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: The answer to each puzzle is a compound word or familiar two word phrase, in which the first part has a long "I" sound and the second part has a long "E" sound.

1. A dish that's "à la mode" comes with what?

2. Area that may be marked off with police tape

3. Completely remove, as fingerprints from a surface

4. Home plate umpire's call immediately before "You're out!"

5. Area beyond where first and second basemen play

6. To transmit an event over the internet as it occurs

7. It has needles for leaves

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a U.S. state capital. Which state capital:

1. Rhymes with "noisy"?

2. Contains the letters of COMBS in left-to-right order?

3. Consists of the chemical symbols for gold and sulfur followed by the full name of a third chemical element?

4. Contains a silent O as its third letter?

5. Ends in an "O" sound — but does not contain the letter O?

6. Consists of a candidate for president in 1988 + a president in the 1970s?

7. Ends with the first name of this program's host?

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some 6-letter words. Insert 2 letters in the exact center of each one to complete a common, uncapitalized 8-letter word.

Ex. ACCENT --> ACCIDENT

1. BARQUE

2. CALLUS

3. CORRAL

4. EVINCE

5. HOMAGE

6. INNATE

7. INTACT

8. OBLATE

9. PANAMA

10. ROSARY

11. STOVER

12. VANISH

Last week's challenge: What world capital becomes the informal name for a farm animal if you change its third letter?

On-air challenge: This is my annual "New Names in the News Quiz." I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2018, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who and what they are. My list was compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, who played one of my year-end quizzes in the past.

1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

2. Stacey Abrams

3. Jair Bolsonaro

4. Mark Judge, Donny and Squee

5. David Hogg

6. Sergei Skripal

7. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson

Sunday Puzzle: Take 2

Dec 23, 2018

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Think of a third word that can follow each of mine to complete compound words or familiar two-word phrases. And as help, the initial letters of my two words will be the first two letters of your answer.

Example: Big Ouija --> BOARD (making "Big Board" and "Ouija board")

On-air challenge: This Sunday's New York Times has a special 14-page section called "Puzzle Mania," which I edited, containing puzzles of all sorts. Here's the start of one I made called "Silence Is Golden." I'm going to give you a word and a letter of the alphabet. Rearrange everything to make a new word in which the added letter is silent.

Example: WAN + G --> GNAW

1. MUD + B

2. PAR + W

3. FINE + K

4. TOGS + H

5. RODS + W

6. TILE + S

7. ALMS + P

8. STONE + H

9. MULES + C

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar three-word phrase or title in which the first and last words are the same. I'll give you the middle word (and a clue, if necessary). You tell me the phrase.

Ex. AFTER — Repeatedly --> TIME AFTER TIME

1. THINGS — Phrase suggesting priority

2. SWEET — What you say after returning from a long trip

3. AGAINST — Not give up despite impossible odds

4. SAY — Don't give up, there's always a possibility

Sunday Puzzle: 2 Words

Dec 2, 2018

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Rearrange the letters in each of them to make two new words that rhyme.

Example: SHOT ASCOT --> HOST, COAST

1. LAZE EQUALS

2. GINS NILE

3. FIBER FLEA

6. TROUT RETUNE

7. WRONG HORNET

8. LUBE WEST

14. EIGHTH ITEM

Last week's challenge: Think of a well-known food brand. Add the letters W-O-W. Then rearrange the result to name another well-known food brand. What is it?

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "Big Mo'." Every answer is a word or name in which the second syllable is an accented "mo."

Example: Absorption process --> OSMOSIS

1. Love or hate

2. Japanese robe

3. Home of Pago-Pago

4. Stuffed Indian pastry

5. Cocktail often served at brunch

6. Unable to move

7. Hullaballoo

9. Prestigious college in Claremont, Calif.

10. Reduction in rank

12. Former name for Taiwan

13. Popular anti-diarrhea product

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Change one letter in the first word to name a category of things. And change one letter in the second word to name something in that category.

Ex. PETAL COPIER --> METAL, COPPER
1. STAGE MAIZE
2. CORN QUARTET
3. DUMBER FORTE
4. RING CHARGES
12. RATIONALITY SWIMS

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