scoring error in the semi-finals. Watching the competitors band together against the committee is something not usually seen in the sporting and gaming world. These guys want the competition to be fair ... no cheap wins. I wonder if Pat Reilly or Bobby Knight would feel the same way? As you might expect the traditional nerd factor is at play here and the filmmakers do a nice job of mixing in some pretty faces to balance the picture. Mike Mussina, Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart are all thrown in to show that all walks of life are addicted and not everyone that is addicted looks like the reclusive nerd we all knew in high school. The most fascinating character in what story there is, is the twenty year old hot shot that most think is too young and inexperienced to really compete at the top. Just as interesting though is the way the more traditional powerhouses react to his presence and apparent skill.

There is a nice peak at the collaborative efforts that go into the creation of the puzzle, even though Mr. Shortz leaves little doubt that it is his responsibility ... hate mail and all. Very nice look into a world that most of us give little thought to.


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Details

Official Sites:

PBS

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 July 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Word Play See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,847, 18 June 2006

Gross USA:

$3,121,270

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,177,636
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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