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.

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Sunday Puzzle
8:13 am
Sun December 14, 2014

A Puzzle Worth A Fortune

Sunday Puzzle
NPR

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 12:18 pm

On-air challenge: These are some business-related puzzles made for the New York Times' DealBook conference in New York last Thursday. Every answer is the name of a Fortune 200 company — that is, one of the top 200 corporations according to the 2014 list in Fortune magazine.

Last week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Harry Hilson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. Take the phrase "a few Texans come in." Rearrange these letters to name a geographic place. What is it?

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Sunday Puzzle
8:18 am
Sun October 26, 2014

Take This Job And Puzzle It

Sunday Puzzle
NPR

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 4:38 pm

On-air challenge: A series of sentences will be given; each one contains a blank. Put the name of an occupation in the blank to complete the sentence in a punny way. As a help, the occupation itself is hinted at, directly or indirectly, near the start of the sentence.

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Sunday Puzzle
8:26 am
Sun September 28, 2014

A Puzzle Cheer: Give Me An 'A'!

NPR

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 3:55 pm

On-air challenge: There are clues for two words. Add a long A sound at the end of the first word to phonetically get the second one. For example, the clues "baby cow" and "sidewalk eatery" would yield "calf" and "cafe."

Last week's challenge: Name a famous actor best known for tough-guy roles. The first five letters of his first name and the first four letters of his last name are the first five and four letters, respectively, in the first and last names of a famous author. Who is the actor, and who is the author?

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Sunday Puzzle
8:21 am
Sun August 10, 2014

Getting Thick In The Midsection

NPR

Originally published on Sun August 10, 2014 4:09 pm

On-air challenge: You'll be given some four-letter words. For each one, insert two letters exactly in the middle to complete a common, uncaplitalized six-letter word.

Example: pace + L-A = palace

Last week's challenge: This challenge came from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. Take the name of a modern-day country. Add an A and rearrange the letters to name a group of people who used to live in the area of this country. Who are they?

Answer: Netherlands and Neanderthals

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Sunday Puzzle
9:55 am
Sun July 14, 2013

A Geography Quiz With A Spelling Twist

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 1:59 pm

On-air challenge: You're given a series of clues, and every answer is the name of a U.S. state capital.

Last week's challenge: Rearrange the letters of INDIA and BELARUS to name two other countries. What are they?

Answer: Sudan, Liberia

Winner: Eddy Chandler of Piedmont, Calif.

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Sunday Puzzle
9:19 am
Sun July 7, 2013

Easy As One, Two, Three Initials

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 2:21 pm

On-air challenge: You're given the three-word names of famous people. For each one, you get a clue to a familiar three-word phrase or title that has the same initials as the person. Name the phrase or title. For example, singer Billy Ray Cyrus has the initials B-R-C. And B-R-C are also the initials of the phrase "Blue ribbon commission."

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Sunday Puzzle
2:12 pm
Sun June 2, 2013

Keep Your I On The Prize

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun June 2, 2013 6:52 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up two-word phrase in which the letter I is inserted somewhere inside the first word to get the second word.

Last week's challenge: Think of a word starting with G. Change the G to a T and rearrange the letters after the T. The result will be a new word with the same meaning as the original word.

Answer: Giant; titan

Winner: Bonnie Kind of Germantown, Md.

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Sunday Puzzle
5:14 pm
Sun May 26, 2013

Investigating The Crime Scene

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 3:21 pm

On-air challenge: Today's theme is "C.S.I." — as in the name of the long-running TV show. You're given three words starting with the letters C, S and I. For each set, give a fourth word that can follow each of the original words to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

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Sunday Puzzle
4:04 pm
Sun May 19, 2013

Put On Your Thinking Hat

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 2:11 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with H-A and the second word starts with T.

Last week's challenge: From listener Al Gori of Cozy Lake, N.J. Name a famous American man — first and last names. Change the first letter of his first name from T to H. The result will sound like a term for an attractive person. Who is it?

Answer: Ted Turner; head turner

Winner: Vernon Cole, Brownsboro, Ala.

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Sunday Puzzle
2:21 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

This One Is For You, Ma

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 6:55 am

On-air challenge: You are given two words starting with M-A. The answer is a third word that can follow the first one and precede the second one, in each case to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous performer whose last name has six letters. Move the first three letters to the end — without otherwise changing the order of the letters — and add one more letter at the end. The result, in seven letters, will name a place where this person famously performed. Who is it, and what's the place?

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