Sunday Puzzle: Game of Words

Oct 4, 2020
Originally published on October 4, 2020 9:10 am

On-air challenge: I'm going to read you pairs of incomplete phrases. Put the same word in each blank to complete them. Every answer is a four-letter word.
Ex. ___ of wolves / ___ of cigarettes --> PACK
1. ___ of sale / ___ of rights
2. ___ of arms / ___ of paint
3. ___ of thought / ___ of scrimmage
4. ___ of fire / ___ of wax
5. ___ of thumb / ___ of law
6. ___ of mouth / ___ of God
7. ___ of hands / ___ of force
8. ___ of Africa / ___ of plenty
9. ___ of paper / ___ of the tongue
10. ___ of luck / ___ of both worlds

Last week's challenge: This challenge comes from listener Ben Austin, of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. It's not too hard. Name a major world city with a population in the millions. Take one letter in its name and move it two spots earlier in the alphabet. Reading backward, you now have the name of a major restaurant chain. What is it?

Challenge answer: Sydney --> Wendy's

Winner: Bruce McEldowney of Newington, N.H.

This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Micah Margolies of Lenexa, Kan. Think of an 8-letter word with three syllables that contains the letter "I" in each syllable — but, strangely, doesn't contain a single "I" sound, either long or short. The answer is not a plural. What word is it?

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 by Thursday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's very own puzzlemaster.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It came from listener Ben Austin of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. I said, name a major world city with a population in the millions. Take one letter in its name and move it two spots earlier in the alphabet. Reading backward, you now have the name of a major restaurant chain. What is it? And the answer is Sydney - Sydney, Australia. Do that change, and you get Wendy's.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received nearly 1,300 correct responses, and the winner is Bruce McEldowney of Newington, N.H.

Congratulations and welcome to the program.

BRUCE MCELDOWNEY: Well, thank you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you figure it out?

MCELDOWNEY: Well, I worked backwards and went with the restaurants. And I tried for the longest time to try to make Arby's work. And then I opened up my newspaper, and there was a flyer for Wendy's that I saw.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Serendipity. You've been playing The Puzzle for a long time, right?

MCELDOWNEY: Yeah. I've been playing since 1999, so I like to say I've been playing for centuries.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you have a story from when you were first playing.

MCELDOWNEY: The first time I listened to it, I thought that Will actually called you on Sunday mornings. So the question was, take the letters in the word potential and rearrange them to spell a common household item. The correct answer is Lipton tea, but because I remembered it as being household appliance, I took the letters, worked them around and came up with toilet pan.

So I emailed that in and thought I was a winner. And Will actually came on, and he said, well, we had some right answers, but we also had some strange answers. In fact, one person actually submitted toilet pan. And I kid you not - I actually hid from my radio. I was so embarrassed.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You recall that on the radio. Well, this is your chance now. Bruce, ready to play The Puzzle?

MCELDOWNEY: Ready to go.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Bruce. I love that story, by the way. Today, I'm going to read you pairs of incomplete phrases. Put the same word in each blank to complete them. And every answer is a four-letter word. For example, if I said blank of wolves and blank of cigarettes, you would say pack, as in pack of wolves, pack of cigarettes.

MCELDOWNEY: OK.

SHORTZ: Here's number one - blank of sale, blank of rights.

MCELDOWNEY: Bill of sale.

SHORTZ: Bill of sale, bill of rights is right. Number two is blank of arms, blank of paint.

MCELDOWNEY: Coat.

SHORTZ: Coat of arms, coat of paint - good. All of these are of - so thought, scrimmage.

MCELDOWNEY: Line.

SHORTZ: That's it - fire, wax.

MCELDOWNEY: OK. It's four letters, right?

SHORTZ: Yes.

MCELDOWNEY: All right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Singing) Goodness gracious...

MCELDOWNEY: Ball, ball.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: There you go. Ball of fire, ball of wax - good. Good clue, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Anything that gets me to sing.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: Thumb, law.

MCELDOWNEY: Rule.

SHORTZ: That's it. Mouth, God.

MCELDOWNEY: Word.

SHORTZ: That's it. Hands, force.

MCELDOWNEY: Hands of...

SHORTZ: And that's hands, plural.

MCELDOWNEY: I can think of force of nature.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it has to go the other way. If there's a vote, there might be a blank of hands.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Singing) There's no business like...

MCELDOWNEY: Show.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: There you go.

MCELDOWNEY: Show of hands.

SHORTZ: Maybe there is a musical hit for every...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A musical for everything.

SHORTZ: Africa, plenty.

MCELDOWNEY: Horn.

SHORTZ: That's it. Paper, the tongue.

MCELDOWNEY: Slip.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one - luck, both worlds. If everything is wonderful, you say, that was the blank of both worlds.

MCELDOWNEY: Best of both worlds.

SHORTZ: That's it - and best of luck. Good job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yay. You did great. How do you feel?

MCELDOWNEY: Well, I think I owe you guys a lapel pin.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did really, really well. And I got to sing twice, which is, like - never happens.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm sure everyone is enormously appreciative (laughter) - not true. 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, Bruce, which member station do you listen to?

MCELDOWNEY: I listen to New Hampshire Public Radio. I'm actually a sustaining member.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wonderful. Bruce McEldowney, thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

MCELDOWNEY: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Micah Margolies of Lenexa, Kan. Think of an eight-letter word with three syllables that contains the letter I in each syllable but strangely doesn't contain a single I sound, either long or short. And the answer is not a plural. What word is it? So again, eight-letter word, three syllables. There's an I in each syllable, but there's not a single I sound, either long or short, in this word. What word is it?

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 Thursday, October 8, 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 need to pick up the phone. And then you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's very own puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.