Two Is Company, Three Is A Crowd Given three three-letter words, give a three-letter word that can follow each to complete a familiar six-letter word. None of the words in a set will be related in meaning. For example, given "dam," "man" and "sew," the answer would be "age," which results in "damage," "manage" and "sewage."
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Two Is Company, Three Is A Crowd

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Two Is Company, Three Is A Crowd

Two Is Company, Three Is A Crowd

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Have someone else flip those pancakes and grab a pencil because it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, help refresh our memories, Will. What was last week's challenge by Sam Loyd?

SHORTZ: Yeah, the challenge was to draw a square that's four boxes by four boxes a side, containing altogether 16 small boxes and that results in 18 lines across, down and diagonally. And the object was to place markers in 10 of the boxes so that as many of these lines as possible have either two or four markers each. And the question was: what is the maximum number of lines that can have either two or four markers? Well, the answer is 16 lines. There is one way of doing it, not counting rotations and reflections. You can read all about this, including the rotations and reflections on our website,

MARTIN: Well, about 80 out of just 160 of our listeners sent in correct answers. This was a tough one. And our randomly selected winner this week is Rob Hardy of Columbus, Mississippi. He joins us on the phone. Congratulations, Rob.

ROB HARDY: Thanks.

MARTIN: Well done. So, how'd you figure this out?

HARDY: Well, I got my checkerboard and I put pieces in and counted. I stopped fooling with it after 20 minutes with the best count I got.

MARTIN: Well, congratulations. Are you a big puzzle fan?

HARDY: I am not.


HARDY: I don't do crosswords. I don't do sudoku. I don't play Scrabble. Right now, Will is thinking he has some deficient person on the other end of the line.



HARDY: But, no. I do the NPR puzzle every week. That's the one puzzle I do. I figure I'll get the best one of the lot.

MARTIN: Oh, that's great. And you've been playing a long time?

HARDY: I have. It's been since way back in the postcard days.

MARTIN: I can't believe this is the first time we've called you as a winner.

HARDY: Lucky me.

MARTIN: Well, what do you do in Columbus, Mississippi?

HARDY: I'm a psychiatrist. I work in community counseling clinics in different counties here.

MARTIN: Well, without further ado, Rob, are you ready to play the puzzle?

HARDY: Ready or not.

MARTIN: OK. Let's do it. Will, take it away.

SHORTZ: All right, Rob. It does sound like you're a puzzle person if you've been doing this thing for years. So, I'm going to give you three three-letter words. You give me a three-letter word that can follow each of mine to complete a familiar six-letter word. And none of the words in the set will be related in meaning. For example, if I said dam D-A-M, man M-A-N and sew S-E-W, you would say age, which would complete damage, manager and sewage.

MARTIN: Tricky. OK. Rob, did you get that?

HARDY: Got it.

MARTIN: OK. Let's do it.

SHORTZ: Number one is par P-A-R, poi P-O-I and sea S-E-A.


SHORTZ: Yeah. There's not many things that can go after P-O-I. And the poi word is something that you don't want to drink.

HARDY: Poison, parson and season.


SHORTZ: That's it. Son, making parson, poison and season. Good. Here's your next one: bud B-U-D, for F-O-R and tar T-A-R.

HARDY: For, target, budget...

SHORTZ: There you go.

HARDY: ...forget and target.

SHORTZ: Nice job. Arc A-R-C, fat F-A-T and was W-A-S.

HARDY: Archer, father and washer.

MARTIN: There you go.


MARTIN: Great.

SHORTZ: Deb D-E-B, don D-O-N and rot R-O-T.

HARDY: Debate, donate and rotate - ate.

SHORTZ: Oh, you're getting good.


SHORTZ: Pal P-A-L, pan P-A-N and win W-I-N.

HARDY: Palace...

SHORTZ: Yeah, unfortunately, it's not ace.


SHORTZ: I'll tell you the first two letters of the three-letter word are consonants.

HARDY: Paltry.

MARTIN: Ah, yes.

HARDY: Paltry, pantry and wintry.

SHORTZ: Nice job.

MARTIN: Very good.

SHORTZ: Your next one is fin F-I-N.


SHORTZ: Fin, as what's on a fish - imp I-M-P and tam T-A-M, like what a Scot would wear on his head.

HARDY: Finish, impish. Nope.


SHORTZ: I'll give you a hint. The three-letter word is an alcoholic beverage.


SHORTZ: And it's not gin.

MARTIN: Oh, shoot.



SHORTZ: There you go.

HARDY: ...impale, and tamale.


SHORTZ: There you go, all pronounced differently. And here's your last one.

HARDY: Oh, boy.



SHORTZ: Ear, E-A-R; for, F-R-O; and too, T-O-O.

HARDY: Too, tune.

SHORTZ: Oh, you're close. Yeah. Just need a suffix on that.

HARDY: Toothy?

SHORTZ: There you go.

HARDY: Frothy and earthy.


SHORTZ: Nice job.

MARTIN: Woo-hoo, that was tough. Great job, Rob. Very well done.

For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, of course, and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at

And before we let you go, give us a shout-out to your local Public Radio station. Where do you listen to us?

HARDY: I listen to Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Of course, I'm a member.

MARTIN: Yay, Rob Hardy, of Columbus, Mississippi. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle this week, Rob.

HARDY: Thanks, Will. Thanks, Rachel. What a treat.


SHORTZ: Thank you.

HARDY: Thank you.

MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, think of two familiar unhyphenated eight-letter words that each contain the letters A, B, C, D, E and F, plus two others, in any order. What words are these?

So again two familiar, unhyphenated, eight-letter words that each containing the letters A through F, plus two others in any order. What words are these?

MARTIN: OK, when you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 17th at 3 P.M. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we will give you a call, 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.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks Rachel.


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