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

2:53am

Sun December 2, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Untangle An 'Act Of God'

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 9:42 am

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar three-word phrase in the form "____ of ____." The letters in the first and last words of each phrase are rearranged. You give the phrases. For example, "Cat of Dog" becomes "Act of God."

Last week's challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn, N.Y.: In a few weeks something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it?

Answer: A year with no repeat digits (1987, 2013)

Winner: Darren Dunham of Santa Clara, Calif.

Read more

12:03am

Sun November 18, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Being Initially Famous

Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 7:04 am

NPR Graphic

Special Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the deadline for this week's puzzle is Wednesday by 3 p.m. Eastern.

On-air challenge: Each clue is a two- or three-word description of a famous person in which the initial letters of the description are also the initials of the person. For example, given the clue "Motown great," the answer would be Marvin Gaye.

Read more

3:33am

Sun November 11, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Saluting The Flag

Originally published on Sun November 11, 2012 12:36 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Sunday is Veterans Day, so we have a game of categories based on flags. Given some categories, for each one name something in the category beginning with each of the letters F, L, A, G and S.

For example, if the category were chemical elements, you might say fluorine, lead, argon, gold and sulfur.

Read more

12:03am

Sun November 4, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

What's In A Name?

Originally published on Sat November 10, 2012 6:12 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer today consists of the names of two famous people. The last name of the first person is an anagram of the first name of the last person. Given the nonanagram parts of the names, you identify the people.

Example: Madeleine ________ Aaron.

Answer: Madeleine KAHN and HANK Aaron

Read more

5:50am

Sun October 28, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Answer Me These Words Three

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 4:17 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer is a three-word phrase, in which each word has four letters. All three words end in the same three letters, and they rhyme. For example, given the clue, "Series of offerings of excellent chardonnays and Rieslings," the answer would be "fine wine line."

Last week's challenge from Pierre Berloquin: What letter comes next in this series: W, L, C, N, I, T?

Read more

1:59am

Sun October 21, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

'Poked' And 'Tummy' Become 'Poker' And 'Rummy'

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 8:03 am

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: You will be given two words. Change one letter in each of them to make two new words that name things that are in the same category. (Hint: In each pair, the letter that you change to — that is, the new letter — is the same in each pair.) For example, given the words "poked" and "tummy," the answer would be "poker" and "rummy."

Read more

4:32am

Sun October 14, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Where, 'O' Where Shall I Put You?

Originally published on Sun October 14, 2012 2:14 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer is a two-word phrase in which the letter "O" is added at the end of the first word to make the second word. For example, given the clue "pack animal owned by Thomas Jefferson's first vice president," the answer would be "Burr burro."

Last week's challenge: Draw a regular hexagon and connect every pair of vertices except one. The pair you don't connect are not on opposite sides of the hexagon but along a shorter diagonal. How many triangles of any size are in this figure?

Answer: 82 triangles

Read more

10:45pm

Sat October 6, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Frog Stuck In Your C-R-O-A-T?

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 1:24 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: You'll be given a category, and you name something in the category starting with each of the letters in the word "Croat." For example, if the category were "boy's names," you might say Chris, Roger, Otto, Adam and Terry.

Last week's challenge: Think of a word in which the second letter is R. Change the R to an M, and rearrange the result. You'll get the opposite of the original word. What is it? (Hint: The two words start with the same letter.)

Answer: "Prose" and "poems"

Read more

8:04am

Sun September 30, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Seeing Double

Originally published on Sat October 13, 2012 6:13 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a six-letter word or name that has a repeated two-letter pair, like "eraser," which has E-R twice, or "regret," which has R-E twice. The repeated pair of letters can appear anywhere in the word. You'll be given the pair of letters and a clue, and you provide the words.

Read more

12:03am

Sun September 23, 2012
Sunday Puzzle

Finding Consecutively Good TV Shows

Originally published on Sat October 6, 2012 10:46 pm

NPR Graphic

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a TV show, past or present. Each can be found in consecutive letters in the sentences read. Name the TV shows. For example, in the sentence, "We watched the acrobat many times," the hidden TV show is BATMAN. Hint: Each answer has at least six letters.

Read more

Pages