Sunday Puzzle: O-S-C-A-R NPR's Renee Montagne and puzzlemaster Will Shortz play a game using the letters that spell "Oscar."
NPR logo

Sunday Puzzle: O-S-C-A-R

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sunday Puzzle: O-S-C-A-R

Sunday Puzzle: O-S-C-A-R

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


And it is time to play The Puzzle.


MONTAGNE: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Good morning.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee. Welcome back.

MONTAGNE: Thank you. Pleasure to be here. And I have to say I remember you saying that you aren't a big Grammys guy, but you do like the Oscars. So having said that, I'm putting you on the spot. What movie are you rooting for tonight?

SHORTZ: Well, I've seen four of the nine. The one that sticks in my mind was "Call Me By Your Name," which I thought was just great. What about you?

MONTAGNE: I would go for "Dunkirk." And I think it's not a favorite. I think you're probably hitting the favorite. But remind us of last week's puzzle.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Chris Stuart (ph), who is from the answer to the puzzle. I said name a place in the United States that contains a W. Drop the W, and you can rearrange the remaining letters to name two types of mammals in the plural form. What place is it? Well, the place is New Mexico. Drop the W, and you get oxen and mice. And that is such a great puzzle because you assume, as a solver, that the answers are going to have S's in it because the mammals are plural. And it turns out there's no S's at all. Fantastic puzzle.

MONTAGNE: And very intricate in my opinion, so I'm impressed (laughter) for all those who had correct answers, 400 altogether. And our randomly selected winner is Betsy McIver Cho from Toluca Lake, Calif. Congratulations.


MONTAGNE: And, Betsy, I gather you were an engineer for Disney in a sort of previous life. What was your favorite thing about the work?

CHO: One of my favorite things about the work was getting to travel. Disney obviously has theme parks around the world, so I got to travel to several different parks to work on it.

MONTAGNE: To work on it as in - when you're an engineer for Disney, what are you actually doing?

CHO: I was working on specifically interactive attractions for the parks. So I was designing interactive systems that guests interact with.

MONTAGNE: So are you ready to play The Puzzle?

CHO: I am.

MONTAGNE: OK. Will, it's all yours.

SHORTZ: All right. Betsy and Renee, this is a good two-person puzzle, actually. Today, I've brought a game of categories based on the word Oscar. For each category I give, name something in it starting with each of the letters, O, S, C, A and R. For example, if the category were U.S. states, you might say Ohio, South Dakota, Colorado, Alabama and Rhode Island. Any answer that works is OK, and you can give the answers in any order. So you guys work together on this. Category number one is things seen in a kitchen other than food.

CHO: Spatula.

MONTAGNE: Spatula...

SHORTZ: Spatula, good.

CHO: A cake pan.

SHORTZ: Cake pan. All right.

CHO: Or a colander.


CHO: A ricer.

SHORTZ: Ricer, refrigerator, and range would work. You need an O and an A.

CHO: An oven.

SHORTZ: An oven, of course. And all you need is an A.

CHO: How about...

SHORTZ: I have a couple of good A's. One hangs from a rod in the kitchen, could be around the oven.

CHO: An air vent...

SHORTZ: It's something you put - an air vent. OK. I was thinking of an apron. Maybe also aluminum foil would be good. Category number two is ways to say yes.

CHO: Of course.

SHORTZ: Of course, OK, oui. Those would all work.

CHO: Sure.

SHORTZ: Sure, sure thing.


SHORTZ: Can do. Nice. I had also certainly or cool.

CHO: Right on.

SHORTZ: Right on. Yeah.

CHO: And absolutely.

SHORTZ: Absolutely. You did great. Your next category is islands.

CHO: Islands. OK. Oh, dear. How about Catalina?

SHORTZ: Catalina is good.

CHO: Santa Cruz?

SHORTZ: Santa Cruz. OK. You're going for hard ones. There's Sicily, Sardinia.

MONTAGNE: I have a hard one.



SHORTZ: Whoa. I don't even - how do you spell that?

MONTAGNE: R-O-T-A. It's in Micronesia.

SHORTZ: I'll give that to you. I was going for Reunion, the French island, and also the isle of Rhodes. Those would work for R. So all you need now is an O and an A. There's one in the Caribbean that a lot of people like to vacation at.

CHO: Aruba.

SHORTZ: Aruba's good. All you need's an O. I have two good ones.

MONTAGNE: Give us a hint.

SHORTZ: Oh, uh, Hawaii.

CHO: Oahu.

SHORTZ: Oahu or Okinawa.

MONTAGNE: All right. OK. Betsy McIver Cho from Toluca Lake, Calif. That was really fun. Thanks for playing The Puzzle.

CHO: Thank you. It was fun.

MONTAGNE: And now, Will, next week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Peter Collins (ph) of Ann Arbor, Mich. Name a famous singer, first and last names. Change the last three letters of each name to an E, and you'll name a well-known landmark. What is it? So, again, a famous singer, first and last names. Change the last three letters of each name to an E, and you'll name a well-known landmark. Who is the singer, and what landmark is it?

MONTAGNE: And when you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. And just one entry per person, please. You all know that. Our deadline for entries is this Thursday, March 8 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. 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. That would be WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Renee.


Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.