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: Each sentence contains two words that have homophones that are opposites. For each sentence given, find the homophone opposites.

For example: Actress Susan Dey dressed up as a knight on Halloween. --> "Dey" and "knight" are homophones of "day" and "night," which are opposites.

Next week's challenge: Think of a word that contains three consecutive letters of the alphabet together — like CANOPY, which contains NOP. Change these three letters to one new letter to make a synonym of the first word. What words are these?

On-air challenge: For each word, think of a synonym whose first and second letters, in order, are the second and third letters, respectively, of the given word.

For example: Shock --> horrify.

Last week's challenge: Name a famous actor — first and last names. Drop the first two letters of the first name and the last two letters of the last name. Then put a "Y" between what's left of the two names. The result, reading from left to right, will identify who might solve this challenge and play puzzle on the air with me next week.

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "Bus Fare." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase, in which the first word starts with BU- and the second word starts with S.

For example: A onetime General Motors car named for a bird --> Buick Skylark.

On-air challenge:

Given a four-letter word, insert two letters to complete a common six-letter word.


Last week's challenge:

On-air challenge: This week's theme is SPAs. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with S- and the second word starts with PA-.

For example: Something to jot notes on —> SCRAP PAPER or SCRATCH PAD (either answer works).

Last week's challenge: This is a creative challenge, so you get some extra time. The object is to write a 10-word sentence in which each word ends with the same letter of the alphabet.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a familiar two-word phrase or name, in which the first word starts with the letters C and A in that order, and the second word starts with P.

For example, a sheet that a typist once used to make a copy of something --> CARBON PAPER.

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the last name of a late-night TV host, past or present. Identify the hosts from their anagrams.

Example: EMERY + S ---> (Seth) MEYERS.

Last week's challenge: It's a well-known curiosity that the longest, common unhyphenated word that can be typed on the top row of a typewriter or a computer keyword is typewriter. What is a common hyphenated word, in 12 letters, that can be typed using only the keys on the top row of a typewriter or computer keyboard?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the first and last name of one of the major Republican candidates for president. Identify the candidates from the anagrams given.

For example: PORTLAND MUD --> Donald Trump.

Last week's challenge from listener Ben Bass of Chicago: Name a well-known U.S. geographical place — two words; five letters in the first word, six letters in the last — that contains all five vowels (A, E, I, O and U) exactly once. It's a place that's been in the news. What is it?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of a state. For all the words given, ignore the vowels in them. The consonants in them are the same consonants, in the same order, as in the states.

For example, the word "regain" would be "Oregon."

Last week's challenge from listener Martin Eiger: Name part of a car. Drop the fifth letter. Now reverse the order of the last three letters. The result, reading from left to right, will name a major American city. What city is it?

Answer: Seat belt, Seattle

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made-up three-word phrase in which all three words rhyme ... and every word has two syllables.

For example, using the the initials V, H and F, an extremely hirsute sprite: very hairy fairy.

Last week's challenge from puzzle-maker Rodolfo Kurchan: Write down these six numbers: 19, 28, 38, 81, 83, 85. What are the next three numbers in the series?