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
6:17 am
Sun May 6, 2012

Brave Sir Robin Ran Away, But The Puzzle Is Still OK

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Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 6:11 pm

On-Air Challenge: You'll be given a series of categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters of the word "robin." For example, given the category "two-syllable boys' names," the answers could be "Roger," "Omar," "Barry," "Isaac" and "Neville."

Last Week's Challenge: Name the capital of a country that, when said out loud, sounds like a three-word phrase. This phrase might describe the reason why the police did not catch a barefoot thief. What is the capital, and what is the reason?

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Sunday Puzzle
12:03 am
Sun April 29, 2012

To Cross This Puzzle Safely, Look Left And Right

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Originally published on Sat May 12, 2012 6:11 pm

On-Air Challenge: Every answer today is a familiar three-word phrase in which the second word is "and" and the first word starts with the letter L. You'll be given the last word of the phrase, and you must identify the first word, starting with "L." For example, given "master," the answer would be "lord," as in "lord and master."

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Sunday Puzzle
12:03 am
Sun April 22, 2012

A Puzzle Worthy Of Don Draper

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Originally published on Sat April 28, 2012 4:23 pm

On-Air Challenge: You'll be given classic advertising slogans and catch phrases in which the letters of the last word are scrambled. First, unscramble the word. Then name the product or company that is the advertiser. For example, given "Get a piece of the cork," the answer would be "Get a piece of the rock," which is a slogan of the Prudential Insurance Company.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun April 15, 2012

A Challenge That Is Initially Famous

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Originally published on Sat April 28, 2012 4:23 pm

On-Air Challenge: You'll be given a two- or three-word description of a famous person. The initial letters of the description are also the initials of the person.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun April 8, 2012

A Mix-Up At The Music Fest

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a popular music group, past or present. You'll be given clues in which two letters in the group's name have been changed. For example, given "The Bench Boss," the answer would be "The Beach Boys," after changing the N in "Bench" to an A and the first S of "Boss" to a Y.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Testing Your Wits With Knowledge Of Spirits

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

On-Air Challenge: Today's challenges are from an old English book called Lateral Thinking Puzzles by Hannah Robson and Nick Hoare. They all have a drinking theme, and they'll test your wits.

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Sunday Puzzle
8:41 pm
Sat March 24, 2012

Don't Be Lax With Your Answers

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On-Air Challenge: Every answer today is a word or phrase containing the consecutive letters A-X. You'll be given clues and anagrams to the answers.

Last Week's Challenge: Take the phrase "no sweat." Using only these seven letters, and repeating them as often as necessary, can you make a familiar four-word phrase? It's 15 letters long. What is it?

Answer: The phrase is "waste not, want not."

Winner: Alison Haskins of Oxford, Ohio

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun March 18, 2012

If I Were An Animal, I'd Be An Alpaca

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On-Air Challenge: Name something in a given category where the last two letters of the category's name are the first two letters of your answer. For example, given "U.S. state," the answer would be either "Texas" or "Tennessee."

Last Week's Challenge: The answer is a two-word name. Inside this name are the consecutive letters I-L-E-H. Remove these four letters, and the remaining letters in order will name something commonly found inside the original thing with the two-word name. What is it?

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun March 11, 2012

This Puzzle Gets Cracked When Opposites Attract

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On-Air Challenge: Every answer consists of two words that are opposites. You are given rhymes for the words, and you give the opposites.

Last Week's Challenge from listener Toby Gottfried of Santa Ana, Calif.: Take the trees hemlock, myrtle, oak and pine. Rearrange the letters in their names to get four other trees, with one letter left over. What trees are they?

Answer: The trees are "elm," "hickory," "lemon," and "teak," with the letter P left over.

Winner: Tim Moon from Bethany, Ill.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun March 4, 2012

A Puzzling Grab Bag Of Phrases

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On-Air Challenge: Today's puzzle is a grab bag. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with B-A and the second word starts with G.

Last Week's Challenge: Name a bird. Change its second letter to an E to get the first name of a famous actor. Then name the female of that bird, and double one of its letters. You'll get the last name of this actor. What are the birds, and who is the actor?

Answer: The birds are "swan" and "pen," and the actor is "Sean Penn."

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