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.

These Letters Don't LI

Oct 9, 2016

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Insert the consecutive letters LI somewhere inside the first word to get the second one.

For example: Bit of mischief/Instrument for measuring --> CAPER, CALIPER

Last week's challenge: Name an 11-letter occupation starting with H. If you have the right one, you can rearrange the letters to name two things a worker with this occupation uses — one in six letters and one in five. What occupation is it?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a pun on a well-known food brand at a grocery or supermarket.

For example: given the prompt "tiny golf pegs," the right answer is "Wheaties." (Get it? "Wee tees.")

Last week's challenge: Take the words DOES, TOES and SHOES. They all end in the same three letters, but none of them rhyme. What words starting with F, S and G have the same property? The F and S words are four letters long, and the G word is five letters. They all end in the same three letters.

On-air challenge: For the following words starting with the letters S, E and P — as in September — find a word that can precede each to complete a familiar two-word phrase.

For example: system, eclipse, power --> SOLAR (solar system, solar eclipse, solar power).

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a nine-letter phrase that's a palindrome — in other words, it reads the same both forward and backward.

For example: Certain floor models (4,5) --> some demos.

Last week's challenge, from listener Sandy Stevens of Bandon, Ore.: What one-syllable word in seven letters becomes a four-syllable word by inserting the consecutive letters I-T somewhere inside?

Answer: reigned, reignited.

Winner: Dan Bradshaw of Farmington, Conn.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar 8-letter word. We're going to give you two 3-letter words that are somewhere in it. You tell me the full word.


1. VET + AIL
2. LEG + RAM
3. PEN + AGO
4. URN + OAT
5. PIP + ANY
6. NOT + ONE

On-air challenge: Each answer today consists of the first and last names of a famous person, each with two syllables. Here are some made-up two-word phrases. The first word in the phrase rhymes with the person's first name, and the last word rhymes with the last name.

For example: Picky Moonie --> MICKEY ROONEY.

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.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a phrase in the form "___ and ___." I'll give you rhymes for the two missing words. You complete the phrases.

For example: Lick and lose --> pick and choose.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous singer — first and last names. The last four letters of the first name spelled backward plus the first four letters of the last name spelled forward, read together, in order, name a section of products in a drugstore. What is it?

Answer: Mariah Carey --> hair care.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word ends in "X" and the second starts with "C" (as in XC, the Roman numeral for 90). A friend of mine recently turned 90, and I made this as a birthday gift.

For example: Tailless feline --> MANX CAT.

Last week's challenge, from Sandy Weisz of Chicago: Take the name of a famous musical. Write it in upper- and lowercase letters, as you usually would.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is an anagram of a six-letter girl's name. I'll give you the name and a synonym of its anagram. You tell me the anagram.

For example: GLENDA Hang loosely --> DANGLE.

On-air challenge:

Take the category, then name something in it whose first two letters are the last two letters of the category's name.

For example: Author > (George) Orwell.

1. Beatle

2. Disney musical

3. Letter of the Greek alphabet

4. Country in Africa

5. Make of auto

6. Make of automobile

7. An Obama

8. Salad green

9. Racehorse

10. Municipal official

11. Norse explorer

12. Bridge

13. Ocean

14. Best Picture

15. Summer Olympics host

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word ends in the letter -E, and the second word starts GO-.

For example: Something you might say when you're about to take a plunge --> HERE GOES.

Last week's challenge: Name something to eat. Change one letter in it and rearrange the result. You'll name the person who makes this food. Who is it?

Answer: Bread and baker.

Winner: Mary Ann Gaeddert, of Georgetown, Ky.

On-air challenge: Change one letter of each word and rearrange the result to get a new word that can follow it, to complete a common two-word phrase.

For example: FALL ... changing one of the L's to a T --> FLAT: Fall Flat.

Last week's challenge, based on an idea by listener Jon Herman: If PAJAMA represents first, and REBUKE represents second, what nine-letter word can represent third? There are two possible answers, one common and one not so common. Either one will be counted correct.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of an article of apparel — something to wear. Name the items from the anagram given.

Example: LOOP --> POLO.

Last week's challenge: This was a variation on the old word-ladder puzzle. The object is to change WHOLE to HEART by either adding or subtracting one letter at a time, making a new, common, uncapitalized word at each step.

On-air challenge: Three words will be given, starting with the letters F, B, and I respectively. Find a word that can follow each one to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Last week's challenge: Name a state capital. Drop one of its letters. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name another major city in the United States. What is it? There are two different answers, and you should find both of them.

Answer: St. Paul (Minn.), Tulsa (Okla.); Salem (Ore.), Mesa (Ariz.)