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
7:46 am
Sun November 17, 2013

More Fun Than A Dead Rose

NPR

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 10:24 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
7:05 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Regardless Of The Answer, Stay Staid

NPR

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 11:18 am

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
7:03 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Hungry For A Hidden Word

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 1:10 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
7:03 am
Sun October 20, 2013

No Time To Be Bashful

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 11:16 am

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
7:21 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Can You Pass This -TE ST-?

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 7:47 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
9:27 am
Sun October 6, 2013

Find The Rhyme And The Reason

NPR

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 2:05 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
7:02 am
Sun September 29, 2013

What's That (Vowel) Sound?

NPR

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 3:13 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
4:40 am
Sun September 8, 2013

Close, But No Cigar

NPR

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 1:09 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
4:56 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Shh! Listen Carefully

NPR

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 1:42 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
4:18 am
Sun August 25, 2013

It's All Greek To Me

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 10:22 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

Pages