14-Year-Old Genius Gets Crossword Published In N.Y. Times


ben-pall He started helping his mom solve the crossword puzzles in the New York Times when he was just 4 years old. Now, a Bergen County teen is the one behind the scenes – constructing them.

He’s the youngest person ever to get such a break.

He’s just 14 years old and Ben Pall just got a big break. His crossword puzzle was published in Monday’s New York Times.

“It feels really great, like all of sudden there is so much going on,” Pall said.

A New Jersey high school freshman from Franklin Lakes is now the youngest person ever to get a crossword puzzle in the times, beating out a 15-year-old.

“There is thrill and I am reading about the comments on the blogs about the puzzle,” Pall said.

Bloggers have told the Bergen County teen the puzzle is close to impossible to solve.

It takes him a month to construct one. He comes up with a theme first and then:

“The block squares have to be symmetrical. In other words when you flip the puzzle over it has to have the same configuration,” Pall said.

We might add, Pall, who sent his first submission to the Times when he was 12, had 15 rejections, but he never gave up.

His mother said he has always had a knack for words.

“He always had a puzzle book with him,” Ellen Pall said. “Even as a 3- or 4-year-old he would solve puzzles meant for much older children.”

“I started solving them on my own around the time I started constructing them on my own,” Ben Pall said.

As for the future, Ben plans to attend college and:

“I really think I’m going to stick with puzzles for a long time,” he said.

Ben said he’ll be submitting a few more crossword puzzles to the Times and plans to make them much more difficult than his most recent attempt.

Pall said he got his big break after bumping into the editor of the Times puzzle section.

The rest is history.

{WCBS-TV-HD/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. So–here is a boy with an obvious talent who has been able to develop and express his gift. What would happen, say, if he were a yeshiva bochur with a talent like this? Would he be encouraged?

  2. #2- It would be simpler for you just to say “I dislike Yeshivos”. If you’re interested in saying something constructive, you shouldn’t say it in the form of a generalized angry and sarcastic question.