It's All About The Wordplay It's a game of completing analogies. Each involves wordplay. For example, "pink" is to "pen" as "plead" is to "pencil," because by removing the "p" from "pink," you get "ink," which goes inside a pen. And by removing the "p" from "plead" you get "lead," which goes inside a pencil.
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It's All About The Wordplay

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It's All About The Wordplay

It's All About The Wordplay

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hey, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey, Liane.

HANSEN: Man, it's awfully noisy where you are. Remind people, you're in San Francisco.

SHORTZ: Yes, the 29th International Puzzle Party, and it's for people who invent and collect mechanical puzzles, things you do with your hands. I've got a couple interesting ones. Here's one.

(Soundbite of rattling)

SHORTZ: It's a wooden box with a marble. You put it in one end and the object is to get it out the other end. Here's a metal cylinder with a spring object on the top. And the object is to take this thing apart. And the inventor says no one has been able to do it yet.

It's part of an exchange. You bring 100 copies of your own puzzle that you've invented and trade it with other people, and you get to take home 100 different puzzles.

HANSEN: That sounds like a lot of fun. I just remember that carnival puzzle where you put two fingers, you know, in a straw tube and, you know, you can't get your fingers back out again.

SHORTZ: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I always got stuck with that one. All right. We got stuck a little bit with the challenge you gave us last week. It came from our old pal, Merl Reagle. Would you repeat it, please?

SHORTZ: Yes. I said take a slang term for money, change one of its letters to the next letter of the alphabet, rearrange the result and you'll get another slang term for money. What words are these?

HANSEN: And what are those words?

SHORTZ: We have a number of answers, but there was only one that really worked on both sides. There was do-re-mi, D-O-R-E-M-I. Change the M to an N and rearrange, you get dinero, also slang for money.

HANSEN: Very tricky. We only had about 300 entries. And from the correct entries, our randomly selected winner is Betsy Nichols of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hi, Betsy.

Ms. BETSY NICHOLS: Hi, Liane. Hi, Will.

SHORTZ: Hi, there.

HANSEN: You got the do-re-mi and the dinero answer.

Ms. NICHOLS: Yes, I did.

HANSEN: How long did it take you?

Ms. NICHOLS: I thought about it for a while and ended up going to my thesaurus.

HANSEN: All right. You've been playing our puzzle a long time?

Ms. NICHOLS: Ever since you started letting people email in answers.

HANSEN: What do you do there in Santa Fe?

Ms. NICHOLS: I'm a computer programmer.

HANSEN: Ah. I also hear you play saxophone.

Ms. NICHOLS: Yes, I do. I play sax in a kind of adult ragtag marching band.

HANSEN: Well, instead of playing an instrument, are you ready to play our puzzle?

Ms. NICHOLS: I hope so.

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

SHORTZ: All right, Betsy, I have to tell you, this is one of the hardest on-air puzzles I've ever used on NPR. But since you solved a hard challenge, I think you're up to it.

I'm going to give you some analogies, and you complete them. Each one has a different kind of wordplay involved. For example, if I said pink, P-I-N-K, is to pen, P-E-N, as plead, P-L-E-A-D, is to what? You would say pencil because remove the initial P from pink, you get ink, which is what goes inside a pen. Remove the initial P from plead, you get lead, which is what goes inside a pencil.

HANSEN: Okay. So we're saying - removing the letter P.

SHORTZ: That's the example, but every analogy is different.


SHORTZ: That's for you to figure out.

Ms. NICHOLS: Oh, dear.

SHORTZ: Here's number one. Pumpernickel is to five as headquarter is to what?

Ms. NICHOLS: A nickel and five, a quarter.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Well, pumpernickel is to five as headquarter is to…

HANSEN: Twenty-five?

SHORTZ: Twenty-five is right. A nickel is five cents. A quarter is 25 cents. Good.

HANSEN: You had the idea there, Betsy.

Ms. NICHOLS: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Number two: flow, F-L-O-W, which is what water would do. Flow is to cub, C-U-B, as reed, R-E-E-D, is to blank. So what's a relationship between flow and cub?

Ms. NICHOLS: I don't see one.

SHORTZ: Okay. I'll give you a big hint. Read flow backward.


Ms. NICHOLS: Wolf cub. Okay, a deer is a…

SHORTZ: Is to a fawn…


SHORTZ: Read it backwards and get the baby.

HANSEN: Yeah, that's cool.

SHORTZ: All right.


SHORTZ: Here's your next one. Comparison is to France as timberline is to blank.

HANSEN: All right.

SHORTZ: See anything in comparison which relates to France?

HANSEN: Well, I see Paris in the middle.

SHORTZ: There you go. And timberline?

Ms. NICHOLS: Berlin is to Germany.

SHORTZ: Germany. Right. They have the national capitals hidden inside. All right, try this one. Raise, R-A-I-S-E, like in a poker raise is to ram, R-A-M, as in the animal, as spices, S-P-I-C-E-S, is to what?


SHORTZ: So, do you see any connection between raise and ram?


(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: All right. Rearrange the letters of raise. What do you get?

HANSEN: Oh, Aries.


HANSEN: Oh, all right.

SHORTZ: And rearrange spices.

HANSEN: Pisces.


Ms. NICHOLS: Pisces is a fish.


SHORTZ: Is to fish or fishes, good. All right. Whew. Ordinary…

Ms. NICHOLS: That one was the hardest.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Ordinary…


SHORTZ: …is to Iraq, the country.

Ms. NICHOLS: Yeah.

SHORTZ: …as shrubles, S-H-R-U-B-L-E-S, shrubles, is to what?

HANSEN: Right.

SHORTZ: Look inside the word ordinary, what do you see…


SHORTZ: …that might relate to Iraq.

HANSEN: Dinar, the unit of money.

Ms. NICHOLS: Rubles is to Russia.

HANSEN: You got it.

SHORTZ: Is to Russia, good.

HANSEN: We are a team, Betsy. We're doing this together.

Ms. NICHOLS: Thank you.

HANSEN: I think I just heard those wonderful words, your last one.

SHORTZ: My last one, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Recipe is to Franklin as tracer is to what?

HANSEN: Tracer is to what?

SHORTZ: All right, I'll give you a hint. Rearrange the letters of recipe to get something relating - a name relating to Franklin.

HANSEN: Pierce.

SHORTZ: Yes. And rearrange tracer, what president do you get?

HANSEN: Jimmy.

Ms. NICHOLS: Carter, okay. So, it's…

HANSEN: Carter.

SHORTZ: Okay, you guys passed.

HANSEN: Oy, Betsy.

Ms. NICHOLS: No, we didn't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh, yeah, we did together.

Ms. NICHOLS: Yes, we did together. And we had a lot of help from Will.

HANSEN: Yeah. Anyway, we have - you know how this works, regardless of how hard or how easy the puzzle is, you do go home with some of our gifts. And we have one of our old pals to tell us what you're taking away. And Will, you're going to recognize this voice right away.

Mr. MERL REAGLE (Crossword Puzzle Creator): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, which is an anagram of Liane, except for the P and the P and the L, the 11th Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, which is not a book about dinosaurs, but let's face it, it should be. The Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers. Deluxe means it comes with fries. The "Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House Volume 2, although on later editions you can turn the volume all the way up to 10. Will Shortz's latest book series, "Will Shortz Presents KenKen," Volumes 1 and 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press-Press. And one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster: Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from chili corn bosco, otherwise known as Chronicle Books.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Hey, Will, do you recognize that voice?

SHORTZ: Yeah, that was great.

HANSEN: That was Merl Reagle. His Sunday crossword puzzles are syndicated in newspapers across the country. But more important, he is our old pal, and he turns wordplay up to 11 on the volume meter. Betsy, what'd you think?

Ms. NICHOLS: I think it's (unintelligible).

HANSEN: Before we let you go, Betsy, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. NICHOLS: I'm a member of KUNM in Albuquerque and also a member of KSFR in Santa Fe.

HANSEN: Wow. Two members in one. Well done, Betsy Nichols of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thanks so much for being our guest and playing the puzzle with us today.

BETSY: Thank You, Liane. Thank you, Will.


SHORTZ: Thanks.

HANSEN: Will, you got a challenge in the middle of that ballroom in San Francisco for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It's a logic puzzle I heard here at the puzzle party and I heard it from Dick Hess, but I don't know who originated it. If I find out I'll let you know next week. A waitress walks up to a breakfast table with five logicians and asks: Does everyone here want coffee? The first logician says, I don't know. The second logician says, I don't know. The third logician says, I don't know. The fourth logician says, I don't know. And the fifth logician says, no.

Who did the waitress bring coffee to — and why? So, again, a waitress walks up to a breakfast table with five logicians and asks: Does everyone here want coffee? The first logician says, I don't know. The second, third and fourth logicians each says, I don't know. And the fifth one says, no. Who does the waitress bring coffee to — and why?

HANSEN: Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Listen, when you have the answer, and good luck to you, 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 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. 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 puzzlemaster Will Shortz, who is joining us today from San Francisco, California where he is participating in The International Puzzle Party. Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.

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