Will Shortz

On-air challenge: Every answer is a word or name that has the accented syllable "no" somewhere inside it.

Example: Kind of equation in mathematics --> BINOMIAL or POLYNOMIAL

1. Children's character whose nose grows when he lies

2. Wine-making region of California

3. Trance-like state in which a person may be easily manipulated

4. Site of a 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine

5. Brilliantly exploding star

6. One of the longest rivers in South America

7. French city that hosted the 1968 Winter Olympics

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you some famous advertising slogans, past and present. Each contains the advertiser's name, but anagrammed. You name the advertiser.

Example: This DUB's for you --> BUD

1. Please don't squeeze the RICH MAN

2. You're in good hands with A TALL SET

3. The best part of waking up is GOLFERS in your cup

4. I don't want to grow up. I'm a U.S. STORY kid

5. This is not your father's IDLE BLOOMS

6. Nobody better lay a finger on my BETTER FIG URN

On-air challenge: This is my annual "New Names in the News Quiz." I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2018, but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who and what they are. My list was compiled with the help of Kathie Baker, who played one of my year-end quizzes in the past.

1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

2. Stacey Abrams

3. Jair Bolsonaro

4. Mark Judge, Donny and Squee

5. David Hogg

6. Sergei Skripal

7. Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Change one letter in the first word to name a category of things. And change one letter in the second word to name something in that category.

Ex. PETAL COPIER --> METAL, COPPER
1. STAGE MAIZE
2. CORN QUARTET
3. DUMBER FORTE
4. RING CHARGES
12. RATIONALITY SWIMS

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is geographical. I'm going to give you some words and phrases. In each one, change two consecutive letters to name a country.

Example: SUDDEN --> SWEDEN

1. FRAPPE

2. GREEDY

3. ALGEBRA

4. CANARY

5. SIROCCO

6. BARGAIN

7. SERENA

8. JOBMAN

9. MALADY

10. SENSUAL

11. CAME UPON

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you two words. Insert the same letter in each of them to complete two things in the same category.

Example: Shots Skit --> Shorts, Skirt

1. FIE SEEN
2. MONEY SUNK
3. ETHER PALMS
4. BARE ALLEY
5. PARS SOFA
6. CURING WRESTING
7. MONTAGE CAPLET

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a world capital. I'm going to give you two words. Change the last letter of each word to a new letter so the result, reading left to right, names the capital.

Ex. CARD CAP --> Caracas

1. BET JINX

2. BUDS PESO

3. NAB ROBE

4. PRO TORIC

5. KINK HASP

6. TRIM OLD

7. DAMP SCUM

8. KHAN TOUR

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a major-league baseball team. You tell me what they are from their anagrams.

Example: SCARY – C --> (Tampa Bay) Rays

1. SCUBA – A

2. STEAM – A

3. DRESS – S

4. DESPAIR – I

5. AGAINST – A

6. ADVERBS – D

7. COSTARS – C

8. RESTING – N

9. SEALING – I

10. STOCKIER – T

11. MINERALS – E

12. WIRETAPS – W

13. EARRINGS – I

14. THEISTICAL – I

15. NONSPATIAL – P

On-air challenge: The word "Senses" starts with the letter S, and there are two senses that happen to start with the letter S — sight and smell. I'm going to name some more categories. For each one, name two things in it that start with the first letter of the category.

  1. Months
  2. Presidents
  3. Signs of the zodiac
  4. Boroughs in New York City
  5. Parts of speech
  6. Snow White's dwarfs
  7. Astronauts on the first moon landing

On-air challenge: I'm going to give you three 5-letter words. You tell me a 5-letter word that can precede each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Ex. DRAFT HOUSE RIDER --> Rough (rough draft, rough-house, Rough Rider)

1. GLASS SLIDE MELON
2. TIGER TRAIL TOWEL
3. COUNT DONOR SPORT
4. SENSE POWER LAUGH
5. GIANT PEACE THUMB
6. SHIFT SHIRT STAND
7. SALAD PUNCH FLIES
8. TEASE POKER STEAK
9. STORY ORDER RANGE
10. SAUCE CIDER STORE
11. BLANK GUARD TAKEN

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made up two-word phrase, in which the first word has six letters. Its last three letters spell the second word that will complete the phrase.

For Example: Scurrying insect whose appearance has been affected by radiation --> MUTANT ANT

On-air challenge: Today I've brought a game of categories based on the word COMBS. You probably know how this works. I'm going to give you a series of categories. For each one, name something in it starting with each of the letters C-O-M-B-S.

For example, if the category were "Three-Syllable Boys' Names," you might say Christopher, Oliver, Mathias, Benjamin and Sebastian. Any answer that works is fine, and you can give the answers in any order.

1. Musical instruments

2. Cities in Florida

3. Wild mammals in America

On-air challenge: The theme of today's puzzle is giving. I'm going to give you two words. You give each of them a letter — the same letter for each word — in order to complete a familiar two-word phrase.

On-air challenge: Every answer is an anagram of a geographical feature.

For example: PACE --> CAPE.

1. KALE
2. SAME
3. LIES
4. SPAS
5. ROOM
6. ALLOT
7. DEALT
8. CANOE
9. HARMS
10. DIRGE
11. LAPIN
12. RESTED
13. MASTER
14. ARTIST
15. SOFTER
16. NO GOAL
17. SECTIONAL
18. REAL FORCE (2 words)

On-air challenge: We're in the merry month of December. Every answer this week is a two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts DE- and the second word starts C.

For example: Underwater explosive device --> depth charge.

Last week's challenge: This challenge may sound impossible, but there's a good answer. Think of a common two-word phrase, in seven letters, that has two R's in the middle. And "in the middle," means exactly in the middle. What phrase is it?

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