LIANE HANSEN, host:
From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hey, Will.
Mr. WILL SHORTZ (Crossword Editor, New York Times): Hey, Liane.
HANSEN: I saw you in the funny papers last Sunday.
Mr. SHORTZ: You saw FoxTrot. A number of people told me about that. First of all, FoxTrot is such a funny comic, and they mentioned me in it.
HANSEN: In the strip, Bill Amend, the little boy in the strip, makes a crossword puzzle about his sister with all these terrible clues in it and thinks perhaps that you might be bribed to help him out with it. But I don't think that's the case, right?
Mr. SHORTZ: That would take quite a bribe to get that crossword in. It was very flattering.
HANSEN: It is. It was very cool to see Will Shortz's name in the funny papers. All right, well, last week when everyone was reading those funny papers, you left us with a challenge. Would you repeat it?
Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, it was a very interesting one from Robert Wainwright of New Rochelle, New York, and it was a numerical puzzle. The object was to develop nine different mathematical expressions that equal eight. You had to use the digits two, seven and one other digit and use them all once each, from one to nine, and you could use the four arithmetic symbols: plus, minus, times and divided, as well as exponents and decimal points. And you could use parentheses as needed.
HANSEN: Is there a short answer to this?
Mr. SHORTZ: Well, I'll tell you, I won't tell you all the expressions, but I'll tell you the three most elegant ones. To use the digit four, you did two to the power of seven minus four, and seven minus four is three, and two cubed makes eight.
To use five, it was point two times five plus seven, and four seven, that was another difficult one, seven over point seven. That equals 10, and then you subtract two, you get eight. If you want all the expressions, you can go to the NPR Web site.
HANSEN: Great idea, npr.org. There really are a lot of them. They're fascinating. Well, we had over 1,100 entries from people who had permutations in trying to solve this problem, and our randomly selected winner is Derek Inksetter, and he joins us from Oak Park, Illinois. Hi, Derek.
Mr. DEREK INKSETTER (Puzzle Winner): Hi, Liane.
HANSEN: I love your last name, Inksetter. Does this go way back to, you know, medieval unions or something?
Mr. INKSETTER: The name actually is from the Orkney Islands in Scotland, and it's a traditional name of that region.
HANSEN: Fantastic. Oak Park, Illinois, Frank Lloyd Wright territory.
Mr. INKSETTER: Yes, absolutely.
HANSEN: Your entry is very elegant. You got quite a few of them. Did you have fun doing this?
Mr. INKSETTER: Oh, I had a lot of fun. I mostly did it while I was driving in the car listening to the podcast of the show.
HANSEN: Ah. What do you do in Oak Park, Illinois?
Mr. INKSETTER: I'm a software developer for a company that provides supply-chain software.
HANSEN: Huh, and so you did not use a computer to do this? This is all in your head as you're driving along?
Mr. INKSETTER: In my head. I actually didn't even have paper with me.
HANSEN: Really? How long have you been playing this puzzle?
Mr. INKSETTER: Oh, for about a year.
HANSEN: Well, are you ready to play? You know what happens.
Mr. INKSETTER: I think I know what happens, yeah.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: Okay. We never know what's going to happen, but we do know we're going to play, so we'll meet Derek, and let's play.
Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Derek, I'm going to read you some clues. The answer to each clue rhymes with the last word in the clue. For example, if I said certain fur coat, you would say stoat. Number one, wheels for a tyke.
Mr. INKSETTER: Bike?
Mr. SHORTZ: Bike or trike. Either one would work. Number two, what a bee does.
Mr. INKSETTER: Buzz.
Mr. SHORTZ: Right. Where bees thrive.
Mr. INKSETTER: Hive.
Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Ignite.
Mr. INKSETTER: Ignite? That's the clue?
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: Yeah, that's all we've got.
Mr. SHORTZ: That's the entire clue. Ignite, like you ignite the fire.
Mr. INKSETTER: Light?
Mr. SHORTZ: Light is right. It's balled up at the end of a wrist.
Mr. INKSETTER: Fist.
Mr. SHORTZ: Fist is right. What March 21 will bring.
Mr. INKSETTER: Spring.
Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. In hockey, something that's struck.
Mr. INKSETTER: Puck.
Mr. SHORTZ: Right. Shush.
Mr. INKSETTER: Hush.
Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Cutie.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: I don't think patootie is a word.
Mr. SHORTZ: It is a word. That's not what I'm going for.
HANSEN: I didn't think so.
Mr. SHORTZ: How about she's a real cutie.
Mr. INKSETTER: Beauty?
Mr. SHORTZ: Beauty is right. Whiff, that's W-H-I-F-F, whiff. Something you do with your nose.
Mr. INKSETTER: Sniff?
Mr. SHORTZ: Sniff is right.
HANSEN: I didn't want to give the audio clue on that one.
Mr. INKSETTER: I'm doing that quite a bit.
HANSEN: Yeah, me too, actually.
Mr. SHORTZ: Try this. Animal in a pound.
Mr. INKSETTER: Hound.
Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Animal at a zoo.
Mr. INKSETTER: Kangaroo?
Mr. SHORTZ: Okay, I'm going to give you kangaroo. My answer was gnu, G-N-U.
Mr. INKSETTER: Okay.
Mr. SHORTZ: How about this: Animal you might take to a vet.
Mr. INKSETTER: Pet.
Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Avoid, as work.
Mr. INKSETTER: Shirk.
Mr. SHORTZ: Right. Event in which athletes compete.
Mr. INKSETTER: Meet.
Mr. SHORTZ: That's right. Catch for a cat.
Mr. INKSETTER: A rat.
Mr. SHORTZ: A rat is right. Evaluate.
Mr. INKSETTER: Rate.
Mr. SHORTZ: Rate is right. and your last one: feeling suspense. Like how you might feel at a Hitchcock movie.
Mr. INKSETTER: Tense?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SHORTZ: Tense is correct. Good job.
HANSEN: Or before you play this puzzle.
Mr. INKSETTER: Or during.
HANSEN: Or during the puzzle. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a 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; a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and - whew - one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books.
Feel better, you're getting all that loot there, Derek?
Mr. INKSETTER: Oh, absolutely.
HANSEN: Great. What member station do you listen to?
Mr. INKSETTER: WBEZ in Chicago.
HANSEN: You betcha. Derek Inksetter from Oak Park, Illinois. Thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today.
Mr. INSKSETTER: Thanks.
HANSEN: Okay, Will, the challenge for next week, please.
Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Ed Peg, Jr. of Champaign, Illinois. Take the 13-letter word melancholiacs, which is M-E-L-A-N-C-H-O-L-I-A-C-S, add the letter R, then re-arrange all the letters to name a famous actress, first and last names. Who is it? So again, melancholiacs, add the letter R, rearrange all the letters to name a famous actress. Who is it?
HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday Puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please, and our deadline this week is Thursday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, and we'll call you if you are the winner. You'll get to play Puzzle on the Air with the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Will, thanks a lot.
Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.