Linking Letters This week's challenge: Take the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters. Add an "e" after the fifth letter. The result will be two synonyms, one after the other. What is the country, and what are the synonyms?
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Linking Letters

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Linking Letters

Linking Letters

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is Weekend Edition. I'm Liane Hansen and joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.


HANSEN: Anything new this week?

SHORTZ: Well, there is something cool starting tomorrow in the print edition of The New York Times. The paper is starting KenKen.

HANSEN: You know, Dev Patel said he didn't know what it is. I have to admit, I don't either. Can you give us a brief definition?

SHORTZ: Yes. It's a new logic puzzle from Japan with a small grid with numbers in it. Unlike Sudoku, though, you actually use arithmetic to solve the puzzle.

HANSEN: Oh, I'll have to check it out. All right. Well, we're going to play our regular radio puzzle, and we never know what that's going to be, and we always start off with the challenge that you left us with last week. Would you repeat it?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Doug Heller(ph) of Flourtown, Pennsylvania. I said, think of a famous living woman whose first and last names are each accented on the second syllable. Say, the second syllable of her last name followed by the second syllable of her first name and phonetically, you'll get a word meaning very attractive woman. Who is she?

HANSEN: Who is she?

SHORTZ: Well, the woman is Michelle Obama. Say those syllables and you get bombshell.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, we received more than 1,800 correct entries this time, and from those entries, we randomly selected Laurie Stein(ph) of St. Louis, Missouri to play puzzle on the air with us today. Hi, Laurie.

Ms. LAURIE STEIN: Hi, there, guys.

HANSEN: How long did it take you to solve the puzzle?

Ms. STEIN: Oh, 10 or 15 minutes.

HANSEN: Really?

Ms. STEIN: Yeah, you start with all the words you can think of that would meet the definition of an attractive woman like knockout, beauty, bombshell.

HANSEN: Aah(ph).

Ms. STEIN: And you kind of work from there.

HANSEN: Good for you. Sounds like you've been playing the puzzle for a while.

Ms. STEIN: Yeah. I have played for a long, long time, and I had, you know, coveted the Scrabble deluxe edition and never won it. So finally, just a few years ago, I went out and well, I bought myself a small travel edition.

HANSEN: All right. Well, look where you are now, right?

Ms. STEIN: Me of little faith.

HANSEN: (Laughing) Sounds like you are raring to play.

Ms. STEIN: Let's go.

HANSEN: All right. Will, meet Laurie. Let's play.

SHORTZ: Hi, there. Today's puzzle is called link letters. I'm going to give you some four-letter words. For each one, you give me a four-letter word that starts with the last letter of my word, and so when the two words are read successively, overlapping on the shared letter, you'll spell a familiar seven-letter word.

For example, if I said, prop, P-R-O-P, you might say, pose, P-O-S-E, and you put those together overlapping on the P, and you'd get propose.

Ms. STEIN: Oh, wow.

HANSEN: Oh, yeah. Hmm(ph).

Ms. STEIN: I'm glad you're there, Liane.

HANSEN: I'm glad you're there, Laurie.

SHORTZ: Here's number one, term, T-E-R-M.

Ms. STEIN: Termite?

SHORTZ: Termite, good and the word is mite. Number two is, aver, A-V-E-R.

Ms. STEIN: Aver and rage is average.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Port, P-O-R-T. And the second four-letter word is something you might find in a cafeteria.

Ms. STEIN: Portray.

SHORTZ: Portray is it. Earn, E-A-R-N.

Ms. STEIN: Earnest?

SHORTZ: Earnest is it. Fort, F-O-R-T.

Ms. STEIN: Fortune.

SHORTZ: Fortune is good. Stew, S-T-E-W.

Ms. STEIN: Steward.

SHORTZ: That's fast. Lamp. L-A-M-P, as in Peter.

Ms. STEIN: Lamprey.

SHORTZ: Yeah, good. The eel. Pars, P-A-R-S.

Ms. STEIN: Parsnip.

SHORTZ: Oh, you're good.

HANSEN: Oh, she's so fast.

SHORTZ: Mess, M-E-S-S.

Ms. STEIN: Message.

SHORTZ: Good. Grim, G-R-I-M.

Ms. STEIN: Grimace.

SHORTZ: Good. Cord, C-O-R-D.

Ms. STEIN: Cordial.

SHORTZ: Cordial. Excellent. Bill.

HANSEN: Oh, you're so good, Laurie.

Ms. STEIN: I'm just glad these aren't current events.

HANSEN: Right or geography. What was it, bill?

SHORTZ: Bill, B-I-L-L. Think of an animal.

Ms. STEIN: Billion.

SHORTZ: Billion is it. And your last one is grad, G-R-A-D.

Ms. STEIN: Gradual.

SHORTZ: Gradual. Laurie, that was great.

Ms. STEIN: These were fun. I've been doing this for years.

HANSEN: Oh, yeah, you can tell. You can tell. Well, this is the part of the puzzle, Laurie, where we actually invite someone special to tell you what you've won. Come on in. Hello.


HANSEN: How are you?

MONTAGNE: I'm doing fine. Thank you very much.

HANSEN: Have a seat. All right. Let's see if you can guess who this is. She is a celebrity in her own right, and you would get to hear her everyday.

MONTAGNE: Here's a clue - host. Here's a clue - cordial. I was pretty impressed.

HANSEN: Portable, grimace. Let me introduce you. This is Renee Montagne. She's a host of NPR's Morning Edition...

Ms. STEIN: Hi, there.

HANSEN: And she's here, Laurie, to read your puzzle prizes. Go ahead.

MONTAGNE: Hi, Laurie. Well, you so deserve these prizes. We're trying to guess ourselves and believe me, most of them - I missed, anyway.

Ms. STEIN: I enjoyed it.

MONTAGNE: Good, thank you for playing the puzzle. And just for playing the puzzle, 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...

Ms. STEIN: Wahoo(ph).

MONTAGNE: The puzzle, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House Volume II, Will Shortz's latest books series, "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" volumes I, II and III from St. Martin's Press, and one of Will Shortz's, "Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges." And that's from Chronicle books. So, congratulations.

Ms. STEIN: Thank you. Sounds great.

HANSEN: Hey, Renee, it's really nice to be able to see you on this coast.

MONTAGNE: This coast, yes, here in Washington, D.C.

HANSEN: For a while.

MONTAGNE: And being here on the other morning show.

HANSEN: That's right.


HANSEN: Sunday - we'll extend your range onto the weekend. Well, I know you're going to need your sleep before you do the show tomorrow, but thank you. Before we say goodbye, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. STEIN: KWMU here in St. Louis.

HANSEN: All right. Laurie Stein of St. Louis, Missouri, thanks so much.

Ms. STEIN: Thanks.

HANSEN: You were fantastic.

Ms. STEIN: Thank you, guys.

HANSEN: Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, this comes from listener Charlie Pine(ph) of Norfolk, Massachusetts. Take the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters. Add an E after the fifth letter. The result will be two synonyms, one after the other. What are they?

So again, the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters, add an E after the fifth letter, the result will be two synonyms, one after the other. What is the country, and what are the synonyms?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person please. 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 because we'll call you if you're the winner, and 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.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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