Sunday Puzzle: Wordy to worldly NPR's Leila Fadel plays the puzzle with puzzle master Will Shortz and this week's winner Steve Vittori from Gig Harbor, WA.

Sunday Puzzle: Wordy to worldly

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And it's time to play The Puzzle.


FADEL: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and Puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION. Good to talk to you, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey there, Leila.

FADEL: So, Will, remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it came from Peter Collins of Ann Arbor, Mich. I said name a famous TV actress of the past. Double her first name phonetically. You'll get the first name of a famous musician. And if you put the last names of the musician and the actress together, in that order, you'll name a great legendary figure. Who is it? Well, the actress is Bea Arthur, and the musician is B.B. King. And you do those operations - you get King Arthur.

FADEL: We received more than 2,100 correct responses, and the winner is Steve Vittori from Gig Harbor, Wash. Congratulations, Steve, and welcome to the show.


FADEL: So, Steve, how did you figure this one out?

VITTORI: Well, I was in high school in the '70s. So I went back to that era and started with TV shows. And Bea Arthur came to mind fairly quickly. And then double the B's, and I'm familiar with B.B. King's music. And then the last names worked. So I actually went fairly quickly this time. Usually I get it fast or I don't get it at all.

FADEL: So what do you do when you are not playing The Puzzle, of course?

VITTORI: I'm a retired engineer. Also, I used to teach part-time at a local community college. So we have a daughter in high school and a couple of dogs, so I'm busy with them. And as far as getting out, we have some favorite state parks we like to hike and swim in and get up into the snow in the winter to do some skiing or snowboarding. And between that, the days are full.

FADEL: All right, Steve, are you ready to play The Puzzle?

VITTORI: Pencil and paper are ready. I hope so.

FADEL: (Laughter) All right, take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Steve, I'm going to give you some words and phrases. For each one, change exactly two letters to name a country. For example, if I said, solaria - S-O-L-A-R-I-A - you would say Somalia. That's changing the L and R of solaria to M and L.

OK, No. 1 is algebra - A-L-G-E-B-R-A.

VITTORI: Algeria.

SHORTZ: Algeria's right. No. 2 is normal - N-O-R-M-A-L.

VITTORI: I was going to say Norway, but that doesn't work.

SHORTZ: Norway, you got it.

VITTORI: Oh, OK. Right, right.

SHORTZ: Changing the M and L.


SHORTZ: And here's a hint, by the way - you never have to change the first letter of my word. That's a given.

VITTORI: Oh, OK. Good.

SHORTZ: Your next one is tusked - T-U-S-K-E-D.

VITTORI: Oh, Turkey.

SHORTZ: You got it - Turkey. Medics - M-E-D-I-C-S.

VITTORI: Mexico?

SHORTZ: Mexico, excellent. Canary - C-A-N-A-R-Y.

VITTORI: Canada.

SHORTZ: Yes. Rustic - R-U-S-T-I-C.

VITTORI: Russia.

SHORTZ: Russia is it. Grieve - G-R-I-E-V-E.

VITTORI: Greece.

SHORTZ: That's it. Hangars - H-A-N-G-A-R-S.

VITTORI: Hungary.

SHORTZ: That's it. Tunes in - T-U-N-E-S I-N.

VITTORI: Tunisia.

SHORTZ: That's it. Several - S-E-V-E-R-A-L.

VITTORI: Senegal.

SHORTZ: Senegal, nice one. Papaya - P-A-P-A-Y-A.

VITTORI: Panama.

SHORTZ: Panama, good one. And your last one is came upon - C-A-M-E U-P-O-N.

VITTORI: Cameroon?

SHORTZ: Cameroon. Steve, I am impressed.

FADEL: Wow. I was waiting to try to give you some hints, but you didn't need me at all.

VITTORI: I was close - few times. But, yeah, great.

FADEL: So great job. How do you feel?

VITTORI: I'll probably know in a day or two. Feel good. It was fun.

FADEL: (Laughter) That was pretty impressive. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And, Steve, which member station do you listen to?

VITTORI: I'm a member of KNKX in Tacoma.

FADEL: Steve Vittori from Gig Harbor, Wash., thank you for playing The Puzzle.

VITTORI: And thank you. Thanks very much.

FADEL: All right, Will, what is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's a spinoff of my on-air puzzle. Name a country of six or more letters. Change two letters in it to name the resident of another country's capital. So again, a country of six or more letters. Change two letters to name the resident of another country's capital. What country and resident are these?

FADEL: When you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember - just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Wednesday, November 24, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you. 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 Puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thanks, as always, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Leila.


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