Will Shortz

NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz has appeared on Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987. He's also the crossword editor of The New York Times, the former editor of Games magazine, and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (since 1978).

Will sold his first puzzle professionally when he was 14 — to Venture, a denominational youth magazine. At 16 he became a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications. He is the only person in the world to hold a college degree in Enigmatology, the study of puzzles, which he earned from Indiana University in 1974.

Born in 1952 and raised on an Arabian horse farm in Indiana, Will now lives near New York City in a Tudor-style house filled with books and Arts and Crafts furniture. When he's not at work, he enjoys bicycling, movies, reading, travel, and collecting antique puzzle books and magazines.

On-air challenge: Insert the letters A and R into the middle of the first clue to get the answer to the second clue. For example, when given the clues "small argument" and "a tax on imports," the answer would be "tiff" and "tariff."

Last week's challenge, from Ken Stern of Brooklyn, N.Y.: Think of a sign that's frequently seen around this time of year — two words of four letters each. Among these eight letters all five vowels — A, E, I, O and U — appear once each, along with three consonants. What sign is it?

On-air challenge: I'm going to name some categories. For each one, I'll name something in the category that closely follows the name of the category alphabetically.

For example, "states" and "Texas." You tell me the only other thing in the category that fits between these two things alphabetically. In the case of my example, you would say "Tennessee."

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "SuperPACs." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with PA- and the second word starts with C.

For example: Official who oversees a city's green spaces --> PARKS COMMISSIONER.

These Letters Don't LI

Oct 9, 2016

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Insert the consecutive letters LI somewhere inside the first word to get the second one.

For example: Bit of mischief/Instrument for measuring --> CAPER, CALIPER

Last week's challenge: Name an 11-letter occupation starting with H. If you have the right one, you can rearrange the letters to name two things a worker with this occupation uses — one in six letters and one in five. What occupation is it?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a pun on a well-known food brand at a grocery or supermarket.

For example: given the prompt "tiny golf pegs," the right answer is "Wheaties." (Get it? "Wee tees.")

Last week's challenge: Take the words DOES, TOES and SHOES. They all end in the same three letters, but none of them rhyme. What words starting with F, S and G have the same property? The F and S words are four letters long, and the G word is five letters. They all end in the same three letters.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words ending in the letter A. Anagram each of them to get a familiar word starting with A.

For example: IDEA --> AIDE.

Last week's challenge, from listener Justine Tilley of Vancouver: Think of a familiar three-word phrase in the form "___ and ___." Drop the "and." Then move the last word to the front to form a single word ... that means the opposite of the original phrase. Here's a hint: The ending word has seven letters. What is it?

On-air challenge: For the following words starting with the letters S, E and P — as in September — find a word that can precede each to complete a familiar two-word phrase.

For example: system, eclipse, power --> SOLAR (solar system, solar eclipse, solar power).

On-air challenge: If you alphabetized the eight planets in reverse — that is, by their ending letters — the next-to-last name on the list would be Venus, which ends in "s." The last planet on the list would be Mercury, which ends in "y." I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, I'll give you the next-to-last member of the category, if all the names in it were alphabetized backward. You tell me the last name.

For example: Numbers from one to 10: Eight.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a nine-letter phrase that's a palindrome — in other words, it reads the same both forward and backward.

For example: Certain floor models (4,5) --> some demos.

Last week's challenge, from listener Sandy Stevens of Bandon, Ore.: What one-syllable word in seven letters becomes a four-syllable word by inserting the consecutive letters I-T somewhere inside?

Answer: reigned, reignited.

Winner: Dan Bradshaw of Farmington, Conn.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar 8-letter word. We're going to give you two 3-letter words that are somewhere in it. You tell me the full word.

Ex. WOO + WIN --> WOODWIND

1. VET + AIL
2. LEG + RAM
3. PEN + AGO
4. URN + OAT
5. PIP + ANY
6. NOT + ONE

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or name containing the consecutive letters R-I-O. The first set of answers will end in -rio.

For example: Novelty item --> CURIO.

Last week's challenge from Ed Pegg Jr. of mathpuzzle.com: Take the four 4-letter words LIMB, AREA, CORK and KNEE. Write them one under the other, and the four columns will spell four new words: LACK, IRON, MERE and BAKE:

LIMB
AREA
CORK
KNEE

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two four-letter words. Rearrange the letters in each of them to make two synonyms.

For example: Newt, felt --> went, left.

Last week's challenge: A spoonerism is an interchange of initial consonant sounds in a phrase to get another phrase, as in "light rain" and "right lane." Name something seen in a kitchen in two words. Its spoonerism is an article that's worn mostly by men. What is it?

Answer: Pie tin; tie pin.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word that starts with Para-. First, I'll define it in a regular way and then in a punny way. You tell me the words.

For example: Typical examples / 20 cents --> PARADIGMS ("pair o' dimes").

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of a newspaper comic strip or cartoon, past or present. Identify the funnies from their anagrams.

For example: GOO + P --> POGO.

Last week's challenge from Mike Hinterberg of Loveland, Colo.: Name a creature in nine letters. The name contains a T. Drop the T, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two related modes of transportation. What are they?

Answer: Butterfly --> Lyft, Uber.

On-air challenge: Given two kinds of people or things, name something they both do — in three letters.

For example: a false witness, and a person in bed --> lie.

Last week's challenge, from listener Peter Weisz of West Palm Beach, Fla.: Name something in 11 letters that's a common household item. You can rearrange the first six letters to form a synonym of a word spelled by the middle three letters. What is the item, and what are the words?

Answer: Thermometer; mother, mom.

On-air challenge: Given a four-letter word and a six-letter word, rearrange the letters of one of them to get a synonym of the other.

For example: Risk, garden --> DANGER.

Last week's challenge, from listener Timothy Gotwald of Chambersburg, Pa.: Think of a word that means "entrance." Interchange the second and fourth letters, and you'll get a new word that means "exit." What words are these?

Answer: Gateway, getaway.

Winner: Albert Tumpson of Los Angeles.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a phrase in the form "___ and ___." I'll give you rhymes for the two missing words. You complete the phrases.

For example: Lick and lose --> pick and choose.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous singer — first and last names. The last four letters of the first name spelled backward plus the first four letters of the last name spelled forward, read together, in order, name a section of products in a drugstore. What is it?

Answer: Mariah Carey --> hair care.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word ends in "X" and the second starts with "C" (as in XC, the Roman numeral for 90). A friend of mine recently turned 90, and I made this as a birthday gift.

For example: Tailless feline --> MANX CAT.

Last week's challenge, from Sandy Weisz of Chicago: Take the name of a famous musical. Write it in upper- and lowercase letters, as you usually would.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is an anagram of a six-letter girl's name. I'll give you the name and a synonym of its anagram. You tell me the anagram.

For example: GLENDA Hang loosely --> DANGLE.

On-air challenge: Every answer consists of two words in the same category that rhyme. For example, two animals whose rhyming names start with B and H are BEAR and HARE. Each clue will give you the initial letters, the words' lengths and the category. Name the things.

On-air challenge: Every answer is a five-letter word said twice, in two different meanings. Answer the clues to get the phrases.

For example: Device for moving Raggedy Ann and similar toys --> DOLLY DOLLY.

Last week's challenge, from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco: Think of a common nine-letter word that contains five consecutive consonants. Take three consecutive consonants out of these five and replace them with vowels to form another common nine-letter word. What is it?

Answer: Strengths, strenuous.

On-air challenge:

Take the category, then name something in it whose first two letters are the last two letters of the category's name.

For example: Author > (George) Orwell.

1. Beatle

2. Disney musical

3. Letter of the Greek alphabet

4. Country in Africa

5. Make of auto

6. Make of automobile

7. An Obama

8. Salad green

9. Racehorse

10. Municipal official

11. Norse explorer

12. Bridge

13. Ocean

14. Best Picture

15. Summer Olympics host

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word ends in -D and the second word starts with ST-.

For example: Small red fruit on a vine in the woods --> WILD STRAWBERRY.

Last week's challenge, from listener Donna Bass of Lake Forest, Ill.: BAIL, NAIL and MAIL are three four-letter words that differ only by their first letters. And those first letters (B, N and M) happen to be adjacent on a computer keyboard.

On-air challenge:

In a series of categories, name something in the category starting with each of the letters W-I-N-D-S. Any answer that works is fine, and you can give the answers in any order.

For example: Two-Syllable Girls' Names --> Wilma, Ingrid, Nancy, Donna, and Suzanne.

Last week's challenge: What two eight-letter terms in math are anagrams of each other? One word is from geometry, and the other is from calculus. What words are they?

Answer: Triangle, integral.

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word ends in the letter -E, and the second word starts GO-.

For example: Something you might say when you're about to take a plunge --> HERE GOES.

Last week's challenge: Name something to eat. Change one letter in it and rearrange the result. You'll name the person who makes this food. Who is it?

Answer: Bread and baker.

Winner: Mary Ann Gaeddert, of Georgetown, Ky.

On-air challenge: Change one letter of each word and rearrange the result to get a new word that can follow it, to complete a common two-word phrase.

For example: FALL ... changing one of the L's to a T --> FLAT: Fall Flat.

Last week's challenge, based on an idea by listener Jon Herman: If PAJAMA represents first, and REBUKE represents second, what nine-letter word can represent third? There are two possible answers, one common and one not so common. Either one will be counted correct.

On-air challenge: Every answer given in this week's puzzle is a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase in which each part contains the consecutive letters A-N.

For example: Steinway product --> GRAND PIANO.

Last week's challenge, from listener Michael Shteyman of Odenton, Md.: Take the name of a country and a well-known city in the Middle East — 12 letters in all. Rearrange these letters to name another country and another well-known city in the Middle East. What places are these?

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some six-letter words. For each one, insert two letters in the exact center to complete a familiar eight-letter word.

For example: ACCENT --> ACCIDENT.

Last week's challenge, from listener Fred Piscop of Bellmore, N.Y.: Take these three phrases:

Turkey breast
Ski slope
Cash drawer

What very unusual property do they have in common?

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you a clue for a word that has two Os. Change both Os to Es to get the answer to the second clue.

For example: Sport played on horseback / Brazilian soccer legend --> POLO, PELE.

Last week's challenge: Last week's challenge was an extension of my on-air puzzle. Think of a category in three letters in which the last two letters are the first two letters of something in that category. And the thing in the category has seven letters. Both names are common, uncapitalized words. What are they?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of an article of apparel — something to wear. Name the items from the anagram given.

Example: LOOP --> POLO.

Last week's challenge: This was a variation on the old word-ladder puzzle. The object is to change WHOLE to HEART by either adding or subtracting one letter at a time, making a new, common, uncapitalized word at each step.

Pages