Will Shortz’s Wonderful World of Words
November 13 – 15, 2020
A wonderful weekend for all those who love language, puzzles, and games!
39 years ago “Words” weekend at Mohonk Mountain House was founded by the late and wonderful Gloria Rosenthal and her husband Larry. In 2007, the torch was passed to Will Shortz, The New York Times crossword editor and NPR Puzzlemaster, who became our host and brings along a different set of special guest stars each year.
This program also features composer and NPR quizzicist Greg Pliska and his annual Mohonk Puzzle Treasure Hunt. Join the fun as we celebrate The Wonderful World of Words at Mohonk Mountain House!
2019 Words Puzzle Challenge: Right Down the Middle
by Will Shortz
Insert a letter in the middle of each line to complete a familiar five-letter word reading across — so as to spell a three-word saying in 16 letters reading down.
Book now to save 10% on this exclusive event!
Availability is limited. For reservations, please call .
SAMPLE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Packet of Puzzles
When you register at the front desk, pick up your packet of word puzzles and contests created by Will Shortz. Answers and entries are due back at the front desk by midnight on Saturday, November 9.
Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting
Join word hound and history buff, Joe Gillard as he delves into some dark, little-explored corners of bygone English vocabulary, answering such questions as… why do we still say “therefore” but not “wherefore”? and, where did “shivviness” come from, and where did it go? If you have a favorite “lost word,” bring it along to discuss!
Cookies and Punch in the Lake Lounge Followed by Scramble Scrabble
Gloria and Larry Rosenthal, the founders of Words Weekend, invented Scramble Scrabble as an exclusive, annual event for this special weekend. John Williams, former head of the National Scrabble Association, will help conduct it. Seven-member teams scramble to form words using giant tiles. The members of the team with the highest cumulative score after three rounds will each receive copies of The New York Times crossword books from St. Martin’s Press.
The Blonde in the Bathtub: Mastering the Dark Art of Tabloid Headlines
Jim Willse will conduct a combination lecture/workshop on headline-writing for tabloid newspapers like The Daily News of New York City, of which he was once the editor. Learn about the history of tabloids and their lurid headlines, with plenty of classic examples. Then join with others to write headlines of your own.
Play Date with David Feldman
Gather in the Parlor to play a new boxed word game with David Feldman. Your choice of…
AKA (Also Known As)
Reminiscent of Password, but with synonyms substituting for obvious clues. For example, “Arachnid guy” might be Spider-Man. For 3-8 players. Courtesy of Endless Games
An anagram game in which letters can change when turned. For example, w’s can become e’s when turned sideways … or m’s when turned upside-down. For 2-8 players. Courtesy of Jabuka Games
Create words that contain 3- or 4-letter “snippets” without matching your opponents’ answers. Bonuses for longest and most creative constructions. For 2-8 players. Courtesy of Master Theorem Games
A 1980s throwback — the favorite game of Words founder Gloria Rosenthal. Create new words in a Scrabble-like grid by adding letter tiles or stacking new letters on top of existing ones. For 2-4 players. Courtesy of Winning Moves
Tea and Book Signing
Tea time in the Lake Lounge is year-round, but during Words weekend it’s also a book-signing session with the weekend’s authors.
Mohonk Puzzle Treasure Hunt
A team game by Greg Pliska. Come with a four-person team made of friends or family, or form a team when you arrive. Themed around Mohonk’s 150th Anniversary, tackle fiendish puzzles, solve a set of interconnected puzzles, and hunt for hidden clues hidden throughout the Mountain House. Prizes will be given to the first team to finish the hunt as well as one other successful team chosen at random.
The Art of the Podcast
Avery Trufelman will break down one notable episode of the popular podcast 99% Invisible, which she produces — talking about the chaos, mistakes, and kismet that made it happen, and the words used in putting it together. She says her presentation might just as easily be titled “Abandon Your Plans” or “Embrace Chaos” — but “The Art of the Podcast” works well, too!
Will Shortz leads the awards program as he reveals solutions to the packet puzzles, reads the wittiest entries in the creative competition, and names the winners of all the weekend games. Triumphant winners will choose prizes from a wide array of puzzle books from St. Martin’s Press, reference books from Merriam-Webster, and assorted word games. Leave room in your suitcase!
Availability is limited. For reservations, please call .
MEET OUR PROGRAM LEADERS
The director of Words is the crossword editor of The New York Times, puzzlemaster for NPR’s Weekend Edition, and founder/director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. This fall he appeared in two new movies in The Crossword Mysteries series on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel. He has played table tennis every day for more than seven years. Feel free to join him in Mohonk’s Game Room before dinner on Saturday for a challenge game!
A composer and orchestrator, Greg Pliska has been solving and creating puzzles since he could read. He is a puzzle writer and presenter for public radio’s “Ask Me Another,” and he creates puzzle hunts for corporate and academic clients. Greg has scored films, television shows, musicals, and opera. His orchestrations can be heard every morning on NPR and at night on CBS Evening News. This is the 13th year Greg has created an original puzzle treasure hunt for Words.
David Feldman is the author of 13 books — 11 of them being collections of Imponderables, including the national bestsellers Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?, When Do Fish Sleep?, and Do Penguins Have Knees? He is also the co-creator of the board game Malarky. In his spare time David plays duplicate bridge, collects outsider art, and looks for great food in unlikely places.
Joe Gillard lives in Port Townsend, Wash. He’s the founder of History Hustle, an online publication for history buffs, and the author of The Little Book of Lost Words. He says he laments the loss of “shivviness” (the unpleasant or itchy feeling that comes from wearing new underwear), “fudgel” (to pretend to work without actually doing anything), and “mumpsimus” (a stubborn person who refuses to change his mind despite being proven wrong). Let’s help get these words back in circulation!
Avery Trufelman is a staff producer for the podcast 99% Invisible about design. Over the past six years she has covered subjects from garbage trucks in Taiwan to experimental architecture in Havana. She also hosts Articles of Interest about clothing, fashion, and power, which was named one of the best podcasts of 2018 by the BBC, Curbed, The Globe & Mail, LAist, New York Magazine, and The New Yorker. Recently she hosted Nice Try! from Vox Media, about failed utopias.
Jim Willse is the son of a New York City cop who grew up reading The New York Daily News and later became its editor. He is credited with modernizing and enlivening The News and later The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, where he was editor until his retirement in 2011. Jim is a consultant on print and digital journalism, and he has taught narrative nonfiction at Princeton and other institutions.
When you visit during Will Shortz’s Wonderful World of Words, your overnight package includes:
- Breakfast: Breakfast Buffet with made-to-order omelets, our famous mini-waffles, and more in our grand Main Dining Room; or Continental Breakfast in the historic Lake Lounge
- Brunch: Brunch Buffet
- Dinner: Surrey Fine Dining, or Modern American Menu
- Afternoon tea and cookies in our historic Lake Lounge
- Complimentary weekend Kids’ Club drop-off program
- Nightly evening entertainment, special events, and more! See schedule of activities >
- Guided House History Tour of our National Historic Landmark resort
- Yoga, Meditation, and Fitness classes
- Visit our Greenhouse and Barn Museum
- Strolling through the Victorian show garden
- Indoor heated pool with underwater music
- Access to more than 85 miles of scenic hiking trails
- Guided nature hikes with stunning views of the Catskill Mountains
- Rock scrambling our iconic Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze trail
- Guided tomahawk throwing sessions
- Complimentary court time on our Har-Tru tennis courts
À la carte experiences available to overnight guests:
- A full menu of nature-inspired treatments at our award-winning spa
- The Carriage Lounge, featuring a full bar and handcrafted cocktails as well as hyper local draft beer and hard cider
- An award-winning wine list in our dining venues
- In-room dining
- Scenic carriage rides
- Guided rock climbing with Apline Endeavors
- Private fitness, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness sessions
- Private tomahawk throwing lessons with our pros
- Mountain bike rental to explore our single track trails
- Disc golf discs available for purchase (weather permitting)
See full list of what’s included in your stay!