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Sunday Puzzle: The Missing Letter

Jul 15, 2018

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

Last week's challenge: The word PANCAKE has an unusual property. If you remove its last letter, you get a series of U.S. state postal abbreviations — PA, NC, and AK. Can you name a major city and state that both have this property? To solve this, first think of a state in which you can drop its last letter to leave a series of state postal abbreviations. Then find a major city in that state that also has this property. The city and state names have to be different. What city and state is it?

Challenge answer: Orlando, Florida (OR, LA, ND; FL, OR, ID)

Winner: Tom Roberts of Narragansett, RI.

Next week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from Sandy Weisz of Chicago, who's also attending the National Puzzlers' League convention in Milwaukee this weekend. Name a famous person from Chicago — first and last names. The last name ends in an E. Change the E to an I and rearrange the letters in just the last name to get a famous actor — whose first name is the same as the first person's. Who are these people?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday, July 19 at 3 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And it's time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Good morning, Will. And I understand that you are at the National Puzzlers' League convention in Milwaukee, and you're speaking to us from WUWM, one of our local affiliates there. Hey.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: It's good to talk to you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's it like at the convention?

SHORTZ: Well, it's three and a half days of word games and word puzzles and trivia. I think it's the largest convention in the league's history. And it goes back to 1883. There's well over 200 word-puzzle fanatics from all over.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. It sounds like these are your people (laughter).

SHORTZ: These are - this is my tribe.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is your tribe. All right. Remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from a member of the National Puzzlers' League, Andrew Chaikin. I said the word pancake has an unusual property. If you remove its last letter, you get a series of U.S. state postal abbreviations - Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Alaska. And I asked, can you name a major city and state that both have the same property? That is, drop the last letter of the state and then the last letter of the city to leave a series of state postal abbreviations. Well, the intended answer was Orlando, Fla. Drop the O of Orlando. You get Oregon, Louisiana, North Dakota. And Florida works the same way. And that's the only answer that we accepted. But there was something amazing, an alternative Scarsdale, N.Y. Not sure if you count Scarsdale as a major city - but it's longer than my answer. So that was pretty cool.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we had more than 2,400 responses - so very popular. This week's winner is Tom Roberts from Narragansett, R.I. Congratulations.

TOM ROBERTS: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what do you do for a living?

ROBERTS: I teach history at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, wow. And what are some of the courses?

ROBERTS: I teach history of propaganda. And I do a course called combat and culture about the impact of military affairs on our culture and vice versa.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That sounds absolutely fascinating. Are you ready to play The Puzzle?

ROBERTS: We'll find out, I guess.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yes, we will. Take it away.

SHORTZ: All right. Tom, I'm going to give you two words. Insert the same letter in each of them to complete two things in the same category. For example, if I said shots, S-H-O-T-S, and skit, S-K-I-T, you would insert an R into each of them to make shorts and skirt.

ROBERTS: OK - got it.

SHORTZ: So same letter into each of them to make two things in the same category - and your first one is fie, F-I-E, and seen, S-E-E-N.

ROBERTS: Five and seven.

SHORTZ: Five and seven is it. Number two is money, M-O-N-E-Y, and sunk, S-U-N-K.

ROBERTS: K - monkey and skunk.

SHORTZ: Excellent - here's your next one. Ether, E-T-H-E-R, and palms, P-A-L-M-S.

ROBERTS: Probably etcher - C...

SHORTZ: Yeah. You might think so, but it's not.

ROBERTS: OK (laughter). I did think so.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Think Bible.

ROBERTS: Oh, Esther and Psalms.

SHORTZ: Esther and Psalms is it - bare, B-A-R-E, and alley, A-L-L-E-Y.

ROBERTS: Let's see.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: These are things that go on the water.

ROBERTS: Barge - OK - barge and galley.

SHORTZ: Barge and galley is right. Pars, P-A-R-S - as in golf scores - and sofa, S-O-F-A - what you sit on.

ROBERTS: (Laughter) After you play golf - pears - no.

SHORTZ: You got the right letter.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: European capitals.

ROBERTS: Oh, Paris and Sofia.

SHORTZ: Paris and Sofia is right. How about curing, C-U-R-I-N-G, and wresting, W-R-E-S-T-I-N-G?

ROBERTS: Curling and wrestling.

SHORTZ: Nice. And here's your last one. It's from a member of the National Puzzlers' League, Adam Cohen. It's montage, M-O-N-T-A-G-E, and caplet, C-A-P-L-E-T.

ROBERTS: OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This one's a hard one.

ROBERTS: Yeah. Well, it came from somebody from the Puzzlers' League.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Think Shakespeare.

ROBERTS: Montague and Capulet - oh, that's very clever.

SHORTZ: Isn't that a great one?

ROBERTS: U - OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That one is great. This is a good one. I really like this puzzle.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you feel, Tom?

ROBERTS: Challenged.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Challenged - well, we like that. That's a good thing to do. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle, books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And Tom, what member station you listen to?

ROBERTS: I am a member of Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is great. Tom Roberts from Rhode Island, thank you for playing The Puzzle.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So tell us next week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from Sandy Weisz (ph) of Chicago, who's also attending the Puzzlers' convention here. Name a famous person from Chicago, first and last names. The last name ends in an E. Change the E to an I and rearrange the letters in just the last name to get a famous actor whose first name is the same as the first person's. Who are these people? So again, famous person from Chicago - first and last names - last name ends in an E - change that to an I. Rearrange the letters in just the last name to get a famous actor whose first name is the same as the first person's. Who are these people?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is this Thursday, July 19, 2018, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thank you so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.