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
12:01 am
Sun December 25, 2011

Unwrap The Phrase To Reveal A Gift

NPR Graphic

On-Air Challenge: Identify a gift for a child spelled by consecutive letters in familiar two-word phrases. For example, if given "tomato paste," the answer would be "top."

Last Week's Challenge: Take the word "at." Put a man's first name on each side of it, and say the word out loud. Phonetically, you'll get a word that describes a growing part of our country.

Answer: Put "Jerry," "at," and "Rick" together, and phonetically, you get "geriatric."

Winner: Ginny Walters from Shelburne, Vt.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun December 18, 2011

Rearranging Titles On The Magazine Rack

NPR Graphic

On-Air Challenge: Rearrange a series of anagrams to identify some well-known magazines. For example, if given "never point," rearrange the letters to spell "Prevention," the name of a popular health magazine.

Last Week's Challenge: Think of an animal whose name contains the letter "O." Change the "O" to an "H", and rearrange the result to name another animal. What animals are these?

Answer: Change the "O" in "antelope" to an H, and rearrange the letters to spell "elephant." "Orca" and "char" is an alternative pairing.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun December 11, 2011

Teasing Out A New Word

On-Air Challenge: Add a letter to create new words in a series of word teasers.

Last Week's Challenge from listener Monti Montgomery of Washington, D.C.: Name a style of music. Change the middle letter to a B, and you'll name a style of cooking. What are the style of music and the style of cooking? (There are several ways to spell the cooking style, but the answer is one of them.)

Answer: "Baroque" is the style of music, and "bar-b-que" is the cooking style.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun December 4, 2011

Making Changes Is Up To You

On-Air Challenge: Change one letter in each word of a made-up, two-word phrase to get two new words that will start a familiar proverb or saying. Determining which letters to change is up to you.

Last Week's Challenge from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, Calif.: Think of a common five-letter word in one syllable. Change the fourth letter to the next letter of the alphabet, and you'll get a common word in two syllables, also in five letters. What words are these?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
9:00 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Keep Your Head Above Water

On-Air Challenge: Each answer is a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase containing the consecutive letters H-H-O, as in H2O. For example, given the clue "Dutch province containing Rotterdam and The Hague," the answer would be "South Holland."

Read more
Games & Humor
12:01 am
Sun November 20, 2011

Where In The Blanks Are The Answers?

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is a familiar phrase in the form of "_____ for _____ ." Given the word that follows "for," what's the first word that precedes "for"? For example, if you're given "joy," the answer would be "jump" to complete the phrase "jump for joy."

Last Week's Challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn, N.Y.: What number comes next in the following series: 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 15, 20, 40, 51, 55, 60 and 90?

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun November 13, 2011

A Four-Letter Word For Capital City

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a world capital. You'll be given a four-letter word. The first two letters are the first two letters of the city's name, and the last two are the last two letters of the country's name. For example, if you were given "loin," the answer would be London, Great Britain.

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun November 6, 2011

Two Words Enter, One Meaning Leaves

On-Air Challenge: You will be given a five-letter word and seven-letter word. Rearrange the letters of one of these words to get a synonym of the other. For example, if you are given "alloy" and "devoted," the answer would be "loyal," which is an anagram of "alloy."

Read more
Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun October 30, 2011

Putting The Name Back In The Fame

On-Air Challenge: You will be given the name of a famous person without the first and last letters of their first and last names. Determine the missing letters to add onto the name. For example, if you are given "err row," the answer would be "Jerry Brown."

Read more

Weekend Edition Sunday

On Sundays, Weekend Edition combines the news with colorful arts and human-interest features, appealing to the curious and eclectic. With a nod to traditional Sunday habits, the program offers a fix for diehard crossword addicts-word games and brainteasers with The Puzzlemaster, a.k.a. Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times. With Cornish on the sidelines, a caller plays the latest word game on the air while listeners compete silently at home. The NPR mailbag is proof that the competition to go head-to-head with Shortz is rather vigorous.

Pages