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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, what was last week's puzzle challenge? Remind us.

SHORTZ: Yes. The challenge was to take the name of a popular children's character in nine letters - several of its letters appear more than once in the name. I said 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? Well, the composer is Chopin, which can be spelled from the letters of Pinocchio.

WERTHEIMER: Last week we had fewer entries than usual - not because our listeners are not brilliant but because of some technical issues with the website. Still, more than 800 listeners did send in the correct answer. And our winner this week is Margo Michelle Huffman of Corvallis, Oregon. Congratulations, Margo.

MARGO MICHELLE HUFFMAN: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: So, are you a fan of Chopin?

HUFFMAN: Yeah. When my brother and I were little, we grew up in Mendham, New Jersey, and the million dollar movie played "A Song to Remember," which was a semi-fictionalized version of Chopin's life. And we watched it 11 times in one week and even stayed home from school to watch it. My brother was a pianist, played a lot of Chopin, and so that came to me right away.

WERTHEIMER: So, it did help in your solving the puzzle.

HUFFMAN: Absolutely. He's the first composer I thought of.

WERTHEIMER: Now, I understand it's also your birthday today. Happy Birthday, Margo.

HUFFMAN: Thank you very much.

WERTHEIMER: And our birthday present for you today, of course, is playing the puzzle with Will Shortz.

HUFFMAN: Oh, boy.

(LAUGHTER)

WERTHEIMER: So, Margo, meet Will. Will, meet Margo.

HUFFMAN: Hi, Will.

SHORTZ: Hey, Margo.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, I'm sorry that we forgot to wish you a happy birthday last Sunday. So, happy belated birthday to you.

SHORTZ: Well, thank you. I had a surprise party at my table tennis club. About a dozen crossword constructors made tribute puzzles for me, which were all online for anyone to solve. And a friend got me some fantastic old puzzle books and advertising trade cards from the 19th century. And I'm going to share one of these books with you in a moment.

WERTHEIMER: So, Margo, are you ready to play the puzzle?

HUFFMAN: I guess so. I'm a wreck, but go ahead.

SHORTZ: All right, Margo, don't be a wreck. This isn't so bad. I brought a few riddles from a small book that I got for my birthday. It was published around the 1840s in Boston. It's called "The Amusing Puzzle Book." And, Margo and Linda, feel free to put your heads together on these.

HUFFMAN: OK.

SHORTZ: Here's number one: I know a word of letters three. Add two and fewer there will be. Here it is again: I know a word of letters three. Add two and fewer there will be. So, you're trying to think of a three-letter word.

HUFFMAN: Well, if you add E-R to few you get fewer.

SHORTZ: The answer is few. Nice job. Add E-R you get fewer. Here's your next one: without a bridle of a saddle, across a thing I ride astraddle. And those I ride by help of me, though almost blind are made to see. So, here it is again: without a bridle or a saddle, across a thing I ride astraddle. And those I ride by help of me, though almost blind are made to see. So, you're trying to think what I am basically.

HUFFMAN: Yeah.

WERTHEIMER: Must be something like - we're talking astraddle the nose, perhaps.

SHORTZ: Yes, yes.

WERTHEIMER: So, it must be spectacles or...

SHORTZ: A pair of spectacles and they ride across the bridge of the nose.

HUFFMAN: That was a (unintelligible).

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: Here's your next one. What is that which has been tomorrow and will be yesterday?

HUFFMAN: Today.

SHORTZ: Today is it, yeah. Yesterday, the day that is today, was tomorrow and tomorrow, the day that is today, will be yesterday. All right. Here's your last one: clothed in yellow, red and green, I prate before the king and queen. Of neither house nor land possessed, by lords and ladies I'm caressed.

HUFFMAN: A jester?

SHORTZ: Well, I don't think a jester would be caressed by lords and ladies.

HUFFMAN: Well, I don't know.

SHORTZ: Here it is again: clothed in yellow, red and green, I prate before the king and queen. Of neither house nor land possessed, by lords and ladies I'm caressed.

WERTHEIMER: A monkey.

SHORTZ: That's close, but I don't think that would be clothed in yellow, red and green.

HUFFMAN: So, is it some kind of animal then?

SHORTZ: Yes, and think of I prate.

WERTHEIMER: It means tough, so it'd be a parrot.

SHORTZ: Yes, a parrot, yes. Yellow, red and green.

HUFFMAN: Wasn't even close on that one.

SHORTZ: Well, I think you did great.

WERTHEIMER: For playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books, preferably not from the 19th century, and games. And you can read all about it at npr.org/Puzzle. But before we let you go, what is your public radio station?

HUFFMAN: KLCC down in Eugene.

WERTHEIMER: Wonderful place. Margo Michelle Huffman, of Corvallis, Oregon, thank you very much for playing the puzzle this week.

HUFFMAN: Thank you so much.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, what is the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's an anagram word ladder. Now, take the word spring. If you change the last letter an O and rearrange the result, you get prison. Or instead, if the last letter is changed to an E and the result rearranged, you get sniper. Or change the last letter to an A and get sprain, and so on.

So here's the puzzle. Start with the word autumn and changing one letter at a time and anagramming it each step of the way, turn autumn into leaves. Each step has to be a common word. In how few steps can you do it?

So again, turn autumn into leaves via an anagram word ladder in the fewest steps. Your answer doesn't have to match mine.

WERTHEIMER: When you have the answer, you go to the 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 Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you're 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.

Thank you, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Linda.

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