On-air challenge: It's another geographical puzzle this week. For each familiar two-word phrase and name, take one or more letters from the start of the first word plus one or more letters from the start of the second word. Read them in order from left to right to name a country.
Last week's challenge: Last fall I posed a challenge in which you were asked to name a country, change one letter in it and rearrange the result to name a world capital. Then change a letter in that and rearrange the result to name another country. The answer was SPAIN to PARIS to SYRIA. Listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco posed a related puzzle: Name a world capital. Change a letter in it and rearrange the result to name a country. Then change a letter in that and rearrange the result to name another world capital. What names are these?
Answer: BERLIN to BRUNEI to BEIRUT
Winner: Paul Keller of Lompoc, Calif.
Next week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. Think of a U.S. city whose name has nine letters. Remove three letters from the start of the name and three letters from the end. Only two will remain. How is this possible, and what city is it?
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 at 3 p.m. Eastern.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Quick, what's a six-letter word that describes your personal happy place? Hint, it starts with P and ends with E, and we are taking you there right now. Joining me is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Hi, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel
MARTIN: OK. What was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco. I said name a world capital, change a letter in it and rearrange the result to name a country. Then change a letter in that and rearrange the result to name another world capital. What names are these?
Well, the answer was Berlin, as in capital of Germany, Brunei and then Beirut, which is the capital of Lebanon. And I have to tell you, a number of readers sent in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, to Aruba to Rabat, which is the capital of Morocco. But Aruba is not an independent country. It's part of the Netherlands so we didn't count that.
MARTIN: Good try. So 165 of you got it exactly right. And our winner this week is Paul Keller of Lompoc, California. He joins us on the line now. Hey, Paul, congratulations.
PAUL KELLER: Thank you, Rachel.
MARTIN: So this one was kind of hard. Did this come pretty easily to you, or did you have to work at it?
KELLER: I had to work at it. And I was tempted to submit Juba, Cuba and Baku . But I realized from a previous episode that unlike mathematicians, puzzlers do not consider words to be anagrams of itself. So I was forewarned not too settle for that answer.
MARTIN: Loyal listening pays off is what you're saying.
KELLER: That's right.
MARTIN: And what's life like in Lompoc, California?
KELLER: Oh, generally pretty foggy. It's on the coast, gets a lot of fog.
MARTIN: And what do you do there? How do you pass your days besides puzzling?
KELLER: I'm a retired school teacher, and my biggest hobby is birdwatching.
MARTIN: And do you have a question for Will Shortz?
KELLER: I'm a crossword puzzle fan. I guess it's sort of a complaint in a way. I've often wondered how is it that it's kind of impossible to complete a crossword puzzle unless you're, like, some kind of expert in English literature and Hollywood trivia?
MARTIN: Oh, I like it. A little puzzle kvetching.
SHORTZ: Yeah. Well, as far as The New York Times crossword goes, it in increases in difficulty through the week so it starts easy, medium I'd say on Monday, and build up to very hard on Friday and Saturday. And yeah, you have to know a lot of words and have to know a lot of stuff. I'll tell you, the best solvers can do even a Friday and Saturday New York Times crossword in four minutes.
MARTIN: Are you kidding?
KELLER: Four minutes.
MARTIN: That is amazing.
KELLER: Well, I have a long ways to go.
MARTIN: We ALL need things to aspire to. All right, Paul, with that, are you ready to play the puzzle?
KELLER: I am.
MARTIN: OK, Will, let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right, Paul and Rachel, it's another geographical puzzle. I'm going to give you some familiar two-word phrases and names. And for each one, take one or more letters from the start of the first word plus one or more letters from the start of the second word, read them in order from left to right to name a country.
For example, if I said chicken leg, you would say Chile because C-H-I from Chile starts chicken and LE starts leg. So just from the start...
SHORTZ: Yeah. Just from those two words and read them left to right. No scrambling necessary. Number one is space invaders.
SHORTZ: It's going to start with S.
KELLER: Spain - no.
KELLER: Spain. That's right. That works.
SHORTZ: Spain is it. Good. Number two is marriage license.
KELLER: M-A - M-A-L-I.
SHORTZ: There you go.
KELLER: Oh, Mali, of course.
SHORTZ: Mali. There's your name. Congressional oversight.
KELLER: Well, that'd be Congo.
SHORTZ: Congo is it. International dialing.
KELLER: That would be India.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Charles Adams.
KELLER: C-H - Chad. There we go.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Malcolm Taylor.
KELLER: That would be Malta.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Owner's manual.
KELLER: O - Oman.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Beethoven's ninth.
KELLER: B-E-E - Benin.
SHORTZ: Benin is right. Hair tie - H-A-I-R T-I-E.
KELLER: Hair tie - H - Haiti.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Personal use.
KELLER: P-E - oh, Peru.
KELLER: There we go.
SHORTZ: Intermediate range.
KELLER: I-N - oh, Iran.
SHORTZ: That's it.
SHORTZ: And your last one is Malaga wine - M-A-L-A-G-A - Malaga wine.
KELLER: I guess Mali doesn't quite fit. Let's see - M-A - Malawi.
SHORTZ: Malawi is correct. Boom. Boom. Boom.
MARTIN: Well, I just got a lot of online shopping done because you did not need me at all, Paul. Well-done. Good job.
KELLER: Well, thank you.
MARTIN: For playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about your prizes at npr.org/puzzle. And tell us where you hear us, Paul. What's your public radio station?
KELLER: KCBX in San Luis Obispo.
MARTIN: Paul Keller of Lompoc, California. Thank you so much for playing the puzzle.
KELLER: It's been an honor and a pleasure. Thank you both.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Massachusetts. Think of a U.S. city whose name has nine letters. Remove three letters from the start of the name and three letters from the end, and only two will remain. How is this possible, and what city is it?
So, again, a U.S. city, name has nine letters. Remove three letters from the start and three letters from the end, and only two will remain. How is this possible, and what city is it?
MARTIN: OK. When you've got the answer, go to our website. It is npr.org/puzzle. Click on the submit your answer link. One entry per person please. Send in those answers by Thursday January 15, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you are the winner, then we give you a call, and you can play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.