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LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: I learned something this week about crosswords. It's something I didn't realize. When the first crossword was published in the paper, it was supposed to be called A Word Cross, but it was a typo error and that's how it came to be called crossword?

SHORTZ: Well, that's close to it. The first puzzle is called A Word Cross. The second week, they let the title off, and in the third week, the compositor - not the editor or the puzzle maker, but the compositor - switched the title accidentally and that's the way it's been ever since.

HANSEN: I didn't know that. That's funny. I love it. Well, we have an interesting challenge last week. Could you remind us?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Stephan Heinemann of Peoria, Illinois. I said think of a common six-letter word with the following unusual properties: The third and fourth letters are consonants, which are silent, and the fifth letter is a T which is pronounced twice. What word is this?

HANSEN: And what was your answer?

SHORTZ: The answer is eighth, the G and H are silent and the T - the fifth letter T - is pronounced first as a T and then as part of T-H. It's a very weird word.

HANSEN: It is a weird word, and I wouldn't have known that unless you had put that in as a challenge. We had over 800 entries from people who solved the puzzle. Our randomly selected winner is Bernie Horowitz from Portland, Maine.

Hi, Bernie.

Ms. BERNIE HOROWITZ (Resident, Portland, Maine; Winner, Sunday Puzzle Challenge): Well, hi, Liane. How are you?

HANSEN: I am well. Thank you. I wasn't expecting a female voice. Is Bernie short for Bernadette(ph)?

Ms. HOROWITZ: No. And I'm not going to tell you what it is short for.

HANSEN: Oh, all right. Well, you're allowed to keep secrets.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: We're not going pry that out of you. What do you in Portland, Maine?

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, I work at a law office at Drummond & Drummond.

HANSEN: And how long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, gosh, many, many years.

HANSEN: Oh, well, then. You sound like you're ready to play.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, I'm all tanked up on caffeine and Christmas cookies.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOROWITZ: My synapses are all firing. I think I'm good to go.

HANSEN: Oh, you sure are. Well, Will, hold on to your hat. Meet Bernie, and let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Bernie. I like the sound of that. I'm going to name something in a category.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Mm-hmm.

SHORTZ: You name something else in the category that starts with the last two letters of the name I give you.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Okay.

SHORTZ: For example, if I said "Rigoletto," you might say "Tosca." They are both Italian operas. "Rigoletto" ends in T-O, "Tosca" starts with T-O.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Okay.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one is Wisconsin.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Wisconsin, Indiana.

SHORTZ: Is correct. Number two is spruce.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Spruce, cedar.

SHORTZ: Aha. Job.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Job, O-B. Obadiah.

SHORTZ: Obadiah, right. Square.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Square, that's with an R-E. Rectangle.

SHORTZ: Aha, tuba.

Ms. HOROWITZ: B-A. Baritone sax(ph).

SHORTZ: All right. I was going for bassoon. How about Verona?

Ms. HOROWITZ: Naples.

SHORTZ: Aha. Sulfur.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Uranium?

SHORTZ: Uranium is right. Fillmore.

Ms. HOROWITZ: You - like the…

HANSEN: President.

Ms. HOROWITZ: …concert…

HANSEN: Oh.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Venue?

HANSEN: Oh, no.

SHORTZ: We're going for a president here.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, you mean Millard Fillmore.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Yes.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Reagan.

SHORTZ: Reagan is right. Good. Try this one: apple.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Apple, L-E. Lemon.

SHORTZ: Lemon. Churchill.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, yeah. Yeah. What was his name? Lloyd? No.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Yeah. That's the start of it. It's - I'll give you that.

HANSEN: Or George. Lloyd George?

Ms. HOROWITZ: Lloyd.

SHORTZ: It's Lloyd George - David Lloyd George. He was British prime minister from 1916 to '22. Good one. Try this: Pontiac.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, are we talking about cars or Indian tribe?

HANSEN: Go for cars.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Go for cars.

SHORTZ: Go for cars. Yeah, as in Japanese cars.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Acura.

SHORTZ: Acura is right. Try this one: Gator, G-A-T-O-R.

HANSEN: Like the football player?

Ms. HOROWITZ: The football player?

HANSEN: Or like the, you know, alligator?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Neither of those.

HANSEN: Gator.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Gator.

HANSEN: What is a gator?

Ms. HOROWITZ: How do you spell gator? Would you?

SHORTZ: G-A-T-O-R.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Okay. So you're not talking about the thing you hold your socks up.

HANSEN: Yeah. That's what I was thinking.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: That's the only way I could - the only place I could with this one.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Gator.

HANSEN: Gator.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, if we're talking about the animal - no, we're not talking about the animal.

HANSEN: No.

SHORTZ: I'll give you a big hand ears(ph) of bowl, a bowl game.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, Orange.

HANSEN: Orange.

SHORTZ: Orange is right. You look good. All right, try this one: Indian.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, gosh, again, we get to definitions. What are we talking about? Indians.

HANSEN: I would say something like Anasazi. I bet that's an Indian…

Ms. HOROWITZ: Tribe.

HANSEN: …tribe.

Ms. HOROWITZ: So that's right.

SHORTZ: Yeah.

HANSEN: Oh, angel. I'm going to say angel.

SHORTZ: Angel. It works.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, that's very good, Liane.

HANSEN: Baseball player.

SHORTZ: Both an Indian and Angel are American League team members.

HANSEN: Right.

SHORTZ: I was actually going for Antarctic. They're both oceans.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOROWITZ: I like Liane's better.

HANSEN: Sure.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh, no. No.

SHORTZ: I know it's good.

HANSEN: Don't put that burden on me. Uh-uh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: And here's your last one. Huron.

Ms. HOROWITZ: H - Ontario.

HANSEN: Right.

SHORTZ: Ontario. Both great lakes. Nice work.

HANSEN: What a fun puzzle, Bernie.

Ms. HOROWITZ: That's good.

HANSEN: It was. I liked it when it was just a little bit hard and when they, you know, seven different definitions for the word.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Lovely. You worked fabulous. I love being your team member today.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, Liane, thanks so much for the help.

HANSEN: Right. And you're going to get some things for playing the puzzle today. You'll get that all-important WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "11th Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus," the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House Volume 2, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku" and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from Saint Martin's Press and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books. Lots of things to keep you happy in this cold…

Ms. HOROWITZ: Oh, lots of goodies.

HANSEN: Lots of goodies. Bernie, what member station do you listen to?

Ms. HOROWITZ: I listen to WMEA 90.1 FM, and I'm a member.

HANSEN: Oh, give a shout out to that station.

Bernie Horowitz from Portland, Maine, thanks so much for playing the puzzle with us today.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Thank you. That was fun.

HANSEN: It was fun.

Okay, Will, let's have some more fun. What's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes. This is an easiest challenge after last week's stumper. Name a mountain range somewhere in the world, move the third letter to the front and you'll name a nationality that does not live near that range. What is it?

So again, name a mountain range. Move the third letter to the front, and you'll name a nationality that does not live near that range. Name the mountains and name the people.

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Once again, that's npr.org/puzzle. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m., Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time because we're going to call you if you're the winner. And you can get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Will, thanks a lot and merry Christmas.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane. Merry Christmas.

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