Will Shortz

On-air challenge: It's the end of the year, so it's time for a challenge featuring the names of people who made news in 2015. For each description given, name the person (or people) described.

  1. Transgender woman and Olympic gold medal winner in the decathlon, formerly known as Bruce Jenner.

  2. County clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of a Christmas carol or song — mostly carols. Answer the questions.

For example: What's the title of a Christmas carol or song that sounds like a member of King Arthur's Round Table who won't speak?

On-air challenge: Three words will be given, starting with the letters F, B, and I respectively. Find a word that can follow each one to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase.

Last week's challenge: Name a state capital. Drop one of its letters. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name another major city in the United States. What is it? There are two different answers, and you should find both of them.

Answer: St. Paul (Minn.), Tulsa (Okla.); Salem (Ore.), Mesa (Ariz.)

On-air challenge:

I'm going to give you some 5-letter words. For each one, change the middle letter to two new letters to get a familiar 6-letter word.

Ex. FROND --> FRIEND
1. EARLY
2. TULIP
3. MOURN
4. BROTH
5. LATCH
6. JUROR
7. SCOWL
8. FUTON
9. DEITY
10. EGEST
11. GUSTY
12. HOUSE
13. ORGAN
14. PANDA
15. SLOTH
16. DECOR
17. ALIVE
18. VISOR

Last week's challenge, from listener Adam Cohen of Brooklyn, NY:

On-air challenge: For each category given, I'll name something in the category that closely follows the name of the category alphabetically.You tell me the only other thing in the category that fits between these two things alphabetically.

For example: "Shakespeare Plays" and "Tempest" --> "Taming of the Shrew."

Last week's challenge, from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, Calif.: The following three Thanksgiving dishes have something very unusual in common:

  • Spit-roast turkey
  • Cornbread stuffing

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.

Ex. PACE --> PALACE

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: For each of the following words and phrases, the consonants in it are the same consonants, in the same order, as those of a world capital. You name the capital.

For example: AIMING --> MANAGUA.

On-air challenge: I'm going to tell a little story. Call me out on every error of fact, logic or word usage you hear. No specialized knowledge is needed. Ready? Here goes:

As you hear this, on Sunday, Oct. 10, I am on a 10-day trip through Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria, in southwest Europe. I'm going with a friend from my table tennis club — a former champion of the Caribbean.

The main purpose of my trip is to attend the World Puzzle Championship in Bulgaria, which I'll get to in uno momento, as they say in Spain.

On-air challenge: For each six-letter word given, add two letters at the start to complete a common eight-letter word. The answer never involves adding a regular prefix like RE- or UN-.

For example: berate --> liberate.

Last week's challenge, from Mike Reiss: Name a famous Greek person from history. Rearrange the letters of the name to get the title of a famous Italian person from history. Who are these two people?

Answer: Euclid, Il Duce.

Winner: Linda Shacklock of Gilbert, Ariz.

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: This is a game of categories, based on the word "virgo," which is the astrological sign for this time of year. For each category, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters V-I-R-G-O.

For example, if the category were "chemical elements," you might say vanadium, iron, radium, gold and oxygen. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order.

On-air challenge: You'll be given a five-letter word and a six-letter word. Rearrange the letters of the five-letter word to get a synonym of the six-letter one. For example, given "carve" and "desire," you would say "crave."

Last week's challenge: Take the word EASILY. You can rearrange its letters to spell SAY and LEI. These two words rhyme even though they have no letters in common.

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: For each word given, think of another word starting with the same two letters that can follow it to complete a familiar compound word.

Last week's challenge from listener Joe Krozel: This challenge involves a spoonerism. To recap, that's where you exchange the initial consonant sounds of two words to get two new words. For example, a spoonerism of "light rain" is "right lane." Name two animals. Exchange their initial consonant sounds, and the result in two words will be the name a third animal. What is it?

On-air challenge: Every answer this week is a six-letter word that contains two consecutive F's. Use each anagram of the other four letters to find the full six-letter word.

For example, given the word ride, the answer is differ.

Last week's challenge from listener Daniel Grossman: Name something in three syllables that an auto mechanic might have. Move the second and third syllables to the front. The result, with some respacing, will name a group of auto mechanics. What is it?

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?

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle has a bit of wordplay. Change one letter in each word provided to make two new words. The letter you change must be in the same position in each word of the pair. And the letter you change each of them to will be the same letter of the alphabet.

For example, "relief" and "mallet" become "belief" and "ballet."

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle involves wordplay on some well-known Canadian place names. Example:

The name of which Canadian province is an anagram of "oration"?

Last week's challenge: The seven words in the following sentence have something very unusual in common — something that almost no other words in the English language share. What is it?

"Ira saw three emigrants restock large wands."

On-air challenge: In each pair of clues, the answer to the first clue is a word that contains the consecutive letters A-R. Drop the A-R, and the remaining letters in order will form a word that answers the second clue.

Example: Sweet brown topping on ice cream / Animal with humps = C(AR)AMEL

On-air challenge: For every word provided (all starting with the letter "W"), give a proverb or saying that contains that word.

Last week's challenge: Take the phrase "I am a monarch." Rearrange the 11 letters to name a world leader who was not a monarch, but who ruled with similar authority. Who is it?

Answer: Chairman Mao.

Winner: David Slobodin of Asheville, North Carolina.

On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is called "Monkey Business." Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase starting with "M" and "B" — as in "monkey business."

Last week's challenge: Think of an adjective that describes many shampoos. Add the brand name of a shampoo in its basic form. The result, reading the letters in order from left to right, will name a famous musician. Who is it?

Answer: Herb Alpert.

Winner: Mark Dressner of Long Beach, Calif.

On-air challenge: For the blank in each provided sentence, put in the name of a color to complete the sentence in a punny way.

For example, "After getting the title to the Maserati, I was able to call that __________."

Answer: "Carmine."

On-air challenge: Every answer today is a made-up two-word phrase, in which the two words rhyme. The initials of the two words will be provided, along with a one-word clue. Example: C S, Tennis ---> Court Sport

1. N L, Moon
2. B R, Semitrailer
3. P T, Cuestick
4. H C, Electrocardiogram
5. N H, Cold
6. T V, Haiku
7. H S, Bowwow
8. R P, Speedway
9. L N, Slipknot
10. D S, Coma
11. P T, Hookah
12. G W, Obesity
13. M W, Bull
14. S O, Exclaim
15. P D, Pepto Bismol

First, Do This Puzzle

May 31, 2015

On-air challenge: Because tomorrow is June 1st, today's game is one of categories, based on the word "first." For each category, name something in it starting with each of the letters F-I-R-S-T. For example, if the category were "Two-Syllable Boys' Names," you might say Francis, Isaac, Richard, Simon and Tony.

1. State Capitals

2. Foreign Makes of Cars

3. Parts of a Book

4. Common Newspaper Names (like Post, Herald or Daily News)

5. Things to Take to the Beach

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