Sunday Puzzle: Add the A-T! Puzzle listener Kristal All plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, and NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

Sunday Puzzle: Add the A-T!

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And it's time for the Super Bowl of brainteasers - the puzzle.


RASCOE: Joining us, as always, is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzle master of WEEKEND EDITION. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So could you please remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Peter Collins of Ann Arbor, Mich. I said, name a food item you might order at a fast food restaurant. The first, second and last letters together name another food item. Remove those and the remaining letters spelled backward name yet another food item. What foods are these? And the answer is nugget, as in a chicken nugget. The first, second and last letter spell nut. And the remaining letters backwards spell egg - yet another food.

RASCOE: Wow. OK. I mean, I do think that buffalo wings would have been more appropriate for this Super Bowl Sunday, but this is...

SHORTZ: This is true.

RASCOE: ...Good. This is good. Our puzzle winner this week is Kristal All of Conroe, Texas. Congratulations and welcome to the show.

KRISTAL ALL: Oh, thank you so much. I'm so excited.

RASCOE: We're so excited to have you here. How long have you been playing the puzzle?

ALL: It's been definitely, like, a year - probably about two years now. I just do it every once in a while, whenever I see it come across my newsfeed.

RASCOE: So what do you like to do when you're not playing the puzzle?

ALL: I have recently learned how to knit and crochet, and I'm also currently learning how to code websites. So I just have a lot of hobbies that I'm just trying to learn how to do.

RASCOE: I'm sure that if you have the stamina to crochet and knit and all of that, you are ready to play the puzzle. Am I right?

ALL: Yeah, I hope so.

RASCOE: You are. You are. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Kristal, let's knit some words. I'm going to give you clues for two words or phrases. Add the letters A-T consecutively somewhere inside the first word to get the second one. For example, if I said experience again and aunt or uncle, you would say relive and relative.

ALL: Oh, gosh. OK.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: And here you go - number one is to play, as a guitar, and a layer of rock. And the layer of rock, of course, will have A-T consecutively somewhere inside it.


SHORTZ: If you were playing an acoustic guitar, what would you do to the strings?

ALL: Like strumming?

SHORTZ: Yeah, strum - now add A-T to get layer of rock.

ALL: I don't know.

SHORTZ: Put the A-T after the R.

RASCOE: Yeah, stratum. Stratum.

SHORTZ: There you go.

ALL: Oh, OK. Wow. OK, that's a word I don't use everyday.

RASCOE: Yeah, that's - this is a little complicated. We're going to get through it, though. We're going to get through it.

ALL: OK. I appreciate the help.

SHORTZ: Strum to stratum is correct.


SHORTZ: Number two, the hunter constellation and a grand speech.

ALL: So Orion and oration.

SHORTZ: You got it. To pierce slightly, as with a needle, and a saint celebrated on March 17.

ALL: Prick and Patrick.

SHORTZ: You got it. Your next one is a Spanish mister and a certain legislator.

ALL: Senor and senator.

SHORTZ: You got it. A piece of furniture to sit in and a certain allergen - that's a two-word phrase.

ALL: Is it - is the first one chair?


ALL: OK. And then what was the second clue?

SHORTZ: A certain allergen - something that would make you - cause an allergic reaction in two words.

ALL: Cat - cat hair. OK. Cat hair.

SHORTZ: Cat hair - makes you sneeze - is correct. At least it does to me. How about comedian Ellen and sinks in quality.

ALL: DeGeneres.


ALL: And what was the second clue?

SHORTZ: Sinks in quality.

ALL: Degenerates.

SHORTZ: Degenerates - you got it. Here's your next one - organs that smell and what standing room only means, in two words.

ALL: Like your nose or your lungs.

SHORTZ: Noses - noses, plural, yeah. Insert A-T and what standing room only means.

ALL: No seats. No. Yeah, no seats.

SHORTZ: No seats is right. And here's your last one, just in time. This one you add A-T twice consecutively inside the first word to get the second one.


SHORTZ: And your first clue is shaped like a dunce cap, geometrically. That's a five-letter answer - shaped like a dunce cap, geometrically. Insert A-T twice and you get in an immobile or unresponsive stupor.

ALL: Cone.

SHORTZ: Put it in the adjective form.

ALL: Like conical.

SHORTZ: Like conic, yeah. Now insert at twice.


ALL: After the first C.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

ALL: Catatonic.

SHORTZ: Catatonic - you got it.

ALL: Oh, gosh. I should have seen that one.

RASCOE: This was like a masters puzzle. This was like - (laughter) but you did a great job. How do you feel?

ALL: Oh, I'm so relieved. I'm just glad it wasn't anagrams.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Well, you did a great job. 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 Kristal, what member station do you listen to?

ALL: I listen to Houston Public Media.

RASCOE: That's Kristal All of Conroe, Texas. Thank you so much for playing the puzzle.

ALL: Thank you so much. It's an honor to talk to you guys.

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

SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge comes from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. Name a popular rock band - one that everyone knows. Add a B sound at the end, and phonetically you'll name a place where you might hear this band play. What band is it? So again, a popular rock band - one that everyone knows. Add a B sound - that is, the sound of the letter B - at the end. And phonetically, you'll name a place where you might hear this band play. What band is it?

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 this week is Thursday, February 16 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 puzzle master of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thanks, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Ayesha.


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