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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. And it's time for the puzzle.

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WERTHEIMER: Joining me now is puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, could you remind us of last week's puzzle challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Ken Rudy of Millwood, Washington. I said: name the winning play in a certain sport - two words, five letters in each word. These two words share exactly one letter. I said drop this letter from both words. The remaining eight letters can be rearranged to name the person who makes this winning play. Who is it? Well, the winning play is the match point, as in tennis. Drop the T from both words and you can rearrange the remaining letters to spell champion.

WERTHEIMER: And more than 1,500 listeners sent in the right answer. And our winner this week is Gene Alford of La Mesa, California. Congratulations, Gene.

GENE ALFORD: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: So, was this a hard one?

ALFORD: You know, I guess I just got lucky. It took me about 30 seconds. Match point was the first thing I thought of.

WERTHEIMER: What do you do there in La Mesa?

ALFORD: I work at UPS.

WERTHEIMER: What do you do?

ALFORD: I'm a clerk. I work inside the building.

WERTHEIMER: So, you're not one of the people I'm always getting mad at for driving a brown truck and parking it where I can't get around it?

ALFORD: No. I'm not one of the hyperactive men in brown.

WERTHEIMER: OK. Gene, meet Will; and Will, meet Gene.

SHORTZ: Hi, Gene. Every answer today is a two-word phrase in which one of the words starts with W and the other is the same with the W removed. For example, if I gave you the clue: desires scurrying insects, you'd say wants ants.

ALFORD: OK.

SHORTZ: And for the starting answers, the W word always comes first.

ALFORD: OK.

SHORTZ: Here's number one: composes religious observances.

ALFORD: Writes rites.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number two is hits cab drivers hard.

ALFORD: Hits cab drivers hard?

SHORTZ: Um-hum..

ALFORD: Whacks hacks.

SHORTZ: That's it. Something that's inside a heated sleeve.

ALFORD: Wrist...

SHORTZ: No.

ALFORD: No. A heated sleeve.

SHORTZ: Yeah. What's inside a heated sleeve?

ALFORD: Warm arm.

SHORTZ: That's it. Good. Question regarding an item of headwear.

ALFORD: Let's see...

SHORTZ: Well, first of all, what's your basic item of headwear?

ALFORD: A hat.

SHORTZ: There you go. And what's that...

ALFORD: What hat?

SHORTZ: What hat is it. And what about a question regarding women's stockings?

ALFORD: Whose hose?

SHORTZ: That's it. Entirely a green Christmas decoration.

ALFORD: Wholly holly.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. A very breezy 500-mile auto race.

ALFORD: Windy Indy.

SHORTZ: That's right. Now, the rest of the answers the W word comes second.

ALFORD: OK.

SHORTZ: And your first clue is a healthy large sea mammal.

Hale whale.

Um-hum. A very cool party leader in a legislature.

ALFORD: Hip Whip.

SHORTZ: That's it. Try this one: animosity. And it could also be a two-word phrase that describes when I'm sick.

WERTHEIMER: Ill will.

SHORTZ: There you go. Ill will is it. Good one. How about permitting rolling around in the mud.

ALFORD: Permitting?

SHORTZ: Um-hum.

ALFORD: Allowing wallowing.

SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one is attacking the singing of Christmas carols.

ALFORD: Assail wassail.

SHORTZ: Assailing wassailing is right.

WERTHEIMER: Gene, I must congratulate you. You're not only. - I mean, you just instantly put those things together. You must be a real wordsmith.

ALFORD: You know, I enjoy doing crosswords and such.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now, for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about that at npr.org/Puzzle. Gene, what is your public radio station?

ALFORD: KPBS in San Diego.

Gene Alford of La Mesa, California, thanks very much for playing the puzzle this week.

Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Now, Will, before we get next week's puzzle, I understand that there is a special opportunity for fans of sudoku?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Well, the World Sudoku Championship is taking place in Croatia in October - and I'll be there, of course. And next Saturday, September 1, there will be an online test to try out for the U.S. team. Anyone can do it. It's free and the event is sponsored by Google. And there are details at WPC.puzzles.com.

WERTHEIMER: So, we'll all book early on our flights to Croatia. Now, can we have the puzzle challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. Take the name of a popular children's character in nine letters. Several of its letters appear more than once in the name. Remove every duplication of a letter, so that every letter that remains appears just once. And this new set of letters can be rearranged to name a famous classical composer. Who is it?

So again, a popular children's character, nine letters, several of the letters repeat. Remove every duplication of a letter. This new set of letters can be rearranged to name a famous classical composer. Who is it?

WERTHEIMER: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. The deadline for entries is Thursday at 3 P.M. Eastern. And please include a telephone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you are 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 puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Will, thanks.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Linda.

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