Thursday, October 21, 2004

I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E

From the Sun-Sentinel:

What two words are 12 letters long and mean precocious puzzlemaker? They would be Kyle Mahowald, 17, the youngest person to create a Sunday crossword in The New York Times.

The Sea Ranch Lakes teen began constructing crosswords for his school newspaper last year. That’s after he was completing weekday Times puzzles in less than four minutes. By February, major newspapers were picking up his submissions for up to $350 a puzzle.

He’s had puzzles in the Times on weekdays, but his first Sunday one appeared Sept. 19. His work also was in The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times this year.

“His puzzles are ambitious and well-crafted,” said Will Shortz, puzzle editor for The New York Times. “He uses interesting, long, colorful answers with no obscurity at all. They’re all familiar words and phrases, but they are challenging.”

The high school senior from the Fort Lauderdale area was considering careers in law or journalism, but was waiting to hear whether he was accepted into one of the top-tier colleges he applied to. He got a perfect 1,600 score on his SAT exam.

“It’s hard to make it professionally as a puzzle creator,” Kyle said. “But I’ll keep doing it as a hobby for as long as I can. It’s just really fun.”

I remember that puzzle. It was a good one; I was able to finish it without throwing it across the room in frustration.