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 is the name of an NPR host — that is, one of the colleagues of this week's special guest, NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who will be taking over as host of Weekend Edition Sunday in January. Given some wordplay on their names, you name the hosts.

Last week's (and next week's) challenge: This is a two-week creative challenge. The object is to write a conundrum or riddle that starts "What is the difference between ..." — in which the answer involves a transposition of words.

On-air challenge: Insert the letters A and R into the middle of the first clue to get the answer to the second clue. For example, when given the clues "small argument" and "a tax on imports," the answer would be "tiff" and "tariff."

Last week's challenge, from Ken Stern of Brooklyn, N.Y.: Think of a sign that's frequently seen around this time of year — two words of four letters each. Among these eight letters all five vowels — A, E, I, O and U — appear once each, along with three consonants. What sign is it?

On-air challenge: I'm going to name some categories. For each one, I'll name something in the category that closely follows the name of the category alphabetically.

For example, "states" and "Texas." You tell me the only other thing in the category that fits between these two things alphabetically. In the case of my example, you would say "Tennessee."

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "SuperPACs." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with PA- and the second word starts with C.

For example: Official who oversees a city's green spaces --> PARKS COMMISSIONER.

These Letters Don't LI

Oct 9, 2016

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. Insert the consecutive letters LI somewhere inside the first word to get the second one.

For example: Bit of mischief/Instrument for measuring --> CAPER, CALIPER

Last week's challenge: Name an 11-letter occupation starting with H. If you have the right one, you can rearrange the letters to name two things a worker with this occupation uses — one in six letters and one in five. What occupation is it?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a pun on a well-known food brand at a grocery or supermarket.

For example: given the prompt "tiny golf pegs," the right answer is "Wheaties." (Get it? "Wee tees.")

Last week's challenge: Take the words DOES, TOES and SHOES. They all end in the same three letters, but none of them rhyme. What words starting with F, S and G have the same property? The F and S words are four letters long, and the G word is five letters. They all end in the same three letters.

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words ending in the letter A. Anagram each of them to get a familiar word starting with A.

For example: IDEA --> AIDE.

Last week's challenge, from listener Justine Tilley of Vancouver: Think of a familiar three-word phrase in the form "___ and ___." Drop the "and." Then move the last word to the front to form a single word ... that means the opposite of the original phrase. Here's a hint: The ending word has seven letters. What is it?

On-air challenge: For the following words starting with the letters S, E and P — as in September — find a word that can precede each to complete a familiar two-word phrase.

For example: system, eclipse, power --> SOLAR (solar system, solar eclipse, solar power).

On-air challenge: If you alphabetized the eight planets in reverse — that is, by their ending letters — the next-to-last name on the list would be Venus, which ends in "s." The last planet on the list would be Mercury, which ends in "y." I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, I'll give you the next-to-last member of the category, if all the names in it were alphabetized backward. You tell me the last name.

For example: Numbers from one to 10: Eight.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a nine-letter phrase that's a palindrome — in other words, it reads the same both forward and backward.

For example: Certain floor models (4,5) --> some demos.

Last week's challenge, from listener Sandy Stevens of Bandon, Ore.: What one-syllable word in seven letters becomes a four-syllable word by inserting the consecutive letters I-T somewhere inside?

Answer: reigned, reignited.

Winner: Dan Bradshaw of Farmington, Conn.

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