AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The Olympics kicked off on Friday, but for those of us who can't swim fast, jump high or throw very far, we can still grab the gold for playing The Puzzle.
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CHANG: I'm joined by the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Hey there, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Ailsa, and welcome to the show.
CHANG: Thank you. It's so awesome to be here. So, Will, I hear that table tennis is one of your favorite sports and, obviously, it's an Olympic sport. Who are you rooting for during these games?
SHORTZ: Well, the Americans, of course, and we have a pretty good team this year. Our number one player on the women's side is Lily Zhang. She was seated into the second round based on her world ranking. I tell you, though, China has won 24 of the 28 gold medals that have ever been awarded in table tennis.
CHANG: Whoa. And we're supposed to call it table tennis, not pingpong, right?
SHORTZ: It's - well, they're the same, but, yeah, the sport is called table tennis.
CHANG: (Laughter) OK. All right, so remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Ed Pegg, Jr. I asked you to create a double-word square of six-letter words that incorporated ponies, accept, seared, caviar. You had to use those four words among the 12 uncapitalized six-letter words in the square. And I asked, can you do it? The answer was across, claret - as in the wine - caviar, emigre, ponies and trends. And if you put those one under the other, reading down they spell accept, clamor, ravine, origin, seared and stress.
CHANG: Oh, my God. That's really hard. And actually only about 400 people sent in the right answer, which is actually a pretty small number for us. And one of them is our randomly selected winner this week, Tom Rymsza of Albuquerque, N.M. Congratulations, Tom.
TOM RYMSZA: Well, thank you, Ailsa.
CHANG: So how did you get to the answer?
RYMSZA: Well, in a funny way, once I could accept the P being the start of ponies, then seared would only fit in one place. And then it was just a matter of figuring out how to get caviar off one of the C's and putting it in there, trial and error. And then the stress started to reduce because I could see the trends.
RYMSZA: When I finished, I had a glass of claret.
CHANG: Lovely. So what's your favorite thing about living in Albuquerque, Tom?
RYMSZA: My favorite thing about living in Albuquerque - I guess it's going to be the New Mexican food.
CHANG: Oh, yeah. I'm sure.
RYMSZA: Green chili.
CHANG: And do you have a question for Will?
RYMSZA: Well, it's kind of funny that you already talked about our Olympic table tennis team down in the - down in Rio. And one of the players is a 16-year-old named Kanak Jha.
RYMSZA: The youngest Olympian who we've ever sent, I believe. And I'm just wondering, Will, what do you think about him, and if you had the chance to play him, do you think you could beat him?
SHORTZ: Oh, yeah, right. Well, he has played at my club. And no, if I - if in an 11-point game, if he gave me 8 points - spotted me 8 points - I think I'd have a 50 percent chance of winning.
RYMSZA: (Laughter) OK.
SHORTZ: So he's way, way, way better than me.
CHANG: All right, Tom, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
RYMSZA: I am ready.
CHANG: All right. Will, let's do this.
SHORTZ: All right, Tom and Ailsa, every answer today is a word or name containing the consecutive letters R-I-O. And the first set of answers will end in Rio. For example, if I said novelty item, you would say curio. Here's number one - one less than a quartet.
SHORTZ: All right, here's your next one - where Toronto is.
SHORTZ: Your next one is a ladies' man and specifically a womanizer.
SHORTZ: Uh oh.
RYMSZA: Uh oh.
CHANG: (Laughter) I like how I'm like, oh, yeah, I know those.
SHORTZ: Go for it, Ailsa. What do you think?
SHORTZ: A lothario is it, good.
RYMSZA: Lothario, OK.
SHORTZ: All right, try this - a written outline of a film or play.
RYMSZA: Outline of a film or play - scenario?
SHORTZ: That's it.
CHANG: Oh, yeah.
SHORTZ: Now, the rest of the answers contain Rio inside the word. And your first one of these is one who goes to battle.
SHORTZ: That's it. Puppet on a string.
SHORTZ: Very, very funny.
SHORTZ: Interesting. OK, I'll give you that. I was going for hilarious.
SHORTZ: And your last one is winning over everyone else.
RYMSZA: Winning over everyone else.
CHANG: There you go.
CHANG: Great job, Tom.
RYMSZA: That's it?
CHANG: Well, for playing The Puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games, and you can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And, Tom, tell us your public radio station. How do you listen to us?
RYMSZA: It's KUNM in Albuquerque, N.M., a University of New Mexico affiliate.
CHANG: Nice. Tom Rymsza, thank you so much for playing.
RYMSZA: Well, thanks for having me. Thanks, Will.
CHANG: OK, Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, name a famous Olympics champion, past or present, first and last names. Remove every letter from the name that appears exactly twice, and the remaining letters, in order, will name certain minerals. Who is this Olympic star? So again, famous Olympic star, past or present, first and last names. Remove every letter from the name that appears exactly twice and the remaining letters, in order, left to right, will name certain minerals. Who is this Olympic star?
CHANG: And when you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, August 11 at 3 p.m. Eastern. So please include a phone number where we can reach you around that time. And if you're the winner, we'll 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thank you so much, Will. This was so much fun.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Ailsa.
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