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
3:56 am
Sun June 9, 2013

Follow Homer To Find Your Way

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Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 4:32 pm

On-air challenge: Categories are given based on the name "Homer," the name of a town in Alaska. Name something in the category beginning with each of the letters H-O-M-E-R. For example, if the category were "Chemical Elements," you might say Helium, Oxygen, Magnesium, Einsteinium, and Radon. You can give the answers in any order.

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Sunday Puzzle
4:06 am
Sun June 2, 2013

Keep Your I On The Prize

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Originally published on Sun June 2, 2013 5:52 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
5:30 am
Sun May 26, 2013

Investigating The Crime Scene

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Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 2:21 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
3:28 am
Sun May 19, 2013

Put On Your Thinking Hat

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Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 1:11 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
4:34 am
Sun May 12, 2013

This One Is For You, Ma

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Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 5:55 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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Sunday Puzzle
4:24 am
Sun May 5, 2013

Two Last Names For The Price Of One

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Originally published on Sun May 5, 2013 5:39 am

On-air challenge: Every answer today consists of two people, either real or fictional, whose last names are anagrams of each other.

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Sunday Puzzle
4:01 am
Sun April 28, 2013

As You Know, Puzzles Are A Pastime

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Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 5:40 pm

On-air challenge: For each given category, name something in the category where the first letter is also the first letter of the category. For example, given "Military Ranks," you would say "Major."

Last week's challenge: Name a geographical location in two words — nine letters altogether — that, when spoken aloud, sounds roughly like four letters of the alphabet. What is it?

Answer: Aegean Sea; Indian Cay

Winner: Terry Thacker, Greenville, S.C.

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Sunday Puzzle
4:08 am
Sun April 21, 2013

You'll Get It Just Right, Junior

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Originally published on Sun April 21, 2013 3:56 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials "J.R."

Last week's challenge from listener Sandy Weisz: Take a common English word. Write it in capital letters. Move the first letter to the end and rotate it 90 degrees. You'll get a new word that is pronounced exactly the same as the first word. What words are these?

Answer: Won, one; wry, rye

Winner: Ben Austin of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

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Sunday Puzzle
3:53 am
Sun April 14, 2013

O Say Can You C The Answer?

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Originally published on Sun April 14, 2013 10:04 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a two-word phrase in which the first word starts with O. Drop the O, and you'll get a new word that ends the phrase.

Last week's challenge: Name something in nine letters that is commonly read on Sunday morning. If you have the right thing, you can rearrange all the letters to name a bygone car model that you still see on the road today. What are they?

Answer: Scripture; PT Cruiser

Winner: Pam Smith of Beaverton, Ore.

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Sunday Puzzle
5:06 am
Sun April 7, 2013

A Brand-New Word

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Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 10:08 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a well-known commercial name that spells a regular word or name backward. Identify the brands. For example, given "laundry detergent" and "work in a magazine office," the answer would be "tide" and "edit."

Last week's challenge: Name something in four letters that you use every day. Add the letters O, H and M, and rearrange all seven letters. You will name something else you probably use every day. This seven-letter thing is usually found near the four-letter thing. What are they?

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Sunday Puzzle
4:39 am
Sun March 31, 2013

Hiding In Plain Sight

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Originally published on Sun March 31, 2013 9:25 am

On-air challenge: You will be given some words. For each one, you provide a four-letter word that can follow the first to complete a familiar two-word phrase. The four letters of the second word can always be found inside the first word. For example, given "personal," the answer would be "loan."

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Sunday Puzzle
4:33 am
Sun March 24, 2013

Finding The Answers Within

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Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 7:05 am

On-air challenge: You'll be given clues for some five-letter words. In each case, the letters of the answer can be found consecutively somewhere inside the clue. For example, given "Some teenagers' language," the answer would be "slang"(hidden inside "teenagerS' LANGuage").

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Sunday Puzzle
2:29 am
Sun March 17, 2013

Take Your Pics

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Originally published on Sun March 17, 2013 10:32 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with the letters P-I and the second word starts with C. For example, given "One of 27 compositions by Mozart" you would say "(Pi)ano (C)oncerto."

Last week's challenge: Think of two familiar three-word sayings in which all three words are the same length. The middle word in both sayings is the same. In each saying, the first and last words rhyme with each other. What two sayings are these?

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Sunday Puzzle
11:33 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

From A To Z

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Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 10:20 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word containing an A and a Z. Given anagrams of the remaining letters, name the word. For example, given "leg," the answer would be "glaze".

Last week's challenge: Eight people are seated at a circular table. Each person gets up and sits down again — either in the same chair or in the chair immediately to the left or right of the one they were in. How many different ways can the eight people be re-seated?

Answer: 49

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Sunday Puzzle
4:49 am
Sun March 3, 2013

Perfectly Puzzling

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Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 6:43 am

On-air challenge: You will be given two words starting with the letter P. Name a third word starting with P that can follow the first one and precede the second one, in each case to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "peer" and "point," you would say "pressure," as in "peer pressure" and "pressure point."

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