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

Sunday Puzzle
10:01 am
Sun April 20, 2014

April Showers Bring Puzzle Flowers

NPR

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 11:53 am

On-air challenge: With spring in the air, it's a fitting time for a flower puzzle. Find the flower answer using its anagram, minus one letter. Example: R-I-S-H-I, minus H, is "iris."

Last week's challenge from listener Louis Sargent of Portland, Ore: Name a well-known American company. Insert a W somewhere inside the name, and you'll get two consecutive titles of popular TV shows of the past. What are they?

Answer: Westinghouse; West Wing, House

Winner: John Rowden of New York

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
9:29 am
Sun February 23, 2014

Famous Four-By-Fours That Aren't Trucks

NPR

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

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
Sunday Puzzle
8:15 am
Sun February 16, 2014

Get Ready To Flip Your Lid

NPR

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

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
Sunday Puzzle
8:33 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Drop The Zero And Get With The Hero

NPR

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

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
Sunday Puzzle
9:21 am
Sun January 26, 2014

Take Synonyms For A Spin (Or Pirouette)

NPR

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

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
Sunday Puzzle
8:15 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Three B's Bring You To One

NPR

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

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
Sunday Puzzle
8:02 am
Sun January 12, 2014

A's On Either End

NPR

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 11:41 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word that begins and ends with the letter A. You'll be given an anagram of the letters between the A's. For example, given "ern," you would say, "arena."

Last week's challenge: Name something in five letters that's generally pleasant, it's a nice thing to have. Add the letters A and Y, and rearrange the result, keeping the A and Y together as a pair. You'll get the seven-letter word that names an unpleasant version of the five-letter thing. What is it?

Answer: Dream; Daymare

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:02 am
Sun December 29, 2013

Now You Know Them

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 12:16 pm

On-air challenge: You will be given some names that you probably never heard of before 2013, but that were in the news during the past 12 months. You name who the people are. These names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, Tim Goodman and Sandy Weisz.

Last week's challenge from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco: Think of a well-known filmmaker, first and last names. Add "S-U-N" before this person's first name and last name. In each case, you'll form a common English word. Who is the filmmaker?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

When Push Comes To Shove

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 3:04 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a five-letter word. You'll be given a clue for the word. Besides giving you a direct hint to the answer, the clue will also contain the answer in consecutive letters. For example, given "push over hard," you would say "shove."

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:03 am
Sun December 8, 2013

Noteworthy Names, In Rhyme

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 3:56 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person whose first and last names start with the same consonant or group of consonants. You're given rhymes for the two names. You name the people. For example, if given "cycle four," the answer would be "Michael Moore."

Last week's challenge: Name a dance. Change one of the letters to a U. The resulting letters can be rearranged to name an event at which this dance is done. What is it?

Answer: hula, luau

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:13 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Be THANKful For This Puzzle

NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 3:49 pm

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a game of categories based on the word "thank," in honor of Thanksgiving weekend. For each category, name something beginning with each of the letters T, H, A, N and K. For example, if the category were "U.S. States," you might say Tennessee, Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Kentucky.

Last week's challenge: Name a tree whose letters can be rearranged to spell two herbs or spices. Hint: The tree has a two-word name. What tree is it, and what are the herbs or spices?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:46 am
Sun November 17, 2013

More Fun Than A Dead Rose

NPR

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

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

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:05 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Regardless Of The Answer, Stay Staid

NPR

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

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.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:03 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Hungry For A Hidden Word

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 2:10 pm

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle involves brand names of foods at the grocery. If I asked you to take "Dole" (as in pineapples) and rearrange the letters to name an ore deposit, you would say "lode." What anagrams do each of the names conceal?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:03 am
Sun October 20, 2013

No Time To Be Bashful

NPR

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

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.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:21 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Can You Pass This -TE ST-?

NPR

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

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."

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
10:27 am
Sun October 6, 2013

Find The Rhyme And The Reason

NPR

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

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.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
8:02 am
Sun September 29, 2013

What's That (Vowel) Sound?

NPR

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

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."

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
5:40 am
Sun September 8, 2013

Close, But No Cigar

NPR

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

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?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
5:56 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Shh! Listen Carefully

NPR

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 2:42 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase with the consecutive letters of S-H-H. Specifically, the first word in the answer will end in SH, and the second will start with H.

Last week's challenge: Think of a business that's found in most towns. Its name consists of two words, each starting with a consonant. Interchange the consonants and you'll get two new words — neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?

Answer: Car wash

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
5:18 am
Sun August 25, 2013

It's All Greek To Me

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 11:22 am

On-air challenge: You're given some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a language in consecutive letters. Name the language. Each answer has five or more letters.

Last week's challenge: The Roman numeral for 38 is XXXVIII. What is special or unusual about this Roman numeral that sets it apart from every other Roman numeral that can be written?

Answer: If every possible Roman numeral were listed in alphabetical order, XXXVIII would be last.

Winner: Joseph Kuperberg of Pittsford, N.Y.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
5:02 am
Sun August 11, 2013

Easy As ABC

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 2:09 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is an anagram of a word that has the letters A-B-C in it.

Last week's challenge: Name a foreign make of automobile. Cross out several letters in its name. The remaining letters, reading in order from left to right, will spell a food that comes from the country where the car is made. What is the country, and what is the food?

Answer: Mitsubishi, sushi

Winner: Lindsy Schwantes of Waite Park, Minn.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
4:44 am
Sun August 4, 2013

First Names First

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 1:39 pm

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "What's in a Name?" Every answer 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 non-anagram parts of the names, you identify the people. For example, given "Madeleine" and "Aaron," you would say "Kahn" and "Hank."

Last week's challenge: In three words, name a product sold mainly to women that has the initials N-P-R. The answer is a common phrase.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
3:06 am
Sun July 28, 2013

Psst ... It's Class Time

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun July 28, 2013 12:31 pm

On-air challenge: This puzzle is supersonic. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name that has the consecutive letters S-S-T. Specifically, the first word will end in S-S, and the second word will start with T. For example, given, "A situation in which people speak on top of each other," you would say, "cross talk."

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
6:05 am
Sun July 21, 2013

The Price Of Fame: A Scrambled Name

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 12:41 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person, past or present, with five letters in the first and last names. One letter in each name is changed to make a new word. You name the people.

Last week's challenge: In the phrase "clothes closet," all the letters of the second word can be found inside the first. Think of another two-word phrase that means a place to keep clothes in which all the letter of the second word are found inside the first. The first word has nine letters, the second has six.

Read more

Pages