USA Table Tennis What's New 11 Questions with Wi...

11 Questions with Will Shortz

By USATT | March 10, 2015, 9 a.m. (ET)

Will Shortz

Will Shortz, owner of Westchester Table Tennis Center and editor of New York Times Crossword Puzzle


1)      Why do you play? 

For the exercise, the mental challenge of the game, and to be with people I like. 

2)      Which is your favorite tournament? 

Besides the Westchester TTC's monthly Opens, I enjoy the North American Teams Championships in D.C. At one point I said I'd never play this event again, because 2-1/2 days of table tennis from morning till night is so grueling. ... and because the concrete floor there is hard on the body. But I keep going back anyway. 

3)      Who is your primary nemesis?  

It used to be Steve Zeitlin, a member of my club who's one of the country's top folklorists. First I surpassed him, then he surpassed me, then I passed him again., etc. Back and forth. I can't tell you how many times we played matches to deuce in the fifth. But I think I'm finally better than him now. :-) 

4)      What is your favorite game tactic to score? 

I do a heavy chopping motion using the antispin side of my racket. There's no spin, and the player usually hits the ball off the end of the table. But against good players this works only once ... and sometimes not even then. 

5)      Thoughts on the Poly Ball.  

It breaks way too easily. Otherwise, it's OK. I've adapted. 

6)      Toughest Loss?  

I've blocked it out of my mind. 

7)      Greatest Win?  

Maybe one against a nameless player at Westfield years ago, who was much better than me. I kept blocking his shots. He got frustrated and started hitting harder and harder. Eventually he defeated himself. 

8)      How do you prepare for a tournament?  

Get lots of rest beforehand, stay loose, avoid distractions, and concentrate on executing my shots correctly. 

9)      When you see a new player at the club, what do you do?  

I always say hello. Often I play with the new person myself and/or set up other matches for him or her. 

10)   Player you would most like to play in a tournament?  

Barack Obama, since he does play. That would be great. It wouldn't have to be in a tournament either. 

11)   If you had to face Jimmy Butler/Lily Zhang/Amy Wang/Kanak Jha  what would your game plan be?  

Have fun with the match, because there'd be zero chance that I'd win.