RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Fierce competition, come-from-behind victories. No, not March Madness. I'm talking about 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: So, remind us what was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Tyler Hinman. And it was to take an eight-letter word for something used in water, phonetically remove a word for something else used in water, squish what's left together, and I said the result phonetically will be a verb describing what water does. What words are these? Well, the answer I was looking for was chlorine. You take phonetically OAR O-A-R, as in something you would row a boat with, and you're left with clean, which is what water does.
MARTIN: OK. But it turns out there was another answer that worked, right, Will?
SHORTZ: Yeah, amazingly. The alternative answer: floaties - and those are those inflatable arm bands that people use at the pool. Take out tea phonetically and you're left with flows, which is what water does.
MARTIN: All right. Great. Well, between the two answers, we got over 150 entries this week. And our randomly selected winner is George Mannes of New York City. George, congratulations.
GEORGE MANNES: Oh, thank you very much, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, which answer did you get?
MANNES: I got the floaties and tea and flows.
MARTIN: OK. So, how'd you figure this one out? You have little kids who use floaties that came to mind?
MANNES: No, they're a little bigger now. I just tried to think of what water does, and I came up with flows and freezes and worked backwards from there.
MARTIN: Great. About how long did it take you? Did it come pretty easily?
MANNES: I don't remember.
MARTIN: How long have you been playing the puzzle, George?
MANNES: I've been playing the puzzle at least 19 years.
MARTIN: Wow. That's a long time.
MANNES: The reason I know this is actually I won...
MARTIN: You won?
MANNES: ...19 years ago. And that was when my wife was pregnant with our older son.
MARTIN: Oh, my gosh. Did your son inherit the puzzle gene?
MANNES: Oh, yes, he did. When he was in high school, he fell in with a group of kids who participate in something called the MIT mystery hunt. It's a weekend in January where it's like a huge puzzle competition. And his team won last year, and so that means that this year they actually wrote and conducted the puzzle.
MARTIN: Very cool. That sounds like something you'd like, Will.
SHORTZ: I know. I've never been able to go but it's on my bucket list.
MARTIN: Very neat, very neat. Well, without further ado, George, are you ready to play the puzzle?
MANNES: Yes, I am.
MARTIN: All right, Will. Take it away.
SHORTZ: All right, George. I'm going to give you clues for some five-letter words. In each case, the letters of the answer can be found consecutively somewhere inside the clue. For example, if I said some teenagers' language, you would say slang, because slang is some teenagers' language, and those letters are found consecutively inside teenagers' language.
MARTIN: But the actual words teenagers' language.
SHORTZ: The actual word's stuck in there.
MANNES: Got it.
SHORTZ: All right.
MARTIN: Let's do it.
SHORTZ: Number one is push over hard.
SHORTZ: Shove is right. Number two a clergyman's estate.
MANNES: Clergyman's what?
SHORTZ: Estate, place where he lives.
SHORTZ: Yeah, a manse, which is a place for a religious leader to live. It's near the planet Mars.
SHORTZ: Earth, yeah, hidden inside near the. Many long stockings are made of this.
SHORTZ: Nylon, good. A term a dame might use.
SHORTZ: Good. The arterial system flows from it.
SHORTZ: Heart, good. One might appear linked on a necklace.
SHORTZ: Good. What a whaler's harpoon should be.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Large patch in Asia.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. It's how you describe a colorful pageant.
SHORTZ: Good. And your last one: it means I said it too.
MANNES: Oh, ditto.
SHORTZ: Ditto. Man, you picked up (technical difficulties), George. Good job.
MARTIN: I mean, that was amazing. I was basically making out my grocery list because there was no way I was going to get them as fast as you were getting them. Your son Eric would be very proud of that performance. That was really good.
For playing the puzzle today, you know that you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin - another one - plus, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.
And before we let you go, George, what is your public radio station?
MANNES: I'm a member of WNYC.
MARTIN: Great, George Mannes of New York City. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, George.
MANNES: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge comes from listener Andrew Chaikin who runs the puzzle Web site Crossdoku.com. Take the four words salt, afar, lava and trap. Write them one under the other and the words will read the same vertically as horizontally. And this is a word square using four-letter words. And note that the only vowel in this example square is an A.
And the challenge is to create a five-letter word square using only common, un-capitalized English words, in which the only vowel in the entire square is A. And the word in the center row and column, is nasal, N-A-S-A-L. Can you do it? We believe the answer if unique.
So again, a five-five word square using only common, un-capitalized English words. The only vowel can be A. And the center word across and down is nasal. Can you do it?
MARTIN: OK, you know what to do. 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 28th 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'll 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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