I'm a senior writer and the puzzle editor at ESPN's FiveThirtyEight. I'm especially interested in competitive subcultures (chess, Scrabble, crosswords, video games), politics (voting rights, criminal justice, the Supreme Court), and our artifically intelligent future. I studied economics, with a focus on political competition, at the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.) and the University of Chicago (A.B.). I'm from Des Moines and I live in Brooklyn.


The Riddler, a math puzzle collection (W. W. Norton, 2018)

Selected Stories

The Bots Beat Us. Now What?, FiveThirtyEight

Math Has No God Particle, FiveThirtyEight

What Makes The Spelling Bee So Hard, FiveThirtyEight

How 'Qi' And 'Za' Changed Scrabble, FiveThirtyEight

An Excavation Of One Of The World’s Greatest Art Collections, FiveThirtyEight

Do NBA refs favor the home team?, The Pudding

The Darkest Town In America, FiveThirtyEight

What does the future of the Supreme Court hold?, The Economist

The Machines Are Coming For Poker, FiveThirtyEight

A Meadery Ferments in Bushwick, Edible Brooklyn

One Last Dispatch From The Land Of Chess Kings And Billionaires, FiveThirtyEight

My coverage of the World Chess Championship for FiveThirtyEight

Why Are Elections So Close?, Nautilus

The Weird Economics Of Ikea, FiveThirtyEight

The Glitch Hunters And Speedrunners Reinventing Super Mario Bros., FiveThirtyEight

One of the Most Important Crosswords in New York Times History, Slate

Clinton And Trump Are Both Promising An Extreme Supreme Court, FiveThirtyEight

There is no difference between computer art and human art, Aeon

The Weird World Of Expensive Wine, FiveThirtyEight

On a Saturday in August, The New York Times

Shorter Isn't Better, Slate (with Stefan Fatsis)

New York's Elevators Define The City, FiveThirtyEight

How To Avoid Boring Sunsets, FiveThirtyEight

English Soccer's Mysterious Worldwide Popularity, Contexts (with James Curley)

A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World, FiveThirtyEight (Finalist for 2016 Data Journalism Awards)

Terriers Were Once The Greatest Dogs In The World, FiveThirtyEight

A 4-4 Supreme Court Could Be Good For Unions And Voting Rights Advocates, FiveThirtyEight (Finalist for 2016 Data Journalism Awards)

A Complete Catalog Of Every Time Someone Cursed Or Bled Out In A Quentin Tarantino Movie, FiveThirtyEight

Jailers in chief?, The Economist

Can An Astrophysicist Change The Way We Watch Sports?, FiveThirtyEight

A Nerd's Guide To The 2,229 Paintings At MoMA, FiveThirtyEight

How To Read The Mind Of A Supreme Court Justice, FiveThirtyEight

How I Beat the Champ at Scrabble, New York Observer

A Million Little Boxes, FiveThirtyEight

The Crime Scene, Politico Magazine (with Lauren-Brooke Eisen)

Why The Best Supreme Court Predictor In The World Is Some Random Guy In Queens, FiveThirtyEight

What Makes Nigel Richards The Best Scrabble Player On Earth, FiveThirtyEight


What Makes The Spelling Bee So Hard

An Excavation Of One Of The World's Greatest Art Collections

The darkest town in the U.S. may not be so dark for much longer

The story behind breaking a crossword plagiarism scandal

Selected Media Appearances

Chatting about poker and gaming A.I. on Slate's Hang Up and Listen

Chatting about chess on Slate's Hang Up and Listen and KCRW's Press Play

The economic enigma of Ikea on NPR's Marketplace

Mass Incarceration: The Silence of the Judges in the New York Review of Books

Ninth Annual Puzzle Day Keynote Speech at the Clinton School of Public Service

A Million Little Boxes on the Nonfiction Podcast

Crossword Plagiarism? on KCRW's Press Play

FiveThirtyEight Enters the Puzzle Game in the New York Observer