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.

Pages

7:41am

Sun March 23, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Changing The World One Letter At A Time

Originally published on Sun March 23, 2014 11:36 am

NPR

On-air challenge: For each geographical place provided, change one letter to make a new, common word that has a different number of syllables than the geographical name. Note: The answer word can have either fewer or more syllables than the geographical name.

Example: Lima = limp, limb, lime (for some of the names, multiple answers are possible)

Read more

7:51am

Sun March 16, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Two Is Company, But Three Is A Crowd

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 11:32 am

NPR

On-air challenge: A series of paired words will be provided. For each pair, think of a third word that can follow the first one and precede the second to complete a familiar two-word phrase. Every answer starts with "W." Example: Open and Awake; Answer: Wide.

Last week's challenge: This puzzle was created by Will Shortz for an event held recently at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City. Take the name of a classical Greek mathematician. The letters in his name can be rearranged to spell two numbers. What are they?

Read more

8:19am

Sun March 9, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

A High Five On The Seven Seas

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 12:00 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: For each five-letter word provided, insert two letters after the first letter to complete a familiar seven-letter word.

Last week's challenge: The challenge came from listener Harry Hillson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. Take the first name of a nominee for Best Actor or Best Actress at last Sunday's Oscars. You can rearrange these letters into a two-word phrase that describes his or her character in the film for which he or she is nominated. Who is this star, and what is the phrase?

Read more

8:03am

Sun March 2, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Let's All Go To The Lobby, To Get Ourselves A Treat

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 11:30 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Let's." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or title containing the consecutive letters L-E-T. Specifically, the first word will end in L-E and the second word will start with T.

Last week's challenge: Write down these six words:

  • Cupid
  • Yoo-hoo
  • Eyeball
  • Entrance
  • Seafood
  • Wiper
Read more

8:04am

Sun February 23, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Famous Four-By-Fours That Aren't Trucks

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 11:57 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person with four letters in his or her first name and four letters in the last. For each person, you'll be given initials and an anagram of the full name. You name the person.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous entertainer: two words, four letters in each word. You can rearrange these eight letters to spell the acronym of a well-known national organization, and the word that the first letter of this acronym stands for. Who's the entertainer, and what's the organization?

Read more

8:15am

Sun February 16, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Get Ready To Flip Your Lid

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 11:44 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "One, Two, Three — Flip!" The answer will come in the form of two words, and for each word you'll get a clue beforehand. Reverse the order of the first three letters of the first word to get the second word. Example: Cavalry sword and more villainous = SABER, BASER.

Read more

8:02am

Sun February 9, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Break Loose, Break Loose, Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 11:44 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Break Loose." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase in which the first word has a long-A vowel sound (as in "break"), and the second word has a long-U vowel sound (as in "loose").

Last week's challenge: The challenge came from listener Sam Williamson of Charlevoix, MI, and it's a two-part question: where in most homes will you see the words SHE and HIS ... and what word will you see right after HIS?

Read more

8:00am

Sun February 2, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Drop The Zero And Get With The Hero

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 2:17 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: For each single letter given, recombine it with the letters in the word "ZERO" to spell a new word. For example, ZERO plus F would be "FROZE."

Last week's challenge: What word, containing two consecutive S's, becomes its own synonym if you drop those S's?

Answer: Blossom, bloom

Winner: Trey Moody of Killeen, Texas

Read more

8:02am

Sun January 26, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Take Synonyms For A Spin (Or Pirouette)

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:28 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: For each word given, name a synonym in which the first two letters are the same as the second and third letters of the given word. For example, spin and pirouette.

Read more

8:15am

Sun January 19, 2014
Sunday Puzzle

Three B's Bring You To One

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 1:30 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Name a word that, when combined with three words beginning with the letter B, completes a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "brew," "body" and "base," you would say "home" (home-brew, homebody, home base).

Last week's challenge: Name a familiar form of exercise in two words. Switch the order of the two words, then say them out loud. The result, phonetically, will name something to wear. What is it?

Answer: Tae Bo, bow tie

Read more

Pages