Sunday Puzzle: What goes around, comes around NPR's Ayesha Rascoe plays the puzzle with WUFT listener David Kurman of The Villages, Florida along Weekend Edition puzzle master Will Shortz.

Sunday Puzzle: What goes around, comes around

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


And it's time to play The Puzzle.


RASCOE: 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: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So, Will, I understand there's something you wanted to say to us first.

SHORTZ: Well, it's an apology regarding last week's challenge, which I stated incorrectly, which unfortunately made the puzzle impossible to solve.

RASCOE: Oh, no. It was a treat, or...


SHORTZ: Oh, that's a nice way to look at it. Amazingly, there are some listeners who figured out that there was no solution and then figured out what the puzzle should have been in order for there to be a solution. So I'm in awe. Anyway, it came from a listener. What I said was, name a well-known island, move the last letter six spaces later in the alphabet. Read the result backward, and you'll get where this island is located. Well, what I should have said is move the first letter six spaces later. The answer is Malta. Change the M to an S and you get Atlas. And that is where you might find Malta.

RASCOE: So really, it was a challenge. And the joy was in the trying, not in the answer. There's just something deep there.

SHORTZ: Very deep. I like that. Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: (Laughter) OK. So some people did actually figure out what the correct thing was supposed to be. And we received over 100 correct submissions. And the winner is David Kurman of The Villages in Florida. Congratulations, David. Welcome to the show.

DAVID KURMAN: Thank you very much.

RASCOE: So how did you figure it out - you figured out that Will made a mistake, and then you got it right?

KURMAN: That's exactly what happened. I tried to work it backwards. I started looking at oceans and continents that might resemble island names reversed, but that didn't seem to work. And then I realized that the island could be found in a collection of maps. And when I reversed atlas, I got salta, and that led me to Malta.

RASCOE: See - that's amazing how - Will, how connected you are to the fans that they know what you meant to say.

SHORTZ: It's mind reading.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Exactly. So what do you do when you're not playing the Puzzle, David?

KURMAN: I am retired, but I remain active as a marathon runner.

RASCOE: Oh, my gosh.

KURMAN: I've completed 130 marathons...

SHORTZ: Oh, my gosh.

KURMAN: ...And I think I have a few more left in me.

RASCOE: Oh, that is amazing. So you've completed 130 in how many years?

KURMAN: It's been 35 years.

RASCOE: Oh, wow. That is amazing. Well, congratulations on that. And I know you got the stamina to do this puzzle. So I know you ready. But I got to ask, are you ready?

KURMAN: I am ready.

RASCOE: Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, David. Well, if you can solve my impossible puzzle, you should have no trouble today. Every answer is a seven-letter compound word or familiar two-word phrase in which the first two letters are the same as the last two in reverse. For example, if I said part of a train, you would say rail car, because that starts R-A and ends A-R. So here's number one, a product from Purina or Pedigree.

KURMAN: Dog food.

SHORTZ: Dog food is right. Number two, crimson, for example. Well, first of all, what color is crimson?

KURMAN: It's a red.

SHORTZ: It's red. And then what kind of red? Starting D-E.

KURMAN: Deep red.

SHORTZ: Deep red is it. Where a football player reaches to score a touchdown.

RASCOE: Oh, oh.

KURMAN: End zone.

SHORTZ: End zone. You got it. And Ayesha had that, too. To cheer on, as a team.

KURMAN: Root for.

SHORTZ: Root for. You got it. To purposely ignore, as sounds. So you're in a busy place, there's lots of sounds, and you're trying to ignore them. What do you do? You blank those sounds.

RASCOE: Ooh, ooh, I - wait, is that right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what it is. You...

SHORTZ: Go ahead, Ayesha. Go ahead.

RASCOE: You tune out.

SHORTZ: You tune out. Start T-U, end in U-T. Good job.

RASCOE: (Laughter) I do it all the time.

SHORTZ: Try this one. Male journalists.

KURMAN: Newsmen.

SHORTZ: Newsmen. You got it. And here's your last one, David. What you might say when patting Rover on the head.

KURMAN: Good dog.

SHORTZ: Good dog is right.


RASCOE: Great job. Like, how do you feel?

KURMAN: I am on a runner's high, I think, kicked in.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Well, for playing The 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, David, what member station do you listen to?

KURMAN: The University of Florida's WUFT.

RASCOE: That's David Kurman of The Villages in Florida. Thank you, David, for playing The Puzzle.

KURMAN: Thank you.

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

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Michael Penn of Durham, N.C. Name two countries with a total of 12 letters that, when spelled one after the other, form six consecutive state postal abbreviations. So that's the puzzle. Name two countries with a total of 12 letters that, when spelled one after the other, form six consecutive state postal abbreviations. What countries are they?

RASCOE: 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 Thursday, September 8, 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. But that's not what's really important. He is the puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thank you, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Ayesha.


Copyright © 2022 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 an NPR contractor. 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.