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
12:01 am
Sun February 26, 2012

And The Best Picture Oscar Goes To ...

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On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a film that won an Academy Award for Best Picture. Identify the films from their anagrams.

Last Week's Challenge: What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order as you travel through them? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz's answer has eight letters, but maybe you can top that.

Puzzlemaster's Answer: "Millions," which consists of the beginning letters of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun February 19, 2012

Two States Enter, One Four-Letter Word Leaves

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On-Air Challenge: Every answer consists of two adjoining U.S. states. Each clue is a four-letter word formed by one or more letters starting one of the state names plus one or more letters starting the other state name. For example, given "mist," the answer would be "Mississippi" and "Tennessee," or "Missouri" and "Tennessee."

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun February 12, 2012

Hey, I've Got Five On It!

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On-Air Challenge: Every answer is a familiar three-word phrase, name or title in which each word has five letters — for example, "Royal Opera House."

Last Week's Challenge: Name an animal. Add the letters "A" and "T," and rearrange the result to name another animal. These are both animals that might be found in a zoo, and the last letter of the first animal is the first letter of the last one.

Answer: If you add "A" and "T" to "gorilla," you can rearrange the letters to spell "alligator."

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun February 5, 2012

Rearranging The Deck Chairs On The Anti-Tic

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On-Air Challenge: Each clue contains at least one seven-letter word. Rearrange the letters in that word to answer the clue.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun January 29, 2012

This Puzzle Is 'The Pits'

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On-Air Challenge: Today's puzzle is "the pits." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with "PI" and the second word starts with "T."

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun January 22, 2012

Sitting Comfortably In Between

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On-Air Challenge: You'll be given two things in the same category. You name the only other thing in the same category that fits between the given things alphabetically. For example, given "Mars" and "Saturn," the answer would be "Mercury."

Last Week's Challenge: Will Shortz celebrates the 25th anniversary of Weekend Edition Sunday and the Sunday Puzzle with three mystery guests.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun January 15, 2012

Second To Last

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On-Air Challenge: Think of a word that can follow a given word to complete a familiar two-word phrase or name. The first two letters of your word must be the second and last letters, respectively, of the given word. For example, if given "fallen," the answer would be "angel."

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Sunday Puzzle
8:00 pm
Sat January 7, 2012

Arrange The Notes

On-Air Challenge: Each answer is a five-letter word or phrase containing the letters N, O, T, E plus one other letter. Answer the clues to get the words.

Last Week's Challenge: Name certain scores in a certain sport. The score and the sport are both two-word phrases with a total of 10 letters (five letters in each word). Rearrange the letters to name a different sport, also in two words (six letters in the first word, four in the second). What are the scores, and what is the sport?

Answer: Rearrange "field goals" to name "ladies golf."

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Sunday Puzzle
4:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

The Fame Game

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On-Air Challenge: It's our annual year-end news quiz, compiled with the help of Kathie Baker and Tim Goodman. You are given new names in the news — people you probably never heard of before 2011, but who became famous during the past 12 months. Explain why they're famous.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:01 am
Sun December 25, 2011

Unwrap The Phrase To Reveal A Gift

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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.

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