Finding The Common Thread Given three words starting with the letter "F," the answer is a word that can follow each of the words to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if given "flag, father's and field," the answer would be "day."

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# < Finding The Common Thread

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. And it's time for the puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Joining me is Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master. Hey, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, David, and welcome back to the show.

GREENE: Thank you. It's good to be here. I'm excited to talk to you in the coming weeks. So, refresh our memories if you can. Give us last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. Last week's challenge came from listener Kate MacDonald of Murphys, California. I asked you to think of a common French word that everyone knows. Add a V, as in violin, to the beginning and an E at the end. The result is the English language equivalent of the French word.

SHORTZ: And the answer is vin V-I-N, which is the French word for wine. If you put a V at the beginning and squeeze it up to the V of vin and add an E at the end, you get the word wine.

GREENE: Oh, that was the trick. Squeezing the V up so it actually forms the W. Tricky. It sounds tough. But, as you said, I mean, we got 1,100 people who figured it out. Pretty impressive. And our randomly selected winner this week, Jim Ganahl of Cook, Minnesota. And he joins us on the line. Jim, nice work. Congratulations.

JIM GANAHL: Thank you very much.

SHORTZ: Congratulations, Jim.

GREENE: This was a tricky puzzle that you solved. Did it take you a long time to figure out that V making a W?

GANAHL: Well, it's always a team effort here at our house. And my sweetheart Carol, the love of my life, she spent a couple of days actually going through all the English dictionaries in the house and I spent a couple of days going through the French dictionaries. And then we finally realized that there was a trick. And so on Tuesday morning, I suddenly realized that in the French alphabet it's double V, our double V and not U.

SHORTZ: Yeah.

GANAHL: And so I ran in the kitchen and I said, Carol, Carol, I got it, I got it. And she said, well? Isn't V-I-N the French word for wine? And then we danced around the table and sang several versions of (French spoken). And that was it.

GREENE: Appropriate way to celebrate. Well, now it is time to play the puzzle. Will, take it away. You and Jim go at it.

SHORTZ: All right, Jim and David - I'm afraid this is English, not French, today. I'm going to give you three words started with the letter F. You give me a word that can follow each of mine to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said flag, fathers and field, you would say day, as in Flag Day, Father's Day and Field Day. And all the starting answers here have three letters. Your first one is flower, feather, four-poster.

GANAHL: Bed.

SHORTZ: That's it - flower bed, feather bed and four-poster bed. Fishing, fuel, fly.

GANAHL: A fishing hook, a fishing rod.

SHORTZ: There you go.

GREENE: Nice, very nice.

SHORTZ: Fishing rod, fuel rod and fly rod. How about foul F-O-U-L, felt and filter.

GANAHL: Felt pen is what I'm thinking of. Felt tip.

SHORTZ: There you go. Foul tip and filter tip is it. Now, the next answers have four letters: fig, fir F-I-R and family. Fig...

GANAHL: A fur coat, family group.

SHORTZ: No, it's going to have four letters.

GANAHL: Fir cone, fir tree.

SHORTZ: There you go.

GANAHL: Family tree. Yes.

SHORTZ: That's it. And fig tree. Nice. Fault, firing, finish.

GANAHL: The first one is what?

SHORTZ: Is fault F-A-U-L-T.

GANAHL: Fault, firing and finish - coat? No. That's a pied I'm thinking of. Finish line.

SHORTZ: There you go.

GANAHL: Fault line. Yes.

SHORTZ: Yeah. And firing line. Nice. How about flight, floor, five-year.

GANAHL: Five-year plan.

SHORTZ: There you go.

GANAHL: Floor plan...

SHORTZ: Floor plan, flight plan is it. Now, your next one has six letters: farmer's - that's apostrophe S - farmer's, free and flea F-L-E-A.

GANAHL: Flea circus.

SHORTZ: Right.

GANAHL: Is that right?

SHORTZ: That's not it though.

GREENE: I like it though.

SHORTZ: What's an event you might go to...

GANAHL: Farmer's, oh, farmer's market.

SHORTZ: There you - free market and flea market. And here's your last one - the answer is seven letters: filling, fire, flagship.

GANAHL: Extinguisher. Flagship...

GANAHL: David?

GREENE: Are you done guessing?

GREENE: I would guess station.

SHORTZ: Station is it - filling station, fire station and flagship station. Nice job.

GREENE: It's just because I'm in the radio business, Jim, or else I would not have gotten that. That is a hard puzzle. I feel kind of responsible. This is my first week for filling in for my colleague Rachel Martin. I think Will just wanted a hard one for...

SHORTZ: I tried to make this easy and it turned out this way.

GREENE: But, Jim, good work.

GANAHL: Well, it's a cleverly planned segueway to asking me what station I listen to.

GREENE: Oh, good work. What station do you listen to?

GANAHL: We listen to Minnesota Public Radio. We're both sustaining members. And we also contribute to KAXE, a northern community radio. And our local call numbers are WIRN.

GREENE: Oh, very nice. I'm glad you let us know that. Thank you for supporting Public Radio. And, Jim, for playing our puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and also puzzle books and games. And you can read all about the stuff you'll be getting at npr.org/puzzle.

GANAHL: Thank you very much. You're very kind.

GREENE: Will, give us a puzzle for next week.

SHORTZ: Yes, think of a familiar three-word phrase that might be used in poker. Add an E at the end and you'll get a two-word phrase that's common in football. What phrases are these? Now, the space in between the words changes in the two phrases but the letters stay in the same order.

So again, a familiar three-word phrase that might be used in poker, add an E at the end and you'll get a two-word phrase that's common in football. What phrases are these?

GREENE: All right, there you have it. Everyone get to work.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: When you have the answer, you go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle. You click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And the deadline for entries is Thursday at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. And we do ask that you please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you are the winner, we'll give you a ring. And you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Will, thanks.

SHORTZ: Thanks, David.