RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Do a couple of jumping jacks and maybe a sit-up for good measure because it is time for the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: And so what's happening in your world these days, Will? I understand you've got a big puzzle event coming up.
SHORTZ: Yeah. It's the 36th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And it takes place in Brooklyn March 8-10. It's the world's oldest and largest crossword event. I've run it every year since 1978. There's about 700 contestants. And if anyone's interested in coming, you can get information at CrosswordTournament.com.
MARTIN: That's a lot of puzzle brainpower in one room. OK. Will, refresh our memories: what was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener and one-time puzzle player on the air, Jed Martinez of Margate, Florida. And the challenge was to name a personal mode of transportation. Remove its first and sixth letters and what remains in sequence without rearranging any letters will spell the names of two parts of the human body. What are they? Well, the mode of transportation was a wheelchair. And if you remove the W and C, you're left with heel and hair.
MARTIN: OK. We did get a lot of submissions with one not-quite correct response. Will, can you explain?
SHORTZ: Well, it was a clever answer actually - another clever answer. The answer sent in was hearse. If you remove the first and sixth letters, you're left with ears, which are two parts of the body. But my wording of the puzzle, I asked for names - plural.
MARTIN: OK. Close by no cigar. But more than 900 listeners sent in correct answers, and our randomly selected winner this week is Nataliya Chernis of Los Angeles, California. She joins us on the phone. Congratulations, Nataliya.
NATALIYA CHERNIS: Thank you.
MARTIN: So, I understand that this was a bit of a team effort.
CHERNIS: Yes. My husband and I were working on it together.
MARTIN: What do you do for a living, Nataliya?
CHERNIS: I'm actually a dentist but I'm currently on maternity leave taking care of my son. He's two months.
MARTIN: Two months old. So, you're probably kind of tired right now, right?
CHERNIS: Yes, very tired.
MARTIN: Well, we will not hold that against you, and we will see how well you do on the puzzle. Are y'all ready?
CHERNIS: I'm ready.
MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Nataliya and Rachel. Today, I brought a game of categories. And in recognition of the Super Bowl later today, the key word is YARDS. I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters Y-A-R-D-S. For example, if the category were girl's names, you might say Yvonne, Alice, Rachel, Donna and Sally.
MARTIN: OK. I think I've got it. Do you have it, Nataliya?
MARTIN: All right. Let's do it, Will.
SHORTZ: All right. Category number one is countries, and you can do these in any order.
SHORTZ: Yemen, good.
CHERNIS: And Sweden.
MARTIN: And Sweden.
SHORTZ: Sweden. Good job. Boom, boom, boom. OK. Next category is street and highways signs.
SHORTZ: Yield is good.
MARTIN: Stop, right?
SHORTZ: Stop is the perfect S, yes. A-R and D.
MARTIN: Ooh, good.
SHORTZ: Detour - excellent.
MARTIN: Good one.
SHORTZ: A and R.
MARTIN: Have a weird one for A but I don't know if that would work.
SHORTZ: Go ahead.
MARTIN: What about avalanche warning?
SHORTZ: Avalanche warning - I'm not sure I've ever seen that sign.
MARTIN: I've seen that sign.
SHORTZ: You know, I'm going to give you avalanche warning. I was thinking of alternate route.
MARTIN: All right. Need an R.
SHORTZ: OK. You need an R.
CHERNIS: Road construction, road closed?
SHORTZ: Yes. Road construction ahead, rough road, road work ahead, railroad crossing, right turn only - any of those work. OK. And your last category: fill in the blank. Blank book.
CHERNIS: Yellow book.
SHORTZ: Yellow book is good. Yearbook. OK.
CHERNIS: Art book.
SHORTZ: Art book, OK. Address book also works. R-D and S. And R is something a referee would have to follow.
CHERNIS: Rule book?
SHORTZ: A rule book is good. A D is something you might make notes in.
CHERNIS: Date book.
SHORTZ: A date book or a day book work.
MARTIN: Oh, a date book, OK.
SHORTZ: And all you need is an S. Something you might collect notes in about your son.
CHERNIS: A scrapbook?
MARTIN: Yeah, scrapbook.
SHORTZ: Yeah, that would be a scrapbook.
MARTIN: Oh, that's good. Very well done, Nataliya. That was great.
CHERNIS: Thank you.
MARTIN: And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and, of course, you get puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.
And before we let you go, Nataliya, what Public Radio station do you listen to?
CHERNIS: 89.9, KCRW.
MARTIN: That is in Santa Monica, California. Nataliya Chernis, of Los Angeles, California, Nataliya, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
CHERNIS: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: OK. Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listeners Mike Morton of Lyme, New Hampshire, and Barry Hayes of Palo Alto, California - but who right now is working in Antarctica.
And the puzzle is: Name a famous author, first and last names. Change an X in this name to a B, as in boy, and rearrange all the letters. The result is how this author might address a memo to the author's most famous character. Who is it?
So again: Famous author - first and last names. Change an X to a B, rearrange the result and you'll get how this author might address a memo to the author's most famous character. Who is it?
MARTIN: OK, 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. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, February 7th at 3 P.M. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time.
And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call, and you will get to 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.
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