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: When I give you three words starting with the letters H, O and T, you tell me a word that can follow each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

For example: Home, Oval, Ticket --> OFFICE. (Home office, oval office, ticket office.)

On-air challenge: Here are two clues for two words. Insert the letters V-E somewhere inside the first word to get the second one.

For example: Abel's brother, in the Bible / danger for a spelunker --> Cain, cave-in.

Last week's challenge from listener Martin Eiger: Think of a phrase that denotes a particular major-league sports team in 12 letters. The first 6 letters are the same as the second 6 letters rearranged. What team is it?

Answer: The Miami Heat.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a word with a double-B, like RABBIT. Rearrange the letters in the word provided to get the answer.

For example: Peel + BB --> Pebble.

On-air challenge: With the Fourth of July and cookouts on my mind, I brought a game of Categories — based on the word PATIO. I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, name something in the category starting with each of the letters P, A, T, I and O.

For example, if the category were three-syllable boy's names, you might say Patterson, Anthony, Timothy, Isaiah and Oliver. Any answer that works is fine, and you can give the answers in any order.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week consists of two familiar phrases in the form "___ of ___." In each case, the first word of the two phrases is the same. I'll give you the ending words. You tell me the full phrases.

For example: Heart / Pace --> Change of heart, change of pace.

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: I've brought a puzzle based on the name Oahu. Oddly, it has three syllables in only four letters. Answer my clues for other words and names that have three syllables in four letters.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous actor — seven-letter first name, four-letter last name. Take four consecutive letters from the first name and three consecutive letters from the last name. These seven letters, in order from left to right, will name something that's often packed nowadays when taking a trip. What is it?

On-air challenge: For each five-letter word, insert two letters between the first and second letters to make a familiar seven-letter word.

For example: Elate ---> Emulate

Last week's challenge: Here's an unusual challenge from listener Harry Hillson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. What is the most consecutive points a tennis player can lose and still win a best-of-five-sets match? There's no trick. It's a straightforward question. The modern tennis tiebreaker rule does not come into play.

On-air challenge: For each word given, name a famous person, past or present, whose name contains it. In each case, the word will bridge the first and last names. The dividing point is for you to discover.

For example: SWILL —> Venus Williams

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.

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