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
11:08 pm
Sun December 30, 2012

If You Didn't Know, Now You Know

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Originally published on Sun December 30, 2012 12:32 pm

On-air challenge: This week is the annual "new names in the news" quiz. You're given some names that you probably never heard of before 2012, but who made news during the past 12 months. You say who they are. These names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker and Tim Goodman, who were players on previous year-end quizzes.

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Sunday Puzzle
11:40 am
Sun December 16, 2012

Sticking With The Sunshine State

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Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 11:25 am

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

Last week's challenge: Name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word, and they will spell the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it?

Answer: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Winner: Mark Sobolik of Newburg, Ore.

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Sunday Puzzle
12:38 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Being Initially Famous

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Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 6:04 am

Special Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the deadline for this week's puzzle is Wednesday by 3 p.m. Eastern.

On-air challenge: Each clue is a two- or three-word description of a famous person in which the initial letters of the description are also the initials of the person. For example, given the clue "Motown great," the answer would be Marvin Gaye.

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Sunday Puzzle
11:03 pm
Sat June 16, 2012

Hit Me Baby One More Time

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Originally published on Sun June 17, 2012 12:23 pm

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is a word, phrase or name starting with the letter "B," ending in "Y" and having "A" and "B" inside, in that order, although not necessarily consecutively. For example, if I said "assistant to a baseball team," the answer would be either "batboy" or "ballboy."

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Sunday Puzzle
5:27 am
Sun June 10, 2012

This Changes Everything!

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Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 2:50 pm

On-Air Challenge: Given a sentence, change one letter in one word to make a new word which completely reverses the meaning of the sentence. For example, given "The singer is not coming on stage." Changing the "T" in not to a "W" in the word "not" makes the sentence, "The singer is now coming on stage."

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Sunday Puzzle
11:03 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

That's Jakarta, With A Capital 'J'

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Originally published on Sun June 3, 2012 9:37 am

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is the name of a world capital. You'll be given clues to its phonetic parts, and you name the capital. For example, given the clues "person from Bangkok" and "salary," the answer would be Taipei ("Thai" plus "pay").

Last Week's Challenge From Listener Jack Lechner: Name two different kinds of wool. Take the first five letters of one, followed by the last three letters of the other, and the result will spell the first and last name of a famous actor. Who is it?

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Sunday Puzzle
9:03 pm
Sat May 26, 2012

Just Give It A Shot In The Dark

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Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 6:16 pm

On-Air Challenge: Every answer is a phrase in the form "___ in the ___." You'll be given rhymes for the first and last words, and you give the phrases.

Last Week's Challenge From Listener Peter Persoff of Piedmont, Calif.: Think of a common three-letter word and five-letter word that together consist of eight different letters of the alphabet. Put the same pair of letters in front of each of these words, and you will have the present and past-tense forms of the same verb. What words are these?

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Sunday Puzzle
11:03 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

Initially Famous 2: Electric Boogaloo

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Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 8:21 pm

On-Air Challenge: This week's challenge is a twist on "Characteristic Initials." We will gives clues for some famous people, past and present. The initial letters of the clues are also the initials of the answers. For example "Wrote Sonnets" would be "William Shakespeare."

Last Week's Challenge: Name a state capital. Change one of the vowels to another vowel and say the result phonetically. You will name a revered profession. What is it?

Answer: Madison and medicine

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Sunday Puzzle
11:03 pm
Sat May 12, 2012

You Two, Move To The Back Of The Line

Originally published on Sat May 26, 2012 8:21 pm

On-Air Challenge: The word "mother" has a surprising property. If you move the first two letters to the end, you get "thermo," the prefix for "heat." Every answer today is another six-letter word that, when you move the first two letters to the end, you get another word or phrase.

Last Week's Challenge from listener Gary Witkin of Newark, Del.: Using only the six letters of the name "Bronte," repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar six-word phrase. What is it?

Answer: "To be or not to be"

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Sunday Puzzle
5:17 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 5:11 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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