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A Word Game In Rare Form

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A Word Game In Rare Form

A Word Game In Rare Form

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi there, Will.


LYDEN: Would you repeat the challenge from last week? I have to say I particularly like this one because it's called The Hat Rack.

SHORTZ: You like hats?

LYDEN: I do.

SHORTZ: It came from the great Sam Lloyd, and this puzzle actually appeared exactly a hundred years ago in the Women's Home Companion. I said a hat room contains a wall with 49 pegs arranged in a seven-by-seven array. The hat clerk has 20 hats, which are to be hung on 20 different pegs. How many lines containing exactly four hats in a straight line is it possible to produce.

LYDEN: Yeah, a lot. A lot would be my answer. And the answer, Will?

SHORTZ: The answer is 18 lines. One of our listeners, Blaine Deal, has got nice diagrams of the solution. And you go to his website,, that's B-L-A-I-E-S-V-I-L-L-E-dot-com, and you'll see them shown.

LYDEN: This puzzle was even tougher than the challenge the week before because fewer than 200 listeners submitted entries this week. From those who sent in correct answers, our randomly chosen winner is Jed Martinez of Margate, Florida. Hello, Jed.

Mr. JED MARTINEZ: Hello, Jacki.

LYDEN: Wow, this was really a tough one. How did you work it out?

Mr. MARTINEZ: Well, basically the old-fashioned way. I was in a restaurant with some friends and we simply broke out our pens and took some napkins and just started drawing the illustration of the seven-by-seven configuration of the pegs and I just happened to come up with the answer.

LYDEN: Were you eating at the same time?

Mr. MARTINEZ: Well, we were waiting for our food to arrive while we were doing the puzzle at least.

LYDEN: Well, are you ready to play with Will Shortz now?

Mr. MARTINEZ: Well, I've waited 20 years for this moment. I am as ready as I'll ever be. Let's go for it.

LYDEN: Will, meet Jed. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Jed and Jacki. The four rarest letters of the alphabet are J, Q, X and Z. I'm going to give you some words. For each one, change one letter in it for a J, Q, X or Z to get another familiar word. For example, if I said: enact E-N-A-C-T, you would say exact, changing the N to an X. Number one is gauge G-A-U-G-E.

Mr. MARTINEZ: OK. That would be gauze with a Z.

SHORTZ: Gauze, making a Z. Excellent. Number two is insure I-N-S-U-R-E.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Injure with a J.

SHORTZ: Injure, good. Guest G-U-E-S-T.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Quest.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Contest C-O-N-T-E-S-T.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Context.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Panamas P-A-N-A-M-A-S.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Pajamas.

SHORTZ: Good. Coating C-O-A-T-I-N-G.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Coaxing.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Tweeter T-W-E-E-T-E-R.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, tweezer.

SHORTZ: Nice. Suaver S-U-A-V-E-R.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, quaver.


LYDEN: Good heavens.

SHORTZ: Election E-L-E-C-T-I-O-N.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Would that be ejection?

SHORTZ: Yes, it would. Convey C-O-N-V-E-Y.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Convex.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Seige S-E-I-G-E.

LYDEN: Carpe diem.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Seize.

SHORTZ: Seize, yes. Seize the moment - good clue, Jacki. Empress E-M-P-R-E-S-S.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Express.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Protector P-R-O-T-E-C-T-O-R.

Mr. MARTINEZ: That would be projector.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Suite S-U-I-T-E.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, quite.

SHORTZ: Quite, excellent.

LYDEN: Oh, excellent.

SHORTZ: Quarto Q-U-A-R-T-O.

Mr. MARTINEZ: OK. Maybe I'll need your help on this one, Jacki.

LYDEN: A mineral.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, quartz.

SHORTZ: Quartz is it, good. Function F-U-N-C-T-I-O-N.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, junction.

SHORTZ: Junction is it. Tenon T-E-N-O-N. Those short words, short words...

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh, a xenon.

SHORTZ: Xenon, nice job. And here's your last one: stargate S-T-A-R-G-A-T-E.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Oh boy. Stargate, stargaze.

SHORTZ: Stargaze. Nice job, Jed.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Thank you very much, Will.

LYDEN: And for playing our puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and some puzzle books and games that you can read about on our website, And before we let you go, tell us what member station you listen to.

Mr. MARTINEZ: I am equally located between two NPR stations. To the north in Palm Beach County, there's WPBI; and to the south in Miami-Dade County, WLRN.

LYDEN: Well, Jed Martinez in Margate, Florida, thanks for playing the puzzle with us and getting all those words from xenon to stargaze.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Thank you. And thank you, Will.

LYDEN: What's the challenge for next week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Adam Cohen, of Brooklyn. Think of a former world leader whose first and last names both sound like things you might see in a mine. Who is it? So again, a famous former world leader whose first and last names both sound like things you might see in a mine. Who is the leader and what are the things?

LYDEN: Hmm. And when you have the answer, go to our web site, Click on the Submit Your Answer link, only one entry per person, please. Our deadline is Thursday at 3:00 Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at that time and we'll call you if youre the winner. And you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Well, this was really fun, Will - as usual. Thanks so much.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Jacki.

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