Sunday Puzzle: Find the sport! NPR's Ayesha Rascoe plays the puzzle with winner Kel Hanlon of Jessup, Maryland and puzzle master Will Shortz.

Sunday Puzzle: Find the sport!

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AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

And it's time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So remind us, please, of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Theodore Regan of Scituate, Mass. I said if you squish, the lowercase letters R and N together, they look like an M. I said, think of a word that ends in the consecutive letters R, N. Squish them together to get a homophone of a synonym of the first word. What words are these? And the answer is Darn - D-A-R-N. Put the R, N together, you get dam. Which sounds like damn.

RASCOE: (Laughter) That is true. And they mean the same thing, right?

SHORTZ: That's it. Yep.

RASCOE: OK. So we received over 700 correct submissions. And the winner is Kel Hanlon of Jessup, Md. Congratulations, Kel, and welcome to the show.

KEL HANLON: Thanks for letting me be here. I'm excited.

RASCOE: Of course. We let the winners in. How did you figure this out?

HANLON: So I do crosswords, and oftentimes if I'm stuck with a short word, I'll just start playing roulette with vowels and consonants. I was driving to lunch, and I was like, oh man, I need paper for this. But then 2 minutes later, it just came to me and got so excited that I missed the turn, and we were late for lunch.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: But did you tell them that you were doing something much more important?

HANLON: Oh, they agreed that I was justified. Lunch can wait.

RASCOE: So, Kel, I got to ask you, are you ready to play the Puzzle?

HANLON: As I will ever be.

RASCOE: (Laughter) OK, take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Kel, let's get to today. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a sport in consecutive letters. You name the sports. For example, if I said, look, a rat, eek, you would say karate because the letters - K, A, R, A, T, E - are hidden consecutively inside look, a rat, eek. OK. Number one, he was a dumb ox in grade school.

HANLON: Oh, Lord.

RASCOE: OK.

HANLON: I love that you picked sports for me. This is....

SHORTZ: Your favorite category.

HANLON: Oh, yeah. You know, I do the sports ball every now and again.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: And start with the last letter of dumb.

HANLON: Oh, boxing.

SHORTZ: Boxing. You got it.

HANLON: OK. All right. I see you.

RASCOE: Yeah, that's good. OK.

SHORTZ: Number two, this is your classic rickety chair.

HANLON: OK. Rickety chair.

SHORTZ: And the key to solving these, focus in on the most awkward part of the sentence. And here that would be somewhere inside classic rickety.

RASCOE: Oh.

HANLON: Oh, don't you get it before me, Ayesha Rascoe.

(LAUGHTER)

HANLON: You're not allowed to do that.

SHORTZ: Oh, yes, she is.

(LAUGHTER)

HANLON: Darn it.

SHORTZ: Start with the last letter of classic.

HANLON: Oh, cricket.

SHORTZ: Cricket. There you go. Here's your next one. My family has always gotten Nissans. My family has always gotten Nissans. And if you're wondering what sounds a little odd in this sentence, look for gotten Nissans.

HANLON: Tennis.

SHORTZ: Tennis. You got it.

RASCOE: Yes. Yes.

SHORTZ: The rainbow lingered for more than an hour. The rainbow lingered for more than an hour.

RASCOE: That doesn't really sound awkward, though.

SHORTZ: Well, thank you.

HANLON: Anything's awkward if you make it awkward.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Look inside rainbow lingered.

RASCOE: Oh, OK. Let's see.

HANLON: Bowling.

SHORTZ: Bowling. You got it.

HANLON: Thank you for acknowledging it as a sport.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Yeah, absolutely. With enough cash and ballots, you can get elected. What if I told you to start with the H in cash? With enough cash and ballots, you can get elected.

HANLON: I was just about to say handball.

SHORTZ: Handball. You got it.

RASCOE: Yes.

HANLON: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Here's your last one. This historian is the best researcher you'll find. And look toward the end of the sentence.

HANLON: Archer.

SHORTZ: Archery. Oh, you're getting fast. Good job.

RASCOE: Oh, I saw that.

HANLON: Oh, archery, yeah.

RASCOE: Gotcha, Oh, OK. I see that. OK, that was good (laughter). You did a really good job with that. I was still trying to write some of them down. I did get cricket, but I didn't want to say it first because you were like, don't say it. But I did get that one. I just want that for the record.

HANLON: I'm proud of you. I'm so proud.

RASCOE: (Laughter). So great job. How do you feel?

HANLON: Victorious.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

HANLON: And, like, I've never written faster in my life.

RASCOE: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: 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 npr.org/puzzle.

And, Kel, what member station do you listen to?

HANLON: WAMU and WYPR.

RASCOE: That's Kel Hanlon of Jessup, Md.

Thank you, Kel, for playing The Puzzle.

HANLON: Thank you.

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

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Adam Cohen of Brooklyn. Take the name of a large financial corporation in 10 letters. Drop the fourth and fifth letters. Move the sixth and seventh letters to the front, and you'll name a person associated with financial misdeeds. What's the company and who is the person? So again, a large financial corporation, 10 letters. Drop the fourth and fifth letters. Move the sixth and seventh letters to the front. And you'll name a person associated with financial misdeeds. Who is this person?

RASCOE: When you have the answer, go to our website npr.org/puzzle, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, September 29, 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, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Ayesha.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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