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.

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8:23am

Sun November 24, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

We Plant The Seed, You Pick The Tree

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 1:57 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a tree. Identify the tree name from its anagram. For example, given "has," the answer would be "ash."

Last week's challenge from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass.: Think of a word meaning "quarrel" in which several of the letters appear more than once. Remove exactly two occurrences of every repeated letter, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell a new word meaning "quarrel." What are the two words?

Answer: Misunderstanding, argument

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8:46am

Sun November 17, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

More Fun Than A Dead Rose

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 11:24 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up, two-word phrase in which the vowel in the first word is a short "e" and the vowel in the second word is a long "o." For example: A place to meditate would be a "zen zone."

Last week's challenge: There is a politician today, sometimes known by his or her full three-word name, whose initials are also the initials of a popular chain of restaurants. Who is the politician and what's the restaurant?

Answer: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard Rock Cafe

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8:03am

Sun November 10, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Capitalize On 'This Minus That'

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 12:54 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a state capital, to be identified from its anagram. For example, given "banally" minus the letter L, the answer would be "Albany."

Last week's challenge from the Emmy-winning TV comedy writer Mike Reiss: A famous actress and a famous director share the same last name, although they are unrelated. The first name of one of these is a classic musical. The first name of the other is an anagram of a classic musical. Who are they?

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8:05am

Sun November 3, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Regardless Of The Answer, Stay Staid

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 12:18 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Each answer is a two-word phrase consisting of two homophones starting with the letter S. For example, given the clue "remained dignified," the answer would be, "stayed staid."

Last week's challenge: Name a brand of beer. Rearrange the letters to name an activity often associated with beer.

Answer: Tsingtao, toasting

Winner: Jacob Taber of New York, N.Y.

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8:03am

Sun October 20, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

No Time To Be Bashful

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 12:16 pm

NPR

This week we have a celebrity edition of the Puzzle. Comedian Paula Poundstone is taking on our challenge. Poundstone is also a regular panelist on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

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8:21am

Sun October 13, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Can You Pass This -TE ST-?

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 8:47 am

NPR

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is an insider's test. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the consecutive letters T-E-S-T. Specifically, the first word will end with -TE and the second word will start ST-. For example, given "sheer force," you would say "brute strength."

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10:27am

Sun October 6, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Find The Rhyme And The Reason

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 3:05 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: For each given category, name things in the category starting with the letters R, H, Y, M, E. For example, if the category were "chemical elements with names ending in -ium," you might say: radium, helium, yttrium, magnesium and einsteinium. You can give the answers in any order, and any answer that works is fine.

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8:02am

Sun September 29, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

What's That (Vowel) Sound?

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 4:13 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up, two-word phrase in which each word has two or more syllables. The first vowel sound in the first word is a short "e." Change that short "e" to a short "a" sound, and phonetically you'll get the second word of the phrase. For example, given "energetic backwoods father," you would say "peppy pappy."

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7:37am

Sun September 22, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Play The Blame Game

Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 11:20 am

NPR

On-air challenge: You will be given two words. Think of a third word that can follow each to complete a familiar two-word phrase. The third word will rhyme with one of the given words. For example, given "blame" and "board," you would say "game," as in "blame game" and "board game."

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5:40am

Sun September 8, 2013
Sunday Puzzle

Close, But No Cigar

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 2:09 pm

NPR

On-air challenge: Each of the following answers is a made-up, two-word phrase in which the two words are homophones, and both words start with the letter C.

Last week's challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn: Think of a well-known celebrity who goes by a single name — the last two letters of which are alphabetically separated by only one letter (like A and C, or B and D). Replace this pair of letters with the one that separates them, and you'll have a common, everyday word. What is it?

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