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LYNN NEARY, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Lynn Neary sitting in for Liane Hansen. And joining us now is Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Lynn.

NEARY: So, I know you were at the World Sudoku Championship last weekend. How'd it go?

SHORTZ: It was great. It was in Zilina, Slovakia. And an American, Thomas Snyder was the best individual solver. There was sort of quirky playoff round, so he didn't actually win the championship, but he was by far the best solver.

NEARY: And now for this week's puzzle. Maybe you can repeat it for us, the challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from a puzzlemaker, Rudolfo Kurchan. I said take these equations: 5 equals 4, 7 equals 5, 8 equals 1 and 26 equals 9, what does 12 equal?

NEARY: So what's the answer?

SHORTZ: Well, the answer involves Roman numerals. If you spell out five, it contains the letters IV, which are Roman numeral for four. Seven contains a V, which is five. Eight contains an I, which is one. And 26 contains the consecutive letters IX, which are nine. So 12 contains LV, which is 55.

NEARY: And I guess I wasn't the only one who found this puzzle daunting because we only received about 400 correct entries this week. And from those correct entries, our randomly selected winner is Ken Gibbons of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. Hi, Ken. Good to have you with us.

Mr. KEN GIBBONS: Hello. I'm delighted to be here.

NEARY: Well, congratulations on solving this very difficult puzzle. How'd you do it?

Mr. GIBBONS: Well, I worked on it on and off for about an hour in total over several days. I started out spelling out the numbers, but it took me a while from there to see my way to the correct answer.

NEARY: How long have you been playing the puzzle, Ken?

Mr. GIBBONS: Well, I've been listening since WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY started. I've probably entered about a dozen times, but never thought I'd be selected to play. And here I am.

NEARY: Well, I'm glad you got a chance. And I gather this is not your first time on the radio. What else have you done on air besides today's puzzle?

Mr. GIBBONS: When I was a senior in college I did some sports broadcasting for my college, Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was a lot of fun.

NEARY: So let's now put all your skills to work on the puzzle. Are you ready to play?

Mr. GIBBONS: I'm ready.

NEARY: All right. Will, meet Ken. Ken, meet Will. And let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Ken and Lynn, this is a good two-person puzzle because it's part quiz in addition to wordplay. Every answer is the name of a famous person whose first and last names start with the same letter and end in the same letter. For example, if I said M and E, and the poet who wrote poetry is about imaginary gardens with real toads in them, you would say, Marianne Moore, because Marianne and Moore start with M and end in E.

NEARY: Okay.

Mr. GIBBONS: Okay.

SHORTZ: All right, number one, your letters are P and O, and your clue is a Spanish Cubist who painted Guernica.

Mr. GIBBONS: Pablo Picasso?

SHORTZ: Pablo Picasso is right. Number two is R and N, White House boy of the 1980s. So, think who was in the White House in the 1980s.

NEARY: Oh, okay.

Mr. GIBBONS: Ronald Reagan.

SHORTZ: And their son was - that was in the White House?

Mr. GIBBONS: Blanking out on his name.

NEARY: How about Ron?

SHORTZ: Ron Reagan is it. Good.

Mr. GIBBONS: Ron. Yeah, too obviously there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Try this one: S and N, actress and political activist who won an Oscar for "Dead Man Walking."

Mr. GIBBONS: Susan Sarandon?

SHORTZ: Good job. A and N, actor who won an Oscar for "Little Miss Sunshine."

Mr. GIBBONS: Didn't see that one, so going to need some help on that.

NEARY: Well, I thought it was Alan Alda, right? But…

SHORTZ: No, Alan is right. Not Alda, but…

NEARY: Oh, not Alda…

Mr. GIBBONS: Aldin Arkin?

SHORTZ: Arkin. Alan Arkin. Good job.

NEARY: Right, of course. Of course, yeah.

SHORTZ: Good. Try this, H and Y, Leona's husband and partner in hotel management.

Mr. GIBBONS: Helmsley.

SHORTZ: That's it. And she used to sing "I'm Just Wild" about…

NEARY: Harry.

Mr. GIBBONS: Harry.

SHORTZ: Harry. Wild about Harry is it.

Mr. GIBBONS: There you go.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Good. Here's your new letters, A and E, Fred's sister and partner in dance.

Mr. GIBBONS: Astaire.

SHORTZ: Yeah. Who is Fred Astaire's sister, A and E?

Mr. GIBBONS: Don't know that one.

NEARY: I think I know.

SHORTZ: Go ahead.

NEARY: But I'm not positive. Adele? Is it Adele?

SHORTZ: Adele.

NEARY: Okay.

SHORTZ: That's it, Adele Astaire. Good. All right, here's a fictional one: M and Y, Michael J. Fox's character in "Back to the Future."

Mr. GIBBONS: It's been a while since I saw that.

NEARY: I - is it a Mickey? Is Mickey in one of the names?

SHORTZ: No. I'll tell you, it's Marty. You remember the last name? I'll tell you. It's Marty McFly.

Mr. GIBBONS: McFly, yes.

SHORTZ: Okay, and here's your last one. B and N, subject of a 2008 Best Picture nominee in the title "The Curious Case of" blank. Played by…

Mr. GIBBONS: Benjamin.

SHORTZ: Yes, Benjamin…

Mr. GIBBONS: Brighton, Britain.

SHORTZ: Oh, I'm going to give you that.

Mr. GIBBONS: Okay.

SHORTZ: It's Benjamin Button.

Mr. GIBBONS: Button. There we go.

NEARY: Great job, Ken.

Mr. GIBBONS: Those were hard.

NEARY: There were. I was really stuck. You know, it was one of those cases where you know who the person is, but you just can't think of who their name is. That happened to me a couple of times there. Now, Ken, since you've been playing along with our puzzle for some time, I know you've probably heard the list of prizes a lot of - many, many times. So to keep things fresh, we've invited a special guest to tell what you've won. And he found a creative way to keep people engaged during safety announcements on airplanes. So let's hear what he did with your puzzle prizes.

Mr. DAVID HOLMES (Southwest Flight Attendant): (Rapping) I'm David, the Southwest rapping flight attendant, keeping it clean so nobody gets offended. We have some great prizes that you can walk away with, pretty cool stuff that you're gonna want to play with. Listen up, I won't say it again, from WEEKEND EDITION a lapel pin. A version of scrabble that's like no other, The Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers. Edition Eleven of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus, but it gets better.

There's still a little bit that we're going to do, "Puzzlemaster Presents" Random House Volume 2. But wait, there's more because you're a good sport, the following books all by Will Shortz. From St. Martin's Press Volumes 1, 2, 3 of "Will Shortz Presents KenKen," you see. In case you're curious what we have next, once again from Will Shortz, "The Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges." You should take a look. This one comes from Chronicle Books. Now that you know what you have won, go out and tell somebody that you had a lot of fun.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: That was David Holmes. And he is the rapping flight attendant on Southwest Airlines. What did you think of that, Ken?

Mr. GIBBONS: That was great.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: And before we let you go, Ken, what's your public radio station?

Mr. GIBBONS: I'm a regular listener and a long-time member of WNYC in New York.

NEARY: Great station. Thanks so much, Ken.

Mr. GIBBONS: I enjoyed it. Thank you.

NEARY: Ken Gibbons from Shrewsbury, New Jersey was our player this week. Now, Will, to next week's challenge. Are you going to rap that challenge?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: No rap. That was impressive. Well, here you go. Take the name Edgar, E-D-G-A-R, change the R to an S and rearrange all the letters. You get Degas. And Edgar Degas is a famous French Impressionist. Now, take another common first name in five letters containing the letter V as in Victor. Change the V to an L and rearrange all the letters. You'll get a familiar last name. And these first and last names go together to name a famous living star in Hollywood. Who is it?

So, again, a first name in five letters, change the letter V to an L, rearrange the result, you get a familiar last name. And these first and last names go together to name a famous living star in Hollywood. What star is it?

NEARY: And when you have the answer, go to our Web site npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person, please. And our deadline this week is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. And please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call if you're the winner. And you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION'S puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lynn.

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