Most Valuable Puzzle In this week's on-air puzzle, Will offers three words that start with the letters M, V and P, as in Most Valuable Player. Think of a word that can follow each of his, to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example: Mothers, Veterans and Pay — the answer would be DAY, as in Mother's Day, Veterans Day and Pay Day.
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Most Valuable Puzzle

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Most Valuable Puzzle

Most Valuable Puzzle

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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.

SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: You're on the phone.

SHORTZ: I'm on the phone, yeah. I'm in Los Angeles this weekend for my niece's wedding.

HANSEN: Oh, how exciting.

SHORTZ: It's great.

HANSEN: Oh, what a fun time you're going to have in Los Angeles.


HANSEN: All right, Will. I want to let you go to your festivities. So why don't we start with the - that reminder of the challenge you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from Scott Murphy, who's an associate professor of music theory at the University of Kansas. I said take the work near, N-E-A-R. If you shift each of the consonants to the next consonant in the alphabet and each of the vowels to the next vowel in the alphabet, you'll get the word pies. And I said find the one-word title of a famous novel that was made into a film that if you shift each of the consonants to the next consonant, each of the vowels to the next vowel, you'll name another famous novel that was made into a film. What novels and films are these?

HANSEN: And your answer.

SHORTZ: And the answer is coma to dune - C-O-M-A to D-U-N-E.

HANSEN: And we had over 600 entries from people who solve the puzzle and our randomly selected winner is Kim McKinney from Mobile, Alabama. Hi, Kim.

Ms. KIM McKINNEY (Winner; Resident, Mobile, Alabama): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Hey, how long did it take you to solve this puzzle?

Ms. McKINNEY: Well, I was driving my child home from carpool and I just got dune and so I went forward and backward and got coma.

HANSEN: Oh. Are you a puzzle person? You like puzzles?

Ms. McKINNEY: I do. I love puzzle.

HANSEN: Do you? How long have you been playing this one?

Ms. McKINNEY: I've been listening to for our eight months.

HANSEN: Wow. So you do other puzzles too, crossword and such?

Ms. McKINNEY: I do the crossword puzzles. Will's are usually too hard for me there.


(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: I don't believe that.

HANSEN: You just have to them constantly and then you can get his frame of mind and…

Ms. McKINNEY: Okay. Well, I'll try that next time.

HANSEN: Yeah. It's always - the first answer you think of is usually not the one. Yeah.

Ms. McKINNEY: Okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: It's never the most obvious one. Well, this is completely different. This is the on-air puzzle and, Kim, I know you know how this works. So, Will, meet Kim. Kim, meet Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Kim and Liane. This is a great two-person puzzle. I'm going to give you three words. They start with the letters MVP, as in Most Valuable Player. You think of a word that can follow each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said mothers, veterans and pay, you would say day, as in mother's day, Veterans Day and payday.


SHORTZ: All right?

Ms. McKINNEY: Okay.

HANSEN: You got it? You got that? Okay, good.

SHORTZ: And this we're going to start out with three-letter answers. You're first set of words is mail, MAIL; voice, V-O-I-C-E; and Pandora's.

Ms. McKINNEY: Box.

SHORTZ: Pandora's box, voice box, and mailbox. Good.

Number two is mountain, volcanic and pot, P-O-T.

Ms. McKINNEY: Volcanic?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Mountain, volcanic and pot. The three-letter word can follow which are those.

Ms. McKINNEY: Okay, Liane.

HANSEN: I'm thinking ash, but I don't know…

Ms. McKINNEY: Oh, yeah. Potash.

SHORTZ: Good. A mountain ash, volcanic ash and potash.

HANSEN: Oh. Okay.

Ms. McKINNEY: Yeah. Okay.

SHORTZ: Good. All right, now, we're up to four-letter words: Master, valentine, and playing.

Ms. McKINNEY: Card?

SHORTZ: Yeah. MasterCard, Valentine card, playing card. Excellent.

Minus - next one if the letter V, as in Victor and peace, P-E-A-C-E.

Ms. McKINNEY: Sign.

SHORTZ: Yeah. Minus sign, V-sign, peace sign. Good.

Moth, M-O-T-H; Volley, V-O-L-L-E-Y and paddle.

Ms. McKINNEY: Ball?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Kim, you're great.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Your next one is murder, violin, and pillow.

Ms. McKINNEY: Case?

SHORTZ: Murder case, violin case, pillowcase. Man.

All right, you're next one is masking, video and police. Masking, video and police.

Ms. McKINNEY: Tape?

SHORTZ: That's it. Masking tape, videotape and police tape.

Now, we're going for five-letter answers: Match, advantage, and pressure.

Ms. McKINNEY: Point.

SHORTZ: Yes, match point, advantage point, pressure point.

Try this one: Mental, vegetative and penn, P-E-N-N.

Ms. McKINNEY: State?

SHORTZ: That's it, mental state, vegetative state and Penn State.

Yes, now, at six-letter answer: Magic, volume and prime, P-R-I-M-E.

Ms. McKINNEY: God. Magic, volume.

HANSEN: Volume.

SHORTZ: And prime. And for prime, think, mathematically.

Ms. McKINNEY: Number?

SHORTZ: That's it. Prime number, volume number and magic.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: That was a really good hand, Will.

SHORTZ: And your last one is a seven-letter answer. Mind, M-I-N-D, volume, and pest, P-E-S-T.

Ms. McKINNEY: P-E-S-T. Control.

SHORTZ: Kim, that is fantastic. Mind control, volume control and pest control. You are great.


Ms. McKINNEY: Oh, that was fun.

HANSEN: Yeah. That's the point. You did…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. McKINNEY: Thank you for the volcanic one, Liane.

HANSEN: Oh, please. You had all the others. I mean, you were on a roll there. Amazing. Well done and for playing our puzzle today, you're going to 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, 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.

Now, you're going to have puzzles to last you for the next - oh, given how good you are, the next week, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. McKINNEY: Oh, I think it will take a little longer than that.

HANSEN: Oh, Kim, tell us what member station do you listen to?

Ms. McKINNEY: I listen to WHIL in Mobile.

HANSEN: All right. Kim McKinney in Mobile, Alabama, you were fabulous. Thanks a lot for being our puzzle player today.

Ms. McKINNEY: Thanks so much.

HANSEN: All right. Will, what's the challenge up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's a classic bit of word play. Name a certain shop some people visit every day. Reverse the order of the last four letters, leaving the other letters untouched, and you'll get a new word meaning fragility, F-R-A-G-I-L-I-T-Y. So again, a certain shop some people visit every day. Reverse the order of the last four letters, leaving the other letters untouched, and you'll get a new word meaning fragility. What words are these?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday Puzzle page. 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz, who joined us by phone from Los Angeles this week.

Have fun at the wedding. Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.

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