Will Shortz

On-air challenge: Every answer is the brand name of a food or beverage that you might buy at the grocery store.

1. Preserves — Consists of a word meaning "lollipops" around the letter M

2. Soup — Conceals the word OGRES in consecutive letters

3. Breakfast cereal — Is an anagram of WHITE SEA

4. Baking goods — Is an anagram of RUBY LIPS + L

5. Cookies — Spelled backward, is a two-word phrase meaning "betting everything"

6. Soft drink — Consists of four consecutive state postal abbreviations

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is a look back on the people and things you probably never heard of until 2019, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. Tell me who and what they are:

1. Greta Thunberg

2. Chasten Glezman — husband of Pete Buttigieg

3. Christina Koch and Jessica Meir

4. Naruhito

5. Lizzo

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is a variation on last week's. It's more like a quiz. I'm going to give four words. Three of them have something in common. I'll tell you what that something in common is. You tell me which word is the odd one out.

1. Words that are both flowers and girls' names: Violet, Lily, Iris, Cowslip

2. Words that start the names of state capitals: Big, Rich, Mad, Tall

3. Adjectives that are the titles of well-known movies: Frozen, Notorious, Sweet, Unforgiven

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word, name or phrase in which the only consonants are B and L, repeated as often as necessary. All the other letters are vowels.

Ex. Tell a secret --> BLAB

1. Holy book

2. Reason why you couldn't have committed the crime

3. Record company

4. "The Hobbit" hero ___ Baggins

5. Tower of ___

6. Talk rapidly and foolishly

7. Move up and down, as a doll's head

8. Air-filled sphere sometimes made by soap

9. Legally obligated

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some categories, and two things in each category. You name a third thing in the category that fits between my two alphabetically.

Ex. Playing cards — Jack/Queen --> King

1. Colors of the rainbow — Red/Yellow

2. Great Lakes — Michigan/Superior

3. Nobel Prize categories — Economics/Peace

4. Federal holidays — Independence Day/Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

5. South American countries — Guyana/Peru

6. Beatles #1 hits — Hello Goodbye/Hey Jude

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up two-word phrase in which the first word starts with the letter C, and the second word is the same as the first but without the C.

Ex. A painting of a golfer's vehicle --> CART ART

1. A Scottish boy wearing clothing

2. Pile that doesn't cost much

3. Security device for a timepiece

4. Where a group of witches bakes a cake

5. One who assesses the quality of a feature of the lunar surface

6. Black bird that is cowardly

7. Wifey's mate who's a little overweight

On-air challenge: Here's a list of seven-letter words. For each one, change the first and last letters — but only the first and last letters — to make a new, uncapitalized seven-letter word. Both the first and last letters have to change.

Ex. TOURISM --> NOURISH

1. PARTOOK

2. TERSELY

3. GUNROOM

4. HELLISH

5. LORELEI

6. CARCASS

7. GORDIAN

8. LIGNITE

9. PARTING

Sunday Puzzle: Cocoa

Nov 3, 2019

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Cocoa." Every answer is a word or name in which an interior syllable is pronounced "co" — in any spelling.

Example: Phoenix, Arizona's county --> MARICOPA

1. City in Washington state that shares an airport with Seattle.

2. Device that helps you read secret writing.

3. Cause of gradual loss of eyesight.

4. Symbol of plenty, or an abundant supply of good things.

5. Territory that broke into two states in 1889.

6. Giant corporation in the metals industry.

On-air challenge: The three B's in classical music are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But in this puzzle they're three words starting with B. Each set can be followed by a fourth word to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Example: Baseball Bathing Bottle --> CAP (baseball cap, bathing cap, bottle cap)

1. Bow Black Bolo

2. Bar Bell Bunny

3. Boom Ballot Bread

4. Brick Berlin Border

5. Building Bar Binary

6. Big Bank Booster

On-air challenge: Every answer today is something you see in a hotel room — always, or at least often. Name these things from their anagrams, minus one letter.

Example: BOXER – X --> ROBE

1. DEBT – T

2. MAPLE – E

3. OPALS – L

4. FEAST – T

5. ROBIN – B

6. ACHIER – E

7. LOWEST – S

8. NIBBLE – N

9. HOWLERS – L

10. MIDBRAIN – D

11. TEAMSTERS – E

12. LONGEVITIES – G

Sunday Puzzle: 5 To 7

Oct 6, 2019

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some five-letter words. For each one, add two letters at the end to create a common, uncapitalized seven-letter word that is unrelated in meaning to the first one.

Example: TROLL --> TROLLEY

1. BELIE

2. SEVER

3. TRICK

4. HATCH

5. CONDO

6. PRUDE

7. SCOUR

8. OPERA

9. PARAS

10. SCALP

11. MASSE

12. PHONE

13. SHMOO

14. CHIME

15. AGAIN

16. COLON

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you clues for two words. The first word has an R somewhere within it. Change the R to two S's, and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue.

Example: Female horses / Roman Catholic services --> MARES, MASSES

1. Singer who starred in "Moonstruck" / Game on a 64-square board

2. Tiny opening in the skin / Group helping a sheriff

3. Kitchen surface that stools might be next to / Noblewoman

4. Cry on a golf course / Choreographer Bob

On-air challenge: Every answer is a holiday that goes by "____ Day." I'll give you anagrams of the words that go in the blanks, you name the holidays.

Example: ROAR + B --> ARBOR (Arbor Day)

1. GAL + F
2. HARE + T
3. BOAR + L
4. RESHOT + M
5. STRAFE + H
6. SERVANT + E
7. YAWNERS + E (2 words)
8. IMMORAL + E
9. DISPENSER + T
10. VENETIANS + L
11. INDENTATIONS + U (2 words)

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a word, name, or familiar phrase in which the only consonants are G and L — each of which may be repeated any number of times. Besides G's and L's, all the other letters are vowels — A, E, I, O, or U.

Example: Against the law --> ILLEGAL

1. Ice home in the Arctic

2. Scum on top of a pond

3. Group of geese

4. Popular search engine

5. Russian dramatist Nikolai

6. Bags packed for the airport

7. Winemaker Ernest or Julio

8. Pioneering astronomer from Pisa

On-air challenge: I've brought a game of categories based on the word MAROC — the French way to say Morocco. For each category, name something in it starting with each of the letters M-A-R-O-C. For example, if the category were "Two-Syllable Girls' Names," you might say Mary, Amy, Rachel, Opal, and Carly. Here are the categories:

1. U.S. PRESIDENTS

2. FOREIGN MAKES OF CARS

3. THINGS FOUND ON A BOAT

Sunday Puzzle: 5-To-7

Aug 25, 2019

On-air challenge: For each 5-letter word, add two letters at the end to complete a common, uncapitalized 7-letter word that is unrelated in meaning to the first one.

Example: UNCLE --> UNCLEAN or UNCLEAR

1. EXTRA

2. SURGE

3. MARSH

4. PLACE

5. SHELL

6. BLANK

7. INFER

8. INTER

9. COMMA

10. COLON

11. WHIST

12. FINES

13. MAXIM

14. AGAIN

15. VIOLA

16. DISCO

17. PLATE

18. BREAD

On-air challenge: Every answer is the name of a famous person with only one name — either because they literally had only one name or because they are generally known by one name. I'll give you anagrams. You name the people.

Example: USUAL - U Biblical king --> SAUL

1. VIDEO - E Roman poet

2. CHROME - C Greek poet

3. LEADER - R Singer

4. SHAKEN - N Singer

5. TITANIC - C Italian artist

6. PEARL ASH - S Painter

7. OPTICIAN - I Native American leader

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar phrase in the form of ___ and ___ in which the first word starts with the letter C. I'll give you the last word of the phrase, you tell me the missing first word.

Example: PASTE --> CUT

1. MOUSE

2. ROBBERS

3. SAUCER

4. TIE

5. BULL

6. CARRY

7. ALE

8. PUNISHMENT

9. DAGGER

10. UNUSUAL

11. EFFECT

12. WHEY

13. WESTERN

14. BURN

15. GOWN

16. SUGAR

17. RELEASE

18. POLLUX

19. DRIVER

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has two blanks. The word that goes in the first blank starts GR-. Change the GR- to CR- and phonetically you'll get a new word that goes in the second blank to complete the sentence.

For example: At brunch I put ______ jelly on top of my ______. GRAPE, CREPE

1. Folding my bus ticket to Athens, ______, left a permanent ______ in it.

2. At school I always put off studying sentence structure until the last minute, so you might call me a ______ ______.

Sunday Puzzle: High C's

Jul 28, 2019

On-air challenge: This week's puzzle is called "High C's." Every answer is a word or name with the accented syllable "see" (in any spelling) somewhere inside it.

Example: Neighborhood in Los Angeles next to Sherman Oaks --> ENCINO

1. Place in ancient Rome where gladiators fought

2. Pill used in medical tests that has no medical effect

3. Resident of Nashville or Memphis

4. The noun that a pronoun refers back to

5. Like some hairlines and tides

6. Classic Notre Dame football coach Ara

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two 4-letter words. Rearrange the letters in each of them to make two new words that rhyme.

Example: CAFE, SAVE --> FACE, VASE

1. COLA, LOSE

2. NEAR, RENT

3. LIVE, LIMA

4. DAIS, DEAL

5. SING, DENY

6. EACH, BEAK

7. OPUS, POLO

8. PALE, KEEN

9. RELY, RITE

10. ONCE, NEWS

11. OARS, OGRE

12. WENT, ROTO

13, THAW, THUS

14. ISLE, ZEAL

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word containing the accented syllable, PEN.

Example: Terrific --> Stupendous

1. A 1-cent coin

2. A part added on at the end of a book

3. A five-sided figure

4. Straps to hold one's pants up

5. Part of a grandfather clock that swings

6. Pricey

7. Money for a retired person

8. Expressing sincere remorse

9. A city on the Florida Panhandle

10. The capital of Cambodia

11. A facility where drugs are given out

12. What a red flag means in sports

On-air challenge: This puzzle is something different. Read these statements involving words and names, and figure out if they're true or not.

1. George Herbert Walker Bush is the only U.S. president with four names in his birth name.

2. Maine is the only one-syllable state name in the U.S.

3. "Chicago" is the only Academy Award-winning "Best Film" whose name is a city.

4. Hawaii is the only U.S. state whose name ends in a double letter.

5. Tin is the only 3-letter element on the periodic table.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a fabric or clothing material. You name it from its anagram.

Example: CLEAN - N --> LACE

1. LIKES - E

2. ON LOW - N

3. NOTARY - T

4. MAIDEN - A

5. ANTICS - C

6. ARCHLY - H

7. RECIPE - I

8. CONTORT - R

9. CALDRON - L

10. REMATCHES - T

11. YOUR CROWD - W

Sunday Puzzle: D'oh!

Jun 16, 2019

On-air challenge: Every answer is a six-letter word or name ending in the letters D-O.

Example: Gilbert and Sullivan opera, with "The" --> MIKADO

1. Black-and-white outfit worn to a fancy party

2. Sexual drive

3. Oddball

4. Kind of dragon

5. Brand of swim trunks

6. Brand of luxury watches

7. Texas city on the Mexican border

8. Fourth-largest city of Ohio

9. Actor who starred in "The Godfather"

10. Spanish for Saturday

11. Spanish for "when"

12. Prefix meaning "fake"

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you some words and a category. Name something in the category whose letters can be found in left-to-right order in the word — although not consecutively. Every answer has 5 letters.

Example: HUMANOID — World capital ---> HANOI

1. AVENUES — Planet

2. BIODIESEL — State capital

3. UNDERSHRUB — Prime minister of India

4. HOGSHEAD — Book of the Old Testament

5. COMING OUT — African river

6. OCCUPIED — One of Santa's reindeer

On-air challenge: Think of a made-up two-word phrase. Each word has two syllables. The first syllable has a long-E vowel sound. Change that to a long-A sound and phonetically you'll get the second word of the phrase.

Example: Jewish roll for a long-eared dog --> BEAGLE BAGEL

1. Weak story from Aesop

2. One who despises furnaces

3. What an angel wears in the biggest city on Hawaii's Big Island

4. More fashionable member of a more stylish salt or pepper holder

5. Standard feature of church spires

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase in 6 letters. The middle 4 letters spell a word. I'll give you the middle 4 letters and a clue to the 6-letter phrase. You tell me the phrase.

Example: Food additive, EDDY --> RED DYE

1. Metal container, INCA

2. Idle, TRES

3. Recently, FLAT

4. Latin phrase meaning "for the time being," ROTE

5. Kind of tie, LIPO

6. Last two words of the Pledge of Allegiance, ORAL

7. Resurrect, as an old issue, RAGU

8. Zodiac symbol, HERA

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials S-F.

Example. Eating utensil to the left of the dinner plate --> SALAD FORK

1. Genre for H.G. Wells or Ray Bradbury

2. Place to order a milkshake

3. Up till now

4. Green Berets, for example

5. Largest city in South Dakota

6. 12" x 12"

7. Light precipitation in the winter

8. French expression for the ability to act appropriately in social situations

9. Method of people walking one after another

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a famous person with only one name — either because they literally had only one name or because they chose to go by one name in show business. I'll give you anagrams. You name the people.

Pages