A Beast of a Puzzle NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home.
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A Beast of a Puzzle

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A Beast of a Puzzle

A Beast of a Puzzle

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will. Good to talk to you again.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Liane. Welcome back from Holland.

HANSEN: Thank you very much. A wonderful trip. Vermeers, Rembrandts, canals, architecture, museums and shopping and chocolate, and it was a wonderful trip to the Netherlands. I had a wonderful tour--two tour guides who have lived there all their lives, and it was a wonderful way to see the country in the company of people who actually grew up there.

SHORTZ: Oh, that's great.

HANSEN: It was great. All right. We had a challenge you gave everyone to work on last week. Would you repeat it for us, please?

SHORTZ: Yes. I said, `Take the name Eli--E-L-I--put three letters in front of it and the same three letters in reverse order after it to complete a familiar two-word phrase in nine letters. What is it?' And I said as a hint, `The answer is something this puzzle has.'

HANSEN: What's the answer?

SHORTZ: The answer is time limit.

HANSEN: Ah, elegant. We had over 1,500 entries from people who solved the puzzle, and our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Betsy Nickols from Tijeras, New Mexico.

Hi, Betsy.

Ms. BETSY NICKOLS (Puzzle Winner): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Where's Tijeras?

Ms. NICKOLS: Tijeras is east of Albuquerque.

HANSEN: OK. Mountain country?

Ms. NICKOLS: It--yeah, I live in the Manzano Mountains south of Tijeras.

HANSEN: Now how long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. NICKOLS: Oh, probably 11 or 12 years, ever since...

HANSEN: (Whistles)

Ms. NICKOLS: ...you started accepting e-mails.


Ms. NICKOLS: And I think even before then I sent in a couple of postcards, but I never thought that they'd get there in time.

HANSEN: Oh, well, guess what? Now you're on the air and you get to play the puzzle. Are you ready?

Ms. NICKOLS: Well, I hope so. I'm a little nervous.

HANSEN: I think everyone gets nervous, but we're going to help each other out and it's all for fun. So, Will, meet Betsy. Betsy, meet Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right. Betsy and Liane, today's puzzle is called F-plus(ph). Every answer is a familiar word starting with the letter F. You tell me the words from their anagrams. For example, if I said cafe--C-A-F-E--you would say face.


SHORTZ: All right. Number one is golf--G-O-L-F.


SHORTZ: Golf--G-O-L-F as in the sport.

Ms. NICKOLS: G-O-L-F. Excuse me. Flog.

SHORTZ: Flog is right. Number two is leaf--L-E-A-F.

Ms. NICKOLS: Flea.

SHORTZ: Flea is correct. Number three is shelf--S-H-E-L-F.

Ms. NICKOLS: Flesh.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Gofer--G-O-F-E-R.

Ms. NICKOLS: Forge.

SHORTZ: Forge, yes. Brief--B-R-I-E-F.

Ms. NICKOLS: Fiber.

SHORTZ: Fiber. Yes. Rifle--R-I-F-L-E. There's actually two answers to this one.

Ms. NICKOLS: Oh, and I can't find either of them. Filer.

SHORTZ: Filer will do, also flier. Try this one, aloft--A-L-O-F-T.

Ms. NICKOLS: Float.

SHORTZ: Yes, float. Strafe--S-T-R-A-F-E.

Ms. NICKOLS: It's getting harder as...

HANSEN: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.

Ms. NICKOLS: Faster.

SHORTZ: Faster, yes. Trifle--T-R-I-F-L-E.

Ms. NICKOLS: Filter.

SHORTZ: Filter, uh-huh. Enfold--E-N-F-O-L-D.

Ms. NICKOLS: Well...

SHORTZ: And it's a loving--it means to touch lovingly.

Ms. NICKOLS: Fondle.

SHORTZ: Fondle is right. Unfelt--U-N-F-E-L-T. Even though this is a common word, it's surprisingly hard to see. I'll tell you the second letter is L.


SHORTZ: And it's what you are in the English language.

HANSEN: Fluent.

SHORTZ: Fluent is it.

HANSEN: Fluent? Is that it?

SHORTZ: Good job, Liane.

HANSEN: Fluent?

SHORTZ: Fluent, yes.

Ms. NICKOLS: Oh...

HANSEN: That's hard.

Ms. NICKOLS: ...yeah, that is hard.

SHORTZ: For some reason, that's a really hard one. Try this one, beefier--B-E-E-F-I-E-R. And it's--the second letter is R.

HANSEN: Is this a real word?

SHORTZ: It's a real word. It's sort of slangy, though.

HANSEN: All right.


HANSEN: This...

SHORTZ: Do you know it, Liane?

HANSEN: Now--or--maybe. Freebie?

SHORTZ: Freebie, yes.

Ms. NICKOLS: Freebie.

SHORTZ: A freebie, yes.

HANSEN: A freebie.

SHORTZ: Sure. Sure.

HANSEN: All right.

Ms. NICKOLS: Yes, I guess it's in the dictionary.

HANSEN: OK. I gave--if Betsy accepts it, then I accept it.

Ms. NICKOLS: Well, I think Will is the...

HANSEN: He's the ultimate arbitrator, you're right.

Ms. NICKOLS: Yeah.

SHORTZ: It's in the dictionary. Yeah. And here's your last one.

Ms. NICKOLS: Oh, thank heavens.

SHORTZ: Gift horse--G-I-F-T H-O-R-S-E. And I'll just tell you the...

Ms. NICKOLS: ...(Unintelligible).

SHORTZ: ...second letter is O and I'll tell you the third letter is R.

HANSEN: All right. For...

SHORTZ: Oh, Liane, you have it I think.

HANSEN: Is that fourth letter S?


HANSEN: No. Foresee. Now I don't have it.

SHORTZ: OK. A big hint, though. Fourth letter is E.

Ms. NICKOLS: You'd think that we could figure this out.

HANSEN: You'd think that I--I can't--I'm not seeing it and I've done my little thing that you taught me.

SHORTZ: You've done the little triangle there.

Ms. NICKOLS: Foresight.

SHORTZ: Foresight is it. Good job, Betsy.

HANSEN: Oh, right, Betsy. Nice work.

Ms. NICKOLS: It got--after the first four, it got down to a five-letter word.

HANSEN: I know.

Ms. NICKOLS: I knew those.

HANSEN: You know, we could have kept going. Betsy, you're a wonderful player and for playing our...

Ms. NICKOLS: Oh, thank you.

HANSEN: You are. Now 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 Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents from Random House, Volume 2" and three "Sudoku Wordless Crossword Puzzle" books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press.

Betsy, what's your public radio station?

Ms. NICKOLS: Well, I'm a member of KUNM and KANW and they're both in Albuquerque and I also give money to WOBO in Owensville, Ohio, where my dad hosts a radio program for big band music.

HANSEN: No kidding.

Ms. NICKOLS: No kidding.

HANSEN: Second generation of public radio folks. Love it. Betsy Nickols in Tijeras, New Mexico, thanks a lot for being our guest today.

Ms. NICKOLS: Well, thanks, Liane. Thanks, Will.


SHORTZ: Thank you.

HANSEN: All right. Will, you have something hidden in your hand for us to work on.

SHORTZ: My big bag.

HANSEN: Yes, in your goody bag.

SHORTZ: My big bag of puzzles.

HANSEN: That's it, for us to work on during the coming week. Why don't you tell us what it is.

SHORTZ: Well, it comes from listener Ron Gallop via the Internet. Take the names pelican and antelope. The first is a bird, the second a mammal. The last two letters of pelican are the first two letters of antelope and the last two letters of antelope are the first two letters of pelican completing a loop. Can you name another bird and mammal that this is true of? These should be the general names of the bird and mammal, not specific breeds or genders, for example, and here's a hint. Each is a single word no more than eight letters. So again, name a bird and mammal in which the last two letters of each name are the first two names of the other. Can you do it?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, e-mail us at puzzle@npr.org. Only one entry per person please, and our deadline is Thursday, 3 PM 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 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 podcasts to learn how. Subscribe and the puzzle will be delivered to your computer or MP3 player every week.

Hey, Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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