Will Shortz

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: 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?

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."

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