RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And we sprang forward an hour, so it is already time for the puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, Will, I understand a big event in the puzzle world this weekend.
SHORTZ: Yeah. You know, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this weekend is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And one cool thing: the British national crossword champion is competing. He's won the last five years and he's going to try our championship. The New York Times blog is going to have updates. You can go to NYTimes.com/WordPlay to get that, or the tournament website is crosswordtournament.com.
MARTIN: OK. Well, we'll see how the British champion does with the American puzzlers. Remind us, Will, what was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It was based on a challenge at a recent event for the new museum of mathematics. I said: Eight people are seated at a circular table. Each person gets up and sits down again either in the same chair or in the chair immediately to the left or right of the one they were in. How many different ways can the eight people be reseated? Well, the answer was 49, including the possibility that they all sit right back down in their original seats.
MARTIN: Well, it was a tough puzzle this week. We still got more than 170 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Jim Palmer of Foster City, California. He joins us on the phone. Congratulations, Jim.
JIM PALMER: Hi, Rachel. Hi, Will.
MARTIN: This was a hard one. How long did it take you?
PALMER: You know, I kind of picked it up and put it down a few times. I was thinking I'd try to come up with some elegant formula to get the answer. And then at the end, I just did it by brute force and wrote out all the possibilities.
MARTIN: Sometimes that's what it takes, a little brute force. Do you have a question for Will?
PALMER: Sure. So, Will, do you get to actually do puzzles or are you mostly just editing and creating them?
SHORTZ: Well, for the New York Times, of course, I edit them, but whenever I go on a trip, I load up on puzzles for the plane. And I'll do them in bed. Sure, I love puzzles.
MARTIN: He is a man who practices what he preaches. OK, Will, without further ado, what is the puzzle for this week?
SHORTZ: All right, Jim and Rachel. Every answer today is a word containing an A and a Z somewhere inside it. I'll give you anagrams of the remaining letters; you tell me the words. For example, if I said leg plus A-Z, you would say glaze.
MARTIN: OK. Jim, do you have it?
PALMER: I think so.
MARTIN: All right. Let's try.
SHORTZ: All right. Number one is zip Z-I-P plus A-Z.
PALMER: Would that be pizza?
SHORTZ: Yes, it would. Rue R-U-E plus A-Z.
PALMER: Ooh, azure?
SHORTZ: Azure, good. Lap L-A-P plus A-Z.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Opt O-P-T plus A-Z.
PALMER: Let's see, would that be topaz?
SHORTZ: Topaz, good. Orr, which is O-R-R, as in the hockey player, plus A-Z.
PALMER: Let's see, razor.
SHORTZ: Razor, good. Now, they start to get longer. Hard H-A-R-D plus A-Z.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Tole T-O-L-E plus A-Z.
PALMER: OK. Rachel, you have any...
MARTIN: Oh, man.
SHORTZ: Putting you on the spot, Rachel.
MARTIN: I know, right. It's always the hard ones. Go figure. OK. Tole plus A-Z.
SHORTZ: A-Z. I'll tell you, it starts with Z.
MARTIN: Starts with Z. Z...
SHORTZ: Zealot. Good one.
MARTIN: Good job, Jim.
SHORTZ: All right. Here's a five-letter one: peter P-E-T-E-R plus A-Z.
PALMER: Yeah, the longer they get, the harder they are.
MARTIN: Yeah, funny how that works. Peter, plus, OK.
SHORTZ: All right. Here's your hint: it's something you would see at a circus.
PALMER: Oh, trapeze.
SHORTZ: Trapeze is it. Spice S-P-I-C-E plus A-Z.
PALMER: OK. I'm drawing a blank.
MARTIN: OK. You and me both.
SHORTZ: I'll tell you, it starts with C. And it's something you don't want to do in a canoe.
SHORTZ: Capsize is it. And here's your last one: gamin, which is G-A-M-I-N. It means a street urchin. G-A-M-I-N, plus A-Z.
PALMER: I was going to say magazine but there's no E.
SHORTZ: Yeah, right.
SHORTZ: And I'll tell you that this last answer is an adjective describing you.
PALMER: Oh, amazing.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh, there you go.
MARTIN: That was very well done. And for playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can, of course, read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.
And before we let you go, Jim, what is your public radio station?
PALMER: That would be KQED.
MARTIN: KQED in Northern California. Jim Palmer of Foster City, California. Jim, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
PALMER: Well, thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, this week's challenge is a little easier than some of the recent ones. Think of two familiar three-word sayings in which all three words are the same length. The middle word of both sayings is the same. And in each saying, the first and last words rhyme with each other. What two sayings are these?
So again, two familiar sayings in three-word. All three words are the same length. The middle word in both sayings is the same. And in each saying, the first and last words rhyme with each other. What two sayings are these?
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, March 14th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time.
Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner we will 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.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.