Sunday Puzzle: Hidden Cities Efrem Mallach plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster Will Shortz and NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

Sunday Puzzle: Hidden Cities

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And it's time to play The Puzzle.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION'S puzzlemaster. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey there, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it came from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago. I said name a famous woman in American history with a three-part name. Change one letter in her first name to a double letter, and the resulting first and second parts of her name form the first and last names of a famous athlete. And the last part of the woman's name is a major rival of that athlete. Who are these people? The answer is Lady Bird Johnson. Change the D in Lady to two Rs. You get Larry Bird, and one of his rivals was Magic Johnson.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received 900 correct responses, and the winner is Efrem Mallach of Milford, Mass. Congratulations, and welcome to the program.

EFREM MALLACH: Thank you. Great to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you figure it out?

MALLACH: I always do these with a friend, and she came up with Lady Bird Johnson matching Larry Bird and thought that maybe there was a Johnson. And I checked - I remembered Magic Johnson, having lived in Boston back in the 1980s. So I checked and, yes, it matched.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go.

MALLACH: It was a cooperative effort.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I understand this isn't your first interaction with playing The Puzzle.

MALLACH: That's right, Lulu. My late wife was on the show in September 2013. And from that time on, always hoped that I would get chosen, as well. And you missed by about 15 months.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I am sure she would be very happy to know that you're here. And we are happy to have you. Are you ready to play?

MALLACH: Not going to get any readier by stalling.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) So true. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Efrem. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence hides the name of a U.S. city of seven or more letters. You name the cities. For example, if I said the weightlifters are flexing tonight, for a city in Kentucky, you would say Lexington.

MALLACH: Lexington.

SHORTZ: Is correct, which is hidden inside flexing tonight. Here's number one. Is the psychic a good prognosticator? Illinois.

MALLACH: Chicago.

SHORTZ: Oh, yeah. Good. Number two - I don't like spoilsports mouthing off. New Hampshire.

MALLACH: Spoil - Portsmouth.

SHORTZ: That's it. Make me a sandwich Italian-style. Kansas.

MALLACH: Wichita.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Beauty queens rebuff a lot of suitors. New York.

MALLACH: Buffalo.

SHORTZ: That's it. We saved a swami's soul and spirit. Montana.

MALLACH: Missoula.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Grandma voted for Landon. Florida.

MALLACH: Voted for - grand...

SHORTZ: Yeah, forget the grandma. Forget the voted. Look at for Landon.

MALLACH: Orlando.

SHORTZ: That's it.

MALLACH: Thank you.

SHORTZ: The geologist watches a peak erode. Virginia. The geologist watches a peak erode.

MALLACH: Chesapeake.

SHORTZ: Excellent. You need a low heel in good boots. West Virginia. You need a low...

MALLACH: Wheeling.

SHORTZ: Wheeling is it. It was a banana he imagined. California.

MALLACH: Anaheim.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. The instrument produces amorphous tones. Texas.

MALLACH: Some morphous (ph)...

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Tones. One of the biggest cities in the country.

MALLACH: Amorphous tones. Houston.

SHORTZ: Houston is it. And here's your last one - I'd like a ranch or a generic house. Alaska.

MALLACH: Anchorage.

SHORTZ: Anchorage is it. Efrem, that was great.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did great. How do you feel?

MALLACH: Very much like I did five minutes ago but slightly more relieved.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. We'll take it. We'll take it. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at And, Efrem, which member station do you listen to?

MALLACH: I listen to the program on WBUR. My late wife was a sustaining member of BUR and WGBH.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Efrem Mallach of Milford, Mass., thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

MALLACH: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will, what is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Iva Allen in Canada. Name a make of car. Write it in all capital letters. Rotate one of the letters 90 degrees and another letter 180 degrees to make a woman's name. What is it? So again, a make of car. Write it in all caps. Rotate one letter 90 degrees and another letter 180 degrees to make a woman's name. What name is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, June 24 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and our own WEEKEND EDITION puzzlemaster, and his name is Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.


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