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.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar 8-letter word. We're going to give you two 3-letter words that are somewhere in it. You tell me the full word.


1. VET + AIL
2. LEG + RAM
3. PEN + AGO
4. URN + OAT
5. PIP + ANY
6. NOT + ONE

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word or name containing the consecutive letters R-I-O. The first set of answers will end in -rio.

For example: Novelty item --> CURIO.

Last week's challenge from Ed Pegg Jr. of mathpuzzle.com: Take the four 4-letter words LIMB, AREA, CORK and KNEE. Write them one under the other, and the four columns will spell four new words: LACK, IRON, MERE and BAKE:


On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two four-letter words. Rearrange the letters in each of them to make two synonyms.

For example: Newt, felt --> went, left.

Last week's challenge: A spoonerism is an interchange of initial consonant sounds in a phrase to get another phrase, as in "light rain" and "right lane." Name something seen in a kitchen in two words. Its spoonerism is an article that's worn mostly by men. What is it?

Answer: Pie tin; tie pin.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week consists of two familiar phrases in the form "___ of ___." In each case, the first word of the two phrases is the same. I'll give you the ending words. You tell me the full phrases.

For example: Heart / Pace --> Change of heart, change of pace.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word that starts with Para-. First, I'll define it in a regular way and then in a punny way. You tell me the words.

For example: Typical examples / 20 cents --> PARADIGMS ("pair o' dimes").

On-air challenge: For each word given, name a famous person, past or present, whose name contains it. In each case, the word will bridge the first and last names. The dividing point is for you to discover.

For example: SWILL —> Venus Williams

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of a newspaper comic strip or cartoon, past or present. Identify the funnies from their anagrams.

For example: GOO + P --> POGO.

Last week's challenge from Mike Hinterberg of Loveland, Colo.: Name a creature in nine letters. The name contains a T. Drop the T, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two related modes of transportation. What are they?

Answer: Butterfly --> Lyft, Uber.

On-air challenge: Given two kinds of people or things, name something they both do — in three letters.

For example: a false witness, and a person in bed --> lie.

Last week's challenge, from listener Peter Weisz of West Palm Beach, Fla.: Name something in 11 letters that's a common household item. You can rearrange the first six letters to form a synonym of a word spelled by the middle three letters. What is the item, and what are the words?

Answer: Thermometer; mother, mom.

On-air challenge: Given a four-letter word and a six-letter word, rearrange the letters of one of them to get a synonym of the other.

For example: Risk, garden --> DANGER.

Last week's challenge, from listener Timothy Gotwald of Chambersburg, Pa.: Think of a word that means "entrance." Interchange the second and fourth letters, and you'll get a new word that means "exit." What words are these?

Answer: Gateway, getaway.

Winner: Albert Tumpson of Los Angeles.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a phrase in the form "___ and ___." I'll give you rhymes for the two missing words. You complete the phrases.

For example: Lick and lose --> pick and choose.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous singer — first and last names. The last four letters of the first name spelled backward plus the first four letters of the last name spelled forward, read together, in order, name a section of products in a drugstore. What is it?

Answer: Mariah Carey --> hair care.