Turning Phrases: White Whale, Baby... NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Steve Wersan from Ridgecrest, California. He listens to Weekend Edition on member station KNPR in Las Vegas.
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Turning Phrases: White Whale, Baby...

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Turning Phrases: White Whale, Baby...

Turning Phrases: White Whale, Baby...

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Brian Naylor.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Brian.

NAYLOR: What have you been up to, Will?

SHORTZ: Well, I just got back from the World Puzzle Championship, which was held in Eger, Hungary. There were 27 countries there this year, which was the largest ever. And the US finished second. Germany was the first country. Japan finished third. And out of 102 individual competitors, the American Wei-Hwa Huang finished second. And the other Americans finished sixth, 12th and 13th; a real fine week.

NAYLOR: It sounds--it must have been interesting. Is this considered to be a good turnout for this sort of thing?

SHORTZ: Well, it was the largest turnout ever, so absolutely.

NAYLOR: Well, now why don't you remind us of the challenge you left us with for our listeners to figure out this past week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the Web site mathpuzzle.com. And it involved a multiplication magic square. The object was to arrange 16 numbers in a four-by-four square so that the product of each row, column and corner to corner diagonal is 5,040. I said you can use any numbers you want but they have to be whole numbers and no repeats allowed.

NAYLOR: All right. And what was the answer?

SHORTZ: Well, it turned out that there many solutions. Listener Richard Renner of New Philadelphia, Ohio, wrote in saying there are 78 solutions. Then he goes 42, 10, 4 and 3 in the top row and the rest of the numbers will appear on our Web site.

NAYLOR: Well, we had over 2,000 entries from people who were able to solve this puzzle, come up with one of those answers, and our winner, which we randomly selected from the correct answers, is Steve Wersan(ph) from Ridgecrest, California. And he joins us on the phone.

Hi, Steve.

Mr. STEVE WERSAN: Hi. I'm here.

NAYLOR: Tell me, what do you do out there in Ridgecrest, California?

Mr. WERSAN: Well, I used to be a software engineer, but now you'd call me a honey-do engineer.

NAYLOR: As in `Honey, do this' and `Honey, do that'?

Mr. WERSAN: That's right.

NAYLOR: And how long have you been playing the puzzle?

Mr. WERSAN: Oh, years now. At least five, six.

NAYLOR: Well, are you ready to play this week's puzzle?

Mr. WERSAN: Yes, I am.

NAYLOR: All right. Well, Will, meet Steve.

SHORTZ: All right. Steve and Brian, I'm going to give you some words. For each one, think of another word that's starts and ends with the same letters as mine and that can follow mine to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said white--W-H-I-T-E--you might say `Whale,' as in `white whale.' And as a hint, I'll tell you every answer contains exactly five letters.


SHORTZ: All right. Number one is baby.

Mr. WERSAN: Boy, baby boy.

SHORTZ: But it has to have five letters. Baby boy is good, but it has to have five letters.

NAYLOR: Buggy.

SHORTZ: Baby buggy, good job.

Number two is foot--F-O-O-T.

Mr. WERSAN: Boy, am I falling down on this one.

SHORTZ: Think tennis.

Mr. WERSAN: Oh, fault.

SHORTZ: Foot fault is right. Village.

Mr. WERSAN: Village. Boy, I...

SHORTZ: For this one you want to think of a noted weekly newspaper.

Mr. WERSAN: Voice.

SHORTZ: The Village Voice is right. Circuit.

Mr. WERSAN: Circuit, circuit, circuit, circuit. Boy, I'm going to need a hint again.

NAYLOR: Is there a judge involved?


Mr. WERSAN: Oh, court.

SHORTZ: Circuit court, good. Rifle.

Mr. WERSAN: Rifle. Range.

SHORTZ: Rifle range, excellent. Acute--A-C-U-T-E.

NAYLOR: It's a number thing.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's geometrical.

Mr. WERSAN: Angle.

SHORTZ: Acute angle is right. Monopoly.

Mr. WERSAN: Monopoly. Money?

SHORTZ: Monopoly money, excellent. Peace--P-E-A-C-E.

Mr. WERSAN: Repeat that.

SHORTZ: Peace--P-E-A-C-E, the opposite of war.

Mr. WERSAN: Oh, Peace prize.

SHORTZ: Peace prize, excellent. How about treasure?

Mr. WERSAN: Treasure trove.

SHORTZ: Treasure trove.



Mr. WERSAN: Ooh, bad.

SHORTZ: If there's a--if a family is fighting, there might be this.


Mr. WERSAN: Oh, not feud certainly. Bad...

NAYLOR: How about blood?

Mr. WERSAN: Blood.

SHORTZ: Bad blood.

NAYLOR: There you go.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one. Pretty.

Mr. WERSAN: Pretty, polly. No, penny.

SHORTZ: Pretty penny, good job.

NAYLOR: All right. Steve, not bad.

Mr. WERSAN: Oh, well, I think it's less than 50 percent. You know, usually when you're giving these, I beat the contestant, you know. But today I flubbed.

NAYLOR: It sounds easy from home, but when you get the call, it's often more difficult.

Steve, for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the 11th Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Bros., "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House, Volume 2, and three "Sudoku Wordless Crossword Puzzle" books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press.

What member station do you listen to, Steve?

Mr. WERSAN: Currently, we're listening to KNPR out of Las Vegas.

NAYLOR: Steve Wersan from Ridgecrest, California. Thanks for playing with us.

Mr. WERSAN: Thank you.

NAYLOR: Now, Will, what's the challenge you have for us to work on in the coming week?

SHORTZ: Well, this week's challenge comes from listener Mike Reiss, who's a writer and producer for "The Simpsons" TV show. Take the phrase `Baby Barb'--B-A-B-Y B-A-R-B. It has the same cryptogram pattern as Alan Alda. That is, the four B's in Baby Barb are in the same positions as the A's in Alan Alda. The two A's in Baby Barb are in the same positions as the L's in Alan Alda, etc. The question is: The name of what famous TV personality has the same cryptogram pattern as `Words Work'--W-O-R-D-S W-O-R-K? So, again, the name of what famous TV personality has the same cryptogram pattern as Words Work?

NAYLOR: When you have the answer, or think you do, e-mail us at puzzle@npr.org. Only one entry per person please. Our deadline this week is Thursday at 3 PM Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call 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. There's also information on our Web site at npr.org. And while you're there, you can sign up for NPR's downloadable Sunday puzzle podcast. Simply visit our Web site, npr.org, and click on NPR Podcast to learn how. Subscribe and the puzzle will be delivered to your computer or MP3 player every week.

Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Brian.

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